Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Best Covers You've Never Seen--Nick Cardy's Aquaman Covers

You know who doesn't get enough respect? Nick Cardy doesn't get enough respect.

Did you know, for example, that Cardy drew the covers for all 56 issues of Aquaman's first solo title (as well as the interiors for the first 39 issues)?

Now, initially the covers were nothing remarkable...they were pretty standard DC Silver Age covers, presenting the hero in the standard "WTF" dilemmas, like this...

...or this...
Still, there were traces of something more in some of his covers. Take, for example, Aquaman #21:

Or #30:

But in 1968, Cardy bloomed. Doubtless in part because Carmine Infantino began designing all of DC's covers--soon followed by a promotion to art director--Cardy began to let his freak flag fly, and began what I consider one of the greatest runs of covers ever, starting with Aquaman #37:

Even as Steve Skeates and Jim Aparo took over the interior of the book, Cardy continued to go nuts, experimenting with layouts, color, shading...producing covers like nothing ever seen in DC superhero books:

Tell me this isn't a great frakkin' cover:

Yes, sometimes the covers still bore the typical DC Silver Age stamp...

But even then they showed for more interesting perspective and style than what Cardy had ever done before.
Great googly moogly, just look at this:

And then Cardy went truly insane (in a good way):

Or this masterpiece:

And then it was done. Cancelled.

Hard to believe that a series with covers that freakin' good, with interiors by Skeates and Aparo, and Deadman back-ups by Neal Adams in some of them, couldn't sell enough to ever even get past bi-monthly status, let alone survive. Perhaps that's why people think Aquaman is lame...?

Nick Cardy did a lot more than this--his run on Teen Titans, while not quite as impressive in my eyes, is still pretty damn good, and follows essentially the same arc--and from 1972-1975, he was doing the majority of DC's covers every month.

Cardy is still with us--he's 92, for heaven's sake--so take some time today to appreciate his genius.


Kent G. Hare said...

I couldn't agree more - Cardy is my all-time favorite artist, and yet he is virtually forgotten today. I attempted to rectify one such instance last year: http://randomramblings-absentmindedprofessor.blogspot.com/2012/11/dc-comics-covergirls-2007-cardy-women.html

notintheface said...

Cardy probably increased Silver & early Bronze Age DC comics sales more than any other artist I can think of in that era.

SallyP said...

These are beautiful. My GOD, but that man can draw gorgeous feet!

Oh, and everything else.

karl said...

He drew the most impressive DC covers EVER - no one even came close to copying his style.
His Aquaman covers are easily the most RECOGNIZABLE covers DC has ever put out, far far more than other heroes' covers.
All his covers are so very very memorable.

Erich said...

Sometimes, I still marvel at my good fortune that I was able to get Nick Cardy to draw a piece in my convention sketchbook:


He drew that for me in 2002, and it's definitely one of the prize pages in my sketchbook.

Mr. Whiskas said...

Oh my God, those are awesome.

I never knew. Thanks so much for highlighting these!