Guest Blog: Cardboard Therapy

(Editors Note: Please welcome COMC Member Jason1969 to the COMC Blog! This post comes to us thanks to the Call to Arms we put out earlier this month seeking guest writers. Jason enjoys writing about baseball and baseball cards for the SABR Baseball Cards Committee and on his personal blog. He can be found on twitter as @HeavyJ28.  His main collecting interest is vintage baseball, especially Hank Aaron, but he also boasts (and yes, that’s the right word) over 600 different playing career cards of Dwight Gooden cards, many of which he was able to obtain right here on COMC)

By Jason A. Schwartz

For my guest appearance on the COMC blog I will get personal. My hope is that most readers will never find themselves in my shoes, but I hope my experience can help any of those who someday do.

Just under five years ago I found myself in a near-empty apartment alone. In the basement was my guitar, in the kitchen was a coffee mug, and in my hands was a small cardboard box containing the top hundred or so cards I’d saved from when I was a collector back in the day.

For the first time in a decade I opened the box and flipped through the cards. The rush of memories was incredible. Sometimes it was of the player and how much I loved him (in a fan sort of way, please). Other times it was the recollection of where I was and who I was with when I bought the card. The one constant as I made my way through the stack of top loaders was joy, something I hadn’t felt for a while.

I hadn’t purchased a baseball card for 20 years, and I suspected a lot had changed in that time. Were the Beckett Monthly and the Kit Young mail-order catalog still around? (Yes.) Were there still local card shops in every neighborhood? (No.) Were my Jose Canseco rookie cards worth a lot? (No.) Had the Hobby moved to the internet? (DEFINITELY!)

By evening I had made an online purchase of three of the Hank Aaron cards I needed for his basic Topps run. There were important areas of my life where I felt powerless, but it turned out buying Hank Aaron cards wasn’t one of them. Ditto for completing my 1957 Topps Brooklyn Dodgers team set that had been one card short for more than two decades, and ditto for starting on the 1956 version of the same.

I may have gone a bit overboard at times, but man oh man did I love coming home to a #MailDay! Man oh man was it a thrill to frame my completed Hank Aaron run and hang it on my wall. And man oh man was it fun to become part of an online community of collectors who not only buy, sell, and trade cards but eat, breathe, and sleep cards as obsessively as me! (Okay, don’t take that last part completely literally.)

When we’re at low points in our lives we sometimes hear that “it gets better.” I’m here to bear witness that it does. There was a lot I did to get from there to here, and I won’t kid you that some of it—maybe most of it—completely sucked. However, one little thing I did that made a huge difference was getting back into the hobby I loved so much as a kid. In my case, pairing “cardboard therapy” with “real” therapy proved to be the perfect combination for rebuilding my collection as I rebuilt my life.

