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Nick Cardy: The Artist At War Review


Published by Titan Publishing, Available now

Nick Cardy: The Artist At War offers something a bit different from what you may normally expect to pick up in your local funny book store. Nick Cardy may be a name you are familiar with however, having been a notable artist for Will Eisner, Fiction House, DC and Marvel as well as countless illustrations in the form of movie posters. You have most likely seen his work, for comic book heads it is likely in the form of Aquaman or Teen Titans, for which he was a long standing artist through the 60s and 70s.

While his work may be familiar to many, you almost certainly haven’t seen it like this. He was one of the many young Americans shipped to Europe to fight in World War II. Inspirationally, this is a collection of his sketches, along with annotations and anecdotes from the man himself. The works are so beautifully and skilfully rendered (I am insanely jealous of anyone that can so easily and gracefully handle watercolours, something I never mastered at art college) that it is easy to appreciate on this basis alone, but it is the context of war that you cannot help but be grabbed by.

The art itself shows the great melancholy of war, along with the tragedy and drama. But the artist also recounts the various events, subjects (and often their ill fates) and places with warmth and a self-deprecating manner, despite earning himself two purple hearts in his time in service. I particularly like that once his fellow officers twigged to his artistic abilities he was soon doing portraits in the regiments and being swapped and moved around in the favour of generals. There are of course sad tales, as there always is with war, but he couldn’t tell them any more warmly or respectfully.

My only criticism would be with the format and quality chosen for the book. It is not unattractive in its layout and general style, but I think instead of being just another glossy number the idea of the sketchbook could have been played with, and matt or textured stock paper may have helped to highlight the tactile assets of the original pieces some more.

 That said, I am very happy with this book and am proud to have it out on the coffee table in that typical ‘oh look aren’t I interesting and well read dear guest’ kind of way.

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