Recently, one of the biggest collectors of sketch cards I know and easily the most knowledgable person of the artform I know, Chris Mixer, asked me a few questions about being a sketch card artist. He posted that interview on his website and today I’m excited to share my interview with him here!
I collected ComicBooks growing up. In 1998 when I graduated college and had my first full-time job, I had more disposable income so I joined eBay to look for comic books. I quickly discovered that some of my favorite comic book creators had affordable original art in the form of sketch cards (Marvel Creator’s Collection by Fleer/Skybox). I used to scan and upload every sketch card I collected online, but Microsoft Frontpage and PhotoBucket both became dated over time and I lost that work, so now I mainly blog about them. One day I hope to re-build a proper large-scale website.
It was 1998, so Marvel Creator’s Collection was the easiest to find on the secondary market. I don’t remember the exact card that was my first purchase, but I still own 90% of what I collected back then, so whatever it was is probably still in my possession. I only opened 1 box of Marvel Creator’s Collection back then (because I learned I could buy 3-5 sketch cards off eBay for the price of 1 box). It was a Human Torch by Mariano Nicieza.
LOL. No, but I have a funny story. When Upper Deck started making Marvel Masterpieces 2007, I wanted to learn and blog about the process of “trying out” to help potential artists. The only way to learn the process was to actually submit something to Upper Deck. The good news is that they graciously turned me down. I had promised myself that if I was hired, I would personally buy back every last one of my sketch cards to relieve the world and put money back in the hands of the poor people that pulled my cards.
I have definitely had favorite sets, but eventually when the cards dried up on the second market, and I could no longer continue to grow my collection easily, I moved on to a new set. Actively collecting, trading, and organizing is what made them my favorite. The ones I collected most aggressively were MCC98, Complete Avengers 2006, and 2005 Topps Gallery Baseball.
Very poorly, LOL. I used to scan every card, but now they sadly sit in two row shoeboxes stacked on top of each other like a Jenga tower. I hope to build a website and scan them all again someday, but I have too many to actually display on my walls or shelves.
I have a boatload of ideas, but I don’t know if they’re all good. For example, if Topps is going to make another Star Wars set, why don’t they differentiate it by making it vehicles and weapons only? And why isn’t there a DC Comics Evolution set, where every sketch card is part of a 2-card puzzle … 1950s Batman on the left, 2020 Batman on the right? I am also surprised that Creator Owned Comics haven’t pooled their resources, and created a set based on 10 or 20 different independent comics. Sure, Rob Guillory’s CHEW can’t carry a set on its own, but it could be one property in a larger Image Comics set.
I am at the point that even a photo-realistic headshot seems a little too common even if beautifully rendered. I would much rather collect an architectural detail shot, a vehicle, or a card with word balloons. Any card the differentiates itself from the rest demands a premium from me. — I also think manufacturers need to do whatever it takes to enlist some artists with name appeal and a large following. Pay Adam Hughes or J. Scott Campbell whatever they want to get them drawing sketch cards again.
There’s no way that Topps can continue to put out Star Wars sets at their current pace. It’s sometimes hard to tell one set from another. It looks like collectors are turning to small press, limited run, and premium packs to get something “fresh.” Those Perna sets (like Hallowe’en) seem to sell out within minutes.
I hope they don’t; that’s just more competition. (Just kidding). I think there are still sports card collectors and pop-culture collectors that don’t even know sketch cards exist. For example, I remember going to a large baseball card convention couple years ago, and half the dealers didn’t even know what I was asking about. I think there are comic book collectors that don’t know their favorite artist (like Neal Adams) has drawn sketch cards in the past. There is still a lot of knowledge to be shared.
Thanks again to Chris for joining me for this interview!