Rich Reminisces: Thurman Munson

By Rich Klein
When I was growing up my two favorite teams were the Houston Astros in the National League, and the New York Yankees in the American League. Let’s face it, you can’t really root for both New York teams unless you like the flip-flop between your allegiances. In my generation, my three favorite players growing up were Jim Wynn and Cesar Cedeno of the Astros, and Thurman Munson of the Yankees. All three of the players had some interesting life stories, but sadly one of them would not even live until the 1980’s. When Thurman Munson’s plane crashed on August 2, 1979 that truly was one of the saddest days of my young life. When you really know a player more for what they do on the field than with any off-field characteristics, it’s easier to admire what they were.
Munson was drafted as the fourth overall amateur draft pick in 1968, and while the scouting in the 1960’s was not as sophisticated as 50 years later, Munson was a wise selection as he was in the majors barely a year later. In fact, he was such as good prospect that Topps placed him on one of those two-player Rookie Stars cards early in 1970 set:
Sy Berger always claimed that Topps had a better idea than most people about whom teams would keep in the majors, and in this case they batted .500 as Munsion had his fine career, but Dave McDonald would never play with the Yankees again and make a cameo with the 1971 Montreal Expos to conclude his major league career.
It’s really not a bad card, but his second year card, now that’s an even better card! His 1971 card, because of the black borders, is even harder to get in great condition than the 1970 rookie stars card. The 1971 card is even more significant because technically this is the first action photo ever on a base Topps card. Yes, we can consider card #5 the first action card in any Topps set EVER.
Because Topps was based out of New York, many of their photographers were also based out of the Metropolitan area.  You can see the backgrounds of either Yankee or Shea Stadium on many of the photos, and in 1971 you can see lots of action photos featuring players from those two team. Here is an example of Munson on the background of a couple of cards:
Vada Pinson was a great player in the 1960’s and was still a very good player in the early 1970’s, which is why he also earned an action photo in the set. Notice the player prone wearing #15. Yep, that’s Thurman!
A couple of years later Terry Crowley‘s card has Munson featured as well:
Munson is featured just as actively as Crowley is on his own card.  There are other cool background players on 1970’s action cards. Especially in basketball where you will see Hall of Famers from other teams on many cards. But for our purposes, we’ll just stick to Munson. Recognize the player Johnny Bench is going to tag out in this 1977 World Series card?  Yep, Thurm is making another guest appearance:
Munson’s career continued to thrive and in 1976 he won the American League Most Valuable Player award. His 1976 cards have always been among my favorite cards. But if you notice both the Topps and SSPC card feature Munson with a full beard. One team rule New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner had was no beards, and these cards help to show Munson’s independent streak over the facial hair issue:
I always wonder if the photo on his 1976 Hostess card was taken as part of the same photo shoot as the Topps card:
As I mentioned in an earlier column, within a few short years Munson would perish in a plane crash, and the last card issued whilst he was living was the 1979 Burger King Yankees set. I believe it is possible to have a signed card, but I have never seen a signed 1979 Burger King card in the past 40 years. Munson was not the easiest person in giving out autographs to fans, yet in a fascinating conundrum, most Yankee team signed balls have legit Munson signatures and not what are called “Clubhouse” signatures.
And if you really want to really know why Thurman was so beloved: Munson had not hit a homer in months. His power was sapped from the 1975-77 era.  He was hurting all over. But in this 1978 playoff game, with his body aching from those hard catching years, and in the pressure packed 1978 American League Championship Series, he hit what was probably the longest homer of his career.

And the night after his plane crash, the Yankees still had a game the next day, and if you want to cry go right ahead: I once asked Jerry Narron, who started as catcher that day, about what it was like trying to catch that game, and he stated that it was the hardest game he ever had to play in.

Would Thurman had made the Hall of Fame? My instinct says his career would have wound down before getting the career stats, but in our memories he was the straw that stirred the drink for the 1970’s Yankees.

Guest Bloggers Wanted! Write for the COMC Blog!

Hello COMC Nation!

We are putting out a Call to Arms…err…Pens…hmm.. Keyboards! We want you to write for the COMC Blog! We want to offer the talented writers of the COMC Nation a platform where they can share their experiences in the trading card card industry and be read by thousands of fellow collectors! We’re hoping that this initiative will help bring a wealth of diversity and different collecting backgrounds and points of view on the hobby to our blog.

Here are just a few ideas of the type of guest blogs that we are looking for:

  • Personal Collections: Do you have a collection that features a specific player, team, set or theme? We want to hear about and see your collection! Share your story and pictures of your collection!
  • How Do you use COMC?: Our team absolutely loves Customer Testimonials. How do you use COMC for your collecting experience? Do you have any good tips for buying or selling that you wan to share with others? Do you want to talk about your ‘flips’ and steals? Sound off and let us know!
  • Your Favorite Sets & Cards: Can you tell us why a card or two stands out the most to you? Does a particular insert set have a place in your heart? We want to hear about it!
  • Top 10 lists: Everyone loves lists right? Share with us your ten favorite cards in your collection, or ten favorite cards of a particular player!  You get the idea!
  • Expert Analysis: Do you know more about a particular set, theme, or niche in the hobby that anyone else does? Share you wealth of knowledge with us!
  • Your Hobby Experience: When did your journey into the trading card industry get started and where is it now? Share your history in the hobby with fellow collectors!

