It’s not every day that a major artist creates their own line of baseball cards, then has a hard time selling them. You’d think that with paintings going for record prices and comic books and graphic novels and the like selling for outrageous suggested retail prices right out of the gate, that something as cool and as original as a limited edition set of baseball cards would go quickly for big bucks. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.
In the early Nineties, Gahan Wilson (whose work has appeared in The New Yorker and other places) illustrated this small set of ten horror-themed baseball cards. I don’t know where the set was sold at the time or who produced it, though today it’s for sale on—get this—www.ninjaturtles.com. For $10. I really hope Wilson did this for the love of the game and not to make money, because money is not something that’s going to be made, especially if its only available at ninjaturtles.com.
But back to the cards. Has anyone ever seen these? My uncle brought the set back to me from a convention in Baltimore in 1991 or 1992, so I’m guessing that they were either some kind of promo set (what exactly could it have been promoting?) or a door prize. I honestly don’t know. And the fact that they never saw wide distribution suggests that, like other early-decade non-sports promos, they quickly had their fifteen minutes in the sun at a forgotten third-party table in the back of a convention hall in 1991 (or 1992), a pet project of an independent editor or perhaps Wilson himself, then, when a distributor wasn’t found, were dumped back into a box, tossed into the back of Wilson’s station wagon and plopped down in the basement next to the never-used workbench and forgotten about for just about fifteen years (until the editor’s (or Wilson’s) plucky neighbor grew up, started ninjaturtles.com, and convinced one of the two to let him sell the cards on the site).
Anyway, it’s an amusing set. The art’s fun if you like the gruesome kind of Garbage Pail Kids humor, and it’s short and sweet. The only way to improve it would’ve been for it to be nine cards instead of ten so that it all fit on one page, but whatever. Oh, and if you do track it down, check out the Jack Ripper card—if you squint, he resembles an enraged Bill Buckner.
And while the set's probably worthless, that one card alone makes it priceless.