Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Art and Cards: The End...

Sometimes, life just gets in the way.

As you can see, it's been quite awhile since I've posted here. Now, that doesn't mean I've stopped collecting before now. It just means, for one reason or another, I just haven't had (made?) time to update this blog.

I've really enjoyed writing about my collection, and I've even gotten some great cards and sketches. However, with working a 9-to-5 job and working through a graduate school program (among other responsibilities), time just isn't on my side.

And very recently, finances have begun to become a great concern in my life.

Because of all of that, I will no longer be posting to this blog - 1.) because, as I mentioned, time is a factor and 2.) because, I am ceasing hobby purchases. It actually has gotten to the point that I need to even pare my collection down, getting rid of most, if not all, of it.

Trading card collecting is a wonderful hobby. Manufacturers are working diligently to come up with new and better ways to collect items from our favorite shows, comics and movies. I've always loved the thrill of opening a box of cards and pulling that elusive autograph, prop or sketch. In the past months, I've pulled autographs from Leonard Nimoy, James Marsters (Spike) and Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and a Melike Acar sketch. I love tracking down the 2 or 3 cards from a set I didn't manage to pull.

Yet, here I am, writing about getting rid of my collection.

It actually isn't a huge collection by the standards set by many of the folks in the hobby, but it has some quality. That said, I will post the items I intend to get rid of on eBay this coming Sunday, August 19, 2012. However, if you are reading this and are interested in anything I have, please let me know at braddunc(at) before the 19th and make me an offer. If you'd like to see images of anything I am selling, I'll be happy to oblige.

Trading Cards for Sale

  • Warehouse 13 Season 1 Master Set: all pack-pulled autos, costumes, base cards, insert cards and the case topper auto and case incentive Eddie McClintock auto costume card (which is actually signed on both sides of the card by Eddie.
  • Warehouse 13 Season 2 Master Set: all pack-pulled autos, costumes, base cards and insert cards. I also have a number of additional autograph and costume cards from this set.
  • Dexter Season 3 near master set: this isn't a complete master, missing a couple of autos and costumes, and a few of the props. This does include a complete base set, complete insert sets and autos from Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter and Jimmy Smits, along with the dual auto from Michael C. Hall and Julie Benz. I also have a number of other complete base sets, a few complete insert sets, and lots of extra base cards. Additionally, this set includes all of the multi-costume cards that were found in the Breygent SDCC Mystery Packs in 2011.
  • 17 Benchwarmer Jennifer Korbin autos and kiss cards: these cards came from a variety of Benchwarmer sets.
  • Benchwarmer autographs, material and prop cards: I have quite a few various cards from different Benchwarmer sets. At the moment, I'm not sure how many total, but I'd say close to 50 or 60 different cards. These include autos and props from from the recent Las Vegas and Soccer sets and a box of 2008 signature series autographed by a number of the models. This lot also includes a complete 2011 autographed holiday set.
  • Veronica Mars Season 1 near master set: this isn't a complete master set in that a couple of costume cards are missing. However, it does include a complete set of base cards, a complete set of all inserts and a complete set of autographs (including Kristen Bell and Amanda Seyfried), along with the Kristen Bell autograph redemption card. In addition, I also have a number of complete base sets and a few complete insert sets.
  • Veronica Mars Season 2 near master set: this isn't a complete master set in that a couple of costume cards are missing. However, it does include a complete set of base cards, a complete set of all inserts and a complete set of autographs (including all four autographed costume cards and autos of Kristen Bell and Charisma Carpenter). The set also includes one printing plate. I also have a number of complete base sets and a few complete insert sets.
  • Heroes Archives: I have a complete case of cards for this set. There are a large number of complete base sets, a few complete insert sets and lots and lots of autographs (72 total), including Kristen Bell. However, there is no Hayden Panitierre.
  • Harry Potter: I opened cases of these sets - Half Blood Prince, Half Blood Prince Update, Heroes and Villains, and Deathly Hallows Part 1. I have lots and lots of complete base sets from each set, some complete insert sets and autos and costumes/props. I don't recall all the autos and costumes/props (I'm away from my collection as I type this), but if you are interested in any of these just let me know. I do recall that autos include Bonnie Wright, Michael Gambon, Dobby, Luna Lovegood, Tonks, Mrs. Weasley and Fleur.
  • Cult-Stuff Titanic 100-Year Anniversary: I have a complete hobby base set of these cards and the material card with a piece of wood from the Titanic, collected from the wreckage site.
  • 5finity Sketch Cards: I have lots of these, about 30 or more, from these sets - Grimm Fairy Tales, Josie and the Pussycats, Hack/Slash and The Pro, among others.
  • Batman Archives: I have lots of base sets for this set and 9 or so sketch cards, including a really nice Andy Price sketch.
  • Six Feet Under: complete base set with nearly complete insert sets (plus doubles) and 8 autograph cards that includes Peter Krause.
  • Big Bang Theory Seasons 1&2: a complete base set in binder with near complete insert sets and three costumes and three autos. The costumes are a Penny and Leonard and the Sheldon costume that came exclusively with the binder. The autos are of the characters: Howard Wolowicz, Barry Kripke and Sheldon's Sister.
  • Walking Dead Season 1: a complete base set with auto of IronE Singleton and a zombie costume card.
  • Buffy Ultimate Collection Coffin Set: I have 2 factory-sealed sets. These are really nice. The specifics are (from the Inkworks website):
    • An amazing black lacquered handmade wooden coffin, featuring a plush velvet interior that cradles the cards.
    • Includes all 612 cards from Buffy the Vampire Slayer seasons 1-7 reprinted on luxurious 20-point card stock, with each card foil-stamped to enhance its collectability for generations to come.
    • Each coffin is individually sequentially numbered.  A matching sequentially-numbered Certificate of Authenticity on parchment paper accompanies each Ultimate Buffy the Vampire Slayer coffin collection.
    • Also included -- A NEW and very special collection of 7 etched cards beautifully printed on rainbow holographic foilboard, celebrating the seven incredible seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • Promo Cards: lots and lots of promos.
  • Mallrats: one complete base set.
  • Blair Witch Project: one complete base set and 4 of 5 foil insert cards.
  • The Guild Seasons 1-3: one complete base set and an auto and costume card from Vincent Caso.
  • Marvel comics sets: I have a few of the Marvel sets from Rittenhouse. Most have a complete base set and a sketch card (email for specifics).
  • Iron Man 2: complete base set, some insert cards, two costumes and one sketch.
  • Captain America: complete base set, some insert cards, one patch card and two costume cards.
  • Thor: complete base set, some insert cards and two costume cards.
In addition to the trading cards, I also will be selling the majority of my action figure collection. Most of these are opened so I'm willing to let them go at reasonable prices, but I also have some very nice ones that are still mint in the package. Most of the collection is DC comics-related. Please e-mail for specifics.

