When I was it kid it was all about getting enough allowance to buy another pack or two of comic book trading cards, Marvel Fleer Ultra and Flair Annual for me. When it was only 10 or 15 cards at a time the thrill of completing an entire nine-sleeve sheet or pulling that last chase card felt monumental.
With time I lost interest in the wake of video games where I could play the characters and movies where I could watch all of the action.
When I was in college, though, I got back into collecting. I pulled together a set of mid 90’s Master Series DC cards, a Marvel v. DC base set, a The Nightmare Before Christmas series, and I started the 1995 Batman Master Series by picking up individual packs at a local bookstore and finding the occasional get on the internet. I got so into collecting that I ended up purchasing a few hobby boxes of the three Marvel Beginnings series.
The series from the 90’s had what I hoped for: great looking base cards with some extraordinary chase cards.
I was really excited to complete the set of Hunters and Stalkers shown below by setting up a trade in a Non-Sports Update trading forum. I checked out the wants/needs lists that people had already posted, found a few with cards I wanted and who needed some I had, sent a message, a couple emails, and et voila, the first chase set completion of my new collecting era.
I love seeing how cards come together in binder sheets. With a paged filled you get a collage or sometimes a unified depiction of the universe the most memorable characters live in. The cards expose the nature of human life expressed in super-human actions, and they frame an imaginative universe with storied landscapes that continue to evolve with new generations of readers and collectors.
Even the empty spaces, those dam rascals, are windows to cards revealed in later pages and that interact in much the same way they do from page to page. Heroes leap through layers of clear plastic to save the day, villains shrewdly mock the righteous warrior from behind the compounded glare of empty pages, and stories that classic characters inhabit undergo a refinement of characterization of the common nature of people everywhere.
The new collections are really what got me interested in comic book trading cards again. I was surprised with my jump-right-in Marvel hobby boxes when I pulled a couple sketch cards. I had no idea! When did they started doing that!? (in 1993, according to Wikipedia) It was exceptional to me, that in a pack of cards there would be a hand drawn, original piece by a comic book artist. Cards worth chasing!
My favorite so far is this sketch of Wolverine by Jose Jaro:
Then I found other inserts that were unlike anything I would expect in a trading card collection:
These modern characters fill the imagination and guide it to sturdy foundations of personas like Odysseus or Isa. They reflect on contemporary issues and implications for the future. These trading cards are just one way that comic book universes find place for a veritable gesamtkunstwerk.
Each series, each chase set, comes with its own experience. The main themes typical to adventure genres: war, fighting, struggles, knowledge of self, love, are revealed in the pages of a collection. Good guys and bad.
I guess I would say I’m back in to collecting comic book trading cards. One of the first things up on the ole collector checklist: finding out the best ways to protect my collectibles and how to be prepared for a pull of a truly stellar card when it comes.