3 sketch card facts for July 2021

… I can’t post as regularly as I would like right now, but when I find rare sketch card nuggets like these, I can’t help but archive them. So here’s three random sketch card stories worth putting in your back pocket …

(#1.) Colleen Doran is a treasure. Notable credits include: The Sandman, Wonder Woman, Legion of Superheroes, Teen Titans, and her space opera series, A Distant Soil. She has also drawn sketch card for Lord of the Rings Masterpieces & Indiana Jones Heritage. But what about her Indiana Jones & the Crystal Skull cards? All her cards got lost in the mail more than a decade ago. Then they were recently found …

I have reached out to her on Twitter multiple times to ask what will happen to them (with no response). Here’s the crazy part … she has since deleted these tweets. Were the cards returned to Topps, or was she somehow threatened with a lawsuit? Were they sold privately? This might be the only saved image of these recently found cards, now lost again. This sounds like an actual plot of an Indiana Jones movie.

(#2.) A crazy-rare set of sports sketch cards came to market, and I was following along for the ride. A box of 2014 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection Football Cards was not cheap (SRP was something like $500). Each box would yield (5) Autograph Cards Hard-Signed and (1) 2015 Rookie Base Card, and might also include a Quad Sketch Card Puzzle. By my math (thanks to Cardboard Connection) there was only 51 total Sketch Card quad-sets produced?

Okay, let me try to understand … there’s no single sketch cards, they ALL come in quad-puzzles, and one of the pieces was actually signed by the athlete represented on the cards? There are 17 different athletes, each drawn 3 times? — Well, I found a set for auction. Granted, this is probably the least-valuable subject and the cheapest these cards will ever sell for, but it helps me budget for the next time a set goes to auction.

(#3.) This final random story is something I need to do more research on … Dave Sim is a Canadian cartoonist and publisher, best known for his comic book Cerebus. In late 2020 Dave Sim launched a KickStarter to reprint Cerebus issue #1. Many of the reward tiers came with trading cards. Then I came across this on eBay:

… I lost out on the auction, but I have to assume this was part of the KickStarter based on the date inscribed. Were sketch cards one of the possible KickStarter rewards? How many were ever drawn? So I went digging on the internet and didn’t find a lot more information, but I did find one more sample:

… so these Cerebus sketch card are #9 in a series, but individually numbered up top. I think the first 8 in the set were standard promos available through the KickStarter project. Good luck if you’re a Cerebus fan. These looks like an incredibly rare find.

And there you go. Some cool sketch card nuggets I found in the last month digging around the internet. My goal is to archive as much information as I can find, and eventually collect one sample of every sketch card ever. Be safe & happy collecting, y’all. —

SAGE launches sketch cards

SAGE cards have been around since 1999, but that doesn’t mean there’s an easy-to-find history of the company. They have no website. They have no Facebook. Their only online presence is a Twitter account.

Technically, the company name is “SA•GE Collectibles” That’s because it was founded by two men: Robert Sadlak and Tom Geideman. Tom was a previous Upper Deck employee, and Robert was Director of Operations for ScoreBoard, Inc.

While they have released college-draft themed football sets for more than a decade, they started innovating last year during the pandemic. Debuting in 2020, SAGE included one-of-one Art Gallery Sketch cards from artist Gary Kezele. It looks like a total of 32 original art cards were commissioned and packed-out for the 2020 Sage Hit Premier Draft Low series, and 35 original art cards were commissioned and packed-out for 2020 Sage Hit Premier Draft High series. By my count there was only one official tweet about these cards:

SAGE reprinted some of these cards as one-per-box inserts, but they didn’t reprint all of them. 2020 Sage Hit Premier Draft Low series had 18 reprint cards (chosen from the 32 original art sketch cards). 2020 Sage Hit Premier Draft High series had 17 reprint cards (from the 35 original art sketch cards). So if you pull a sketch card, your odds are basically 50/50 that’s it has been reprinted vs never seen by collectors.