Finally, I have two Sideshow Collectibles statues: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Sideshow Exclusive with Slayer Scythe (one of only 400) and a Buffy the Vampire Slayer Spike Statue (one of only 1000). These have been opened and displayed, but they are in perfect condition and will be shipped using all the original packaging. 

As I said, I hate to get rid of all these items since I've enjoyed collecting them all. However, if anyone can give them a good home, then I will be okay. So, if interested, just shoot me an email at braddunc(at) before August 19.

And to all the artists, manufacturers, fellow collectors and dealers who have made this hobby worthwhile, thanks.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Artist Kristin Allen

At this point, I don't recall how I came across the work of Kristin Allen, but as you will see, I'm very glad I did. Kristin calls the Chicago area home and has done lots and lots of sketch card work for companies like 5finity and Rittenhouse. But some of her best work can be seen in her larger pieces, which can be viewed on her website - It will become obvious very quickly upon visiting her site that Kristin likes to draw pinups of all varieties of women - from sci-fi characters to comic book characters to women in general.

As with most of the artists I've commissioned, I've been able to interact with Kristin on Twitter at @FoxyArt. And like most, she is amazingly open to fans of her work. I've learned a lot about Kristin through her Twitter postings including her love of horror, and I was kind of amazed that she, too, likes Rob Zombie's rendition of Halloween. I thought I was the only one in the world who liked that. So glad I'm not alone on that note.

If you like the artwork you see here, definitely be sure to visit Kristin's Facebook page to take advantage of a commission special she is running to raise funds to show at New York Comic Con and Chicago Comic Con.

Early on in my art collecting, I was trying to get some of the Batman characters I liked most so the first piece I commissioned from Kristin was a Harley Quinn. One thing I love about her work is the addition of borders and other small touches that, while they don't take up a lot of space on the overall work, add a significant touch to the overall work. The best part of the HQ she did for me was the addition of the black and red playing cards.

Harley Quinn by Kristin Allen

As I mentioned before, Kristin has done a lot of work in sketch cards. When 5finity produced a sketch card series based on the comic book The Pro, I was able to snag a few unopened packs. While I liked the cards I received, I was missing a nice sketch of the main character, The Pro. I went to eBay then and found a great sketch by Kristin and was able to snag this beauty (though I no longer purchase sketches from eBay):

The Pro by Kristin Allen

Not long after this series, 5finity released a set of sketch cards called P'Ups (Pinups and Pups) which had sketches of pinup girls and puppies. I bought one unopened pack, which did not include a Kristin Allen sketch but it was a nice one. One day while browsing Kristin's website she had a few AE's (artist exclusives) available for sale including one of a Christmas scene with a blonde hugging a beagle pup that is wearing reindeer antlers (kind of like the dog in How the Grinch Stole Christmas). I really love Christmas time so I bought the card.

Christmas P'Ups with beagle by Kristin Allen

Then last December, Kristin ran a special on her commissions to raise some funds, so I took the opportunity to get a new piece of art, and I knew I wouldn't be disappointed. This time I decided to go a different route with the subject and move away from Batman characters. But it was tough coming up with a subject. It occurred to me, since the next to last Harry Potter film had been released recently, that world could provide a great subject for the commission. While you might be thinking Hermione or even Ginny, I went a completely different route. My favorite character from Harry Potter is Bellatrix Lestrange. Of course, that could be that she is played in the films by Helena Bonham Carter, one of my all-time favorite actresses. So, that is who I requested. And Kristin knocked it out of the park.

Bellatrix Lestrange by Kristin Allen

What I really love the most about Kristin's work is the detail. It just amazes me the amount of work she puts into these pieces of art - from her ink work to the detail in her markers to the intricate detail in the hair of her subjects. To me, Kristin is simply amazing, and there is no doubt that I will add more of her work to my collection in the future.

Most recently, Kristin has done some comic work as well. Just the other day, Image released their October 2011 solicitations which include the following alternate cover for Hack/Slash #9:

Alternate cover for Hack/Slash #9 by Kristin Allen
(copyright Image Comics)
And this is a perfect example of the quality work Kristin does.

To learn a little more about Kristin, I asked her a number of questions and she was sweet enough to answer.

1.) When did you get started with drawing? Was it something you did as a kid or did you move into it later in life?
I have always drawn. I can't remember a time when I wasn't.

2.) What training have you gone through, if any? Or are you just a natural talent?
I took the required art classes throughout school, and my senior year of high school was pretty much all art classes - which was fantastic - but I never sought out any 'how-to' classes or books. I studied traditional art, design and illustration, and computer art in college.

