March 2019 — Auctions Worth Noting

A couple of times a year I look at completed auctions to check trends. Then I screenshot a few sales to archive here on my blog. These aren’t always the highest sales; but rather the ones I find most interesting or noteworthy.

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(#1.) Over $1000 for a Matt Groening. The price isn’t as surprising as the volume. There were actually FIVE completed Art De Bart cards in recent sales. The reason I picked this one to showcase is because it was a true auction (not Buy-It-Now). Demand is still high.

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(#2.) A Simone Bianchi Marvel Masterpieces sketchcard. He was the featured artist of the 2018 series; just like Joe Jusko was the featured artist of the 2016 Marvel Masterpiece card series. This artist would be the big chase of the whole set.

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(#3.) A stamped official Joe Sinnott sketchagraph. This month legendary Marvel Comics artist Joe Sinnott announced his retirement from comics with the release of his final Sunday edition of the Amazing Spider-Man comic strip, which Sinnott had been inking since 1992. The 92-year-old artist ends his regular work with Marvel Comics, where he has worked in one capacity or another for 69 years!

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(#4.) A rare Andy Price. Let’s do some math on this one: This was a Multiple-Case-Purchase Incentive given out if you bought 12 cases. Cases were packed in 12 box configurations with 6000 total boxes produced. So that’s 500 total cases, or a maximum of 41 Andy Price Multi-Case incentives. In comparison, John Romita drew 50 cards for this set, so Andy is rarer than Romita.

There you go. What were your favorite sales of 2019 so far? Share them with me on Twitter @Sketchcards … Happy Collecting!

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The History of Witchblade Millennium

The Witchblade Millenium trading card set by Top Cow & Dynamic Forces was one of the first ten sets to ever have sketch cards, and the only sketch card set released in the year 2000. It was also the first sketch card set created by Dynamic Forces. — Witchblade was an incredibly popular character in 2000. Her comic book had been out for five years, and was about to be adapted into a television series in 2001.

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The card set was ambitious. There were 181+ unique autograph insert cards because creators signed multiple cards with differing rarity. Sketch cards were contributed by seven different artists, at an average of 1:72 packs (one per 2 boxes).

  • Matt Busch
  • Dorian
  • Randy Green
  • Alex Horley
  • Jae Lee
  • Jose Villarrubia
  • John Watson

According to the promo card, 7000 boxes were produced. At 1:2 boxes, that’s 3500 sketch cards, or an average of 500 sketch cards per artist. It was never confirmed if every artist contributed the same number of sketch cards. Matt Busch got the majority of attention at release, because he was featured on both the box packaging and the promo card. 

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Because sketch cards were such a new concept, the artists were not given a lot of direction or instruction. Most of the artists drew the same image over-and-over, and stayed with a basic headshot of the main Witchblade character. — In my opinion, the star of the set was Randy Green. He had been the primary artist on the book in 1998 & 1999. His name was most synonymous with Witchblade, except for the creator (Michael Turner), who did not contribute sketch cards for the set.

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Randy went on to contribute sketch cards for other sets, like the 2008 Marvel Masterpieces 2 set in 2008, and he continues to draw for comic books like Lara Croft and the Frozen Omen (by Dark Horse). — Jae Lee went on to become a mega star in comics, drawing covers for books like Marvel’s Inhumans and The Dark Tower. —

Witchblade Millennium is underappreciated and sometimes forgotten as a set, but it still predates all Star Trek, Star Wars, and DC Comics sketch card sets. In fact there are only 10 Witchblade Millennium sketch cards for sale on eBay right now, and another 5 that recently sold (none of which are by Randy Green). Do you have a Witchblade Millennium sketch card in your collection? I would love to see it! Show me on Twitter @sketchcards — Happy Collecting!

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A Definitive TimeLine of SketchCard sets

I once considered collecting a sketch card from every card set in order to make an online museum. Here is the checklist I created (through 2007):