To Submit a Guest Blog: We ask that each guest blog be at least 500 words, and contain at least two photos and/or images of trading cards. Using images found on COMC is encouraged!  Blogs can be submitted via email body, word document, or any other standard file format. Simply send your content to Jamesgood@comc.com. In your email, please include a brief biography (1 paragraph or less) about yourself, so that our readers can have a little insight into who you are and what you collect!  Please include your COMC username as well! We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

The Good Word: A Well Designed Mail Day

By James Good

For the last three plus years at COMC I’ve seen every single tweet, Instagram picture, and Facebook post that we’ve been  tagged in. My absolute favorite posts that we get repeatedly see are our customer’s Mailday pictures, where they show their followers all of the items that they recently received in their latest COMC shipment. We routinely reshare these on our instagram page and twitter accounts, so be sure to keep tagging us in your #Maildays!

Seeing all of our customer’s incoming items for their personal collection inspired me to share some of the contents of an incoming COMC package of my own. While there are plenty of not so exciting items in that package that simply fill the gaps of my Mitch Haniger player collection, there are bunch of other items that have been inspired by my latest inspiration for collecting: buying cards based on unique card design.

I think that card design is a very low priority for a lot of collectors, as we’ve grown accustom to cards designed around sticker autos and recycled designs, among other visually unappealing decisions. Most prospectors don’t even consider card design when stashing away players in hopes of a later payday. The truth is that the card design for the majority of modern cards is very underwhelming. I’m not going to publicly shame any manufacturers, because with so many sets being printed these days, poor design choices were bound to happen. Just like without the bad moments in life we wouldn’t appreciate the good ones, without bad card design, we couldn’t appreciate good card design.

The 2008 Topps Factory Set Mickey Mantle Chrome Refractor Reprints set is the perfect example of the modernization of a reprint done right. There isn’t an overload of numbered parallels, and the design is simply a clean replica of the original on a modern chrome cardstock. The 1952 Mantle RC has been reprinted time-and-time again over the years, most having some sort of poor design choice shoehorned in. Topps got it right in 2008, and in the 2006 Topps ’52 set where they swapped the background color of this iconic card in a creative re-imagining. I’ll probably never own the real thing, so these reprints fill the void in my collection.

One rookie card that I am fortunate enough to own is a PSA 9 2007 Bowman Chrome – Prospects Tim Lincecum Gold Autograph #’d 31/50. As I talked about in one of the earlier installments of The Good Word , I love manufactured patch cards. These three are among my latest pick ups that fit the qualifications of well designed cards. Lincecum’s unconventional pitching delivery might have shortened his career, but it did produce a wealth of great trading cards along the way. I’m a sucker for the stars and stripes, so the 2010 Topps – Jumbo Packs Manufactured Hat Logo Relic on the right ranks highly on my well-designed sets list.

 

Which leads me to this 1912 Player’s Countries Arms & Flags Tobacco Card #4. I am not much of a vintage collector, much to the chagrin of my colleague Rich Klein, who two years ago at a National Sports Collector’s Convention took my 1960’s football card knowledge to task. I think that anytime you can buy something that’s over 100 years old for $0.50, you probably should, and this card was no exception. Even being 107 years old with a bit of paper loss, it still checks all the boxes for a well designed card.

As a kid growing up in the 90’s, nothing stuck with me more than the roller coast ride that was the 1995 ‘Refuse to Lose‘ Seattle Mariners. During that period of time, I opened so many packs of 1995 Score in search of the Gold Rush parallel of my favorite Mariners and 1996 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice looking for Gold Facsimile Signatures and You Crash the Game cards. I was never able to pull these two, but thanks to COMC, my hundreds of dollars of summer jobs and allowance money was not wasted in vein.

