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The Sad Origin of Legendary Comic Artist Nick Cardy's Pen Name

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COMIC LEGEND:

Nick Cardy changed his name because of anti-Italian treatment from his employer.

STATUS:

Sadly True

One of the greatest comic book artists of all-time, Nick Cardy, passed away in 2013 at the age of 93.

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Cardy was the original artist on the Teen Titans and Aquaman's first ongoing series. He famously drew covers for DC Comics for many years. Here are just a sample of some of his best covers...

I did a collection of some of my favorite Cardy covers years ago when he passed away. You can check that out here.

Cardy broke into comics very young, working for Will Eisner and Jerry Iger's packaging studio, Eisner and Iger, when Cardy wasn't even 20 years old. However, interestingly, Cardy wasn't known as Cardy at the time. No, he was still going by the name he was born with, Nicolas Viscardi (well, okay, he went by Nick back then, too, but you know what I mean). Viscardi served in the Army during World War II still using his birth name.

When he returned from the war, he went to work as a commercial artist, doing advertising work as well as magazine jobs. The problem for Viscardi was that this was during the late 1940s and early 1950s, and there was still a good deal of prejudice against Italians in the United States, both between the fact that Italy was part of the Axis during the War as well as the way that the Mafia had become such a major part of American popular culture.

Viscardi began to have trouble with his name when it came to his freelancing work at the small magazines. Rather than a general sense of prejudice, he was dealing with a specific "prank" from one of the magazines. He explained it to Jim Amash in TwoMorrows' Back Issue #65, that one of the magazines he was working with would mock him over his Italian heritage and mess with him by spelling his name with a P one month and a B the next month, making it so that Viscardi would have to wait until the next month to get things straightened, meaning the income he was relying on to live was being delayed. He had recently met the woman who would become his wife and he ultimately decided to just make the name non-Italian sounding, dropping the "Vis" and changing the i in his name to a y.

Amusingly, years later, after Cardy had established himself in comics, he tried to get into advertising and he was told by a friend that advertising agencies tended to look down on comic book artists, so he actually sort of went BACK to his old name, with his advertising work (and later his movie poster work) being done under the name Cardi.

Thanks to Jim Amash and the late, great Nick Cardy for the information!

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