|Edited by Jon B. Cooke||Comic Book Artist, Eisner Award winner for "Best Comics-Related Magazine", celebrates the lives and works of great cartoonists, writers and editors from all eras through in-depth interviews, feature articles, and unpublished art.|
The second page to the rejected "The Titans Fit the Battle of Jericho" story originally slated to appear in Teen Titans #20. Various other pages appear throughout this issue. Thanks to Jim Long for sharing his find! Jim tells us he bought this single page for $5 at a comic convention in the early '70s! Art © 1999 Nick Cardy.
Spotlight on Nick Cardy
The 1998 San Diego ComiCon Panel TranscriptFrom Comic Book Artist #5
What can you say about one of the most delightful artists ever to have work grace the comic book page? Best known for his work on the Teen Titans, Aquaman, and a long and glorious run as DC's main cover artist during the early- to mid-'70s, Nick Cardy is a superb draftsman with an unerring eye for the sensual and the suspenseful. And he's also a helluva nice guy. Nick received a hero's welcome last year as a Guest of Honor of the 1998 San Diego ComiCon, and was given his own panel on August 14. What follows is a transcript of the "Spotlight on Nick Cardy" panel as moderated by Mark Evanier, and joining Nick were Colleen Doran, Marv Wolfman, and Sergio Aragonés. Very special thanks to Marc Svensson who saved the day for CBA when I found out, midway through transcribing, that my tape was corrupted and Marc supplied his videotape.
Mark Evanier: It is a joy to have this gentleman here. We decided last year that we were going to boycott the San Diego convention if they didn't invite him, but they did. I don't know anyone who has caused so much excitement-people come up to me and say, "I just met Nick Cardy! Nick Cardy is here!" This man drew the first comic book I ever had a letter printed in; it was in an issue of Aquaman and it was easily the stupidest letter ever printed. [laughter] I'm sure you all know his work-show your love for Mr. Nick Cardy. [sustained applause]
We are joined on the panel today by some people who have worked with Nick over the years. One of his closest friends, and one of the best artists in the business, (who is responsible for A Distant Soil) Colleen Doran. [applause] And [dismissively] here's Marv and Sergio. [laughter, applause]. Marv worked with Nick on... [to Marv] your first professional story?
Marv Wolfman: Pretty much. And his last, I think. [laughter]
Mark: And Sergio did a book with Nick called...
Audience: Bat Lash.
Mark: Which has probably set some record for a book with the least number of issues and the most people who remember it in this business. We'll get to Bat Lash soon but I want to ask Nick a couple of questions to start with here. First, how do you feel about this convention? You've never been to the San Diego ComiCon before; is this amazing?
Nick Cardy: Well, I'll tell ya: If I knew that there was going to be this many people coming out to see me, I'd have learned a soft shoe dance or something-[laughter] but I'm surprised and tickled to death to find that a lot of people like my work.
Mark: We've all loved your work and I think a lot of people feel the same way that I do: You see a certain person's work and you feel that you know the guy. You're always reliable and the characters have such a life, I knew that these books were drawn by a nice guy. Let's go back and talk about your beginnings in this business.
Nick: The first commercial work was doing "Lady Luck" with Will Eisner in 1940.
Mark: But he didn't start you on "Lady Luck."
Nick: Right. I was working at Eisner & Iger. They had a studio and I was working as one of the staff. In those days they didn't have comic houses; they had little studios where they produced the stories on order from different publishers. I was in the bullpen. So when I first went in to Eisner's studio, he said, "Well, we have a drawing table but we don't have taborets. Go to the local grocery store and get a couple of orange crates and use them until the new taborets we ordered come in." So I got the orange crate, and used it to place my ink and my lunch. [chuckles] Then I found out there were some guys who were working there for several years and they also had orange crates. [laughter] At that time, I was only getting about $18 a week.
Mark: How old were you?
Nick: I was 18 or 19. One time Iger came up to me and said, "Nick, I want you to look in your pay envelope this week. We've got a surprise for you." I looked in it and found a 50¢ raise. [laughter] I spent a few years there. I did "Quicksilver" and a few Quality strips-when I look at those things now, I just wish they'd take them off the market. They're so awful! [laughter] Really! I did nice features, but I gave characters flat heads... [chuckles].