By comparison, the 1995 Score Gold Rush Parallel is inferior to the Platinum Team Set version. I really love the design on the Hitters Inc. subset, and not just because Albert Belle’s mean mug is a hidden gem. There were many iterations of Collector’s Choice ‘You Crash the Game’ contest across multiple sports, but the 1996 baseball version did it best with a bright orange and red foiled explosion design. Not only was it a great design, but it was a great concept that has stood the test of time. I know a certain 2019 Topps insert set with an awfully similar promotion.

If I were to rank Topps flagship designs, 1968 Topps would likely fall in the middle of the list. It’s not a bad design per say, it’s just not my style. I do love the rounded corners of the black border and white space between the player photo and border, but the textured brown outer border doesn’t work for me. That being said, this card jumps off the page to me because it features one of the best photos of any Mariner ever featured on a trading card.

Vogey looks larger-than-life in this pose, and the Safeco Field logo in the background is a nice finishing touch. It almost makes you forget that he has a career MLB batting average of .197, or that Safeco Field is now T-Mobile Park.This card screams “In Vogey We Trust” , that he’s our guy of the future, and that I’m willing to put in writing that he’ll hit 30 bombs whenever he’s given his first full year in the Bigs.

Last but not least, there hasn’t been a better non-sports set idea since the Map Relic Insert Sets from Upper Deck’s last two Goodwin Champions sets. These sets have checked all of the boxes I’m looking for when determining good card design:

  1. Make it unique
  2. Keep it simple
  3. Feature Great Photography

These cards do an perfect job encapsulating the points of interest they feature. The embedded map relic is a unique element that I don’t recall ever seeing on a card prior to these sets. My goal is to eventually collect all of the map relics of places that I’ve visited. Right now that list is at eight:

Niagara Falls, Statue of Liberty, Washington Monument, Capital HillGolden Gate Bridge, Freedom Tower, Mount Rainier, and Ruby Beach .

Ruby Beach holds a special place in my heart because it was one of the destinations along the first road trip that my fiancé and I went on almost four years ago. Traveling to the coast of Washington to be close to the water has been a recurring trend in our relationship. Later this year, we’ll get married near the beaches of Moclips, Washington, about 65 miles south of where the photo of this card was snapped.

Now it’s your turn! In the comments below, let us know some of your favorite cards from your most recent mailday!

The Good Word: It’s in the Game!

One of the best parts about my job at COMC is the amount of collectors I get to talk with about the hobby on the weekly basis. Whether it’s at The National talking to our members in person, or retweeting personal collection pick ups on twitter, it’s fascinating to see what collectors enjoy collecting and how they build their personal collections. I was recently talking with one of the members of our Developmental Team who didn’t collect cards prior to joining the COMC Team, but is slowly carving out his niche in the hobby – collecting trading cards featuring dogs!

That conversation led me to the discovery of a set that I had never seen or heard of before – The 2006 Enterplay Nintendo Nintendogs set. Nintendogs is a real-time pet simulation video game that was released on the handheld Nintendo DS console almost 15 years ago. This would fall somewhere in the timeline after the rise-and-fall of Tamagotchi toys, but before social media and mobile games such as Farmville gained massive popularity. The game spurned a whole slew of spin-offs and imitation games that can be had for a buck or two at any used gaming store.

Furthering down that rabbit hole, I wondering what other video game themed trading card sets were out there that I didn’t know about. To my surprise, the answer is shockingly not that many. Before we go any further, for the sake of this blog post, I’m removing all Pokemon related cards from the discussion, as that is a video game that has transcended beyond gaming to pop culture status. My Grandmother can name far more Pokemon than just Pikachu, and she hasn’t played a single video game since the days of Atari in the early 1980’s.

The origin of video game related trading cards can be traced to the 1980 Fleer Pac-Man Stickers set. Each $0.30 pack contained 3 stickers, 3 trading cards, and 1 piece of gum, with each box consisting of 36 packs. The cards themselves even feature a cleverly designed rub-off game that is essentially the Pac-Man game built into a card. The price point is interesting at $0.30, considering a game of Pac-Man at the arcade would cost you $0.25 (or your whole pocket of quarters, because who only plays one game of Pac-Man?)