  • 1993 Simpsons Series 1 – SkyBox
  • 1994 Bone (by Jeff Smith) – Comic Images
  • 1996 Groo (by Sergio Aragonés) – WildStorm
  • 1997 Fleer Ultra SpiderMan – Fleer/Skybox
  • 1998 Marvel Creators Collection – Fleer/Skybox
  • 1999 Marvel: The Silver Age – Fleer/Skybox
  • 1999 Lady Death: Night Gallery – Comic Images
  • 2000 Witchblade Millenium – Top Cow / Dynamic Forces
  • 2001 Marvel Legends – Topps
  • 2001 Fathom – Dynamic Forces
  • 2001 Star Trek 35th Anniversary – Rittenhouse Archives
  • 2001 Women of Star Trek Voyager – Rittenhouse Archives
  • 2001 Crimson Commemorative – Dynamic Forces
  • 2001 Simpsons Mania! – Inkworks
  • 2001 Lady Death: Love Bites – Comic Images
  • 2002 Top Cow Universe – Dynamic Forces
  • 2002 LEXX – Dynamic Forces
  • 2002 The Complete Babylon 5 – Rittenhouse Archives
  • 2002 Battle of the Planets – Dynamic Forces
  • 2002 Lady Death: Dark Alliance – Comic Images
  • 2002 Farscape (Season 3) – Rittenhouse Archives
  • 2002 The Definitive Dawn Collector Cards – Dynamic Forces
  • 2002 Lethal Ladies: Lady Death/Witchblade – Dynamic Forces
  • 2002 Witchblade: Disciples of the Blade – Dynamic Forces
  • 2002 Twilight Zone: Shadows and Substance (Series 3) – Rittenhouse Archives
  • 2003 Stargate SG-1 (Season 5) – Rittenhouse Archives
  • 2003 The Incredible Hulk – Topps
  • 2003 Disney Treasures (Mickey Mouse) – Upper Deck
  • 2003 Disney Treasures (Donald Duck) – Upper Deck
  • 2003 Disney Treasures (Winnie The Pooh) – Upper Deck
  • 2003 Transformers Armada – Fleer
  • 2004 Alien vs. Predator Movie Cards – Inkworks
  • 2004 Disney Treasures (Holiday Treasures) – Upper Deck
  • 2004 Star Wars Heritage – Topps
  • 2004 The Complete Battlestar Galactica – Rittenhouse Archives
  • 2004 Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Topps
  • 2004 Conan: Art of the Hyborian Age – Rittenhouse Archives
  • 2004 Thunderbirds Are Go! (Movie Cards) — Cards Inc.
  • 2004 Shrek 2 — Comic Images
  • 2004 Xena Art & Images – Rittenhouse Archives
  • 2004 Michigan Wolverines – TK Legacy
  • 2005 Topps Gallery Baseball – Topps
  • 2005 Batman Animated (Series 1) – Topps
  • 2005 Army of Darkness – Dynamic Forces
  • 2005 Robots (The Movie) – Inkworks
  • 2005 Family Guy (Season 1) – Inkworks
  • 2005 The Three Stooges – Breygent
  • 2005 Twilight Zone: Science and Superstition (Series 4) – Rittenhouse Archives
  • 2005 Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (Episode III) – Topps
  • 2005 Star Trek The Original Series: Art and Images – Rittenhouse Archives
  • 2005 Ohio State – TK Legacy
  • 2006 The Wizard of Oz – Breygent
  • 2005 Family Guy (Season 2) – Inkworks
  • 2005 John Wayne – Breygent Marketing
  • 2006 Red Sonja – Dynamic Forces
  • 2006 X-Men The Last Stand – Rittenhouse Archives
  • 2006 The Complete Avengers – Rittenhouse Archives
  • 2006 CSI (Series 3) – Strictly Ink
  • 2006 Frankenstein – Artbox
  • 2006 JAG Premiere Edition – TK Legacy
  • 2006 The New Avengers – Strictly Ink
  • 2006 Doctor Who Companions (Trilogy) – Strictly Ink
  • 2006 Lord of the Rings Evolution – Topps
  • 2006 Lord of the Rings Masterpieces (Series 1) – Topps
  • 2006 Godzilla: King of the Monsters – Comic Images
  • 2007 Shrek the Third – Inkworks
  • 2007 Star Wars 30th Anniversary – Topps
  • 2007 Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem – Inkworks
  • 2007 Hellboy Animated: The Sword of Storms – Inkworks
  • 2007 DC Legacy – Rittenhouse Archives
  • 2007 Marvel Masterpieces (2007) – Upper Deck
  • 2007 Transformers Movie Cards – Topps
  • 2007 Doctor Who Companions (2nd Edition, Monochrome) – Strictly Ink
  • 2007 Hammer Horror Series One – Strictly Ink
  • 2007 Marilyn Monroe: Shaw Family Archive – Breygent Marketing
  • 2007 Halo – Topps

By my count, that’s more than 60 sets in the first 14 years. Then things really accelerated after that. Please let me know if I forgot any … & also let me know if this is helpful. (I may make a 2008-2010 list if there is demand). Thanks & Happy Collecting — @Sketchcards on Twitter

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.