Both of my grandfathers served in the Navy during World War 2. One of my grandmothers served as well. My father served in the Army during Vietnam. My father in law had a thirty year career in the National Guard. Suffice it to say that I have heard quite a few stories in my years. However, in all of those cases I was left to my imagination to fill in the visuals. I was never able to see what they were describing quite as well as they were remembering.
In The Artist at War, Nick Cardy’s recollections of his time serving in World War 2 are brought to life in poignant detail through the sketchbooks he carried with him at all times. Now, some seventy years later, pages of those books accompany stories of his war days. From the mundane to the heart stopping, Cardy’s pencils capture it all.
I mentioned above how I was left to my imagination to fill in the visuals in the stories I heard. That is not entirely true. There are pictures of my Grandfather’s and Father’s time in the military. But they are sterile, too perfect. They capture the event but not the mood. Cardy imbues each image with as much emotion as he does detail.
Whether it is a quiet moment around the camp as men shave with cold water from their helmets, or the movement of tanks across the European countryside, the reader feels like they are right there with the boys “over there”. It is a transporting experience, one that I have never experienced in all my years of listening to people tell tales.
The line work varies depending on how much time Cardy had to complete the sketch. Some are hastily rendered with notes in the margins to remind him of colors to be added later. Some show the attention to detail which comes form having an opportunity to work on his craft. But all show the strength of composition which would come to define his career as a comic book artist.
The Artist at War is a special book. It is a chance to be transported across time and space. It is an opportunity to read the stories, see the pictures, and relive a moment in history which defined a generation. When that opportunity comes knocking you really must take it.
Whether you are a fan of Cardy’s comic book work, a history buff, or someone who wishes they had a chance to see a memory through someone else’s eyes, Nick Cardy: The Artist at War is a must-read book.
Interested? You can order your own copy of Nick Cardy: The Artist at War here.