Nintendo appears to have initially been hot on trading cards as they began to make a name for themselves in the United States. In the late 1980’s, they released stickers and several trading cards sets that featured similar scratch-off games themed after popular video games such as Double Dragon, Punch Out!!!, Super Mario Bros, and the Legend of Zelda.

Perhaps the lack of retail success of these sets could be the attributed to the reason why Nintendo branded trading cards all but dropped off the face of the earth in the 1990’s. While there were a handful of food issue cards and promo cards included with video games, there are very few Nintendo trading cards from the 90’s. In fact, the only real video game set with any hobby relevance appears to be the 1993 Topps Sonic the Hedgehog set, a Sega-brand character, and even that is a set that COMC has seen very few cards from over our existence.

It strikes me as odd that the 16-bit and 64-bit eras of gaming in the 90’s are incredibly underrepresented in the trading card world. The Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 produced so many great series that would have translated well into  trading card sets, such as Kirby, Yoshi’s Island, Donkey Kong Country, Mortal Kombat, and Street Fighter just to name a few. Even Sony didn’t venture too far into the world of trading cards, with only a couple of sets released highlighting Final Fantasy, one of their flagship series at the time.

It wasn’t until Enterplay acquired the licensing rights to several of Nintendo’s most popular franchises in the late 2000’s that video game related trading cards would see any sort of consistency with products and releases. Along with the aforementioned Nintendogs set, they also released sets for Nintendo Wii games such as Mario Kart , Super Mario Galaxy, and the Legend of Zelda. While it appears that Enterplay still has a partnership in place with Nintendo, they’ve since shifted their focus almost entirely to the My Little Pony Collectible Card Game, which now has over a dozen different sets since it’s debut in 2012.

My biggest issue with the Enterplay cards is that they’re emotionless, featuring very uninspired designs and characters ripped straight out the video games. These cards do a very poor job celebrating these beloved franchises, which have been well represented elsewhere through time by big named artists and fan-created artwork that put the Enterplay cards to shame. I understand that Enterplay is a relatively small player in the trading world, and probably needed to keep production costs down on these products, but even fan submitted artwork om these sets would have drastically increased the overall production quality. Give me an insert featuring painted landscapes of all of the locations in a Zelda game, or the tracks in Mario Kart. But don’t expect me to get excited over cards that come across as second-rate marketing material.

Arthur Morgan from Red Dead Redemption. An incredibly complex character who struggles with morality and social stature of the life of turn of the century cowboy.

So where do we go from here? Video game sales topped $43 billion dollars in 2018, an 18% increase of 2017. We’ve come along way from the days of 8-bit side-scrollers and top-down racers. Gaming franchises are only becoming more beloved as their creators tell deeper and more complex stories, with characters displaying stunningly human-like ranges of emotions, motivations, desires, flaws and traits. I would argue that most story-driven video games do a better job with their narratives than even the very best Hollywood movies can accomplish. So why do we have so many non-sports card sets for  movies such as Doctor Strange, Aliens, and James Bond, but none of Final Fantasy 10-15, Red Dead Redemption, or Assassin’s Creed?  Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a knock on movie cards , but rather a call to action for the gaming industry

Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins made nearly $10 million dollars in 2018 as Fortnite’s most popular streamer and gaming personality. He appeared on the cover ESPN Magazine, sparking a transition into full blown celebrity status.

Fortnite is the biggest video game on the planet right now. Children, teenagers, and even (or, especially) adults spend literally hundreds of dollars on a game that is free to play by purchasing cosmetic items that allow them to customize their character. These items have zero effect on competitive game play. With Fortnite’s publisher Epic Games making money hand over fist with their product (the company has an estimated value of $8 billion dollars), why aren’t card companies like Topps, Upper Deck, and Panini eagerly trying to acquire the licensing rights? There HAS to be a multi-million dollar market for these products just waiting to be capitalized on.

