This is it … the last day to win Ingrid Hardy’s excellent The Art of Sketch Cards book. Follow & RT any blog post with the hashtag #SketchCardContest.
And what did this blog babble-on about? Here’s a clickable checklist of the last 24 days. I bet you missed one, so take a load off & catch up.
Day 01 – Dynamic Forces MCC98 proof cards? Day 02 – Top Selling PSC’s Day 03 – Sketch Card Sets that were Abandoned Day 04 – Famous Artists that drew Sketch Cards Day 05 – Understanding Lady Death sketch card sets Day 06 – The First sketch card set ever (newly discovered) Day 07 – Sketch Card prelim renderings Day 08 – Free sketch cards via NPN Day 09 – Best Sketch Card books & websites Day 10 – Box Break: Mystery Power Box Day 11 – Topps Transcendent (expensive sketch cards!) Day 12 – Holiday Themed sets Day 13 – Lowest Print Runs ever Day 14 – Guest Author! Day 15 – Topps Artist on Demand Day 16 – Matt Stewart interview! Day 17 – Top Sales of 2020 Day 18 – Special Convention Sketch Cards Day 19 – TTM sketch cards (including Todd McFarlane) Day 20 – Sketch Artist business cards Day 21 – Secret Fleer / Skybox paperwork Day 22 – The best eBay auction EVER Day 23 – Rejected Sketch Cards Day 24 – Star Wars sketch card drinking game
… So, thanks for loving sketch cards, the artists, the collectors, and everything the hobby throws at us in-between. Merry Christmas, all. I hope we can bump into each other at a Comic or Card Convention once the pandemic is over!
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Final day of the Contest! (Details at the bottom). Day 24 Topic: A Star Wars Sketch Card Trivia Game …
In the immortal words of Billy the Puppet, “Let’s play a game.” Seriously … get yourself a piece of paper and a pencil. And before you scroll down let’s take a quiz together. As 2020 comes to a close, let’s look at Star Wars trading card releases. Ready? —
(#1.) How many Star Wars trading card sets did Topps release in 2020?
(#2.) Including shaped sketchcards, panoramic sketchcards, and other variations, how many total different sketch cards did Topps release in 2020?
(#3.) Did Topps release more or less star war sets in 2019 compared to 2020?
(#4.) If Topps stayed on its current pace of Star Wars trading card releases, how many sets would we have between 2021 and the 50th anniversary of A New Hope?
Thank God this isn’t a drinking game. I would be dead on the ground. I’m not even sure if my answer key is correct, and I did hours of research. Maybe this is a trick-quiz with impossible answers? Anyways … here’s my best guesses … I didn’t even take into consideration pre-solicited sets like 2021’s The Mandalorian Season 2, or oversize releases like 2020’s Star Wars Authentics 8 x 10 Series 2. Okay, let’s give this a shot (starting w/ most recent) …
These are the solicited release dates (not necessarily the actual release dates). If I did my math & research correct, that’s NINE Star Wars trading card sets released by Topps in 2020. — Now let’s count sketch card variations … Holocron should have 1, Masterwork had at least 3, Mandalorian had 1 (or 2 if you count Redemptions, lol), Stellar had 1 (oversize), Perspectives had none, Rise of Skywalker 2 had at least two, Journey of the Child had none, Women of Star Wars had 2, B&W had 4? — That’s a total of 14.
According to my math, 2020 exceeded the 2019 set count. I think 2019 only had 6 different sets … and 2018 had 7 different sets …
The last question in the quiz was “If Topps stayed on its current pace of Star Wars trading card releases, how many sets would we have between 2021 and the 50th anniversary of A New Hope?” Well, A New Hope was released 1977, so the 50th anniversary would be 2027 … that’s seven more years of releases, thus at nine sets a year, Topps could release 63 more card sets before the 50th anniversary. — I hope y’all got deep pockets, and avoid the On-Demand and “online only” sets (like TFA Widevision) because that only make this list even more confusing.
Whew! Good think I’m not a Star Wars master collector or completist. Reminder: Collect what you like, and keep the hobby fun. Now onto the contest:
2 days left in the contest (details below). Day 23 Topic: What happens when a sketch card gets rejected by the manufacturer?
It’s not a secret that manufacturers maintain the right to throw-out, or reject, sketch cards that show nudity, banned characters, or other various reasons. But the feelings of artists are rightfully still hurt when they pour time & effort into a project that they will never get paid for, or even seen by the public. Here’s some of those stories …
In 2012, Cryptozoic Entertainment released The Walking Dead Comic Book Trading Cards. In 2014 (when this post was made), Cryptozoic Entertainment released The Walking Dead Season 3 Part 1 (based on the TV show). ^ This artist was completely cut from the Walking Dead sketch card project because his style of art was not realistic enough. I have no idea what the contract specifically requested, or what his final cards looked like, but artists need to pay close attention to what companies are asking for regarding specific sets.
^ This screenshot makes some sense (but not complete sense). The Walking Dead gave the individual actors the right of denial, so Andrew Lincoln supposedly denied these sketch cards of himself. I think these cards are well-rendered, and worthy of collecting, but Andrew Lincoln didn’t agree.
^ I think this stings even worse. This artist only had ONE card approved for The Hobbit. It truly is The One Ring. — I don’t know the story from the artist’s perspective. This was written by a collector.
^ Wow; even the great Katie Cook had 3 cards rejected for X-Men Archives! The only thing I could guess is that she drew “banned characters.” I’m sure Rittenhouse wanted every last card they could get from Katie Cook, but sometimes their hands are tied by their contracted licenses.
^ This is a classic story. Marvel Masterpieces (2007-2008) banned all Marvel Zombies. Upper Deck said they were all rejected and destroyed. Then they started showing up in packs. Oops. So rejected does not always mean destroyed. (I got pictures of them here somewhere that I will try to dig up later …)
But this story should give artists hope … Dave Gaskin had some sketch cards rejected for the The X-File: UFOs and Aliens card set. So he did what any of us would do … he contacted Upper Deck and asked for reconsideration. And the second time around they were approved.
^ But just because cards are approved does not necessarily mean they were packed-out … neither Dave Gaskin nor myself have ever seen 2-card X-Files puzzles. (And these are beauties).
Now in case you are wondering who makes all these tough decisions regarding what gets rejected; in September of this year, Upper Deck hired a new Quality Assurance Clerk. That’s the dude that inspects all incoming sketches, and keeps “accurate data on spreadsheets.” — That means that somewhere there are records of all the Upper Deck sketch cards … Maybe one of you got the job?
So to recap:
Cards can be rejected for content (nudity, or banned characters).
Cards can be rejected because the actor does not approve .
Rejected cards are not always destroyed.
Rejected cards can later be approved.
Accepted cards are not always packed-out.
Any other thoughts on the subject? — I honestly feel for any artists that have cards rejected. I wish I could own them all. Good luck. Now onto the Contest:
Contest details at the bottom. Day 22 Topic: The best eBay Auction Ever.
Ebay was a much different beast in 2001. There was a lot of transparency by eBay, listing the buyers & sellers names and bid amounts. Nineteen years ago an auction like no other was listed, and then never seen again, including THREE HUNDRED 1998/99 sketchagraph cards. This could be considered as the master checklist of what was available in Fleer Silver Age 1999. — I had to physically print the auction back then, and just digitally scanned it for the first time:
In case you can’t read the description: $14,000 buys you 300 cards ($46 each). Included in this listing are:
2 Stan Lee sketch cards
17 different John Romita sketch cards
5 Tom Palmer sketch cards
30 different George Tuska sketch cards
23 different Michal Dutkiewicz sketch cards
42 different Emir Ribero sketch cards
22 different Gene Colan sketch cards
60 different Marie Severin sketch cards
13 different Joe Sinnott sketch cards
It’s fair to say that this seller had inside access regarding a few of these cards. Often he refers to cards as “never released” or “stamped samples.” What really blows me away is that he claims to own some CZOP cards that were “editorially rejected.” What does that mean? Note: I always assumed that nothing was rejected in these early sets. — In my opinion, a collection this complete is not simply acquired by opening boxes and buying off eBay. This guy was the real deal with deep connections at Fleer/Skybox. — I honestly can not remember if this auction sold? Regardless, when people ask for a complete checklist of 1999 Silver Age, I think this is it.
