Category Archives: art

Nick Cardy 1920-2013

A big chunk of my comics childhood has passed away. Nick Cardy, born Nicolas Viscardi, was perhaps the first influential artist on Aquaman and Teen Titans, but most importantly, he illustrated almost every DC Comics cover in the early 1970s. To me, Nick Cardy’s versions of the DC superheroes were the definitive versions, as those were the ones I saw all throughout my childhood, and even on the covers of books I didn’t read. And he was damn good. Nick Cardy passed away this weekend.

Here is the official press release from DC Comics:

“We are saddened to learn of the passing of Nick Cardy, one of the industry’s greatest artists. A talented draftsman with a knack for layout and energetic cover design, Cardy’s art leapt off the page and helped redefine some of DC Comics’ most lasting characters for a new age.

“Like many early comic pros, Cardy began his career working under the tutelage of the legendary Will Eisner, as part of the Eisner and Iger studio. But it was his arrival at DC Comics in 1950 that saw the artist begin to show signs of the legend that would soon form around him.

“Cardy’s smooth line and dynamic sense of action graced the first appearance of the Teen Titans in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #60, not to mention almost 40 issues of AQUAMAN during the character’s initial Silver Age solo series.

“Cardy continued his relationship with DC’s teen team for the entirety of TEEN TITANS 43-issue Silver Age run, redefining the collection of sidekicks through his innovative and yet still classical brushstroke, with a dash of post-modernist design and 60s swagger.

“Cardy was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 2005.

“We’ve lost one of the artistic pillars here at DC,” said Diane Nelson, President of DC Entertainment. “Nick’s work on Aquaman, Teen Titans and beyond helped define how we look at these characters today. Our thoughts go out to his family, friends and many fans.”

“Nick Cardy was a wonderful artist and person, but I’ll always remember his amazing covers,” said Dan DiDio, DC Entertainment Co-Publisher. “From the classic “Is This My Foe?” AQUAMAN #42 image that featured a victorious Black Manta hoisting Aquaman above him to the first appearance of the Teen Titans, Cardy just knew how to get a reader’s attention – and that is a talent that can never be understated. He was my definitive DC cover artist for the 60s.”

“Nick Cardy’s work helped define some of the things we see in comics today and take for granted,” said Jim Lee, DC Entertainment Co-Publisher. “He broke out of the mold in terms of covers and layout and created a truly interactive experience for the reader that directly points back to his time with the Eisner studio. His versions of Aquaman, the Teen Titans and Bat Lash – to name a few – remain iconic today. Our sympathies go out to his family during this difficult time.”

When I think of the Teen Titans, I think not of Marv Wolfman and George Perez’ wonderful New Teen Titans, I think of Nick Cardy’s Titans. The heroes of the comic my big sister read, on which I learned to read, the ones that even taught me about Shakespeare, and slavery, and the Civil War, and the civil rights movement. We have lost a comics legend, and I have lost a piece of my childhood.

To see a few more of Nick Cardy’s covers, check out my Tumblr here.

French Fry Skulls

Atlas Shrugged: Part I

Atlas Shrugged: Part I ~ There is a small subset of science fiction writers whose work has reached out into areas so not in the fiction arena. There’s L. Ron Hubbard, a pulp, sci-fi, fantasy and adventure hack who set out purposefully to create his own religion – the notorious Scientology. And then there’s Ayn Rand, whose own personal madness fueled a more philosophical movement – Objectivism. All I have to say is thank God Philip K. Dick never decided to branch out into religion, philosophy or politics.

I loved Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead,” “Atlas Shrugged,” and even her lesser known work “Anthem,” but the whole Objectivism thing kinda leaves me cold. Of course the problem here is that the brilliant Atlas Shrugged is almost a monument to the movement. That said, I was very hesitant to see the film version, or at least the first part of a two-part (quite possibly three) film adaptation.

Released last year to art house theaters and not doing well financially at all (it cost $20 million to make yet made less than $5 million at the box office), Atlas Shrugged: Part I is still an amazing film. The story, that of a future society where the intellectuals have gone on theoretical strike and brought the world to a standstill, is staggering.

The film looks great, but the problem is with the execution. The actors, mostly unknowns and character. actors, have no charisma here, and coupled with Rand’s heavy handed dialogue, the beginning is all talk and almost sleep inducing. When I was paying attention, I felt like I was being lectured and browbeaten for being a capitalist. Not good. This is a subversive Wall Street, just without Michael Douglas, and without a soul.