Imagine if a card manufacturer was able to sign some of Fornite’s top competitive players and popular streamers, offering chase cards that granted those who pulled a card the opportunity to play with some of these players? It doesn’t even matter what the quality of the product was at that point, that concept alone would sell insane amounts of product. Those unfamiliar with the concept of eSports and video game streaming culture may not understand why this would be a big deal. So imagine if you busted a pack of trading cards, and inside you won a trip that involved taking batting practice with Kris Bryant, or running routes and receiving passes from Patrick Mahomes II, or learning how to shoot threes with Steph Curry. For those ingrained in the video game world, who watch these players on a daily basis the same way we watch sports athletes, it’s the exact same concept.

Perhaps I’m just angling too hard for the cross-over potential of two things that I love and am passionate about. The history of video game related trading cards over the years paints a picture of repeatedly missed opportunities. There have been a lot of clever innovations over the years in the video game industry. Nintendo is among the those at the forefront of that effort, from utilizing NFC-technology in their Amiibo figurines to creating Nintendo Labo DIY kits that are functional robotics with just the technology of a Nintendo Switch controller. But aside from Pokemon cards, they don’t seem to have a desire or clue how to take their franchises, their most powerful asset, and capitalize on the beloved characters and stories they’ve created over the last 40 years. Maybe it’s time to pause and hit the reset button, because they’ve been playing the trading card game wrong for a really long time.

Story Behind the Cards: Night of the Living Dead

Photo Credit: Johnny Martyr

(Editors Note: Please welcome Johnny Martyr to the COMC Blog! Being a Night of the Living Dead Enthusiast with the world’s largest NotLD trading card collection, Johnny wanted to share his collecting story and deep knowledge of the subject through the following guest blog. Johnny is a photojournalist has been collecting for 20 years, and has compiled a full checklist of all NotLD cards that can be found here.)

By Johnny Martyr

When did you first see George Romero’s classic horror film, Night of the Living Dead?  I was about five years old when I watched it through my fingers on a rented VHS tape in the early 1980’s.

Article after article has been written on why this unassuming little production, released 50 years ago, continues to have such a massive impact on the horror genre and independent movie making.  Trading card after trading card has been released for the last 25 years distilling all those reasons into a fun and enduring collectible.

In 1998, at age 17,  I discovered the horror convention scene and began journeying to meet cast/crew members from Night of the Living Dead, or NotLD as they called it.  That is when I met Bob Michelucci, designer at Imagine Inc who designed the first official NotLD trading card set in 1988 and produced sets through 1993.

Photo Credit: Johnny Martyr

The Imagine cards, today, are the bedrock of any respectable NotLD card collection and include some of the most expensive/desirable NotLD autograph cards like the Keith Wayne autographed green border and On Location cards.  Keith Wayne played the character Tom, who tried to make peace between lead Duane Jones (as Ben) and Karl Hardman (as universally despised, Harry Cooper.)  Mr. Wayne, regretfully, took his own life in 1995, before NotLD card collecting really took off or many cons took place, making these two cards very special to fans.

Complete, 79-card master sets of green border, 71 red border, alternative border silver foil cards and eight On Location Imagine cards, with all potential cast/crew signatures can sell for hundreds today.  Not bad for a a little movie out of Pittsburgh!

I bought my Keith Wayne and other rare autograph cards from Michelucci years ago but continued to fill out my sets with impossible-to-find Imagine cards until very recently.  Uncut sheets, unopened packs and original test wrappers are also popular among collectors.

If the Imagine cards are the bedrock to any NotLD card collection, Jim Cironella’s Living Dead Festival cards are the pièce de résistance.  While even entry level NotLD fans have at least a few Imagine cards, only die-hard fans are packing Living Dead Festival cards.

Photo Credit: Johnny Martyr

These cares were printed in limited quantities in 2009 and 2013 and consist of just two and three base cards (respectively.)  But they were only distributed at the Living Dead Festival shows of those years, not sold by retailers anywhere.  The other catch is that the cards were created to be autographed by cast/crew who appeared at these shows.  So collecting all 36 or 63 (respectively) variations of card and autograph is an ambitious goal indeed, and often strictly the domain of friends of Image Ten (the production company behind Night of the Living Dead.)