By the way, did you read that last line? There was a MCC98 Deadpool original art redemption by Walt McDaniel. He was the artist on the 1998 series. I don’t think this was inserted or initiated by Fleer/Skybox. I think Walt McDaniel wrote on a blank sketch card (“mail me this, and I’ll mail you art”)? You can see a few examples of his sketchagraphs above … Okay, onto the contest. Only a few more days left …
Contest details at the bottom. — Day 21 Topic: Inside Info on Fleer.
Fleer was the top of their game in 2002. I was honestly considering opening a Comic Book, Hobby & Baseball Card Store (called Pop Culture), so I wrote Fleer a letter asking what it took to get started and purchase product directly from them, the manufacturer. They sent me back the following letter. — I thought I would use this blog post to share some of the official documents that Fleer sent out to their partners. This is kind of a Fleer time-capsule.
A bit of history: Marvel Comics bought Fleer in 1992 for US$540,000,000. Then in 1995, Marvel Comics also bought Skybox. Fleer/Skybox created three of the legendary Marvel sketch card sets … FUSM97, MCC98, and Fleer Silver Age 1999. But, Marvel entered bankruptcy in 1996 and eventually started selling its subsidiaries.
^ This postcard from 1995 says “Fleer/Skybox filed a Verified Application … authorizing sale of remining trading cards …” Everything was to be sold at auction. I received this postcard because I was one of the listed creditors at the time.
So, I started getting packets from lawyers in October/November 2005, listing me as a low-value creditor (they owed me $40). But the packets listed every creditor, including some high-level celebrities & manufacturers. Obviously, the proceeds from the bankruptcy auction would benefit big creditors first, like Alexander Grass who was owed $2,050,000.
The blog entry below (found using Google) was posted March 02, 2015. Some of the “sale of remining trading cards” bought at liquidation were only coming to market 10 years after the initial bankruptcy. I vaguely remember them originally being sold in very large lots (for example: all the basketball autographed cards, (or) all of the sealed product in the warehouse; etc). They were not small & manageable lots that the average collector could afford. — Reminder: the Transformers Armada set was released in 2003 with sketch card redemptions. Many of the actual sketch cards were still in the Fleer warehouse when the bankruptcy auction took place in 2006.
So, have all the 2006 Fleer bankruptcy auction collectibles already come to market? Who knows. There could still be large batches of cards that the auction buyers are still sorting. Are there any other Fleer documents you own or want to see? Leave a comment or Tweet me @Sketchcards — Now onto the contest:
Contest details at the bottom (only 5 days left). Day 20 Topic: Artist Business Cards.
Pre-Pandemic, I loved going to Comicbook Conventions and meeting artists. I love buying official sketch cards & PSC’s directly from the creators. Sometimes artists would say “I didn’t bring any sketch cards with me, but take my business card and we’ll work something out later.” Other times I ran out of pocket-money and took a business card to remind myself to re-contact the artist once I had more cash saved up. — I quickly realized that a lot of these business cards are mini-prints full of gorgeous art, so I started putting them in business card notebooks. I thought I would share some of these business cards these creators spent so much time and effort to produce. So, there’s not a whole lot of text or commentary in this post. Just good looking art from some of the best sketch card creators in the business …
… By the way, most of these business cards are 10+ years old, so I assume all emails/websites/phone numbers are now expired. Even if they are still valid, please be respectful and don’t use their contact info for nefarious purposes. Now onto the contest …
Contest details at the bottom. Day 19 Topic: Through The Mail … #TTMSuccess’es
Sometimes you throw a Hail Mary, and the long shot connects. For years I’ve seen friends on social media & hobby message boards post TTM successes. That stands for “Through the Mail” requests; usually an autograph from a celebrity, but in my case I’m talking about sketch cards. There are plenty of websites that provide possible addresses and instructions, so I won’t beat that horse. For a while FANMAIL.biz had the best 174-page thread of comic book creator addresses (click here), but it has dried up the last few years.
