Studio Revolver package deal

Every once-in-a-while, a group of artists come together to make a “studio.” This is a shared physical location where multiple artists can share expenses, collaborate, and encourage one another.  In 2009, nine artists came together to form Studio Revolver in Atlanta. They wanted to create some buzz and create some art, so they offered a sketchcard “package deal” that hasn’t been duplicated again (that I know of) … for one set price, you could buy a custom sketchcard (on Studio Revolver cardstock) from each of the nine studio artists. You picked a single theme (ladies from Star Wars) or character (Buffy), and the studio did their magic.

They ran the promotion in two waves. I forget what the first wave cost, but wave two offered nine cards for $100. The nine studio artists were:

  • Georges Jeanty  (artist on Buffy the Vampire Slayer for Dark Horse)
  • Tom Feister  (artist on GI Joe Origins for IDW)
  • Dexter Vines  (inker on Civil War by Marvel)
  • John Tyler Christopher  (designer of “action figure covers” for Star Wars)
  • Kevin Stokes  (creator of Shut Up and Die for Image)
  • Jason Pearson  (prolific cover artist)
  • Bernard Shepard
  • Casey Edwards
  • Tariq Hassan

Not all were strictly comic book artists. Here is a post from Tariq Hassan in October 2009: “One reason I didn’t have a lot of time this weekend was that I went to a showing of My Super Psycho Sweet 16 here in Atlanta. This is an MTV Films movies, and me, John Christopher, and Casey Edwards worked on the conceptual side of the film … I did the storyboards, and while I somehow got shafted in the credits (I totally wasn’t listed), it still was a fun premier, and I got to hang with the producer, the crew, and some of the actors … The movie is airing on MTV this week on the 23rd, and if you want to see snobby teenagers get hacked up, give it a look.”

In the end, Studio Revolver packed-up shop after a few short years. They posted on Facebook June 2013, then one last time more than a year later on September 2014. Their website is now defunct. Each of the members must have gone their own ways, but these two offerings were epic. My best guess is that they completed 20 total sets (180 total cards). I would love to see something similar again. — I met the boys a couple times at DragonCon, and commissioned a few cards (but never a full set of nine). Follow me on Twitter (@sketchcards), and I will share a few this week using the hashtag #StudioRevolver … Happy Collecting!

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LOTR Throwback

The Blog-World is pretty cool. There’s a new collector site that reached out to me: http://www.lotrarts.com/ … it inspired me to dig out some old screenshots. Let’s take a hike down memory lane.

Prior to the Hobbit, there were three main LOTR sketch sets: Lord of the Rings Evolution (2006), Lord of the Rings Masterpieces (2006), & Lord of the Rings Masterpieces II (2008). Evolution. The Trilogy was in theaters from 2001-2003, so sketch cards were not released until the entire movie trilogy was complete. Evolution came out red-hot. Below are two sample eBay sales five years after the initial card release.

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When the Masterpieces sets were released, there were even more contributing artists, and more detail. The sketch card marketplace had evolved, and collectors were given more than just head shots and characters. We were treated to lavish scenes and details.

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But what some collectors forget are the old Artist Proof card sales. Back-in-the-day, these were the gold at the end of the rainbow. The Crème de la Crème for every collector were the meticulously detailed Artist Returns.

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So … go peruse http://www.lotrarts.com/ … it’s a great site archiving lots of Lord of the Rings sketch cards. I wish them well in 2019. — If you ever need me to dig for old screenshots of any other old sketchcard sets, just ask, I probably have them. Happy Collecting, all.

Top Sales for Sketch Cards

When I searched “Sketch Card,” under sold listings today, I got 9092 results. When I limited those to auction-style (not BIN), it returned 5715 results. When I sorted those by “highest priced,” I got the BEST SELLERS list for December 2018.

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(#1.) John Romita. No surprise here, he’s a legend. Plus he announced a couple years back that he was done drawing sketches for fans due to old age. This would be the creme-de-la-creme.

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(#2.) I guess we will count ARTIST PROOF cards in top-sales. This card was never found in packs, but features everyone’s favorite clown princess. Note to artists with AP’s left over … draw Harley Quinn if you like big bucks.

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(#3.) Rare. Rare. Rare. Ray Lago drew for Dark Horse’s RoboCop and Predator comics. There’s not a lot of chances to find his sketch cards. BTW … this is a 1998 card (not 1997).

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(#4.) Charles Hall paints; you can’t really call this a “sketch.” I’ll admit that I don’t know the difference between Namora and Namorita, but this is great art. NOTE: the seller also didn’t know the difference and skipped adding the character name to the listing.

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(#5.) Adam. Hughes. FTW. — This card is impressive beyond just the artist who drew it. This is an ARCHIVE BOX exclusive. Both marked and unmarked Archive Boxes were produced for this set. The unmarked or hidden Archive Boxes were randomly inserted into cases. All of the Archive Boxes contain 10 sketch cards. All 10 of the sketch cards are from different artists, with three of the artists being exclusive to the Archive Box. These artists are Allison Sohn, Adam Hughes and Chachi Hernandez.

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(#6.) Stan. The Man. Lee. — What can you say? Stan Lee was not known for his artistic skills, but this is pretty collectible stuff. He drew the same Captain America head sketch multiple times for this set (so you might find a similar card floating out there). If you can land one, it’s worth bragging about.

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(#HonorableMention.) This Andy Price sketch card wasn’t in the Top 5, but was worth recording. Humor has a wonderful place in the sketch card market. Everything doesn’t have to be sexy and legendary.

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(Honorable Mention #2) Confession … I still don’t own an Inkworks Simpsons Mania sketch card because they never sell cheap. Nine artists at an average of 240 sketches each = 2160 sketch cards that I can’t afford. Don’t underestimate Simpsons collectors.

As I sign off … go back and look at how many of the top SketchCard sales have green backgrounds. YUP! A single collector was hoarding most of the best stuff on earth. How many supercollectors are out there, and what happens hen they finally liquidate their collections? Have a Merry Christmas y’all. — See you on Twitter @SketchCards

KickStart a SketchCard

A recent KickStarter initiative caught my eye … “100 Years of Dejah Thoris Collectible Sketch Cards” (Celebrate over 100 years of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “Mars Universe” with this highly-collectible sketch trading card series.) Dynamite Entertainment needs $4000 to fund the project, and has already surpassed that goal. A $65 pledge earns you two sketch cards.

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It started me thinking about how many SketchCard sets have been Kickstarter’d recently, and the average asking price of support that earns you a sketch card. Dynamite Entertainment previously ran a successful Red Sonja 45th Anniversary Collectible Cards Kickstarter that raised over $15,000. They had a similar pricing tier … $65 earned you two sketch cards.

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I started researching other companies. “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Trading Cards Series Two” was run by RRParksCARDS.com — Rather than “premium packs” that had a sketch card or two per pledge, they sold entire hobby boxes. If you pledged $75 you got a full box that guaranteed a sketch card.

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RRParksCARDS.com also ran a “Sharknado Trading Card Series” via Kickstarter. You again had to pledge $75 to get a full box before you could guarantee a sketch card reward.

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“Krampus Trading Cards” by Attic Cards used the premium pack format similar to Dynamite Entertainment. A $33 pledge earned you a pack containing an assortment of 3 base cards, 1 solid metal insert card, and 1 original sketch card.

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“Space Series 2” was Viceroy Card’s sixth overall set. They had two different pledge tiers. $29 earned you a premium pack that had base and insert cards with a sketch card, but $22 was “just the art.” This level guaranteed a sketch card without the packaging frills.

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Kirk Lindo’s “VAMPRESS LUXURA: Sketch Card Gallery Art Book” was a twist on the concept. A $25 pledge earned you a book with sketch card scans. $55 earned you the book plus an original art sketch card that was used to make the book.

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Even a couple big companies have got in on the action. Topps Kickstarted “Mars Attacks Occupation Trading Cards” and raised almost $200,000. — Sketch Cards were guaranteed 1 per $80 hobby box, but they had “add-on” options. For another $50 you could order a special Judge Dredd/Mars Attacks Crossover Collector Pack. Each came with 20 cards, based on the Mars Attacks Judge Dredd comic published by IDW, including 1 creator autograph and 1 hand-drawn crossover sketch card.

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There have been tons of great Kickstarter trading card offerings, and I like the variety and possibility for niche themes. In recent memory the least expensive guaranteed sketch cards have been in the $20 range. The average seems to be about $35. If you’re going to run a Kickstarter that offers sketch cards, please tweet me (@sketchcards) … I’ll see what I can do. — Happy Collecting, y’all.

Halloween Card-Season Cards

I love all types of trading cards. This post may not be all about sketchcards; but it’s seasonal (#HappyHalloween). There is a very small-press set that is too often forgotten called TERROR CARDS XL that focused on horror movies and scream queens.