Because most signatures on LDF cards are by extras and crew, they appeal to collectors who’ve already collected all the more common principal cast signatures.  It’s extremely rare to see a complete set on the market and its unclear just how many actually exist.  I own a complete set of 2009’s (all possible signatures on both card styles) and a third of a complete set of 2013’s (all possible signatures on one style card as well as some of the other two cards).  Lighting designer Joe Unitas, was still passing out 2013’s as of the last Living Dead Weekend show in 2018.

Photo Credit: Johnny Martyr

Speaking of Joe Unitas, a little sidetrack, if I may.  Joe is related to the famous Baltimore Colts quarterback, Johnny Unitas.  And Joe played some ball himself.  He actually appears in jersey #73 on the 1958 Baltimore Colts team photo Topps trading card!

But back to the NotLD card sets…

In 2012, Steve Kirkham of Unstoppable designed what is probably the most definitive NotLD trading card set.  The 36 base cards are easy and cheap to come by but some of the six promo and nine autograph cards are quite difficult to locate.  The rarest are the Tom Breygent variant promo card, the sketch promo card, Judith O’Dea single autograph card and the Marilyn Eastman and Karl Hardman cut autograph cards.  Unstoppable sketch cards are of course one of one and many great artists participated.  I’m always looking for more Ashleigh Poppelwell and Elfie Lebouleux.  Artist, Ted Dastick mixed dirt from the Evans City Cemetary where NotLD was shot, into the pigments for his sketch cards!

Photo Credit: Johnny Martyr

Fantasm Media is currently releasing a very rare, very attractive nine card set designed by Brian Steward.  The cards can only be found as random inserts with purchase of their commemorative magazine, 50 Years of Night.  These Fantasm cards are sure to become a hit among fans because they feature images that haven’t appeared on any other trading cards and require some serious legwork to obtain a complete set.

Full sets aside, Night of the Living Dead and its famous director, George Romero have appeared in numerous other non-sports sets.

Photo Credit: Johnny Martyr

A favorite of mine is the mega rare Bill Hinzman autograph card by Necroscope for their Terror Cards series.  Hinzman played that first zombie, or “ghoul” we see in the cemetery opening of Night of the Living Dead.  Hinzman passed away in 2012 but was a warm and encouraging actor who was a favorite at conventions.  I believe that only 50 of these cards were printed and all are hard signed.  It’s an attractively designed and desirable card, given Mr. Hinzman’s role in history as cinema’s first contemporary zombie!

Breygent’s Classic Vintage Sci-Fi & Horror Movie Poster Series II of 2010 featured a number of fun NotLD cards including a promo, many nice sketch cards and two autograph cards.  What I like about these is that they measure 3.5″x5″ which make the larger sketches and signatures look fantastic!

And, if you would really like to subject yourself to torture and drop some good money, there are the Donruss and Panini 2008, 2009 and 2011 George Romero Americana cards with their numerous parallels.  Some of the parallels are numbered a mere one of five and feature foil printing, an autograph and even a swatch of Romero’s clothing.

Photo Credit: Johnny Martyr

eThe 2008 Donruss Americana II is #248, and I have five of the seven parallels, including the autographed card, silver proof (one of 25) and silver proof foil (one of 25.)  In 2009, Panini took over the Americana line with Romero as card #52.  I have eight of twelve of these parallels and am looking very hard for a signature-only card.  I have the relic-only card and relic plus signature card.  For 2011, Panini released both a “regular” George Romero Americana, #57 and same lineup of parallels from 2009, but also a special Americana Celebrity Cuts autograph card.  This card is pretty desirable because it is in horizontal orientation and built around a hard autograph of just 75 copies, whereas the rest of the Americanas are sticker autographs with up to 99 copies.

