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Nick Cardy and Marv Wolfman Talk Teen Titans

[from the Comic Book Artist web site]


Mark: You worked on just about everything for DC: Teen Titans, Aquaman, Congo Bill, Tomahawk, The Brave and the Bold, a lot of romance stories. Marv, let’s talk about your involvement with Nick on Teen Titans. What can you tell us about this?

Marv: We did a couple of stories. The very first one was one that Nick inked. It was the origin of Wonder Girl keep doing the origin of Wonder Girl [laughter]-and this was back in 1969. Nick and Gil Kane worked on it together, and it was just absolutely a beautiful job.

The thing about Nick’s stuff-and the reason I was so thrilled that he did that particular story-is that as you’re growing up as a teenage boy, looking at pictures of Mera, you grow up a lot faster. [laughter]

Nick: The funny thing is I get reactions. All these guys who liked Mera always want a sketch with the boobs smaller or bigger. “I like your drawing of Wonder Girl but make her a little bigger!” [laughter] But I only do them one way. [chuckles]

Marv: The second Teen Titans was a story that no one has ever seen printed. It was a story that Len Wein and I co-wrote that was originally intended for Teen Titans #20. It was “The Titans Fit the Battle of Jericho,” and Nick did probably one of the most incredible art jobs I had ever seen up to that time. [To Nick] You did it in a style I had not seen before; you were using glue or something and were rubbing it off.

Nick: I tried everything. If I remember-and somebody showed me some copies of that job-there were these three black kids jumping on the back of a bus. Instead of drawing around the lights, I did it like a woodblock print. I put the black down first and then put on the whites. It had a different effect.

Marv: It was absolutely brilliant to see because that was a technique I sort of remembered from art school and Nick did it so magnificently. The story hadn’t been published, though it was written, penciled, inked, lettered, colored, and sent to the printers. But it was pulled back. It would have featured DC’s first black super-hero. The story was never published. It was pulled back at the very last second for whatever reason. It was lost for a long time and some pages have finally showed up in Comic Book Artist. I’m thrilled to see these pages again because it was one of my very early stories and Nick’s artwork is just so magnificent. We were just stunned how beautiful this job was, and for it never to have seen print was just awful.

Nick: I remember when I was doing it, they had to take some pages out-I read about it as I don’t have a good memory-and had Neal Adams do some work.

Marv: After they decided not to publish the story, Neal Adams sat down and, over a weekend and using about five or six pages of the original story that Nick had drawn, drew the other 18 or 19 pages. Nick inked the job and it was finished in less than a week to meet the shipping date. Back then, DC was six to eight months ahead of schedule-as opposed to six to eight days [laughter]-and Nick and Neal turned out a magnificent job in less than a week. These were two guys who were working not only fast, but brilliantly. Nick’s original work was even better.

Nick: I don’t remember, but thanks!

[…]

Marv: Another thing that was being done at Marvel and DC at the time (that Nick broke out of) was to have teenagers look like they were eight years old, too. It was one way or the other. But Nick made them look the correct age.

Nick: Because they came up and had these little infants. [laughter] I’ll tell you the truth: Years ago, I would go on the street and see a nice little kid and pat him on the shoulder-if his mother was there (now, you can’t do that!)… nowadays when I think of the kids reading super-heroes in today’s world, I go “Oh, my God!” y’know? They had a kid in “Congo Bill”….

Marv: We were younger than the Teen Titans-but almost that age-when I was reading it, and all the other artists drew them to look nine years old. And I knew that I didn’t look like that at that age. So when you started to draw those characters, suddenly they looked like what teenagers should look like. Again, that was something that brought me into the book.

Mark: Nick, how did you feel when a lot of the Teen Titans issues were being drawn by other artists? Gil Kane, Neal Adams, George Tuska, Frank Springer, Artie Saaf….

Nick: I think it was in transition. What happened was that they were getting ready to do Bat Lash and I was already doing Aquaman and Teen Titans. But then my schedule started getting a little crowded. I always penciled and inked my work; I always did that. But I would never pencil because when I penciled I did it very loose and I picked it out with my brush. It was easier in latter years because my work was looser, but at first I used to pencil very tight and I would erase a lot. But after a while I got it to where I could just make the outline and pick it up with a brush. And if I gave anyone those pencils to ink, I would have driven them bananas because they couldn’t have found the right line. I just did a lot of sketches, y’see. But when I got Neal Adams and Gil Kane, their work was so clean. But every job that I did for Teen Titans with Gil and Neal, I would always put my own personal touch on the brush. If they had eyes on a girl a certain way, I would put in my eyes in their eyes-the way I draw eyes.

Mark: Did you find it restrictive? Working on somebody else’s pencils-did it challenge you as much artistically or did you resent it at times?

Nick: I’ll tell ya: Y’know, when you’re doing your own work, you create, you design it, but then when you get somebody else’s work, you don’t have that much influence. What happens is, you just ink it as best and as quick as you can. But it’s always interesting to see what it would be like inking Neal Adams or Gil Kane.


End of titanstower.com transmission. About this author:  Bill Walko is an author and artist and the man behind titanstower.com. He's been reading and drawing comics since he was 5 years old and hasn't stopped since. Read more from this author