Thursday, November 15

DC Comics Covergirls (2007) – The Cardy Women Addition

Art by Alex Ross
By Louise Simonson

I picked this book up – actually in its 2012 Barnes & Noble reprint edition – last weekend off B&N's bargain shelves. It's interesting – full of the various beautiful women of DC Comics as they have appeared on covers through the years – Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, and so forth. Not just heroines – anti-heroines such as Catwoman, and even villainesses such as Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, get sections or at least notice thrown their way.  Many are oversized, full-page reproductions.  There is plenty of commentary as well, sometimes humorous, putting the covers into their historical context both in comic-book and wider societal developments.

There is a glaring omission, however. Partly it arises from considerable bias toward the more recent period with only a relative few scattered from before the past couple of decades of DC Comics' now 75-plus-year history. And, partly, that's understandable. Artists such as Adam Hughes, who figures prominently and writes the foreword as well, have provided a great many cover images guaranteed to make any red-blooded male fan's eye linger a bit overlong. But I would say that there is at least one artist from several decades ago, mainly the late 1960s and early 1970s, who deserves more than the one or two examples that appear scattered through this book. For a period in the early 1970s Nick Cardy seems to have been DC's cover-artist of choice. And even before that, his renditions of Mera in the pages as well as on the covers of Aquaman, as well as Donna Troy Wonder Girl in Teen Titans, fed many pubescent fantasies of this Absent-Minded Professor-to-be. Donna Troy is given a few covers in the “Wonder Woman” section of this book. Poor Mera, however, is confined to one (p. 205) – unless I missed some more – and not even a single one by the great Nick Cardy, who made her look so perfectly luscious!

Text edited by myself
I consider this to be enough of an injustice that I have now spent considerable time collecting a fairly exhaustive gallery of cover images that I wish to present as sort of an unofficial addition to Simonson's DC Comics Covergirls volume. It is arranged somewhat along the same lines as the book, but Cardy's body of cover illustration does, in my mind, necessitate the addition of a couple of sections.  But within those sections, the freedom of the Internet allows for a more comprehensive presentation than the necessarily selective limitations imposed by the print medium.  So here are virtually all of the covers that Nick Cardy drew for DC Comics prominently featuring what have become known and admired as "Cardy Women."

First, a couple of links: The Wikipedia article (here: gives a good quick overview of Cardy's life and career. A fan has created an homage website which can be found here: .

The first major section in DC Comics Covergirls as published is devoted to Wonder Woman, the “third person” of the DC Comics “trinity” – Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. She is, of course, Princess Diana of Paradise Island (also known as Themyscira). Well, in her own realm by right, as well as being the wife of Aquaman, the King of Atlantis and “of the Seven Seas,” Mera is a Queen … and so deserving priority.  Therefore I begin with a section devoted to her.


Aquaman #11 (Oct 1963)
Mera is not actually Atlantean.  She is native to an other-dimensional water world.  Even in this, her first outing from the pencils of Nick Cardy, one of the distinctive elements of Mera's appearance was present.  In a relatively primitive age of four-color printing when shading and a sense of depth and texture were imparted most often by means of sketchy lines, the intricate design of her costume allowed for her bodily curves to stand out in a way that was absent from most other characters.  Perhaps the best example can be seen on Aquaman #18 below.
Aquaman #13 (Feb 1964)
Aquaman #14 (Apr 1964)

Aquaman #16 (Aug 1964)

Aquaman #17 (Oct 1964)
Aquaman #18 (Dec 1964)
Aquaman #19 (Feb 1965)

Aquaman #22 (Aug 1965)

Aquaman #23 (Oct 1965)

Aquaman #24 (Dec 1965)

Aquaman #26 (Apr 1966)
Aquaman #27 (Jun 1966)

Aquaman #34 (Aug 1967)

Aquaman #37 (Feb 1968)

Aquaman #40 (Aug 1968)

Aquaman #46 (Oct 1969)

Aquaman #55 (Feb 1971)
Aquaman #33 (6/67)
Another young Atlantean girl associated with the Aqua-family was Aqualad's girl friend Tula, also known as Aquagirl.

Aquaman #48 (Oct 1969)

Teen Titans #30 (Dec 1970)
Aqualad being a founding member of the super hero sidekicks known as the Teen Titans, Aquagirl would occasionally appear in that title as well.


Surprisingly, Nick Cardy did not provide more than a handful of covers featuring Wonder Woman herself.

Secret Origins #3 (Aug 1973)
Nevertheless, Cardy's cover for the representation of the Amazon Princess' origin story deservedly attained iconic status, appearing on a variety of merchandising.

Wonder Woman #205
(This image is included in DC Comics Covergirls, p. 55, as an example of the frequent association of the Amazing Amazon with missiles ... interpreted as having phallic symbolism.)

Wonder Woman #206 (Jun 1973)

Wonder Woman #216 (Mar 1975)
However, during the late 1960s and early 1970s, Cardy was the main artist depicting the female Teen Titan, Wonder Woman's foster sister Donna, who took the surname Troy and the heroic identity of Wonder Girl.  (Since Simonson groups Donna Troy's covers with Wonder Woman's in DC Comics Covergirls, so do I here.)
Brave and Bold #60 (Jul 1965)
Although she did not appear in the fledgling team's first outing, in Brave and Bold #54, Donna seems very happy to be invited on their second mission a few months later.