3.) Who or what do you look to for inspiration - in art? in life?
It's no secret I'm a fan of pretty girls. I love the pictorials from vintage Playboys, 30s/40s/50s pin-up art from artists like Elvgren and Petty, modern pin-up art from the queen Olivia De Berardinis. I'm a huge fan of Dita Von Teese and the Burlesque and fetish scenes. Eighteenth century fashion is a never-ending source of inspiration. Disney and fairytales, Mucha.. there's just so much. And that's not even going into all the comic artists that have inspired me.

4.) What was the first piece you were paid for?
I really don't remember.. how lame!  My first professional job was on the Aliens vs Predator: Requiem set from Inkworks. Tone Rodriguez was kind enough to invite me onboard and I am so grateful he did.

I actually just completed my first paid comic job. I can't talk about it yet but it's very exciting! Depending when this goes up I may be able to spill the beans.

5.) For anyone who follows you on Facebook or Twitter, it is more than evident that you love you some Disney. Where does this come from? Did you visit Disney World a lot when you were a kid?
HA! Yeah, I can't hide that at all. I watched those movies religiously as a child. The first movie my parents took me to was Oliver & Company, it probably started with that. There is just something about Disney animation that really captured my imagination as a child. It still manages to.

I went to Disney World twice as a kid, and for one of those trips I was too little to remember anything. I finally went back in 2009 and decided to make it a yearly trip for my birthday. There is nothing better than celebrating your birthday and Halloween with your friends at the most magical place on earth!

6.) Besides art, what are your interests? What do you like to do for fun? Favorite movie? Favorite TV show? Favorite musician/music? Favorite book? Favorite comic book? Favorite food?
Honestly right now I work most every day so there's little time for leisure.
Favorite movies: Halloween (Zombie's version), Enchanted, Labyrinth, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Masters of the Universe, Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Favorite TV shows: Archer, Futurama, Modern Family, True Blood, seasons 3-7 of the Simpsons, Venture Bros., Peep Show, Bob's Burgers
Favorite musicians: Tori Amos, Kylie Minogue, Meat Loaf
Favorite books: Anything from Anne Rice
Favorite comics: Fathom, Tomb Raider, Batman: The Long Halloween, 90s Catwoman
Ask me again once September's new DC #1s hit shelves.
Favorite foods: Chicken fried rice from my favorite chinese restaurant. Nothing tops it.

7.) Is art now your livelihood? If so, at what point in your life were you able to say, "This is what I do and this is how I will make a living"? And how did it feel to be able to do that?
It is what I am doing full time right now, yes. I started in 06 I think, maybe 07. It is really, really hard and very stressful. Fun, but it takes a lot of dedication.

8.) From looking at your portfolio on your website (and obviously from seeing the pieces I've commissioned) you do a lot of pinups. Is this your favorite thing to draw? Are there other subjects you don't draw as much but would like to if you had the time or opportunity?
Yes. I love the ladies. I really enjoy drawing monsters but that doesn't come up too often. One of these days I'd love to do a sketchbook filled with creatures and babes.

9.) This may seem weird, but one thing I've noticed is the detail in which you draw the hair on your subjects. It is amazingly detailed. Why do you seemingly put so much work into that area of a sketch? (Note, I was blown away by the Bellatrix you did for me. I mean, damn.)
A lot of people comment on hair in pin-ups. And really, it's the part that takes the least amount of effort for me. I have no idea why or how. I really enjoy detail and it just comes very easy for me.

10.) You've done work on sketch cards for Rittenhouse and 5finity. How did you get started with those companies? You've also been working on Versicolor's Bettie Page set... what has that been like?
I was referred to Rittenhouse by Tone Rodriguez. I sent a few samples off for Women of Marvel and they hired me on. I've been on (I believe) all their Marvel comic sets since.

I believe I was contacted by 5finity about doing the Mandy set for them. It's been so long and so many sets have passed it's hard to keep track. I really love both companies, it's been a blast.

The Bettie set.. I remember getting the invite email and freaking out. An official Bettie Page set was not something I thought would ever happen so I am over the moon about it. Bettie is an icon and I just adore her. It's an honor to be a part of this set.

11.) Are there any properties you'd love the opportunity to work on?
DC! YES. DC DC DC! Of the big two I am a DC girl. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful that I get to work with Marvel characters but boy-howdy would I love to draw Catwoman and Wonder Woman. 
Aside from DC, I would L O V E to be able to work on Tomb Raider. Lara is so near and dear to my heart. Something with He-Man/She-Ra would make my life complete.

12.) What advice would you give a person who aspires to be an artist?
Be ready to work A LOT. Constantly. Draw from life, draw everything you possibly can. Go to cons, exhibit in Artist Alley. And if you want it to be your full time gig, learn to live on next to nothing.

13.) What is your favorite thing in the whole world?
It's a tie between my dog and being at the Magic Kingdom with my favorite people.

14.) What is the best job you ever had? the worst?
Wow, that's tough. Designing the mascot Paige O. Pannell for the Fangirl of the Month feature and calendar for was pretty great. She's become the site mascot and at C2E2 2010 Miss Kristin Moutrey cosplayed as Paige. Seeing a creation of mine come to life was pretty incredible. Her ACP costume page:

The worst.. I don't think I can say without getting in trouble. :) 
Kristin Allen (right) poses at C2E2 with Kristin Moutrey who cosplayed as Allen's original
character Paige O'Pannell that Allen created for the website

15.) What was it like being chosen the Panels on Pages Fangirl of the Month in 2009?
So much fun. It was an honor to be Miss August 2009.

