Trading cards seem to be going the way of the incinerator, but I can’t help thinking that comic book and non sport cards are capable of making the long haul.
Even as interest in the medium has been supported over the years by Magic or Pokemon games, the original artist cards, autographs, printing plates, and other inserts bring something new and interesting to collecting and gaming.
I imagine myself, if I had played these card games as a kid, playing with a one of a kind sketch card as my avatar, the leader of my team, who would be surrendered if I were defeated.
Characters evolve over time, reacting to the culture they are written for. Civil rights, politics, religion, learning: our favorite superheroes react to what’s going on in the world. Marvel’s gigantic “Civil War,” which took on multiple character arcs and was made into a movie, is a clear discussion of firearm laws, privacy rights, and American politics. This, in a medium often geared toward young, non voting, readers.
Trading cards are representative of a time when symbols are democratic and supremely imaginative. Individual writers and artists create new takes on classic characters in humanist expressions of common physical and abstract traits. They aren’t just for trading amongst friends (thanks to Non-Sports Update forum folks for being awesome with that aspect), these collectables are cultural and historic mementos, nerdy as that sounds.
There seems to be an understanding that baseball cards for canon players will continue to be of value, despite declining interest and the realization that no one will get super rich from any one card. It takes a long time to determine player card values, and eventually there will only be one Jackie Robinson card, at all, anywhere, and it will be in a museum. That card will serve as a representation of the ground breaking player he was, the culture in which he lived, and those that valued the card enough to protect it. It is important to our history.
Comic book trading cards will be a part of that same future museum collection that contains ball players. Some rich collector a thousand years from now will loan out his early-millennium superhero trading cards for the public to see, and it will be amazing. People will get to see culturally significant objects from times long since past. Perhaps it will be so far in the future that our artists’ work look more like cave drawings of simplistic ideas than culture driving media.
Entertainment media, like trading cards, do have a place in our history. Characters like Wolverine or Batman, whose personas have carried or supported many graphic novels, a handful of television shows, and multiple blockbuster films, marking new trends in cinema, literature, and pop culture. These are characters who have changed people’s lives, and because of that will become representative of our time. Even if comic book and movie trading cards go extinct, it will be in the wake of huge names in entertainment going to the dumps before hand. I think they will stick around, even if it means I’m one of the only ones holding onto those mid-90’s chase sets.