Mark: Who else was working at Eisner &_Iger at the time? Lou Fine?
Nick: I remember Lou Fine, George Tuska, Charlie Sultan. Bob Powell came in later when I was doing "Lady Luck." He was sitting behind me. He would help a kid around the block-tell a newcomer to take it easy and that sort of thing. When I worked on "Lady Luck," Will Eisner had rented an apartment at Tudor City in New York (which, at that time, were very nice apartment houses). He had one room where he worked, and the other room took up all the rest of the paraphernalia. I_sat next to Will's door, Bob Powell sat next to me; Tex Blaisdell used to come in, and Chuck Cuidera (who was doing Blackhawk) was there. Every now and then, Eisner would come out. I was sitting at that board for years. It was a learning experience. Watching Lou Fine work-his work was like a fine painting; it took a long time to do it but it was a brilliant piece of work. In my opinion, for drawing, you couldn't beat Lou Fine; he was terrific. I think Will Eisner had a coarser line but his work was more dramatic and he told a better story.
We approached it like this: A person can read a book and get a story done one way, but if you give a story to an artist, he's like a movie director and he individualizes that story. And each artist makes a different interpretation every time.
Movie directors influenced Eisner and myself. Did you ever see the movie And Then There Were None directed by Rene Clair? That's fantastic! That's basically the early years.
Audience: You were just out of high school? It was your first job?
Nick: Yeah, I was just out of high school at 18. It was my first job.
Mark: At this point, what did you want to do career-wise? Were comics something to do for a couple of years?
Nick: I wanted to be an illustrator, y'see. I think most of the guys wanted to be illustrators-but to be one you had to have an agent and illustration was a big competitive field. With comics, you at least had some money to eat and you could learn and develop. I used to go to museums and to the illustrator societies. And I would study the illustrators. Most of the comic artists would study other comic artists, but I wanted to be an illustrator, so I learned from the illustrators. That helped me a lot. And as I kept going along, I noticed through the years that my work changed and got very tight. Toward the end, my work got to be what I wanted.
Audience: Do you recall the illustrators by name?
Nick: There were quite a few artists I admired, but the first one that impressed me most was Degas (because of his design). Monet was one of my favorites. I went through the whole gauntlet. Of the illustrators, Robert Fawcett was one of my favorites. I knew of Colby Whitmore and quite a few down the line. An artist when he paints knows in what direction he wants to go; so you take a little bit from this guy-you say, "I like the way he does hair," and you take that. After you've copied it a while, it dissipates and you develop your own style. It was the learning underneath that you do. Good basic design structure. There's a lot of artists who paint today and do comics, but they're not telling stories. They draw individual illustrations-and they're good! They're brilliant-but sometimes they don't tell a story.
Mark: So you worked for Eisner and Iger, and a couple of other houses, but then you went into the War.
Nick: After Eisner, I went to Fiction House and I did a few stories there (I think it was "Camilla"), and then I went into the service.
Mark: Let me ask you about your war record.
Nick: [chuckles] It starts like a little fish and I don't know how long I was going to make it, y'know? One bomb could've been...
Mark: Tell them about the honors you received.
Audience: Whose army were you in? Patton's army?
