Category Archives: dan didio

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.

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Fear and Loathing at Wizard World Philly ’09

Saturday. Met up with my partners in crime – Anthony, Andrea and Ray – just after Wizard World Philadelphia 2009 opened this morning. We hung out in the Green Room for a bit, subtly eavesdropping on Marvel Comics’ Bill Roseman giving portfolio reviews to potential artists. Lots of keen insight on what is expected of artists and how comics should be done was overheard. Quite the learning experience.

Also from the eagle eye view in the Green Room over the con floor we spied one lone Suicide Girl, Kyra, staring at her lap and texting on her phone. She was surrounded by comics geeks and fanboys who just appeared too scared or shy to approach her. It wasn’t until her fellow Suicide Girls showed up that people came up to the table. I guess there’s safety in numbers?

On the con floor whilst checking out Artist Alley and hunting for HeroClix and Marvel Super Hero Squad figures, we witnessed quite a nasty bit of poaching between booths. A woman from one booth came up behind me while I was at another to say she had all of a certain action figure line – come on over and see. I was incredulous, and even if she did have what I was looking for I wouldn’t buy it (or anything) from her now.

Something else to add to the list of things that had to be seen to be believed was when I was chilling up on the third floor overlooking the entrance to the con floor, just over the concession stand. Two guys in their twenties were taking pictures straight down Yancy Butler’s (“Witchblade,” “Mann and Machine”) low-cut shirt while she was getting a hot dog. I chastised them and told them they should be ashamed of themselves. It seemed to have little to no effect.

Over the last two days I’ve sat in on a few writing panels, and it seems really strange and enlightening to me that everyone has a different process. From Garth Ennis to Raven Gregory to Jimmy Palmiotti to Alan Moore – everyone has a different approach. Interesting stuff. I also want to add that Buddy Scalara who hosted a few of these panels was very enthusiastic, entertaining and educational. Great stuff, Buddy.

The DC Nation panel hosted by Dan DiDio, editor-in-chief of DC Comics, was intriguing. We got a rundown, followed by asking an opinion of the audience, of DC’s current big projects. DiDio called out Green Lantern, Batman, Superman, and when he asked about Wonder Woman, my buddy Ray took him to task saying he didn’t like it, and felt that there was editorial interference on the book – specifically DiDio’s. Ray also mentioned that he thought “Battle for the Cowl” sucked and was one of the worst comics he’d ever read – even worse than US 1. It was made a bit of joke and Dan turned to Ray throughout the panel to ask if certain projects ‘sucked.’

Justice Society was next, then Justice League, Teen Titans, and then a project I’m pretty excited about – Wednesday Comics. Then there was talk of another project that piqued my interest, a series featuring old pulp characters, including Doc Savage, the Spirit, Wildcat, the Blackhawks and maybe a few others, tentatively called First Wave written by Brian Azzarello and penciled by Rags Morales.

A question and answer session followed. There appears to be a surprising amount of support for more of the new Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters. There was some talk of Grant Morrison’s “Multiversity,” as well as speculation on two different Flash ongoing series. I was also amazed by an answer given by Bob Wayne, DC’s sales manager, regarding rising prices and titles per month. Apparently he thinks that this country’s current economic crisis is one big joke. Obviously the man gets his comics for free.

As my impression of Mr. Wayne sank, I must admit that my respect for Mr. DiDio rose quite a bit as the discussion he’d had with Ray continued outside the panel room for about fifteen minutes. With this amazing follow up Dan DiDio talked openly about how his job works and offered his thoughts as well as listening to those of others. Hell of a guy, great stuff. This made the con for me, seeing that the man wasn’t a monster at all but someone who is just like the rest of us – just with a much cooler job.

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Wizard World Philly – Sunday


WIZARD WORLD PHILLY

SUNDAY

The day began much earlier than expected with a family breakfast at the Pop Shop, and no argument, it was a pleasant surprise. From there it was prep and travel time to WW Philly.

The first panel of my day was Prize No Prize hosted by Marvel editor Tom Brevoort along with Dan Slott, Molly Lazer, and C.B. Cebulski among others. This trivia contest is a hometown event, having started at WWPhilly two years ago. Grand prize – an advance copy of Secret Invasion #3 and a statue of Captain America, although many cool prizes were given out throughout.

My old Movies Unlimited co-worker Gary did pretty well here, almost as well as he did on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” a few years back. Can you name eight women who dated Peter Parker? How about nine Avengers who have never had their own title? Twelve mutants depowered in House of M? Then you should have been there. Try again next year.

Later I checked out DC Sunday Conversations: For the Love of Comics. I walked in late to what seemed to be an exercise in Dan DiDio (who was running it) asking when we all started reading comics. I have to admit a dislike for DiDio based on previous convention appearances but I also must confess the man showed a genuine warmness and openness during this panel. It’s a better look for him than his usual antics.