You might have noticed, perhaps more so than most classic film trading cards, that NotLD trading cards seem to go hand-in-hand with autographs.  This, to me, is an important reason I’ve enjoyed collecting NotLD cards.  As I’ve counted, there have been no less than 28 different cast/crew members to sign trading cards.  In most cases, if they didn’t sign a card, they didn’t sign anything for the public at all.  So regardless of if your focus is on trading cards, autographs, or horror collectibles, Night of the Living Dead trading cards bring a lot to the table for everyone.

Thanks so much for reading!  Happy collecting and as George Romero said “STAY SCARED!”

Rich Reminisces: What’s in a Name?

Happy New Year! If you happen to follow my Facebook page, you have seen over the past year I tend to post some funny names which pop up while doing COMC Identification work.
Those names range from the Unfortunate…
….to the sublime (Alexa Bliss, yes I’m referring to you).
This John Hillerman look-alike had the name of F.T. Mann. I just call him Fatty Man nowadays:
But another part of names, and we all have one, is how people are named after one another in sports history. We begin with Grover Cleveland Alexander who was, of course, named after the only U.S. President to regain the presidency after losing an election:
Grover Cleveland was interesting because in his first year in office (1885) he married the then 21-year old Frances Folsom, who would go one to live past the conclusion of World War II. He might not have looked the part, but he was considered quite the ladies man before he became President. He was part of the incredibly cruel 1884 election, which featured these two memorable slogans, the first being: “Ma Ma, Where’s My Pa, Gone to the White House, Ha Ha Ha”.
Cleveland assumed paternity of a child born out of wedlock.Through DNA testing of present day, we would have actually known who the father of the child was. Cleveland’s party used this slogan in response: “Blaine Blaine, James G. Blaine, The Continental Liar from the State of Maine.”  And you thought today’s politics were rough?
As stated above, the most famous person named after him is Grover Cleveland Alexander, who won well over 300 games in his fine career. He may best be known for saving Gave 7 for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1926 World Series. Contrary to legend. the famed strikeout of Tony Lazzeri was in the seventh inning, because the series ended with Babe Ruth being tagged out at 2nd on a steal attempt.
Another Hall of Famer named after a famous player who became even more famous than his predecessor was Mickey Cochrane. Cochrane was a Hall of Fame catcher and won a World Series as a manager before Bump Hadley‘s beaning ended his career.
A few years before Cochrane’s career concluded, a young man named Mickey Charles Mantle was born in Oklahoma. Now, I would have preferred Cochrane as the middle name, but the legend of being named after Cochrane was sufficient at the time.
And in a couple of other cases, we revert back to the 1st and 2nd name matching. This one is close to my heart, because well, the reason will be obvious. Chuck Klein had a nice career buttressed by playing in Baker Bowl.  Well this a nice photo of Mr. Kline:
Imagine my surprise while doing COMC Identification work to see a Charles Klein Stobbs as a name on a card:
And what is Chuck Stobbs best known for? While he was a competent major league pitcher, he is best known for surrendering a 565 foot homer to one Mickey Mantle:
And while the names of many athlete are getting stranger, sometimes we still see names we recognize…
Or whom we think is named after someone famous…
Part of me hopes Mr. Downs makes a mark in the majors because the original Jeter (Derek) is another one with a great name…..
You see, Derek Jeter’s full name is Derek Sanderson Jeter. Yes that is the same name of the 1960’s-70’s hockey wild man Derek Sanderson. Jeter is as controlled in his life as Sanderson could be out of control.
One of things I remember about Sanderson came from reading his autobiography where he claimed that his favorite song was “Poor Side of Town” by Johnny Rivers. Well, he did pick a great single for that purpose:

And since it seemed that between 1964 and 1968 Rivers recorded every song ever written, here are a couple of more I especially like by him:
And to conclude this “What’s in a Name” blog, while this is not related to people being named after others but sharing a same name, I have no other place to put this. In the 1960’s Paul Simon put this line into the lyrics of a song:
“”Be careful his bowtie is really a camera”
Which is a line from the song “America”. Well, did you think that two decades later a man named Paul Simon would have a brief run for the presidency and be best known for, you guessed it. wearing a bow tie?
Rich Klein can be reached at RichKlein@Comc.com