16.) You live in the Chicago area. Have you always lived there? If not, where are you originally from?
Yep, I've always been in the Chicago-land area. The winters and summers are terrible, but it's home. :)
So, if you like Kristin's work, be sure to drop her a line and request a commission. I know she would appreciate it and you will be more than satisfied with the result.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Two Cents: Cut signatures and Signature-only Card Releases

I am not a big fan of the signature-only releases. Comparing cost versus return it seems to be more of a gamble than even I am willing to make. The cards present in these sets, in my opinion, are not individually worth enough to make up for the overall cost of a box when added together. Also, most of the celebrities who sign the cards are not ones I'd be interested, and if I decided I did want an autograph or two, it typically would be much more cost effective to buy them individually off eBay or trade for them via the trading forum at Non-Sports Update Magazine's Card Talk. For instance, in the 2010 Razor Pop Century set, I was able to snag a Taryn Manning autograph off eBay for 99 cents plus a couple bucks shipping.
The other types of signature only releases I don't care for are the cut signatures. The difference between autograph cards and cut signature cards is that regular autograph cards have the signatures actually on the card (or on a sticker that is directly applied to the card) while the cut signature cards have an autograph that has been cut from a previously autographed item (autographed photo, signed letter or a canceled check, for example) and placed inside a card much like a costume or prop card. The reason I dislike the cut signatures so much is two-fold:
  1. I would much rather have a signature on a card that was signed specifically for that card set as opposed to a signature cut from something unrelated to the card set in question; and
  2. I really take issue with these companies cutting up items in order to make cards.

Now, I understand that cut signatures are often the only way to insert autographs from historic figures into card sets. If you cut up a signed 8x10 photo is one thing, but to cut up a letter that was written and and signed by a historical figure is another. In the near future, Famous Fabrics is putting out a set called 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW that will include cut signatures from many of those who have served as President of the United States. The checklist includes John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe and John Quincy Adams. Obviously, these signatures will be cut from previously signed items. And that's the problem.

In order to get signatures from these historic figures, historic documents will be sliced and diced to remove the desired autograph that will be placed into a card. Personally, I would much rather have the actual document. Sure, it may not be a document of historic value beyond the fact that it was handled by a former president, but wouldn't that actual document make a much better addition to any person's collection than just the signature cut out and placed in a trading card? I think so. I think an actual presidentially signed document hanging in my home would be infinitely nicer.

But I must say, that if I were to open any product of cut signatures and I pulled a highly sought after card, I would definitely be happy about it. I have to say, I'm a bit jealous about the huge, HUGE pull that a collector made from the 2011 Leaf Pop Century. And I couldn't resist mentioning it here.

The collector/dealer who goes by the Cardtalk handle "Miss Lizzy" posted recently that she had decided to open a single box of Leaf Pop Century. In addition to the guaranteed 8 autographed cards, she also received a redemption for the most sought-after card in the set, a unique 1-of-1 fold-out card featuring a cut signature of John F. Kennedy, a cut signature of Lee Harvey Oswald and a rare seat swatch of the limousine transporting President Kennedy at the time of his assassination. The panels of the card looked like this:

First let me say that I find this card very strange and something I would not want to own. As historic as the individual pieces are, I just would feel weird owning something like this that is associated with the death of a president (mostly it's the swatch from the car seat that gives me pause). But let me say this, if I had purchased a box and pulled this card, I would not be able to resist collecting on any amount that I could get for selling it. A double-standard? Maybe. But I have no doubt that this card, should she decide to part with it, could bring in a significant amount of money.

Of course, many sets offer these 1-of-1 type pulls to entice collectors to make purchases, and typically they are ones that could be sold in the after-market for significant profit. But up to this point, I have not been enticed enough to make such a purchase. And now that the one big hit of 2011 Leaf Pop Century has been snagged, I certainly will not be paying anywhere from $150-190 per box for this product.

My tendency to make the gamble in non-sport trading cards just might make me pull the trigger on a future product. However, I can't imagine I'd ever be as lucky as Miss Lizzy was with this product.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cryptozoic Entertainment Preview

My goal for writing previews on this blog has been to devote a post to just a single product; however, I feel I have to make an exception in this case. Cryptozoic Entertainment (CZE) has jumped into the trading card business with guns a-blazing and of the four products they have announced, I am excited about three of them. So, I figured it only right to discuss them all in a single post.

I didn't know much about CZE prior to the trading card news, but a review of their website shows that they were founded in March 2010 and initially produced games. While gaming is definitely still part of their business, the company announced in February that it would be producing its first trading card set to raise funds for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF). Not long after, the group announced plans to produce sets based on three television shows: The Walking Dead, Vampire Diaries and The Big Bang Theory.

Here is a breakdown of the sets and my initial thoughts. I'll start with the TV shows.

The Vampire Diaries
Release Date: September 2011
Packs: 5 cards per pack; 24 packs per box
MSRP: $3.50 per pack
Base Set: 72 cards
Chase Sets: Two 9-card chase sets
Inserts: Autographs and Memorabilia

This is the set I am least interested in only because I do not watch the show nor have any knowledge of it. In the briefest of terms, the official CW Network website for the show states: "THE VAMPIRE DIARIES is the story of two vampire brothers obsessed with the same beautiful girl, and battling to control the fate of an entire town." This set will cover season one of the series.

This appears to be a typical set in terms of the number of cards in the base set, as well as number of packs per box and cards per pack. With one hit guaranteed per box there should be a total of 119 base/chase cards (unless packs are shorted due to thickness of a memorabilia card). I would assume that a complete base set could be made from this, but my guess is that neither of the two chase sets can be completed in a single box.

One thing CZE has stated from the beginning is that they will not announce autograph/memorabilia inclusions until the items are actually in hand. They also state on the website that each of these inserts will have a CZE hologram to denote authenticity.

For this set, there are 11 confirmed autographers as of 5/10/11. They are:
Candice Accola
Sara Canning
Matt Davis
Nina Dobrev
Katerina Graham
Steven R. McQueen
Julie Plec
Zach Roerig
Michael Trevino
Paul Wesley
Kevin Williamson

While CZE has not shown an image of the base cards yet (at least not that I've seen), they have included samples of the autographed cards on their website.

copyright Cryptozoic Entertainment

If this design is any indication of what the base cards will look like, then this will be a very nice looking set, and definitely one that fans of the show will strive to own.