Nick: This is what happened: I went into the 66th Infantry Division, and while I was there, they had a competition for the patch design of the division. I don't know if you ever saw the patch with a black panther with his mouth open; well, I did that. Before I won the competition, I had been getting up at 6:00 in the morning, going out in the field, going through maneuvers, and I noticed that all the guys up at headquarters were still sleeping. I thought, "Gee, I don't want to keep doing this." So, after I won the competition, I went up to headquarters, and I worked in a department. Then some other General wanted me-you see, there are certain corps in the Army; there are 10 divisions in one corps. General Shelby Burke saw my cartoons in the Officers Club and he said he wanted me in to work in his corps. They said, "We can't send you as a private so we'll promote you to corporal." But the only opening they had for a corporal was in the motor pool. [laughter] They sent me to Europe and a guy said, "You're in the motor pool; we could use you. We'll put you in a tank." I said, "I don't know how to even drive a truck!" [laughter] So, they put me in a tank. If you ever go to Europe and you see a lot of buildings with no corners on them, those are the ones I turned! [laughter]
I was an assistant tank driver and we were trailing other tanks, on our way to relieve another division. We had all these soldiers of the 104th Infantry packed on the back of a tank and were just following the other tanks. It was monotonous; you'd go and you'd stop. The tank driver, Tommy, said, "Nick, this is boring. You drive for a while. When the tank in front of us stops, you stop." So I took over and followed the tank. We went for about a quarter mile and then we stopped. All these guys came running up to the tank from in front of us, climbing up and yelling at us. The tank engine is really loud so you could just see their mouths moving. This went on and it happened about three times. Finally we all stopped, I_got out of the driver's seat and Tommy took over again. And these guys ran up to the tank again and when they saw my friend Tommy the driver, they started chewing him out. They were cursing like mad! What had happened was the tank was very wide and, as we were going down the road, I drove so close to the trees I was brushing the guys off the tank! And they were running to try and catch up with me! [laughter] So there were a lot of little silly things like that; it had its good points and bad.
I was wounded twice and, after the war, they said, "We can use an artist." Now, they tell me! [laughs] So I worked for Information and Education in France.
Mark: You came back with a few decorations?
Nick: Two Purple Hearts. [applause] I was just one of many. I wouldn't have been there if they hadn't sent me there. There were no heroes out there. I never saw men go into battle who were heroes; sometimes you're so scared. One incident was when we spearheaded into Germany-the first ones in. We were the Third Armored Division, under General Hodges, and we went through Belgium and were the first in Cologne. My tank commander had his head blown off when we were ambushed by SS troopers with bazookas. I didn't even realize he was dead-I just saw the flash in the turret. Afterwards they wanted us to clean out the tank (which was splattered with what was left of the commander) but I said, "No way."
That night we went to the bathroom-European bathrooms are different in that they didn't have urinals, just a wall-and we were standing there doing our business and this German came in and stood along side of me. He looked at me and I looked at him, and we just ran! [laughter] There were no heroes.
Mark: You received two Purple Hearts: One for working with Mort Weisinger... [laughter]
Nick: [laughs] I never worked with Mort.
Mark: You got out of the service and went back to Fiction House for a while. Then you eventually hooked up with DC.
Nick: When I got out, I started doing advertising. I decided after the service that I wasn't going back to cartooning, so I was doing full color covers for magazines. Crossword puzzle magazines and other jobs here and there. In-between that, I was in a studio with a couple of other artists, and I got to do the Tarzan daily newspaper strip. Burne Hogarth asked me if I wanted to do it and he sent me the script. I worked on that for about a year. I always visualized Tarzan in the jungle but after the first week, the story took place in the desert with Arabs or in some temple with a goddess. I said, "Where are the trees? I want the trees and the monkeys!" Everybody looks at my Tarzan and says. "Where's the jungle?" I also worked on Casey Ruggles for Warren Tufts-who was a good imitator of Alex Raymond-and then I started working for DC on Gangbusters. There's some nice work in that book.
Mark: You worked on just about everything for DC: Teen Titans, Aquaman, Congo Bill, Tomahawk, The Brave and the Bold, a lot of romance stories. Marv, let's talk about your involvement with Nick on Teen Titans. What can you tell us about this?
Marv: We did a couple of stories. The very first one was one that Nick inked. It was the origin of Wonder Girl-I keep doing the origin of Wonder Girl [laughter]-and this was back in 1969. Nick and Gil Kane worked on it together, and it was just absolutely a beautiful job.
The thing about Nick's stuff-and the reason I was so thrilled that he did that particular story-is that as you're growing up as a teenage boy, looking at pictures of Mera, you grow up a lot faster. [laughter]
Nick: The funny thing is I get reactions. All these guys who liked Mera always want a sketch with the boobs smaller or bigger. "I like your drawing of Wonder Girl but make her a little bigger!" [laughter] But I only do them one way. [chuckles]
Marv: The second Teen Titans was a story that no one has ever seen printed. It was a story that Len Wein and I co-wrote that was originally intended for Teen Titans #20. It was "The Titans Fit the Battle of Jericho," and Nick did probably one of the most incredible art jobs I had ever seen up to that time. [To Nick] You did it in a style I had not seen before; you were using glue or something and were rubbing it off.
