Doug: Here's your guy, Martinex1, back again to lead us on another shopping spree.
Mike S.: I have to give DC their due. I never followed the Distinguished Competition’s line of comics as closely as Marvel’s. I was so enamored with Spidey and his ilk that I would have joined the Merry Marvel Marching Society in its heyday if I was old enough. I only owned a smattering of DC books, but I was thoroughly intrigued by the Phantom Stranger and Metamorpho and the Spectre. All of those characters’ books were intermittently included in comics my cousin shared with me as a youngster. They were odd and dark and creepy. Combine that with a few issues of Unexpected and The Witching Hour and my taste of DC had a horror flavor.
I had read a few issues of the iconic characters here and there, but most of my knowledge of DC’s core super-heroes came from Hollywood with Batman on afternoon repeat cycles, Wonder Woman on CBS, Superman in the theatre, and Super-Friends, Shazam, and even Bat-Mite on Saturday mornings. That part of their universe didn’t catch fire with me; it seemed too quaint.
However, one DC book that had been particularly etched in my young mind was “Unexpected” #119. I was probably a little too young and easily spooked to be reading that one when I did as it surely cost me some sleep even with a nightlight on. But I read it again and again anyway. It had a handful of creepy stories about a mirror that records evil deeds, a woman created out of swamp muck, and a tree that captures lost spirits, amongst others. All of that was bad enough, but there was a cover that really captured my imagination. In a single panel it tells the tale of a blind man who promised marriage to a witch in exchange for his sight. Oh, what horror will he see when he finally turns around? The cover is not gory or gross; it is neither bloody nor gruesome. It just perfectly captures the moment of a sickening realization. It uses light and shadow and an impeccably rendered facial expression to create the instant when suspense turns to terror.
And that leads me all these years later to today’s $1 Challenge of “If I Had A Buck”. You see, that cover of Unexpected #119 was lost all of those years ago to the ravages of childhood disarray. As I grew older, I sought out to recreate the collection my cousin had shared with me and that particular book was one of many that I needed to find. But not only did I need to get a copy, I wanted to know who penciled that cover, that wonderful cover. It turns out that the artist was Nick Cardy.
Nick Cardy (Oct. 20, 1920 – Nov. 3, 2013) was a comic book artist who was particularly loyal to DC for decades. He is best known for his interior work on Aquaman and Teen Titans, but he touched all of the DC icons and handled a wide array of genres. He was just as comfortable with cowboys and romance and gladiators and creatures as he was with long-johns and capes. He became the go-to cover artist for DC in the early Bronze Age. He was flexible in his layouts and always a masterful storyteller. In my opinion, his cover art was ground breaking in the way he played with logos, angles, dimensions, and light. All the while, his figures were perfect and the expressions were flawless. Looking over his huge body of artwork, I have become convinced that I missed out on some great comics from the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. As I said, DC deserves its credit as does Nick Cardy.
In 2005, he was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame after about 60 years of work in comics and commercial art including movie advertisements. All of this was done after receiving two Purple Hearts for wounds suffered in WWII.
So you know the drill. You have a single dollar to spend on the Nick Cardy comics below; he handled the cover art on each. Share your selections and share your thoughts about the man, the art, the company, and the characters.
Aquaman #42 (Nov 1968; $0.12)
Bat Lash #5 (June 1969; $0.12)
Brave and the Bold #98 (Oct 1971; $0.25)
Flash #225 (Jan 1974; $0.20)
Girls’ Love Stories #156 (Jan 1971; $0.15)
Jimmy Olson #159 (Aug 1973; $0.20)
Spectre #8 (Jan 1969; $0.12)
Strange Adventures #239 (Nov 1972; $0.20)
Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes #200 (Jan 1974; $0.20)
Teen Titans #16 (July 1968; $0.12)
Unexpected #119 (June 1970; $0.15)
Weird Worlds #9 (Jan 1974; $0.20)
Witching Hour #21 (June 1972; $0.25)
Wonder Woman #206 (July 1973; $0.20)