Aren’t you glad you stayed up late to read Wax Cracker? I am releasing JVG’s next comic installment 8 hours earlier than promised. Read up and get a jump start on everyone that went to bed early. Here’s John’s next comic post:
The set that got me, and hopefully others, really involved in comic card collecting was the 1995 Fleer Ultra X-Men set. This set was, in essence, money when I was in elementary school. They were a currency every boy traded in. The cartoon was popular, the action figures were everywhere, and the comics were popular as well. I fully blame this set for getting me into comic collecting.
There had been X-Men centric sets before: in 1992 and 1993 the sets were nothing to write home about, but Fleer took over in 1994 and put out a great set. For some reason, those cards never took off at my school but the set is very good. One of my favorite things in the 1994 set was the back of the cards showing what the mutant powers were and where they originated on the character’s body. The 1995 set was just as big as the 1994 set with 150 base cards, but the art just seemed… cleaner. I don’t know how to describe it, but the art was simply fantastic on each and every card. The set was completely X-Men based: they had the good guys, the bad guys, the classic outfits, and major battles. I still love to look at all these cards and pore over the details.
An interesting subset that certainly didn’t hurt its popularity was a “Spring Break” set that featured the main team (Wolverine, Rogue, Jean Grey, etc.) at the beach in bathing suits. I’m not going to lie, looking back this is totally exploitative and silly, but as a kid they were really cool. I probably have deep-seated body issues because of those cards, but whatever. It was original and the art was done well and I was 9.
The three (THREE!) chase sets were also really cool: there was a metal holofoil set featuring X-Men in the danger room, there was the standard holographic/shiny foil cards, and a set of clear plastic cards with a character on it called “Suspended Animation”. The shiny foil cards were interesting because they were different colors based on where you bought the box. If memory serves Toys R Us cards had a blue or “rainbow” finish, Wal-Mart had a copper finish, and the rest of the locations had a silver finish. I might be mistaken on that, but I do know there are different colors out there and all of them are worth the same (not much).
Another of my favorite sets that I only discovered recently is a set of cards based entirely on the art of Bernie Wrightson. Wrightson is a veteran horror and fantasy artist that is most widely known for co-creating Swamp Thing. He’s done a ton of work in his day and all of it is very detailed and very well done. I stumbled upon a box of his cards from 1994 called “More Macabre” that is actually his second line of cards. I’ve never seen the first line, and I’ve never seen any other artists have two lines based on original art they’ve produced (Jim Lee had a set of X-Men cards based on his comics work, Joe Jusko and the Hildenbrant brothers had sets based on Marvel characters). The “More Macabre” set is a fantastic line of cards that really showcase Wrightson’s talent to pain scary characters and scary situations. The cards don’t have a coherent story or theme, but they are broken down to various situations like: vampires, werewolves, a Swamp Thing-esque monster, zombies, etc.
My only gripe is the chase set is a foil line of cards based on a then-upcoming mini-series on his Captain Sternn character. They’re nice looking cards, but the character and the series doesn’t really appeal to me. Bonus fun fact: Wrightson is from Baltimore and is a regular the Baltimore Comic-Con. He’s a nice guy, and you should check out his art.
To finish up this series of posts, my last based on cards for a while, I’d like to leave you all with this piece of fine art:
That is one of the scratch-n-sniff cards that came with the Punisher set I talked about in my last series of posts. That puff of smoke smells like someone ate bacon-wrapped cordite and belched in your face. Some marketing team somewhere thought that kids would love that. I’m pretty sure it gives you cancer.
Follow John on Twitter @CaptJohnStarr.