Nick: I tried everything. If I remember-and somebody showed me some copies of that job-there were these three black kids jumping on the back of a bus. Instead of drawing around the lights, I did it like a woodblock print. I put the black down first and then put on the whites. It had a different effect.
Marv: It was absolutely brilliant to see because that was a technique I sort of remembered from art school and Nick did it so magnificently. The story hadn't been published, though it was written, penciled, inked, lettered, colored, and sent to the printers. But it was pulled back. It would have featured DC's first black super-hero. The story was never published. It was pulled back at the very last second for whatever reason. It was lost for a long time and some pages have finally showed up in Comic Book Artist. I'm thrilled to see these pages again because it was one of my very early stories and Nick's artwork is just so magnificent. We were just stunned how beautiful this job was, and for it never to have seen print was just awful.
Nick: I remember when I was doing it, they had to take some pages out-I read about it as I don't have a good memory-and had Neal Adams do some work.
Marv: After they decided not to publish the story, Neal Adams sat down and, over a weekend and using about five or six pages of the original story that Nick had drawn, drew the other 18 or 19 pages. Nick inked the job and it was finished in less than a week to meet the shipping date. Back then, DC was six to eight months ahead of schedule-as opposed to six to eight days [laughter]-and Nick and Neal turned out a magnificent job in less than a week. These were two guys who were working not only fast, but brilliantly. Nick's original work was even better.
Nick: I don't remember, but thanks!
Mark: What was the first job of Nick's you were cognizant of?
Marv: Probably his romance stories. Then Aquaman. I have a memories of his girls because they were so much more attractive than anybody else's at the time.
Nick: How old were you when you first came up to DC?
Marv: I was a fetus. [laughter]
Nick: You and Len!
Marv: At one point, we were interns up there in our young teens. I went to the High School of Art and Science, about five blocks away from DC. So I was showing up between when I was 13 and 16. They weren't used to having fans up there at the time so they let us in. It was like, "We don't know who these people are but, sure, why not?" Fandom did not exist at that particular time. Because I went to school a few blocks away, I would go and see Nick, Carmine, Murphy Anderson-it was just a real thrill. You just had to look at Nick's artwork on Aquaman and the romance books and you had the feeling that you were welcome into it. I don't know how to phrase that well, but you just felt good when you looked at it. There are some artists you can talk about the technical achievements, but you look at Nick's work and you liked the characters-they just felt good to you.
Mark: Colleen, what of Nick's work first impressed you?
Colleen Doran: Aquaman. These guys are all going "Hoot, hoot, hoot," over the girls, but I was going "Hoot, hoot, hoot" over Aquaman! [laughter] Babe-ilicious!
Mark: [To Nick] The obvious question is, did you model your characters on real people?
Nick: When I used to draw women, it depended on what the women were in the story. If they were villainesses, I'd lean toward one way; if they were ideal women-like Madeline Carroll or Grace Kelly-I'd lean another. I'd give a heroine very straight features; if I wanted to draw a saucy girl-Susan Hayward with a little turned-up nose-I'd do it that way. If I was drawing a woman who was part-villainess, part-heroine, I would go a little toward Ava Gardner and make her just a little meaner looking but with nice features. Pretty girls can be just as mean. Every time they showed a villain they always showed him ugly. I've known some ugly guys who are pretty good; most of my friends are that way! [laughter] I studied girls a lot...
Marv: So did we! [laughter]
Nick: I mean artistically! I tried to pick up from the illustrators and the painters who had beautiful ways of displaying their women. The women were always in decent poses-even when they were running. I did learn from a lot of good illustrators: John Petty, a wonderful pin-up artist; John Gannon was a terrific illustrator of women; Colby Whitmore and all these illustrators did some really beautiful women.
