Since 2011, possibly no group of characters in the DCnU has suffered more than the classic Teen Titans. Sadly, the creator who helped make that series so memorable, Nick Cardy, passed away yesterday at the age of 93. A war veteran, Cardy returned to America and became one of the most important comics artists of the Silver Age. You can see a selection of his best covers here and here, and tributes here, here and here.
Cardy during his days as a soldier. Image Source: CBR.
On the Unofficial DC Discussion Boards, we discussed Cardy when he gave one of his last interviews to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in May 2013. Cardy was a veteran of World War II. He fought as part of the US Army's 3rd Armored Division, 'Spearhead,' and as one fan put it: "Holy Cow! He was in some very scary places!"
Cardy's subsequent work as a comics artist reflected the way American popular culture helps US society digest its most difficult trials.Cardy did World War II military service from 1943 to 1945, earning two Purple Hearts for wounds suffered as a tank driver in the armored cavalry. He began his Army career with the 66th Infantry Division, during which time he won a competition to design its patch, creating its snarling black panther logo. His art talent led to his being assigned an office job at division headquarters. This lasted, Cardy recalled in an interview, because a general who had seen Cardy's cartoons in an Officers Club had Cardy assigned to his own corps. (Cardy gave the name as "General Shelby Burke", but no one by that name or similar is found in the federal archives.) As the artist tells it, the only opening was for a corporal in the motor pool, so Private Cardy was promoted and assigned to that duty. This, he said, led in turn, upon his being shipped to the European theater, to Cardy's assignment as an assistant tank driver for the Third Armored Division, under General Courtney Hodges. Later, between the end of the war and his discharge, Cardy said he worked for the Army's Information and Education office in France.
Because of his war history, Cardy had seen some of the most bloody human actions:
Awarded two Purple Hearts for his combat injuries in the war, Cardy experienced his share of wartime horrors; he saw his tank commander get his head blown off when they were ambushed by German troops with bazookas.
This is why above all other characters, under his pen, the Titans became beacons of youthful hope, shining out of the darkness.Drawing those commonplace moments in a war was necessary to his sanity. Incidents such as his tank commander being killed, or seeing cartloads of dead bodies, or opening a trap door to see dozens of scared faces looking up at him, are "something that you'd rather not know," said Cardy. "I tried to focus on the lighter stuff. "I had a policy after I got out of the Army. I was so tickled to get out of the Army alive, I was not gonna let anything bother me."
Nick Cardy (1920-2013). Image Source: Titans Tower.