This is one of my earliest and favorites. It’s from Terrell Gentry, a Senior Product Designer at Walt Disney. — Back in 2003, Upper Deck started making Disney Treasures card sets with very rare sketch cards (read about them here). Terrell was on that first & second set, contributing 10 and 12 cards respectively. I was so mad that I never found any Disney Treasures sketch cards or landed one from eBay that I decided to write letters to a few of the artists, courtesy of the Walt Disney company address (I didn’t have or want to use home addresses). — Terrell wrote back and included this sketch card (free). I was over-the-moon, and this holds the spot until I land an official Disney Treasures sketch cards one day.
I’ve known about Don Perlin for years. He joined Jim Shooter’s Valiant Comics in 1991, penciling the series Solar, Man of the Atom and Bloodshot (among other things like Werewolf by Night back in the 1970’s). — Strange story, but my parents lived around the corner from him and they didn’t know it until they bumped into each other at the local comic book shop. My parents were picking up some things for me while I was at college (yup, cool parents), and the comic shop owner was like, “That’s Don Perlin.” They shared pleasantries, and my parents later told me the story. — Well, I wrote a letter to the comic book shop (again, I didn’t have or want to use home addresses). The next time Don Perlin was in the shop, they gave him my letter, and then this came in the mail. Heck of a guy (and currently 91 years old)!
Which brings me to the mack-daddy. This guy needs no introduction: Todd McFarlane. — If I remember correctly, there was a long run of Spawn comics being illustrated by people other than Todd because he was busy running his larger business (toys, etc). Then Todd had announced that he was returning to draw Spawn for a major anniversary (maybe issue 150 or 200)? So I figured I would write and congratulate him. A few weeks later, this showed up in the mail. Of course I paid to certify and slab it by JSA/Beckett. This is my holy grail of sketch cards.
Of course there have been plenty of failures along the way. I must have mailed Stan Lee & Jim Lee 10 different times to different addresses (once even mailing $5.00 cash for return postage that was kept, probably by some intern). But the successes outweigh the failures. This is one more fun way to play the hobby. Now onto the contest —
Contest details at the bottom. Day 18 Topic: Let’s discuss a few Convention and Charity Sketch Cards.
Not all sketch cards some in packs. Here’s a couple that are unique to a particular event or charity … starting with the Treasure Chest Of Art. The Pediatric Oncology Treasure Chest Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing comfort and distraction from painful procedures to children and teens who have been diagnosed with cancer, by providing gifts from a treasure chest. — Paul Maiellaro, Owner of the Chicagoland Entertainment Collectors Expo had an idea …
Paul provided special commemorative trading card blanks, and left it up to the artists to draw what they wanted. 100% of the net profits, less expenses benefitted the Treasure Chest Foundation. They got official permission to do Star Wars, Wacky Packages and Garbage Pail Kids, upon approval. — BTW: Lucasfilm gave permission for Star Wars images with a maximum number of cards to be done for the set, so although this set was authorized to include Star Wars images, they had a maximum quantity. Original characters & artwork, including Sci-Fi & Fantasy artwork were welcome. The deadline was Apr. 2, 2010.
Next, I want to discuss Star Wars Fan Days 2007. This was a sub-convention of Dallas Fan Days (or more recently called: Fan Expo Dallas) events under the same management. It started in 2002, when Ben Stevens, and Philip Wise (owner of rebelscum.com and theforce.net) produced the first Dallas Comic Con. In October 2007, they hosted Star Wars Fan Days I.
They made custom card stock for both the attending Celebrities and the attending Artists. I honestly don’t know if your ticket granted you any free signatures or sketches. I assume you had to pay each artist individually, and thus many were left blank. The artists (and custom stock) was created for the artists: Mark Brooks, Chris Trevas, Tom Hodges, Justin Chung, Cat Staggs, Joe Corroney, & Tommy Lee Edwards. Here’s an example of the talent and artist custom card stock (below):
Below is the card stock for Star Wars Fan Days 2 & 3 (2008 & 2009). It appears they moved to card stock that could be used for any artist, rather than specific card stock with the artist’s name on the front.
Lastly, let’s look at 2007 INKWORKS Convention sketch cards. From what I can tell, Inkworks made these for several years in a row (2005-2007). Their last year attending SDCC was 2008, but collectors don’t remember them having sketch cards that year. Samples have been found from Mark Dos Santos, Tone Rodriguez, and Tess Fowler. To get a sketch, collectors just had to hang around the Inkworks booth, and they’d periodically give out tickets for the sketch sessions (free). The artists were supposed to stay confined to subjects Inkworks held licenses for (like Tess Fowler drawing “Shrek,” and Dos Santos and Rodriguez drew “Family Guy” cards).
There has been some discussion among collectors if these should be classified as “promo cards” since they were never sold, and were created to generate publicity for upcoming products. If so, then these are 1/1 promo cards. — Both the samples above were drawn by Tone Rodriguez. The artists rotated “shifts,” so not all artists were available at every sketch session. — Most collectors only remember these being available at Comic-Con International: San Diego (SDCC), not other large comic conventions.
So … those are three convention or charity sketch card “sets.” — I’m sure there are others. Do you have a favorite convention card or one worth blogging about? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @Sketchcards. — Now onto the contest …
Contest details at the bottom. Day 17 Topic: Top Sketch Card sales for the 4th Quarter of 2020.
A lot of us are stuck at home during the pandemic with nothing to do but peruse eBay. That could lead to some impressive sketch card sales. Here are a few worth archiving. They may not be the absolute highest sales of the month, but these six are definitely noteworthy …
(#6.) I know nothing about what drives a Garbage Pail Kids sketch card over $750 … did this go crazy because it’s green ink? Or maybe John Pound was a rare artist in the 2005 set? — All I know is that it’s seems pretty basic, but still brought in a pretty penny. I need to understand the GPK market better.
(#4.) This sketchagraph sale was a surprise! In my opinion, Wilson Ramos isn’t the most rare artist in the MCC98 checklist. But Spiderman 2099 is a rare character in the set, so maybe a SM2099 collector needed it. — Quick note: Look at the top of that top-loader. It has yellowed with age. This thing has been in a forgotten vault for 20 years. Also, to compare, … four other MCC98 sketch cards sold recently between $202-$293 each, which seems like a more traditional price when a MCC98 hits the auction block.
(#3.) To each their own, and collect what you like … but $887 for a Donald Trump sketch card? I don’t have a lot of commentary or explanation. Those Decision 2020 sketches can be lucrative. — When I searched eBay for “Decision Trump Sketch” I got back 4 live listings, and 8 completed sales. The completed sales ranged from $119-$648 (not counting this $887 sale). So, yes, a lot of them sell in the triple-digit range.
(#2.) Nothing surprising here. NAR is one of the most in-demand sketch card artists. The final price was $1195 for a Moon Knight / Marvel Beginnings (after 33 bids). The only thing I want to add is that NAR was not one of the solicited artists on the set, that I know of. There is a good chance this was a commissioned sketch on some blank card stock (and not originally issued in packs)?
(#1.) And the number one most impressive sale of the month is this Game of Thrones sketch that sold over $2300. People go nuts for this GoT stuff, which shows from the 48 different bids on this card. Note to artists with blank Game of Thrones sketch cards … draw the White Walker King to bring in that bank.
If you want to see some of December 2018’s Top Sales (2 years ago) … click here. Now onto the contest …
Contest details at the bottom. Day 16 Topic: An interview with sketch card artist Matt Stewart.
Matt Stewart lives in Calgary, Alberta and has been creating artwork for trading card companies since 2014. He loves everything pop culture, baseball, hockey, and says he “eats far too much sugary cereal while watching cartoons.” It’s an honor to talk with him:
Chris Mixer: What was your first sketch card set? Who or what brought you? Matt Stewart: The first set I worked on was Monsters & Maniacs for Monsterwax in 2014. I’ve collected cards and loved drawing since I was a kid but it wasn’t until 2014 after I had been laid off from a job that I figured why not try to create artwork for trading card companies. I googled a bunch of different companies that used sketch cards in their products, emailing each of the company’s owners or art directors with a few sample sketch cards I had made. Within a few months Monsterwax replied asking me to work on Monsters & Maniacs and a Dinosaurs set quickly followed.
