13 COVERS: A NICK CARDY Birthday Salute

Columnist JIM BEARD picks his faves from the ’70s…


The late, great Nick Cardy is primarily known for his 1960s comic work at DC, both on the inside and outside of books, but I discovered him in my own “Golden Age” of comic books — the 1970s, and it’s that era I’m tapping here to honor the artist on his birthday. (He was born Oct. 20, 1920.)

Picking covers for this article was a journey not only down Memory Lane, but one of discovery, too. Nick seemed to do a lot of covers for my very first issues of DC titles, and all my favorites pretty much end up in 1973 and 1974. I also realized that a lot of the cover images I myself liked to look at and then draw with pencil on paper were Nick’s. It hit home while assembling this that the guy is definitely one of the foundation blocks of my early comic fandom, and I love that.

I could have picked a bunch of his classic ’60s work, such as Teen Titans, but that would’ve been stuff I saw first as reprints. The art I’ve picked here I saw new, as it was happening. And while it may have been after his heyday, to me it was all worth its weight in gold.

Please enjoy this time capsule of my favorite 1970s Nick Cardy covers. We’re going to go chronologically, just as I saw them back in those days…

100-Page Super Spectacular #DC-14 (Feb. 1973). I consider this book the first superhero comic I ever owned. I got it in late ’72, and my copy even has a date stamp on it. It also sports a wraparound Cardy cover that I remember just staring and staring at.

100-Page Super Spectacular #DC-17 (June 1973). These 100-pagers kickstarted my interest in superhero history. I’m so glad Nick drew the covers on the ones I got, especially this one, featuring not only the Justice League, but my lifelong faves, the Justice Society.

Superman #266 (Aug. 1973). God, do I love this cover, my very first Superman mag. Just look at that force and energy in it. I was also fascinated by trying to figure out where Superman’s fist went.

Batman #252 (Oct. 1973). Another Cardy cover that just fascinated me as a young Monster Kid-in-the-making. The Spook is one of my all-time favorite Bat-baddies.

World’s Finest #220 (Nov.-Dec. 1973). Nick had a way with creepy covers, didn’t he? And yes, that miscolored Batboot still bothers me to this day. It’s my first WF, of all things, too.

Action Comics #430 (Dec. 1973). What is it about this one that makes it a Cardy favorite? It’s something about the angles, the perfectly drawn building, and the symmetry of Superman and the monster’s flights in and out of the building. I think it’s kind of a master class in comic-book covers.

The Flash #225 (Jan.-Feb. 1974). My very first issue of the book, and again, Nick is there. I met Professor Zoom here, and again I was fascinated by the layout of the main figures and the background figures.

Justice League of America #109 (Jan.-Feb. 1974). Dare I say it? Another first issue for me, and Nick is by my side… except, actually, he put me right in the middle of a meeting of my favorite superheroes! And an angry Superman has just crashed it! The explosive tension is palpable.

Action Comics #435 (May 1974). I mean, come on! Amiright? Huh?

Superman #279 (Sept. 1974). Probably one of my most favorite Cardy covers of all. I loved Batman, of course, but Batgirl always held a special place in my heart. I love the way Nick draws her here, though of course she’s in mortal peril. (But when wasn’t she, really?)

Batman #259 (Nov.-Dec. 1974). Nick did a lot of these multi-image Super Spectacular covers, and always excelled at every part of them. I just love that he got to draw the freakin’ Shadow for a Batman comic.

The Flash #230 (Nov.-Dec. 1974). Another spooky Cardy image. There’s some real menace here, or at least my 9-year-old self still thinks so. By the way, I didn’t know who Dr. Alchemy was before I got this one.

Justice League of America #114 (Nov.-Dec. 1974). Man, Nick was really cookin’ with these late-’74 covers. Again, I love the angle here, as well as the idea of cave people DC heroes within the beam and their unchanged compatriots without. Another Cardy masterpiece.


— 13 COVERS: A NICK CARDY Birthday Celebration — 2021 Edition: TEEN TITANS. Click here.

— 13 COVERS: A NICK CARDY Birthday Celebration — 2019 Edition: SUPERMAN. Click here.

JIM BEARD has pounded out adventure fiction since he sold a story to DC Comics in 2002. He’s gone on to write official Star Wars and Ghostbusters comics stories and contributed articles and essays to several volumes of comic book history. His prose work includes his own creations, but also licensed properties such as Planet of the Apes, X-Files, Spider-Man, Kolchak the Night Stalker and Captain Action. In addition, Jim provided regular content for Marvel.com, the official Marvel Comics website, for 17 years.

Check out his latest releases: Rising Sun Reruns, about classic Japanese shows on American TV; a Green Hornet novella How Sweet the Sting; his first epic fantasy novel The Nine Nations Book One: The Sliding World; and the most recent Batman ’66 books of essays he’s edited: Zlonk! Zok! Zowie! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Essays on Batman ’66 – Season OneBiff! Bam! Ee-Yow! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Essays on Batman ’66 – Season Two and Oooff! Boff! Splatt! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Guide to Batman ’66 – Season Three.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. JLA 114—one of my favorites! The JLA (and I wish some writer would do a story where “Anakronus” really does appear with all the wonky powers he claimed to have!) The JSA and best of all “Just A Story!” It’s been nearly fifty years but I still remember reading that little gem; one of the best Golden Age comics stories ever!

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    • True story: That “Just a Story” made me cry back in the day, and I carried that grief over it through my childhood.

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  2. Love this column. A number of Jim’s picks dovetail with my own early/first comics: Batman #252, World’s Finest #220, JLA #109…

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    • My very first comic book was Flash 229 Great Nick Cardy cover with the Ragdoll on It. Bought if off a spinner rack when I was 6. Lots of wonderful covers. Great post .

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      • You seem to have got into comics the same month I did. Many of these are firsts for me too.

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  3. It might be blasphemy, but I’d not only rank Nick Cardy alongside Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (Praise be his name) in terms of nailing the house style of DC… but I even sometimes PREFER his artwork over Neal Adams! He at least was great in keeping schedules!

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    • I can pretty much agree with all of that. Nick was ubiquitous, but in a good way. A real workhorse.

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  4. Great choices, Jim! I think Nick Cardy is often under-appreciated and did some of his greatest work during these 1970s years! You picked so many great covers – my favorites on your list are Superman #266 and #279 and JLA #109!

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  5. Wishing a happy birthday to Nick Cardy. These covers you showcased truly showcase how talented he was as a creative talent in the comics industry.

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  6. Definitely one of my favorites and his covers all say glorious 70’s. I miss those days.

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  7. I love these covers. Batman #252, World’s Finest #220 and Flash #225 bring back lots of memories from my youth.

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  8. I love Batman #259. I got it from a family friend sometime in the 80s, and I read and -re-read that thing multiple times. The cover is just hanging on.

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  9. I started reading comics at the very beginning of ’74 so Nick was the cover artist of some of my first comics, too–and many remain among my favorite covers to this day. In fact, I have a good number of them on display in my den. I did a quick count and I’m seeing well over a dozen!

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  10. The Nick Cardy Teen Titans covers are really great. I don’t know if he designed them, but they are very creative.

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