The discussion took a turn in the Aqua-direction. DiDio asked the audience, “Who is Aquaman?” and who did we like the most as he cited several examples. About the same amount of folks liked the green glove (original) version as liked the hook-hand version. A couple liked the blue costume. Only a few people liked the water hand Aquaman. Billy Tucci asked if he could breathe his own hand to much laughter.

Stemming from one fan mentioning he liked the writer’s JLA interpretation of the sea king, the talk turned briefly to Grant Morrison and how he can take even the lamest idea or character and make it seem cool. Even electric blue Superman. Somehow this makes me worry about Final Crisis.

Getting back on the Aqua-kick, DiDio mentioned he kinda liked the new Aquagirl quite a bit, and also verified that the latest incarnation of Aquaman was in fact the Golden Age version. It really sounds like DiDio is fishing (sorry, couldn’t help it) for ideas to fix or revamp Aquaman.

Next Dan went around the room asking for folks’ favorite obscure character. Ambush Bug was immediately brought up by my friend Skott Stotland. Others mentioned were G’nort, Vibe, the Metal Men, the female Dr. Light, and then Billy Tucci offered up Lord Malvolio with a story he wants to pitch. For the uninitiated, Lord Malvolio of the Green Flame is a Green Lantern baddie from the old (and much-missed) Action Comics Weekly who wore a copy of Alan Scott’s costume and destroyed Hal Jordan’s power ring.

This prompted DiDio to talk about the three kinds of continuity at DC. There are three levels. The first is immutable, can’t be changed, stuff like Krypton blew up and Bruce Wayne’s parents get shot. There’s a middle level of things that can be altered or played with, and then there’s the third level, where things are ignored or forgotten. He brought up the example of the Paul Levitz Legion of Super-Heroes where Superboy learns the Legionaires are really hundreds of years old. Levitz said of the tale, “I’m not going to undo the story, I’m just never going to mention it again.”

In that third continuity category is where that Legion story goes, as well as the tale of Lord Malvolio. Shame. I’d like to see him come back, especially written by Tucci.

The two Cancelled Comics Cavalcade issues were brought up after someone mentioned the Freedom Fighters as his favorites and thanked DiDio for bringing them back. It took me a moment to process that statement as I don’t think the new version bears much resemblance to the original. What Freedom Fighters comics are you reading, dude?

Anyway, history lesson again – back in the 1970s, the ‘DC Implosion’ when DC expanded at the absolute wrong time and ended up having to cancel about a dozen existing or coming titles. To secure copyright on the cancelled material, DC produced two ‘issues,’ fifty photocopies each, of the stories that were already finished but not slotted to appear elsewhere. Two issues of the 1970s FF title were among them, along with good stuff like Secret Society of Super-Villains, Kamandi, Karate Kid and the first issue of Vixen.

When DiDio first joined DC the first thing he did was get those two issues and find out what happened in those comics from his youth that were never ‘really’ published. Pointing out that memory isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be, he noted those stories were crap.

A rather heated and half-joking discussion of who Batman was and if Nightwing should replace him was interrupted when Tom Brevoort came in and gave Dan a comic. Laughing, DiDio told the story of a comic book he couldn’t find as a kid, until he was on the bus to school and saw it on a spinner rack in a store the bus was passing. He got off the bus, bought it and then found he didn’t have enough cash to catch another bus, so he walked to school. That’s the Captain America comic Tom brought to Dan.

Tom B. then joined the panel. The Tiny Titans guys came in later to much applause. That’s when Dan DiDio asked the big question – why would anyone eat food from this building when the Reading Market is right across the street?

Comic Widows colleagues Crystal and Anthony showed up later as things were quieting down. Ran through the floor for some last minute bargains and to say a few hellos and goodbyes, and then called it a day.

Now there have been lots of reports on this con (and others) and personally, reading other accounts, I have to wonder… what con were they at?

Wizard World Philly – Saturday


WIZARD WORLD PHILLY

SATURDAY

After a bit of a late start I met up with Comic Widows co-horts Anthony and Ray. We began with a strategy meeting regarding some interviews planned for the day. And trust me, it was nowhere near as cool as it sounds, but we were taking it pretty seriously.

In the midst of our war council we also interviewed the young lady we were sharing the pressroom with at the time, Nicole Boose. We also learned she was with Marvel editorial and reviewing art portfolios at the con. Very cool lady, and pleasant informative interview.

As the pressroom overlooked the con floor we also did some costume spotting. From our vantage point we got to see quite a few good ones, and of course some bad ones as well. Among the former were several Marvel Girls in the Neal Adams green mini-skirt, a bright-green Riddler, a foam rubber Galactus, what might have been Nightwind from the Legion of Super-Heroes, Dr. Strange, the prerequisite dozen Stormtroopers that show up at every con, and a bald Robin. Also throughout the day there were many others spotted – a pair of Tomb Raiders, Zatanna, the cast of the new Indiana Jones flick, a baby Batgirl, a flat-chested Power Girl, and, ahem, a tranny Power Girl. And then there was also The Blob. Oh wait, that wasn’t a costume.