I'd say, "The leg is a little longer from the thigh." Say you're drawing a figure and if you put a small head on it, it looks longer; but if you put on a larger head, that figure looks a lot shorter. So it used to be that the heads were in proportion but I'd make the necks a little longer and it would work. People have a certain form and grace to them when they move-women especially-so that is what I tried to replicate.
Mark: Colleen, what inspiration did you get from Nick's work?
Colleen: It's pretty amazing really. I was going through some of my old sketch books about a year ago and they're full of Nick Cardy swipes. I still have the first issue of Teen Titans that I ever read and (though I don't remember the name of the story) it had them all being in a club and there's a wagon-wheel chandelier and Donna leaps up onto it and swings across the room. I have one picture and, I swear to God, there's at least six or seven sketches in my sketchbook of the running back-shot which I did over and over and over, trying to understand what he was doing. It's page after page after page of me trying to draw like him.
Nick: I'm sorry for you. [laughter]
Colleen: The forms were very solid and the people looked likeable; there's a likability about your work that is very appealing to me. Your characters were very attractive and pretty-and even when they weren't, they weren't threatening to me as a little girl which I certainly appreciated. The guys were cute. And they actually looked like young people. You get a lot of people who draw teenagers and they look like they're 35. I was at the World Science Fiction Convention last week and they actually had teenagers dressed as Wonder Girl and Superboy; it was so funny because they looked so young. [laughter]
Marv: Another thing that was being done at Marvel and DC at the time (that Nick broke out of) was to have teenagers look like they were eight years old, too. It was one way or the other. But Nick made them look the correct age.
Nick: Because they came up and had these little infants. [laughter] I'll tell you the truth: Years ago, I would go on the street and see a nice little kid and pat him on the shoulder-if his mother was there (now, you can't do that!)... nowadays when I think of the kids reading super-heroes in today's world, I go "Oh, my God!" y'know? They had a kid in "Congo Bill"....
Marv: We were younger than the Teen Titans-but almost that age-when I was reading it, and all the other artists drew them to look nine years old. And I knew that I didn't look like that at that age. So when you started to draw those characters, suddenly they looked like what teenagers should look like. Again, that was something that brought me into the book.
Mark: Nick, how did you feel when a lot of the Teen Titans issues were being drawn by other artists? Gil Kane, Neal Adams, George Tuska, Frank Springer, Artie Saaf....
Nick: I think it was in transition. What happened was that they were getting ready to do Bat Lash and I was already doing Aquaman and Teen Titans. But then my schedule started getting a little crowded. I always penciled and inked my work; I always did that. But I would never pencil because when I penciled I did it very loose and I picked it out with my brush. It was easier in latter years because my work was looser, but at first I used to pencil very tight and I would erase a lot. But after a while I got it to where I could just make the outline and pick it up with a brush. And if I gave anyone those pencils to ink, I would have driven them bananas because they couldn't have found the right line. I just did a lot of sketches, y'see. But when I got Neal Adams and Gil Kane, their work was so clean. But every job that I did for Teen Titans with Gil and Neal, I would always put my own personal touch on the brush. If they had eyes on a girl a certain way, I would put in my eyes in their eyes-the way I draw eyes.
Mark: Did you find it restrictive? Working on somebody else's pencils-did it challenge you as much artistically or did you resent it at times?
Nick: I'll tell ya: Y'know, when you're doing your own work, you create, you design it, but then when you get somebody else's work, you don't have that much influence. What happens is, you just ink it as best and as quick as you can. But it's always interesting to see what it would be like inking Neal Adams or Gil Kane.
Mark: Did you pick up anything educationally from working with these people's work?
Nick: Mike Sekowsky had a way of drawing an arm or a leg that was almost standard with almost everything he did. He had a pattern. Mike was so fast that one time I ran into Murray Boltinoff's office and I was delivering a job. Mike was in with Murray who said, "Mike, this is an awful job! You were in a hurry. It's awful!" So, Murray gave Mike another script and said, "Take your time." In the meanwhile, Mike had just been married and he invited me up to his house for dinner. There on the counter was the 24-pages already finished. [laughter] I said, "Is that the assignment you just picked up?" He said, "Yeah, but Murray's worried so I'm holding it for an extra week." [laughter] So then, when he brought it in, I was delivering a job at the same time, and he handed the job to Murray. Murray looked at it and says, "Now, Mike, isn't that a lot better?" [laughter, applause] Mike had a style. I inked quite a few things with Mike; he did a Witching Hour cover that was very effective that I liked inking and they did a nice color job on it. But there are a lot of stories that I've done that some other people have been getting credit for.