The Walking Dead
Release Date: Summer 2011
Packs: 5 cards per pack; 24 packs per box
MSRP: $3.50 per pack
Base Set: 72 cards
Chase Sets: Two 9-card chase sets
Inserts: Memorabilia and Sketch Cards and Autographs

This show on AMC, based on the long-running comics series written by Robert Kirkman, had quite the debut in October 2010. The show was hailed by comics and zombie lovers everywhere, but seemed to end a bit prematurely after just six season-one episodes. However, the fans spoke and AMC ordered a second season of 13 episodes.

This set highlights season 1 and contains the same number of base cards and cards per pack/packs per box as its other sets. This set differs from the other two CZE TV sets in that it will include sketch cards, as well. However, no details on who the artists will be have been released. Also, a list of autographers also are not known at this time, although I hope they are able to include autographed cards from the comics creators.

However, some of the materials to be used in the memorabilia cards have been identified, including this nice number:

copyright Cryptozoic Entertainment

Without a doubt, I will add this set to the collection.

The Big Bang Theory
Release Date: Fall 2011
Packs: 5 cards per pack; 24 packs per box
MSRP: $3.50 per pack
Inserts: Autographs and Memorabilia

This CBS sitcom, which recently was renewed for three more seasons, is one of my favorites. It's consistently funny and with the recent addition of two additional female characters to play off of main character Penny, the funny has been amped up.

This set will highlight scenes from the show, although the CZE website does not specify if it will be limited to season one or combination of any or all of the first four seasons. It sticks to the five-card-per-pack/24-packs-per-box pattern as the other sets and will include memorabilia and autograph cards. So far, four of the five main players (Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar) have provided autographs, which look like this:

copyright Cryptozoic Entertainment

I like the profile images and the use of the show's logo at the top; however, I don't think they are as visually striking as the autograph cards from The Vampire Diaries set. But with four of the five main characters in hand, I think this will be a must have set for many of the shows fans. What I really like about this license is the many possibilities for autographs, especially dual autos. How great would it be to have dual autos from each of the shows couples or what about a dual auto of Sheldon and Evil Wil Wheaton? But no matter what they do with this set or what they add to it, it will be one I definitely add to my collection.

CBLDF Liberty Trading Cards
Release Date: Summer 2011
Packs: 5 cards per pack; 24 packs per box
MSRP: $3.50 pack
Base set: 72 Cards
Chase Sets: Two 9-card chase sets
Inserts: Autographs and Sketch Cards

This is the set I'm looking forward to the most. According to the group's website, the CBLDF "is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the First Amendment rights of the comics art form and its community of retailers, creators, publishers, librarians, and readers. The CBLDF provides legal referrals, representation, advice, assistance, and education in furtherance of these goals."

With this set, CZE will highlight some of the historic legal battles involving comic books. But what makes this set so amazing is that everyone involved is donating its services/fees to the project. According to a press release from CZE, many creators have donated the rights to their characters so they can be used on the sketch cards, and many, many creators have signed on to autograph cards and provide sketches. Some of those creators include Geoff Johns, Neil Gaiman, Darwyn Cooke, Gail Simone, Mark Waid, Brian Azzarello, Paul Levitz, Denny O’Neil, Frank Quitely, Phil Hester and many more.

Here is an example of one of the sketch cards:

copyright Cryptozoic Entertainment

With the names involved, this set is a must have, but on May 26, 2011, via his twitter account, Neil Gaiman shared images of the cards he was working on. Not only did he state that he was signing 500 cards for the set, he also worked on these:

copyright Neil Gaiman

That in and of itself is worth buying at least one box of these cards.

But in the end, its the benefit for the CBLDF that is the best reason to buy them.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Dexter Season 3 (Breygent Marketing)

In late 2010, Breygent Marketing finally issued its second set based on the Showtime original program Dexter. Dexter Season 3 follows the very successful Dexter Seasons 1 and 2 set issued in 2008. I previewed the set here and was very open about my excitement for the set. And it did not disappoint.

While my cards from the previous Dexter set fell victim to the great Pre-Mid-Ohio Con sell off of 2008, this set will firmly hold it's place in my personal collection. I went all out and purchased a case of the product. Each case holds 12 boxes. Each box holds 24 packs. Each pack holds 6 cards. With all the premium inserts available for just 3,000 total boxes, each box was guaranteed to hold 3 premium inserts from the following: costume cards, prop cards, autographed cards and autographed costume cards. Also, each case included one case-topper Metallogloss card depicting a piece of original art and an original sketch card.

Now to the cards:

Base Cards

The base cards for this set are typical for a set based on a television show or movie. Each card (with the exception of the first) has an image in landscape orientation from one of the season's episodes. The base set includes 72 cards. At the bottom of each card is what appears to be a smear of blood along the entire length of the card. On the bottom left of each card is the Dexter logo with "THE THIRD SEASON" below it. The backs of the cards, also in landscape orientation, show a small pool of blood in the upper left corner with the Dexter logo and "THE THIRD SEASON COLLECTOR CARDS" below it. Other drops of blood are scattered throughout the back of the card. In the upper right corner is a small blood spatter with the card number in the center. In the lower left is an image of a bloody knife, while the Breygent logo resides in the lower right corner. In the body of the card, there is an extensive description of the story that corresponds with the image on the front side. I love this about the Dexter cards. Some sets have minimal description or none at all, so this shows a nice commitment from the company.

Base Card Front - Card #2
Base Card Front - Card #2

Base Card Back - Card #3

Foil Inserts

Dexter Season 3 has three insert sets: a 9-card puzzle set, a 9-card victims set and a 10-card quotes set.

