Nick Cardy 1920-2013
Nick Cardy actually started out as a Golden Age (1938-1950) artist, working at Eisner & Iger, a kind of free-lance studio that provided art and stories for various comic book publishers in the early days of the medium. They're best known for the The Spirit Section, a comic book-like supplement that ran in Sunday newspapers. This supplement concerned itself chiefly with a character called The Spirit, hence the title, but had backup features as well, including one about a crime fighting socialite named Lady Luck. Cardy didn't create the character, but certainly improved it. The thing that stands out most in Cardy's work was his knack for drawing beautiful, sexy women, and he's now seen as a rival of sorts to John Romita Sr., who drew his own memorable females for Marvel Comics in the 1960s. If you're wondering who "Ford Davis" is, that's the house pseudonym, used no matter who was drawing or writing the strip (boy, they had a house-everything back in those days!)
Cardy was drafted during World War Two, where he earned two Purple Hearts for injuries suffered as a tank driver in Europe while with the Third Armoured Division. Before all that, though, and while still serving stateside, he won a competition to draw a logo for the 66th Infantry Division. No word on whether Huey Newton or Bobby Seale also served in this division.
After returning home from the war, Cardy worked in advertising for a while, and then got a job drawing the daily black-and-white Tarzan comic strip for a couple of years in the 1950s, while Burne Hogarth continued with the Sundays. Hogarth was already something of a legend at that point, so for Cardy to have his work appear in conjunction with the more established artist was quite an honor. As far as I know, nobody ever complained about a drop in quality from Monday through Saturday.
Around the same time, Cardy started his long tenure at DC Comics. His first book was Gangbusters, based on a popular radio show. Notice how the program's characters were described as "coast to coast favorites." That everyone in the country could listen to the same show at the same time was still considered quite amazing.
Tomahawk was a frontier spy during the Revolutionary War, Dan Hunter his juvenile sidekick. Don't worry, Dan. I can't find any record of this marriage lasting beyond this particular issue.
The waterlogged superhero Aquaman was Cardy's best known character.
"Ramona Fradon had been drawing the character but was moving on for some reason. I remember being in [editor] Murray's [Boltinoff] office with Ramona during the transition. ... Anyway, they must have liked my work because when the character got his own series, they made me the artist".
Cardy drew the first 39 issues (1962-1963) and all the covers until 1971.
I hope Aquaman knows a thing or two about bankruptcy court.
Enough of Aquaman already. Wonder Girl (Diana Prince's kid sister) gets a makeover, much to the amazement of Robin and friends.
"Not now, darling. I'm trying to kill someone."
I've already compared Cardy to John Romita Jr. Like his Marvel counterpart, he was in great demand as a romance artist.
If not for the downcast expression, she could pass for Romita's Mary Jane Watson (Spider-Man's girlfriend.)
Al Plastino 1921-2013
I said before that Nick Cardy drew in DC's house style, but an argument can be made that his work became more individualistic and recognizable (a well as a bit psychedelic) as time went on. Al Plastino, however, was a true chameleon who could disappear in another artist's style to a startling degree. Just you wait and see.
An early stint with a now-forgotten superhero. Actually, there's two 1940s comic book characters with this name, both androids. So whoever came up with the second version probably hoped everyone would forget the first one, which happened to be Plastino's.
Once settled in at DC, Plastino worked with the most famous superhero of them all. Never as the primary artist, though, but as backup to Wayne Boring and, later, Curt Swan, both of whose styles he successfully mimicked.
Primary artist or not, Plastino did get to create supervillian Brainiac, who shrunk and stole the Kryptonian city of Kandor and all its citizens before the planet exploded, actually saving a lot of lives when you think about it, though he never got credit for that.
Back in the day, a superhero was no match for a crooner.
And speaking of Ernie Bushmiller...
Plastino worked on Nancy, too, and this time got the heads just right.