Mark: Let's get to Bat Lash. Sergio, what do you remember about the creation of Bat Lash and your involvement?
Sergio Aragonés: I was, by that time, living in New York and I was called by Joe Orlando (a friend of mine for many years who worked at Mad) and Carmine Infantino. We went to a restaurant next to DC Comics and they talked about new projects and stuff. They said they wanted to create a different western and they had the name, Bat Lash. I said, "Don't say anymore. I'll bring you something." So I went home and thought of a more European western. In those times, all the westerns were very, very aggressive with the cliché of the American Cowboy-with very beautiful clothes and able to shoot guns out of other people's hands. I have adored the western I brought in ideas and sketches and they liked what I did. They took it to Nick and said, "Go ahead!" It's very hard because I write the way I talk-pretty bad. [laughter] People don't understand so what I do to save time (and it's much easier for me because I'm more visual) I draw my scripts and put in very basic dialogue. I would put in notes to the artist saying, "Please don't use this as reference!" [laughter] Instead of writing about a saucer, for instance, it was just as easy for me to draw a saucer. So I would do the scripts on 81/2" x 11" paper, divided into panels, and I would draw the story very crudely-but with no intention for the artist to follow the drawings. When I saw the first work that Nick did, I was so emotional. I don't want to damn any other artist but the most human artist is Nick; he draws people like they are. There's a humanity in everything he draws. He understands people because he comes from illustration and the fine arts. He knows that underneath a person there is a skeleton and on it there's some muscles, but that person isn't always flexing-they're just people. When the comic came out, it was real. He was fantastic. [to Nick] The impression your work gave was that it was real. It was terrific and I loved it. In those days, for expediency, editors would assign other people's scripts so they could buy time and have their rear ends covered. So a couple of other stories were written by... [to Nick] one of them was by you?
Nick: [chuckles] #2. I threw a little slapstick in that one.
Sergio: The thing is every villain looked like me in that issue. [laughter] You drew me as the villain!
Nick: I drew you as the hero!
Sergio: Heroes are blond. When I saw the story, he had drawn me as the villain and called him "Sergio"! [laughter] I was the antagonist of the story!
Nick: Y'know what it was? Orlando says, "If you can, make this guy look like Sergio." But I didn't want to make a copy of Sergio so I made this guy resemble Sergio though I didn't use his way of speech. Anyway, I didn't know how it affected you at all!
Sergio: But I was a handsome fellow back then... and the way you drew me... [laughter]
Nick: Sergio and I would encounter each other in the hallway or in an elevator-as soon as we would see each other-and there was always a competition to see who was the quickest draw. [laughter] People used to think we were nuts.
Mark: Nobody draws quicker than Sergio. [laughter]
Nick: Sergio is a wonderful guy and I really love his work. I think he's a wonderful human being. He's one of the nice guys. [applause]
Sergio: We didn't go very far with Bat Lash because I was trying to take a chronological license-his era was not exactly the same time as the Mexican Revolution but it was close. But Bat Lash was a type of western very few people attempted then; it was set in the late 1800s. So I had planned for Bat Lash to go to Mexico and make a long saga of it. Carmine told me he wanted Bat to have a brother so that it would have conflict and based on the landowner war going on with Mexico, I made it so he was raised by a Mexican family. Carmine wanted a gun strapped on the brother's leg...
Nick: A shotgun. He was hunting Bat Lash.
Sergio: The name of their Priest was Don Pasquale, my father's name. [laughter] I loved that comic book because it was really as well-drawn as a western should be. Why didn't it last long?
Nick: Carmine told me that it didn't do too well in the States but when he went to Europe, they were amazed that it stopped because they wanted more of it. They liked it better there.