When the story does begin to pick up and I started to warm to a couple of the characters, Ayn Rand’s bourgeois arrogance kicks in. It’s almost as if she’s making fun of the upper class, or more accurately those folk ridiculous enough to want to make a living. The attitude is enough to pull me out of the film and keep me from enjoying on any level. It’s very heavy handed.

Don’t get me wrong, like I said, I like Rand’s writing a lot but I just don’t like being preached at. I never felt that way on the page. And of course, as noted in the title itself, this is only part if the story. Atlas Shrugged: Part II, with an all new cast of better known actors, opens to art house theaters next week. I hope it will be more like Ayn Rand’s fiction and less like philosophies.

That’s Really Trippin’, Man

Thinking outside the box. That’s where some of the cooler videogames of our age are coming from I think. Not so much fighting or blowing stuff up, or even trying to do puzzles, but more like dig the visuals, man. Much like coming down off a alcohol or drug-induced party high and watching “Teletubbies” on PBS at four in the morning, that’s what some of these games are like.

One such game is called Flower, created by Thatgamecompany, not as a game per se, but more as a work of art. It shows. You are a flower petal floating in the wind, controlled by the movement of the game controller. Set to beautiful calming music, the petal floats across gorgeous landscapes through your direction. This is a fantastically visual game, what little game there is to it. I could watch for hours, as it is relaxing.

And then there’s Eufloria from Valve Corporation, also known as Steam, the folks that brought you Portal. They call it a ‘real-time strategy videogame,’ whatever that means. With backing music that sounds like it was lifted from WXPN’s “Star’s End,” you are a space seed in the future, and you have to make your way to another asteroid to grow into a tree, from which more seeds will come, just like nature, ya know? It’s even more frustrating than Flower.

My days of post-party diversion are long over, so I guess these are not the games for me. But they sure are pretty, or at least Flower is, but I’m sure will put most folks to sleep…

French Fry Diary 294: Safeway Barbecue Potato Chips

M’korstock 2011

The annual music and arts event sponsored by Congregation M’kor Shalom will be held this Sunday, May 22, 2011.

M’korstock is a Jewish festival, in that it features Jewish singers, songwriters and musicians performing Jewish music, along side non-Jewish performers, performing a variety of genres from folk, country, contemporary, pop, and gospel. It is the only Festival of this type in the region.

At M’korstock, there will be major entertainment on two outdoor stages. Nationally-known performers Rick Recht, folk duo Aztec Two-Step, Ross M. Levy, and Cantor Jen Cohen of Temple Beth Sholom, Also, the interfaith choirs of M’kor Shalom singing with the Baptist Church Unity Choir will sing in their beautiful blend of music and faith. Local Klezmer band “Izzy” comprised of M’kor Shalom members, will take the stage, along with M’kor Shalom religious school students, to open the program. Kneehigh Spunk, the a capella group that won “Cherry Hill’s Got Talent” will also hit the stage.

A huge marketplace will include crafts and wares of all kinds, including, jewelry, food items, home goods and children’s items. In addition there will be a children’s area complete with entertainment, activities such as inflatables and craft-making activities. A wide variety of food from Kuzina by Sofia will be available ranging from ethnic foods to standard festival fare along with wine and beer by WineWorks of Marlton

M’korstock is open to the public. M’korstock guests are invited to bring their own lawn chairs and blankets to relax on the grounds and enjoy the music, arts and food for hours. There will be offsite parking and free shuttle service throughout the day at a drop off area with handicap onsite parking. In case of inclement weather, the entire event will move indoors.

The festival runs from 11 AM to 6 PM and will be held at Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill NJ. For more information, check the website and M’korstock on Facebook. Hope to see everyone there for a day of music, arts and shalom!

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Doctor Who: Vincent and the Doctor

“Vincent and the Doctor” is one of those history episodes of “Doctor Who.” They used to do these all the time way way back in the old days of the show. We’ve had a few in the new series. The recent Dalek adventure in World War II springs to mind, as does the older “Daleks in Manhattan” two-parter, and then there were the episodes with Agatha Christie, Queen Victoria and Shakespeare. This one falls more in line with the historical personage than just standard period piece. The personage in this case is Vincent van Gogh.

Geek that I am, my first exposure to van Gogh was in the Peanuts comic strip – Snoopy had one of his paintings in his doghouse. Later, I learned what a genius the man truly was, even if he was a mad genius. As one of the greatest post-impressionist painters of all time, his work still resonates and affects the art world even today. And yeah, he’s a perfect choice for a character in a Doctor Who episode. Of course his presence in this episode begs one question, is his name pronounced ‘van goff’ or ‘van goh’?