CM: You draw sports sketch cards and non-sports. Which do you prefer? MS: I have zero preference between entertainment and sports sketch cards; they’re both a lot of fun! For instance, I’m just as big of a baseball fan as I am a Star Wars fan, and even when drawing something I’m unfamiliar with like Space 1999, it exposes me to something that I end up enjoying greatly. Sometimes it’s a bit more challenging on properties I’m unfamiliar with when the reference imagery is scarce. I also end up spending more time on these projects as I research what the property is and what collectors would like to see from it. For example, I’ve done a bunch of Gerry Anderson Superanimation projects and those shows were rarely if at all shown in North America. So I spent some time watching the episodes that are available on YouTube and taking screenshots from the episodes to use as reference imagery. I also followed a few Gerry Anderson fan pages on Facebook to get a sense of what collectors would like to see drawn on the cards. Another challenge with some of the sets are the restrictions. Certain movie projects won’t allow you to draw a lot of the actors, so you have to be creative in using silhouettes or I’ll draw iconic objects like the pulse rifle from Aliens. Sports projects can also have a lot of restrictions in who you can draw and even what reference images of the athletes you can draw from. Numerous restrictions can sometimes lessen the amount of fun I’m having on a project but also adds a challenge that can be equally interesting.
CM: Do you have a favorite set, or card, or memory from creating sketch cards? MS: My favourite piece of artwork is always the most recent one I’ve created. I’m very critical of my own work, and that criticism increases with how old a drawing is. However, the Topps 2018 MLB Museum Collection set was especially memorable because that was the first time a few of my sketch cards were reproduced. I had five different sketch cards reproduced as part of the 2018 Canvas Collection subset, and was provided a few copies of those from Topps. I now have a small collection of cards that have my reproduced artwork on them and it all began with 2018 Museum Collection! I remember getting the first invite email to work on Star Wars and the Avengers trading cards. Those first invites were special experiences because I felt like I had made headway into creating licensed artwork, and it was to work on movies that I’ve watched countless times. Over the past six years I’ve worked on dozens of different properties and while I’ve loved them all, there are a few that stand out because they are of some of my all-time favourite movies or TV shows. The X-Files, Terminator 2, Firefly, and Aliens projects are all very memorable because they are at the tippy top of my list of faves.
CM: You were just on a 2020 Topps Gallery trading card! Are you famous now? MS: HA! I am nowhere near famous! Topps created a “Featured Artist” card in Gallery 2019 & 2020 that I was fortunate to be asked to be on alongside two other artists. I think it’s really amazing that Topps has done this for this set and I would love to see it done in more sets as all sketch card artists work tirelessly for these projects and receive very little recognition for what they do. Collectors seem to like them as well, as a few months back I was mailed the 2019 Gallery card to sign that the collector had the other two artists previously sign.
CM: Are you a collector as well as an artist? What do you like to collect? MS: I’m not only a collector, I’m almost a hoarder! I don’t collect sketch cards but have traded with other artists for personal sketch cards. I’m also an avid collector of hockey and baseball cards, and some entertainment sets, and a huge comic book fan! My office is filled with comicbook and card boxes!
CM: Do you have a dream property you hope to work on one day? MS: I’ve worked on nearly every trading card property I can work on, except for hockey which rarely does original trading card artwork. I’m always excited to work on new or existing properties, but at this point my goal is to create more artwork that is reproduced in sets. In this regard, probably one of the few goals I have left is if Topps does another Star Wars Galaxy set I would love to create a base card illustration for it.
CM: What do you consider your style, or favorite medium? MS: I can’t always see it but collectors have told me that they see a style in my work. I believe my ability as an artist has improved over the years, and I can see that in the sets I’ve worked. Technically, I have moved from using just markers and inks on my sketch cards to using a variety of mediums. I find it makes projects more interesting by using a few different styles and mediums. Lately my bag of mediums include acrylic and gouache paints, markers, oil based pencil crayons, and ink washes.
Chris Mixer: It’s a little known fact that Matt Stewart and I did a Christmas trade-&-swap last December. We mailed each other some cards (they are trading cards after all). In my package was his business card. Each of his business cards have an original sketch. How cool is that? — Thanks again for your time, Matt!