9-Card Puzzle Set
The foil puzzle cards when placed together (or in a 9-card page) complete an image of 6 of the show's main characters. Of course, Dexter is in the front, while Vince Masuka (played by C.S. Lee), Lt. Maria LaGuerta (played by Lauren Velez), Sergeant Angel Batista (played by David Zayas), Rita Bennett (played by Julie Benz) and Detective Debra Morgan (played by Jennifer Carpenter) fill out the scene. Oh, and don't forget the nameless victim lying on the table in the middle of the image.

9-Card Puzzle Insert Set
Looking at the overall image, it is evident that there are two main cast regulars who are not depicted in this scene: Harry Morgan (father of Dexter and Debra, played by James Remar) and Detective Joey Quinn (played by Desmond Harrington). I'm not sure why these two were not included, however, the backs of the puzzle cards profile nine of the key cast members from season 3. The other one missing is Assistant District Attorney Miguel Prado (played by Jimmy Smits).

Regarding the missing cast members from the image, further investigation turned up the complete image of the cast of which only a part was used for the puzzle. I'm guessing it was cropped to better fit the dimensions of the 3x3 set of cards. The larger image is used as the background for the 7-swatch case incentive costume card. In that image, to the left of Vince Masuka is Harry Morgan. However, Joey Quinn is still absent from the group shot. Not sure why...

7-Swatch Costume Card - Case Incentive

9-Card Victims Set
Each card in this set shows a scene from season 3 that is connected to one of the deaths of Dexter's victims. The front is foil and has an oval blood spatter pattern with the image from the scene in question residing in the middle. The card back outlines the story that leads up to the death of Dexter's victims.

9-Card Victims Set Card Front - Card #1
9-Card Victims Set Card Back - Card #2

10-Card Quotes Set
This foil set starts with four cards highlighting four characters: Dexter, Masuka, Batista and Harry. Each card has a profile image of one of those characters and the back highlights some of that characters best quotes from the season. The remaining six cards depict a scene from season 3 and the card back has a conversation connected to the highlighted scene. The card fronts also have bloody smears and bloody hands along the edges.

10-Card Quotes Set Front - Card #1
There is an error in this insert set. On the card front, as seen above, there is the Dexter logo in the lower left corner. On cards #2 and #3, there also is a smaller version of the show's logo in the upper right corner.

10-Card Quotes Set Error Front - Card #2

Premium Inserts

This set also includes 6 different premium inserts: sketches, metallogloss case toppers, autographed cards, autographed costume cards, prop cards and costume cards. These inserts (with the exception of the sketches and case toppers) are distributed three per box for a total of 36 per case.

Sketches and Metallogloss Case Toppers
The sketch cards and metallogloss case toppers come one per case.

Sketch Card by Brian Kong
Metallogloss Case Topper w/art by Len Bellinger
The metallogloss cards are like the ones that Breygent introduced earlier in 2010 with the special inserts sold in the San Diego Comic Con Mystery Packs. This is certainly an interesting way to present the cards and provides a nice collectible in a way that is different than a normal card. In my opinion, many of the case toppers produced by Artbox are nicer ("crystal," metal or wooden cards).

Autographed Cards
There are 5 possible autographed cards: Jimmy Smits, James Remar, Michael C. Hall, Michael C. Hall-Jimmy Smits dual, and a Michael C. Hall-Julie Benz dual. Each of the cards includes an image of the character with space for the autograph. Some were autographed in red ink and some in black ink.

James Remar Autographed Card

Autographed Costume Cards
There are 6 possible autographed costume cards: Desmond Harrington, C.S. Lee, Jennifer Carpenter, Michael C. Hall, Lauren Velez and Julie Benz. Each of the cards is similar to the auto-only cards except there is a costume swatch in between the image of the character and the space for the autograph. What is nice about these cards is that an image of the article of clothing from which the swatch is taken appears on the back of the card, and on many of the cards, the image of the character shows that character actually wearing that article of clothing.

Desmond Harrington Autographed Costume Card

Prop Cards
This set includes 11 different prop cards that have pieces of actual props used in the show. Like the autographed costumes cards, the image on the back of the card is of the actual prop the piece is from and the front of the card includes an image of the prop as it was used in the show.

Bloody Framed Photograph - Prop Card #3

Costume Cards
There are 29 possible costume cards, 27 of which are dual costumes. The other two include a 4-swatch costume card and an 8-swatch costume card. Of the dual costume cards, 23 include 2 different clothing swatches from a single character. The characters portrayed are Rita Bennett (4 different), Lt. Maria LaGuerta (3), Sergeant Angel Batista (2), Detective Debra Morgan (6), Dexter Morgan (5), Vince Masuka (2) and Detective Joey Quinn (1). The other 4 dual cards include costume swatches from two different characters: Dexter and Assistant District Attorney Miguel Prado, Rita and Dexter, LaGuerta and Prado, and Debra and Joey. As with the other premium inserts, the backs show an image of the actual piece of clothing the swatch is from and most of the fronts depict the characters wearing that piece of clothing. The 8-swatch costume card includes a swatch of clothing from the eight prime characters of the show, while the 4-swatch costume card includes swatches from Debra, Angel, Dexter and Vince.

Rita Bennett Costume Card - Card #7
8-Swatch Costume Card - Card #29
4-Swatch Costume Card - Card #28

There is one mistake in this set of premium inserts. On the dual costumes, at the top of the card is the show's logo and at the bottom is the Breygent logo. The words "AUTHENTIC WARDROBE MATERIAL WORN BY" followed by the names of the characters whose costumes were used for the card also are at the bottom of the card. These words are missing from the Debra/Joey dual costume card.

Debra Morgan/Joey Quinn Costume Card - Card #27


Base Sets
This case (12 boxes) produced 21 complete base sets of 72 cards for an average of 1.75 sets per box. There are 106 extras.