Then in 2021, SAGE decided to team-up with artist Gary Kezele again. It looks like 2021 Sage Hit Premier Draft Low series has 13 art gallery reproduction inserts, but no word on total original art count yet. Information seems to be only available as collectors assemble it. Below is a look at a 2021 original sketch card next to a reproduced insert. Note that the front is nearly identical, and the cards can only by differentiated by their backs.

With only 67 total original art sketch cards inserted across both 2020 releases, I would argue that SAGE sketch cards are some of the rarest (least-produced) sketch cards in any modern trading card set. Good luck to those chasing them!

Scanning every Sketch Card back ever

Hey y’all. — I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t posted a lot on here since December, but that’s because I’ve been experimenting with Photo Galleries on Google Photos (instead of WordPress). I think I like it more, and now I have a new goal …

I hope to scan the back of every sketch card that I own, then start hunting down sample copies of every sketch card that exists. Then with a little luck (and time), I can eventually start the virtual “Sketchcard Museum” that archives the history and a few samples of every official sketch card ever made.

Now this is just the start, and I’ll be adding 100’s more & editing for a few weeks … but here’s the link:

Non-Sports signed cards

I’m trying something new today. I have a ton of signed trading cards acquired at comic book conventions. I thought I would make this my ongoing gallery page. I have a lot to add later … but wanted to start somewhere. I think the easiest way is to do this in blocks of six cards. That way I can come back and add descriptions as needed. Away we go …

And the horizontal cards …

… more later … this is just a test …

Drink and Draw Sketch Coasters

There’s a different kind of sketch card out there. It was never inserted in packs, and it’s not even card shaped. I’m talking about cardboard drink coasters with original art.

The original “Drink and Draw Social Club” was formed in 2005 by Dave Johnson, Dan Panosian and Jeff Johnson. These three invited other artists to join them Drinkin’ and Drawin’ (often to hilarious results). They even printed up their own drink coasters and compiled the best of their drawings in a book (printed in 2007).

Well, if you are familiar with Comic Book Conventions you probably know that there are often copious amounts of artists and alcohol available. Thus the Drink and Draw Social Club became popular at hotel bars at some major conventions after hours.

A few inspired people soon devised a plan to make the Drink and Draw Social Club into a fundraiser. — The first annual HeroesCon Drink and Draw charity event was back in 2011. Funds raised would benefit Parkinson’s research in honor of Richard Thompson (the cartoonist behind the award winning Cul de Sac comic strip). Artists at HeroesCon were invited to show up to a designated bar on the first night of the convention, and draw on some custom printed drink coasters that would be sold to benefit the Michael J. Fox foundation.

The way the HeroesCon event operates is a whole lot like the floor of the the New York Stock Exchange in a 1980’s movie. As soon as artists are done drawing, they hand off their finished coasters to the event organizers who then display them on a table. All the interested attendees are then free to make an offer. If the organizers like your offer, the item is sold. The better the art, the higher the offer needs to be. Often, friends of the artist will make immediate and crazy offers to guarantee their win, so some art may sell within seconds of being turned in (it’s all for charity after all).

Of course an art auction is not an original idea. People have done this in various ways for decades. Another organization that uses a similar model is The Hero Initiative, who is dedicated to finding a financial safety net for comic creators who may need emergency medical aid or financial support. Recently, The Hero Initiative has also moved to the drink coaster format. Below are some of their charity coasters have sold on eBay in the last 60 days.

2020 was unfortunately the year of the COVID pandemic. Most conventions were cancelled and charity organizers had to become even more creative with their fund raising. The good news is that it looks like a lot of coasters have been sent through the mail, and are about to get art on them for future use by Team CuldeSac.
(BTW … check out that new design!)

Want to donate? You can Email the HeroesCon organizers at teamculdesac@gmail.com or message them on Facebook. — This is one of my favorite ways to collect original art. Be safe y’all, and feel free to tweet me @sketchcards. Thanks!

#SketchCardContest – Day 25

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.

I just want to say THANK YOU!
Over the past 25 days, this little blog had over 1000 views, and 500 visitors.
It was the best month for Sketchcard.Wordpress.com since August 2018.

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!

#SketchCardContest – Day 24

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:

#SketchCardContest – Day 23

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:

#SketchCardContest – Day 22

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 …

#SketchCardContest – Day 21

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: