Cardy, born Nicholas Viscardi, started his career in 1939 working for Eisner and Iger Studio, a company founded by Will Eisner and Jerry Iger to create comic books for publishers interested in the then-burgeoning medium. His professional comics career was interrupted upon being drafted into World War II, where he served as an assistant tank driver, and received two Purple Hearts.
At DC Comics, Cardy worked on the first 43 issues of the original "Teen Titans" series as either a penciler or inker (or both), in a run lasting from 1966 to 1973. He also drew the first 39 issues of the initial "Aquaman" solo series, along with extensive cover illustrations on DC books including "Action Comics," "Batman" and "Justice League of America." Cardy wrote two issues of DC western "Bat Lash," along with drawing all seven issues of the series.
Cardy moved from the comic book industry to commercial illustration in the mid-'70s, working on advertisements for films including "Apocalypse Now" and "The Street Fighter." His most recent comic book work included a pin-up for SLG Publishing's "Monstrosis" #1 in 2011, and a cover for DC's "The Spirit" #31 in 2009.
Eva Ink Publishing released "The Artist at War" in 2011, collected sketches by Cardy illustrated during his military service. "There was a lot of mayhem, but when we had a break, I'd take my pad out and draw what I remembered," Cardy told CBR in an April 2011 interview discussing the book. "I had notes. It was something. Those are things that I remember, but in talking about it, I talk about the light things that happened. I try to lean towards that."
Cardy was named to the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2005. In his later years, he lived in Sarasota, Florida, where local newspaper Sarasota Herald-Tribune profiled Cardy in May 2013, spotlighting his comic book legacy and time in the military. "I had a policy after I got out of the Army," Cardy told the paper. "I was so tickled to get out of the Army alive, I was not gonna let anything bother me."
Artist Craig Rousseau shared Friday on Twitter that Cardy was in the intensive care unit of a Sarasota hospital. Cardy had made convention appearances as recently as this past July at the Florida Supercon in Miami Beach.
UPDATE: DC Comics has issued the following statement:
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."