Foil Inserts
  • Puzzle: the 9-card puzzle insert cards are inserted at an average of 1 per 12 packs (2 per box, 24 per case). This case produced 2 complete puzzles and 6 extras for the expected total of 24 cards.
  • Victims: the 9-card victims insert set are inserted at an average of 1 per 12 packs (2 per box, 24 per case). This case produced 1 complete victims set and 15 extras for the expected total of 24 cards. Of the remaining cards, only 1 was needed to make a second complete set.
  • Quotes: the 10-card quotes insert set are inserted at an average of 1 per 12 packs (2 per box, 24 per case). This case produced 2 complete quotes sets and 5 extras for 1 more than the expected total of 24 cards.

Premium Inserts
  • Sketches and Metallogloss Case Toppers: these cards are inserted 1 per case. This case produced 1 of each as expected.
  • Autographed Cards (including Autographed Costume Cards): autographed cards are inserted at 1 per 48 packs (0.5 per box, 6 per case). This case produced 3 autographed cards and 3 autographed costume cards for the expected total of 6 cards. There is one double, the Jimmy Smits autograph, but they were different in that one is signed in red ink and the other in black ink. In addition to Smits, this case included the James Remar autograph, the Desmond Harrington autographed costume, the C.S. Lee autographed costume and the Lauren Velez autographed costume. I also purchased singles of the Jennifer Carpenter and Michael C. Hall autographed costumes off e-Bay.
  • Prop Cards and Costume Cards: these cards are inserted 1 per 10 packs (2.4 per box, 28.8 per case). This case produced 5 prop cards and 25 dual costume cards, for a total of 30 prop and costume cards (slightly more than the average). There are no doubles in these cards, and the case was only 6 prop cards and 4 costume cards shy of a complete set. I also purchased a single of the 8-swatch costume card from e-Bay.

Final Thoughts

This is a great set and provided a superb collation. Every card possible based on the odds is present and of the premium inserts there was only 1 double, making the case a very positive purchase. The base cards are typical of TV/movie sets but have extensive descriptions of the show and the depicted scenes. The design is nice and Breygent found a number of different ways to "smear" the design with images of blood. Of the foil sets, I really liked the puzzle. With the larger image on the front, it is nice to have detailed information about each of the main characters provided on the back. While I did not receive autographs of the big three (Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter and Julie Benz) in my case, the fact that Breygent was able to secure those autographs as part of the set makes it more desirable. And getting three different types of autographed cards from Hall just adds much more value. Also, the inclusion of 27 dual costumes increases the overall number of different swatches available to collectors.


Base set: A
Foil Inserts: A
Premium Inserts: A+

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Back to the Blog

If you follow this blog at all, you've noticed I haven't updated in awhile. Since my last post, about artist Danielle Soloud, I've acquired a number of new pieces of art and quite a few new sets of non-sport trading cards. So, I'm very backed up. The next post here will be my review of the Dexter Season 3 set issued by Breygent Marketing in late 2010. What will follow will be a number of posts playing catch-up on the non-sport sets I have, followed by a handful of blogs about my commissioned art.

Now that I'm back, hope you enjoy the reviews.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Artist Danielle Soloud

As I've mentioned before, about a year and a half ago I was introduced to the hobby of collecting sketch cards. That introduction and subsequent increase in interest on my part in the hobby led me to coming across a wide array of artists I otherwise would never have learned about. One of the first artists I came across was Danielle Soloud.

Upon visiting her website (, I was hooked. Danielle has this adorable style but is not shy about drawing the pinup. As a matter of fact, I believe the pinups she does are actually some of the better examples of her work.

Once I noticed on her website that she had a Twitter account, I began following her. She doesn't post a lot, but often she will update her followers on what she is working on. Lately, she's been talking about old video games she found in a closet after not seeing them for quite some time. And she posts most often in late night or early morning. Seems she is a nightowl.

But I love her art. And I once I told her so. We communicated some via Twitter. She was very nice and I decided instead of just admiring her work, I should own some. On her website she had a few larger pieces (much larger than sketch cards), one of which was a nice color sketch of Catwoman. I am a huge fan of Batman and his rogue's gallery, and Catwoman is at the top of that list. She was offering the piece at what I considered a considerably inexpensive rate, so I snatched it up.

Catwoman - by Danielle Soloud
Catwoman by Danielle Soloud

When I received the package in the mail, I was pleasantly surprised to see this on the back of the mailing envelope:

Catwoman envelope sketch - by Danielle Soloud
Catwoman envelope sketch by Danielle Soloud

Over the course of 2010, I've collected a few more Danielle Soloud pieces.

5finity Mixtape Hula Girl sketch card - by Danielle Soloud
5finity Mixtape Hula Girl by Danielle Soloud

This piece was pulled from a pack of 5finity's Mixtape sketch card series. I had ordered one pack and was very fortunate to pull this. Even better was that I had seen Danielle ink and color the sketch on her ustream artcast. I was fortunate enough to snag another Mixtape sketch Danielle did. This time it was a female vampire that she had received back as an Artist Exclusive sketch, so I made the purchase from Danielle directly.

5finity Mixtape Vampire Artist Exclusive sketch card - by Danielle Soloud
5finity Mixtape Artist Exclusive Vampire by Danielle Soloud

And again, there was a nice surprise on the mailing envelope.