Notable this time out is that “Vincent and the Doctor” is written by Richard Curtis, more famous for Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and one of my favorite films Love Actually. He even brought along one of his favorite actors, Bill Nighy, for a pleasant cameo as a present day van Gogh expert. Good stuff.

Despite the ending of the last episode “Cold Blood,” Amy Pond seems pretty upbeat in this one, but of course she doesn’t remember she lost, or even had, a fiancée. It is a good upbeat though, and there is good chemistry between Amy and the Doctor this time. She is big and flamboyant. I like Amy here. Did Rory really make that much of a difference in her life? There’s a great moment when the panicked Doctor calls Vincent “Rory.” He’s taking Rory’s death harder than the clueless Amy.

The episode is highlighted by many beautiful visual references as well as several bad puns to van Gogh, his life and his work. Amy taunting the artist with sunflowers comes off just as well as Rose trying to get Queen Victoria to say “I am not amused” back in “Tooth and Claw.” The performance of Tony Curran as van Gogh plus the music of Murray Gold produce a perfect shattered portrait of the tortured genius. The music has been notably stunning this season.

The story has the artist, along with our TARDIS crew fighting off a stranded monster, the Krafayis, a miracle of the non-special effects of the invisible – almost a homage to Forbidden Planet at times. Look for inky cameos of the first and second Doctors, along with some frightening moments, and a powerful powerful ending that I won’t spoil.

So until next time, remember… “Sonic never fails.”

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Frank Frazetta 1928-2010

Comic book legend Frank Frazetta passed away today.

If his life and contributions to art were simply about his work in the Golden, Silver and Modern Ages of comics, it would be a tremendous loss, but Frazetta’s reach goes far beyond comics.

Possibly one of the greatest painters and artists of the pop culture age, he’s done movie posters, book covers, album covers and comics.

If you grew up in the 1970s, you knew his images, whether it was on a Molly Hatchet album or a the cover of the newest fantasy novel or the latest film poster or in a Golden Age comics reprint.

Frazetta, who like Madonna or Cher, is known by a single name, and was and is an art legend. Today is a sad day for art.

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Dick Giordano 1932-2010

There is very sad news today, award-winning comics legend Dick Giordano has passed away. He began as an artist in the 1950s with Charlton Comics and soon rose to editor-in-chief as he introduced their action hero line and brought in many new talents who would themselves later become legends in the field.

The realistic art style that defined the realism of the 1970s was largely due to his distinctive inking. Any artist he inked became instant dynamic, among them Neal Adams, Dick Dillin and Ross Andru. Some of the best known and loved versions of Batman, Wonder Woman, the Human Target and especially Green Lantern and Green Arrow hold his brilliant lines.

As an editor at DC Comics, Giordano helped to relaunch many of their characters in the 1980s. He helped create their mature imprint Vertigo, brought in talent from the UK like Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, and was instrumental in the fight for creators’ rights.

His legacy and inspiration is evident in every facet of the comics industry both inside and outside. We have lost one of the great ones. Dick Giordano will be missed. Rest in peace, sir.

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Night at the Museum 2

While an entertaining sequel, and a better movie than any film starring both Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson has any right to be, I’m still not sure what to make of Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.

The one thing that makes this sequel different from others of its kind is that it infers, nay, it requires the viewer to have seen the original. Night at the Museum 2 makes no synopsis, or even excuses, regarding the first film. If you haven’t seen the first one, you’re not only out of luck, you’ll never even understand the concept of the sequel. Many of the plot twists and even the running jokes are based on information not provided here. I seriously wonder how this little matter will affect the box office. Word of mouth regarding a hard-to-understand movie could be lethal.

For those not in the know, the original film revolved around a museum where all the exhibits come to life at night. In the sequel, all of the exhibits, including the MacGuffin that causes the phenomenon, have been shipped to the National Archives beneath the Smithsonian in Washington DC. When night hits, everything in the vicinity of a museum-like nature comes to life. Hilarity ensues.

Among the things that come to life are Amelia Earhart wonderfully played by Amy Adams – one of the highlights of the film, and Hank Azaria doing his scarily accurate Boris Karloff impression as spoiled brat pharaoh out to rule the world with an army of the dead. Yeah, a whole lot to swallow for a family comedy, isn’t it?

One interesting bit that is certainly worth seeing, and maybe seeing this flick a second time, is the art that ‘comes to life.’ Once the Smithsonian is affected, all of the beautiful paintings, scultures and works of art becomes ‘real’ and animated. The folks doing the special effects certainly had a love of the work and it shows. Fun stuff and a delight for art fans.

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