Sergio: The Europeans love westerns. Today you can still find incredibly well-drawn western comics in Europe. When Europeans come to the United States they rent a Cadillac and drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. [laughter] They cannot believe the distances and the desert! They drive around and go, "Yippee!" [laughter] They have this fascination.
Mark: [To Nick] Is Bat Lash your favorite comic book?
Nick: All comics come from a mold, but Bat Lash didn't fit into a mold. This was different. We were more or less free to do whatever we felt. In other words, the writer didn't constrict the artist; the artist didn't interfere with the writer. With Denny O'Neil and Sergio, we worked things out. We were rooting for the end product. How I drew it was something else. But there was a freedom and I enjoyed it. [to Sergio] Did you get one of my Bat Lash pages?
Sergio: I bought it from a collector.
Nick: That was one of my better pages. It had a horse running with a nice dark shadow. I think that was in the series that you were supposed to be in.
Sergio: That's correct.
Nick: You and Bat Lash were fighting... no, not you! [laughter] They were fighting over the girl over the crypt. This girl was a villainess but she was beautiful, and she was making dopes out of Bat Lash and... what was his name?
Sergio: Sergio! [laughter]
Sergio: It was a classic con: This guy was trying to get the money from the bank and, of course, the girl played the men against each other.
Nick: Each had a certain time to meet her so she had dates with both of them. It was competition, y'know? It was a different kind of story.
Mark: Let's open up to questions. Scott [Shaw!]?
Scott Shaw!: Nick, on Bat Lash your storytelling just flowered. I always loved that panel where the kids are dropping the mice and they're tumbling down. Was that your idea or was that in Sergio's thumbnails?
Sergio: That was not my story.
Nick: I created that. There was some influence from Mark Twain. Little childish pranks that were pulled on a community. Bat Lash was being roped into a marriage with this family who had a shotgun on him. Bat had arranged with these kids to climb up onto the beams so when the ceremony was ready they would release all these mice. All the people were screaming and Bat got out of it. That was a little...
Sergio: You wrote that story...
Nick: Yeah, I think so.
Sergio: With the Indians...
Nick: Well, the Indians... the thing I focused on in #2 was the little girl getting shot and the anger in Bat's eyes. The Indians were secondary. There's that panel where you see the girl being shot in Bat Lash's pupils. (But she doesn't really get shot; her father gave her a cigar case which the bullet hit and knocked her out; Bat Lash thought she was dead and he went mad and was killing everybody.)
Audience: I know you did most of the characters DC had, but were there any you wished you had done more of?
Nick: I would have liked to have done a little more Bat Lash. I did a few The Brave and the Bold stories with Batman and the Black Canary that was one of my most challenging. I used strong dramatic blacks. There was also "The Rebel in the Streets" in B&B that I really liked. That one had a lot of nice shots. The last one I did was The Shroud where I had The Bat Squad, and it was so completely loose; with that fog, I could do anything.
Audience: In the early '70s, you seemed to be doing all of DC's covers. You were a really good choice because of your sense of composition. What was that like?
Nick: There were so many good artists up there who were doing the covers. There was a gap when I wasn't getting work and Carmine wanted me to work on the covers. And I was doing all of them. I could design them the way I wanted. At first I was restricted with what I could do with the Aquaman covers, but Carmine said, "Nick, you have a free hand so do whatever you want." On Aquaman, instead of putting the logo on top, I put it across the bottom with the word "Aquaman" spelled out in stalagmites. If I wanted an explosion, the figures would form the explosive effect. A cover is on the stands with maybe 50 other covers. The reader had hardly a second to look at each one of those, so it's got to be interesting. So that's the premise of my covers: very simple design that would jump out at you.
Mark: Did you ever color your own covers?
Nick: No, I wish I did.
Audience: What have you been up to these last few years?
Nick: Keeping out of mischief. [laughter] I've been working on reproductions of some of my covers that people have commissioned. I just did one of the most popular ones-when Wonder Girl changed her costume.
Editor's note: A lively discussion of Nick's movie poster work followed and we regret that due to space limitations, we had to excise a significant portion. Be sure to look for the forthcoming book, The Art of Nick Cardy, from Coates Publishing in the near future, for an extensive, in-depth look at the artist's entire career!
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