13 COVERS: A NICK CARDY Birthday Celebration

No less an authority than Rob Kelly of The Aquaman Shrine pays tribute.

I am a huge Nick Cardy fan. Huge. Love his work, so much more now than when I was Little Dan.

He was born Nicholas Viscardi on Oct. 20, 1920 and died in 2013. He was chiefly responsible for the looks of two of my favorite Silver Age comics: Aquaman and Teen Titans.

Last year, our 13 COVERS tribute focused on the Titans (click here):

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This year, however, I invited 13th Dimension contributor Rob Kelly to pick 13 Aquaman covers. That’s because Rob is the biggest Aquafan I know. Just check out his Aquaman Shrine, here. — Dan

By ROB KELLY

In the world of Aquaman, there was what we call a peaceful transition of power, as dynamite illustrator Ramona Fradon (whose birthday was earlier this month; click here for some beautiful splash pages) handed the artistic reins of the Sea King’s strip to Nick Cardy, whose birthday we celebrate today!

Less cartoony and exaggerated than what had come before, Cardy brought a more classically “illustrated” feel to Aquaman, combined with a sense of layout and pacing second to none. Unlike Ms. Fradon, who never got to illustrate an Aquaman cover, Nick Cardy handled both the covers and insides of the Aquaman solo series, and would end up drawing the full-length book for six years straight. Cardy’s skill as a layout artist was so unquestioned that he continued to do the covers to the series, even though the book had been taken over by Jim Aparo, not exactly an artistic slouch himself.

Cardy never quite left the undersea world of the Aquatic Avenger, however. Near the end of his Aquaman run he had been pulling double-duty as the artist on Teen Titans, and went on to produce a stunning collection of covers for that series, many of the best featuring Aquaman’s sidekick Aqualad (coincidence?).

I had the good fortune to interview Nick Cardy one afternoon for my site The Aquaman Shrine, and he regaled me with story after story, only some of which involved Aquaman! I didn’t care, he was so fun and warm that I just kept prodding him to talk longer, tell just one more story, because the man was such a delight. It was wonderful to see Nick Cardy was just as great a person as he was an artist.

Cardy would go on to design and/or illustrate hundreds, if not thousands, of covers for DC Comics, leaving behind an artistic legacy only a few can match in the industry. On the occasion of what would have been his 96th birthday, here are 13 of my favorite Aqua-centric covers by the legendary Nick Cardy.

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Rob Kelly is a writer/artist/comics and film historian. He is the co-host of The Fire and Water Podcast (and the host of its sister show, The Film and Water Podcast), the co-creator and writer of the award-winning webcomic Ace Kilroy, and the creator of the book Hey Kids, Comics!: True-Life Tales From the Spinner Rack.

You can read his 13th Dimension REEL RETRO CINEMA columns here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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