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Terror Cards released signed, sealed autographs from 2004-2007. The were priced per-card, and offered new cards every few months. There were a few heavy hitters, including Gunnar Hansen (Leatherface in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 1974), and Ben Chapman (playing the Gill-man on land in the 1954 horror film Creature from the Black Lagoon).

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Below are samples of the cards. Each were individually encased and stickered.

What’s most interesting is the print-runs. I always thought a company making a small card set would shoot for the moon, and print as many as they could. But as I researched, I discovered that even the most desirable cards had a minute print run …

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So, good luck. If this Halloween you have a taste for collecting horror cards and scary nonsports, you may have your work cut out. These do not pop-up on eBay often … BTW, if you are “scared” I wasn’t going to discuss Halloween-themed sketchcards … try:

  • Wacky Halloween Postcards 2013 (Topps)
  • American Horror Story 2014 (Breyent Marketing)
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 (RRParks Cards)
  • Ghostbusters 2016 (Cryptozoic Entertainment)

Let’s continue the conversation on Twitter @Sketchcards … Happy Collecting!

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Blank SketchCards for sale

In a previous post I discussed that many artists are partially-compensated from the card manufacturers with blank sketch cards (called Artist Proofs) that they can sell as commissions. But what if the artists just decide to sell the blank sketch cards instead of drawing on them? Here’s a rundown on blank card etiquette …

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Not all blank sketch cards are equal. The Adventure Time cards above were meant to end up in the hands of people who want to doodle on a card for their own enjoyment, or commission a favorite artist. They were pack-inserted and easy to obtain. Have fun with these. Do what you want with them.

The above are examples, however, are of Artist Proofs that were created to be given to an artist as partial-compensation. Perhaps an artist listed them on eBay because they didn’t have the time to produce any art. But there arises some questions:

  • Are they going to stay blank in a collector’s collection?
  • If a non-contributing artist is given a blank sketch card as part of a commission request, should they draw on it?
  • Should an artist make a notation on the back that it is an “aftermarket?”
  • Is there a fear that a blank card is given to a contributing artist for a commission, then the finished card is later confused with a pack-inserted sketch card?

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Here’s a real-life situation. Kevin Munroe might be a very talented artist, but he’s not listed as a contributing artist on the Indiana Jones Masterpieces set. He has acquired a blank sketch card, and is willing to draw a commission on it. Is this a perfectly acceptable practice?

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Regardless of etiquette, selling blanks is big business. Rare blank sketch cards can sometimes sell for more than even finished art. — Do you have an opinion? Would you buy a blank sketch card if it was offered at the right price? Let’s continue the conversation on Twitter @Sketchcards — Happy Collecting!

Spotlight on: Eric Basaldua (EBAS)

Eric Basaldua started his career at Top Cow studios working directly under its founder, Marc Silvestri in the mid-2000’s. He quickly became famous drawing pretty ladies like Witchblade, & Grimm Fairy Tales (for Zenescope). He was at Top Cow during the dawning-age of sketch cards, and drew for some landmark sets.

  • Fathom by Dynamic Forces – 2001
  • Witchblade: Disciples of the Blade by Dynamic Forces – 2002
  • Lethal Ladies: Lady Death/Medieval Witchblade by Comic Images/Dynamic Forces – 2002

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Fathom was one of the very first sketch card sets that was not Marvel-based by Fleer (1998-1999). Sketch cards were inserted 1 per-box, and Eric Basaldua drew 1000 cards out of approximately 4000 total. Many had a similar pose/composition, but that’s to be expected when drawing ONE THOUSAND cards.

Disciples of the Blade was not the first Witchblade set to include sketch cards, but the first to contract Eric Basaldua as a contributing artist. Sketches were again 1:box. EBAS drew 250 numbered cards; some in black ink & some in blue ink. Pose/Composition differed more than his previous set (as seen in the examples above).

When Lethal Ladies was released, it was a very different set. Sketch cars were only 1-in-4 boxes, totaling a scant 500 (according to the text on the back of the card). Eric Basaldua drew 234 of the cards according to the serial numbering on the front of the card. This makes it his rarest official sketch card.

Since 2002, Eric Basaldua has not drawn for another official sketch card. that I know of. Good luck chasing one down. When searching eBay, I only found 2 total cards at auction (either live or completed). Do you have one? Please share it with me on Twitter @Sketchcards. Happy Collecting!