First things first, a deep heartfelt thanks to those who have served and continue to serve from The Gravy Age. THANK YOU. And of course to the many greats that served and returned to work, the great ones that built these wonderful four colored worlds, that touched the hearts and minds of so many people through their work, comics were built by Veterans. Follow me after the jump for a fascinating trip into the second World War with Nick Cardy: The Artist At War.
Nick Cardy is legendary artist known mainly for his work with DC Comics, if the book in question were a celebration of his post war art in comics, covers, or movie posters, it would be in fact timely, and thematically accurate to post about it today. But I’m here to talk just briefly about something just a little bit different. A unique glimpse into World War II, the world seen through the eyes of an artist, the people and moments captured, sometimes only as the barest sketch, by a young man from the day he received his draft notice to a Paris hospital on V.E. Day.
Like many people I have family that served in WWII, my grandfather was a Medic, serving mostly I believe in Italy and North Africa, for which he received a Purple Heart. And, while I have many wonderful, loving memories of him, he passed away years ago, years before the significance of where he was and what he saw could be truly appreciated by me. I regret it. This post isn’t necessarily a review of a book, just a bit of writing about a book that works to bring a sometimes humorous, often tragic, but wonderfully human glimpse into a war. The War.
Nick Cardy: The Artist At War by Nick Cardy and Renée Witterstatter and published by Titan Books is a collection of mostly sketches, along with some watercolors and photographs along with his own recollections of the moments he captured during that time. Starting from the day he was drafted, April 1st, through his training, and some bouncing around due to his artistic talent, to where he finally served overseas as an assistant tank driver in the 3rd Armored Division.
There are drawings of fellow soldiers and officers before he shipped out, recreations of maneuvers, and glimpses of military life captured, as most of the art in the book is, on 3″ x5″ sketch pads. These illustrate daily life, and as the book continues, show that while his life had changed, the true enormity of it all had yet to become the daily reality of being surrounded by war. Not just the battles, but the people living in the aftermath, not even aftermath, surviving with war as a fact of their lives.
Even in the scariest and most heartbreaking of moments though, there are still some absurd and genuinely funny occurrences, things that could only happen in a time of war. The book ends with Cardy in Paris for the end of the war and some illustrations of his time there as well as some photographs of Cardy and the 3rd Armored Division. Nick Cardy received two Purple Hearts in WWII, he is still illustrating to this day. The book can be purchased on Amazon here. Thank you for your service Mr. Cardy, and thanks to Renée Witterstaetter for helping to bring this project together. It is a truly unique and fascinating look into an extraordinary time in history. Thanks must also be given to Colin Smith who wrote about this book awhile back on his amazing Too Busy Thinking About My Comics blog, stop by and read his stuff over there and the great stuff by him and many others over at Sequart.
(Edit: I have just been informed Mr Cardy passed away last year, safe home)
Happy Veterans Day,