Teen Titans #16 (Aug 1968)

Teen Titans #21 (Jun 1969)

Teen Titans #22 (Aug 1969)

Teen Titans #23 (Oct 1969)
Another of the few covers by Nick Cardy included in the Covergirls collection (p. 48), this introduction of  "the new Wonder Girl" likewise became iconic and has been reprinted many times.

Teen Titans #26 (Apr 1970)
... And yet, almost as soon as she took a new costume, it seemed like Donna was discarding it.  She and her team mates, however deeply affected they were by the traumatic failure they had suffered (in issue #25), soon found reason to assume their heroic identities once more.

Teen Titans #27 (Jun 1970)
Teen Titans #31 (Feb 1971)

Teen Titans #34 (Aug 1971)

The Brave and the Bold #102 (Jul 1972)

Teen Titans #43 (Feb 1973)

Teen Titans Lost Annual 2008
As evidence that forty or fifty years have not diminished his artistic skills, Cardy provided this retro cover just a few years ago.  Having seen Donna grow up in Cardy's pencils, it was a refreshing glance back at a younger, fresher time.
Teen Titans #33 (Jun 1971)
Donna Troy Wonder Girl was not, of course, the only young lady associated with the Teen Titans.  Besides the occasional appearance of Aquagirl noted above, in the later issues of the run there was the mysterious Lilith.


Somewhat surprisingly, Nick Cardy provided few covers prominently featuring the women in the Man of Steel's life.

Action Comics #445 (Mar 1975)
This one, however, from the last couple of months of Cardy's association with DC Comics before moving on to an illustrious career in advertising, shows him at the height of his art -- and just how wonderfully curvy Cardy women could be! -- and without becoming distorted caricatures such as prevail in modern comic art.

Superman #281 (Nov 1974)

Superman Family #169 (Mar 1975)

DC Special #3 (Jun 1969)
I hesitated to put this under the "Supergirl" heading even though she is front and center because I believe she was drawn by Neal Adams.  Credit for the cover is, however, given to Nick Cardy, and all the other figures, both male and female, are obviously from his pen.  It is, regardless, a great image of the Maid of Might!

Superman Family #165 (Jul 1974)

Superman Family #168 (Jan 1975)

Superman #279 (Sep 1974)
Batman #208 (Feb 1969)

The Brave and the Bold #91 (Sep 1970)


Superboy #197 (Sep 1973)

Superboy #200 (Feb 1974)

Superboy #203 (Aug 1974)

DC did not introduce its "Vertigo" imprint until much later, but during the Silver Age and early Bronze Age super-heroes were not the only genre you could find on the spinner-racks.  DC published many titles in both the horror and romance genres, and Nick Cardy contributed a great many covers to both throughout his career.  Therefore, I would add those sections as well.


The Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love #4 (Apr 1972)

Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion #5 (Jun 1972)

Ghosts #1 (Oct 1971)

Ghosts #4 (Apr 1972)

Ghosts #14 (Apr 1973)
The House of Secrets #95 (Jan 1972)

The House of Secrets #114 (Dec 1973)

Secrets of Sinister House #5 (Jul 1972)

Unexpected #127 (Sep 1971)

Unexpected #132 (Feb 1972)

Unexpected #134 (Apr 1972)

Unexpected #145 (Mar 1973)
Weird Mystery Tales #3 (Dec 1972)

The Witching Hour #20 (May 1972)

The Witching Hour #32 (Jul 1973)

The Witching Hour #46 (Sep 1974)


Falling in Love #79 (Nov 1965)

Falling in Love #112 (Jan 1970)

Falling in Love #113 (Feb 1970)

Falling in Love #119 (Nov 1970)

Falling in Love #120 (Jan 1970)
Girls' Love Stories #139 (Nov 1968)

Girls' Love Stories #148 (Jan 1970)

Girls' Romances #144 (Oct 1969)

Girls' Romances #147 (Mar 1970)

Girls' Romances #148 (Apr 1970)

Heart Throbs #121 (Sep 1969)
Young Love #107 (Jan 1974)

Young Romance #157 (Jan 1969)

Young Romance #163 (Jan 1970)


Action Comics #415 (Aug 1972)

Aquaman #39 (Jun 1969)

Aquaman #51 (Jun 1970)

The Brave and the Bold #92 (Nov 1970)

The Brave and the Bold #101 (May 1972)

The Brave and the Bold  #103 (Oct 1972)
Bat Lash #1 (Nov 1969)

Bat Lash #3 (Mar 1969)

Batman #257 (Aug 1974)

Congo Bill #1 (Sep 1954)
These three are the earliest Nick Cardy covers for DC Comics of which I am aware.

Congo Bill #2 (Nov 1954)

Congo Bill #3 (Jan 1955)

Justice League of America #107 (Oct 1973)This cover holds a good bit of significance for me because it is the first time I ever laid eyes on the beautiful Phantom Lady.  Her costume made quite the impression on me!

Superman #261 (Feb 1973)

The Spirit #31 (Sep 2009)
This is the latest published Cardy cover of which I am aware.

Strange Adventures #241 (Apr 1973)
And there you have it, an all-but-complete gallery of covers prominently (and sometimes not-so-prominently) featuring the lovely women of DC Comics as drawn by my all-time favorite artist, Nick Cardy.

Cheers, and Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you've enjoyed the show!

No comments:

Post a Comment