Then we hit the con floor and did a kinda noisy interview with Jared Barel of Loaded Barrel Studios. They do a startling and unique melding of photography and comic art that needs to be seen to be believed. They call it making ‘live-action graphic novels’ and it looks great. Check them out, it’s terrific stuff. I really did like their work, and really, it’s not just because they were giving out Twizzlers and Tootsie Rolls at their booth, but let’s be honest, that never hurts. Lessons to learned for other folks with booths at these cons.

After exploring the floor for a bit I ducked into the Crisis Now panel in the midst of questions and answers. Dan DiDio was in the house and mocking and ridiculing the characters we all love as if that was his job. Oh wait.

Several different things were addressed while I was there. When questioned on “Batman RIP,” DiDio repeatedly said in staccato fashion, “Batman dies!” then rescinded, “Batman doesn’t die, but he’s gonna wish he was dead.” Other items – the Milestone characters are not available for DC to use, but never say never. We will see Christopher Kent again. Apparently there is an unannounced Zatanna series coming at some point.

DiDio admitted that 2007 was not a year where everything was clicking as well as possible. And he added that it’s his job to make this year as great as possible. He also confessed that Steve Wacker leaving for Marvel was a huge loss for DC.

The Devil also said that Death of the New Gods was a celebration of Jack Kirby’s work on the New Gods. Wtf? Kill them to celebrate them? In answer to the next question, DiDio stated that Final Crisis will involve all Flashes. A fan asked “Even Bart?” and DiDio answered “All Flashes.” Just don’t kill Jay Garrick like you killed the Martian Manhunter, okay? Bastards. And during the lightning round he answered “Yes.” to the question of whether barry Allen was coming back.

Same room, a bit later, Cup O’ Joe with Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada, standing room only, much like the DC panel before it. In attendance – (duh) Joey Q, Fred Van Lente, C.B. Cebulski, Tom Brevoort and another person whose name I didn’t catch – he didn’t talk much and ran the slide show though. The slide show announced Marvel Zombies 3 where the fan fave monsters invade the Marvel Universe proper, due in September.

Old news came with slides depicting the new Devil-Slayer series by horror novelist Brian Keene and Stephen King’s The Stand also starting in September. Mystery pics of Lady Bullseye followed (and of course quickly leaked to the internet) who Ed Brubaker is introducing in Daredevil. Nice art, but seemingly just a female version of Bullseye. Yawn.

Um, who brought the baby to a panel? Who brought a baby to a convention? Please just make it stop crying. Great parenting there, folks. Although he/she stopped crying, I wondered if the wonder-parents were still in the room when J.Q. dropped an F-bomb later on in the hour.

Then came, predictably, questions and answers. There will be more Squadron Supreme, written by Howard Chaykin, with a demented twist, and Greg Land on covers. And no, Land on covers is not the twist. Speaking of twisted, there’s been a big secret in the undercurrent of the Ultimate Universe, to be revealed in Ultimate Origins. Something major in their lives is a huge falsehood. Maybe the secret of why Ultimates 3 is so late will be revealed.

More “One More Day” backlash reared its ugly head and Joe explained that all of Spider-Man’s history is intact, save that he and Mary Jane didn’t get married on their wedding day. Something happened and that story just hasn’t been told yet. Joe says he’s seen it and it’s great. In response to another question, Tom B said that Peter and his Aunt May did in fact live at Avengers Tower. Some racy humor about May and Skrull Jarvis followed unfortunately. Either way, Joe and Tom certainly seem tired of doing OMD damage control; it’s in their faces.

My friend Ray hit Joe Q with a good one. He referenced the difference between two Jack Kirby reprint volumes, one from DC and one from Marvel – the difference is that DC paid the Kirby estate royalties and Marvel did not. Joe kinda dodged the question, saying that he doesn’t discuss Marvel policy in public. He added that Marvel is currently working with the Kirby estate and that should speak for itself.

Other items included that Baron Zemo was coming back, and a new Thunderbolts writer has been chosen but unannounced – could these be related and Fabian Nicieza is coming back? There is a Runaways film in development with Brian K. Vaughn involved. There are possible plans for the female Bucky from the Onslaught universe. The sequel to Marvels is coming in October. Whoever is left at the end of The Twelve will remain part of the present MU.

Quesada coined the term “Marvel lifestyle” for the fact that now Marvel does their own comics, movies and videogames – in response to a question about digital comics. I like it. Joe also claimed that he thought Spider-Man 3 was a pretty good movie. “Maybe one villain too many.” Wow, you said a mouthful, Joe.

At the close of the panel, the 18 carat gold Iron Man cellphone was given away. Over $1500 was raised for the Hero Initiative on the raffle for it. Great job, folks!

At this point, I was toast and had to go home, home to my super-cool Avengers glass that the Bride had gotten for me earlier in the day, and home to the Bride too, of course. But I’ll leave you with another quote, this one a bit dated, but it was shouted by a guy in a Nightwing t-shirt exiting the men’s room earlier this afternoon. “Hey, I found Ray Palmer!”