Vampire envelope sketch - by Danielle Soloud
Vampire envelope sketch by Danielle Soloud

I had purchased this card during the summer around the time that Danielle was set to release her first sketchbook called Va Va Boom volume one. Included in this package was copy #2 of 200 that included another catwoman sketch on the inside front cover:

Catwoman sketchbook - by Danielle Soloud
Catwoman sketchbook sketch by Danielle Soloud

Having purchased a few sketches that had already been done, I decided that I wanted to commission Danielle to draw something of my choosing. I debated some of the Batman characters I loved so much, including Harley Quinn, Huntress, Batgirl, etc. But I decided to go a different route. One night during one of Danielle's artcasts, she was listening to 80s music and a Joan Jett tune had come on. We briefly talked about Joan, and it was from this conversation that I decided to ask Danielle to sketch her. And I have to say, when I received the final sketch, I was blown away. She had exceeded any expectation I had held. Look for yourself:

Joan Jett - by Danielle Soloud
Joan Jett by Danielle Soloud

And, as I had become accustomed to, I received another sketch on the envelope:

Joan Jett envelope sketch - by Danielle Soloud
Joan Jett envelope sketch by Danielle Soloud

Lastly, but not leastly, Danielle also is the writer/artist on her own webcomic, Life with Death. It's the story of a the daughter of the Grim Reaper who has reached the age where she must begin to learn the family trade. It's a definite must read.

In preparation for this post, I decided to ask Danielle some questions to get a better idea who she is and what she's like. Here is what I learned:

1.) What got you into drawing?
I've been drawing as long as I can remember. I'm very lucky to have parents who are supportive of the arts.

2.) You mentioned that at one point in your life you moved from drawing to become a DJ. Why did you do that, and what brought you back to art?
Drawing just fell by the wayside as I spent all my time focusing on music. Although I did learn Photoshop in that time and a bit of graphic design for flyers and such. I decided to pursue art as a career only a couple years ago when I was unhappy with my life and decided to change it.

3.) How were you trained - school, self-taught, mentor, some divine gift? :-)
Ha! Although artists do have to have some degree of talent, it definitely needs to be nurtured. I'm mostly self-taught. When I was in elementary school I would try to draw like the cartoons I watched and video games I played. In middle school I got into anime and comic books and began to study them. About two years ago I did enroll into community college with the intent of transferring to an art school. I took all of my foundation courses and one day while sitting in math class thought to myself, "I should be drawing right now." Ultimately I decided against art school because I didn't think it was for me.

4.) Who do you look to for inspiration - in art? In life?
I try to be open to let anything and everything inspire me. A big inspiration for me though are movies.

5.) What was the first piece you were paid for?
I believe the first professional project I worked on was for Breygent. I wish I could say it was when I was in middle school and a kid asked me to draw a naked woman for him and he would pay me. I think I missed out on a huge financial opportunity there.

6.) Besides art, what are your interests? What do you like to do for fun? Favorite movie? Favorite TV show? Favorite musician/music? Favorite book? Favorite food?
My interests are movies, art, animation, comics, and video games pretty much. I adore movies so much that giving a favorite is a horribly tough question to answer! But I'd probably say Beetlejuice is if I had to absolutely pin down one. My current top favorite TV shows are It's Always Sunny in PhiladelphiaTrue Blood. Favorite band is AC/DC and my favorite music I listen to most would be surf rock, rockabilly, classic rock, electro and 80's, which is also what I listen to when I'm drawing. Music is definitely a huge inspiration. My favorite books are American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. And finally, the one thing I don't have to think twice about when it comes to favorites is my favorite food... BUFFALO WINGS!

7.) I think I also remember you saying that you are able to make a living solely on your art - at what point in your life were you able to do that and how did it feel to know that you could?
It's still a struggle and that's the risk you take when you decide to pursue art. I don't have a lot of overhead so it's not that hard for me right now. I'm also lucky to be blessed with a supportive and helpful family.

8.) I know you've done some work for Breygent and 5finity. How did you get involved with them? Have you been part of any other sketch card sets? Are there any you'd really like to be a part of or other companies you'd like to work with?
I found out about Breygent and 5finity from the Scoundrel forums, both of which I sent samples to and they liked them enough to give me work. I've also recently started work with Versicolor on their Bettie Page set, which I'm really looking forward to!

9.) Like many other artists, you've started a ustream video channel for live artcasts - do you think this affects your process at all? Does it help? It's great for fans and fellow artists to be able to talk to you during the process, is the benefit mutual?
It does affect my process in a few ways that is both positive and negative. It's positive because you can get instant feed back and you're bringing people into your process which can be interesting. It forces me to sit there and finish a piece from start to finish since I'm broadcasting I can't just get up and start watching TV or something. Also, it's fun to have people to hang out with and chat while working. Although the downside is I take longer to do what I'm doing with the looking up at the screen and chatting (I work slower when I'm talking). Also with the camera set up I have it's sometimes awkward. Overall I think it's a great thing to do!

10.) What were you like as a child? Are you originally from orlando?
I think I was a lot like I am now. I was very chatty and always drawing and coming up with stories. I got in trouble often for disturbing other students as I would finish my work fast so I could chat with them. Yes, I am from Orlando - born and raised.

11.) What is your favorite thing in the whole world?
This was probably the most difficult question you've asked... I guess I would say my computer for now!

12.) What was the worst job you ever had?
Telemarketer for time-shares by far.

13.) What advice would you give a person wanting to become an artist?
Draw constantly and then draw some more. Be determined, don't give up, have thick-skin and accept criticism - don't take it personally. Be willing to show your art to others and post it on the internet for others to see and provide feedback. Also, I can't recommend the book Art & Fear by David Bayles & Ted Orlando enough. I'd say it's just about absolutely necessary to read.

14.) What is your favorite thing to draw? You previously told me "girls!", but do you have something more specific? :-)
It IS girls! I love drawing curves. (note: if you view her portfolio on her website, you'll see that she does, indeed, love drawing girls. And she is very, VERY good at it.)

15.) What's the story behind your last name? I mean, it's not your given name, right?
No, "Soloud" is not actually my last name. It comes from when I was a DJ. Originally I spun under the name 'DJ Sunny D" but came to find out there were about three other people who also used that name. So I changed it to 'Danielle Soloud', which makes a lot more sense when you're a DJ! Many people got used to that and already knew me as that name so when I started drawing again I just kept using it!

So, check out Danielle's website and commission her for some work. You won't be disappointed.