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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The post that wasn't about baseball cards that suddenly was

At about 11:30 last night I was aimlessly surfing the web, listening to the Braves game and winding down for bed. I was starting to get sleepy and was just about to pack it in when I found out that Frank Frazetta had died.

Aw, crap.

Fantasy nerds know exactly who Frank Frazetta is (and know not to click on links to his art at work). He's the absolute king of fantasy art. The Gold Standard. The dude everyone else copies, usually badly. I was an extremely nerdy little boy and knew just how cool Frank was at a young age. Frazetta art was a great joy to a nerdy kid and I wanted to post something  about him here even if it had nothing to do with cards. You can't post about cards all the time you know. You'll get burned out.

Actually, I could have gotten away with posting some Frank Frazetta trading cards, but I don't have any of them. I've got the documentary Painting with Fire on tape somewhere but no one wants to see a scan of a videotape. I used to have an excellent Frazetta calendar but that has been lost for years. I know for a fact I had this copy of Mad Magazine, but my mom threw it out long ago. So what did I have of Frank in  my collection?

I'm ashamed to admit it, but right now, nothing. No book covers, no magazines, no comics no posters, no nothing. I don't even have a Frank Frazetta of Frank Zappa. One last hope sprung to my mind to save me from total collector shame: Conan.

About ten years ago I was on the road for business and had an afternoon to kill. I can't remember what city I was in but wherever I was was a nice quaint little relaxed artsy part of town. Cobblestone sidewalks, happy little trees, fancy shmancy shops lining the road. I took a walk and went window shopping and found an antique store that happened to have books. I like books. I went inside. Along with the books where was a box of dollar comics. There were a lot of magazine size comics in there, which was good because I was really into Mad Magazine at the time. There were unfortunately no Mads but a couple of Mad Rip-offs like Crazy and Sick. I picked them up and on a whim also got a handful of Conan the Barbarian comics. I don't know why, I wasn't a fan, I just thought they looked neat. Frank Frazetta practically made Conan what it is today. Maybe, just maybe there was a Frazetta in there somewhere.

Nope. Not even close. I AM SHAME. My lack of understanding comic book history meant I didn't know Frank quit the comics biz in 1964. My Conans had Frazetta rip-offs all over the place. I was pretty bummed out by this. Looking through my comics and paperbacks I found Boris Vallejo, Richard Corben, Jeff Jones and a host of others but not one Frank. I did find this one Conan issue with a cover that is no Frazetta, but still pretty neat.

Clyde Caldwell did this cover which is way more cartoonish than most of Frazetta's work, but it works pretty well as far as I'm concerned. You have the foreboding rocky terrain with fire-red sky. A lone skull lies forlornly on the ground. A longhorn demon snake thing threatens the hero with magicky glowy hands. An extremely healthy maiden  with long flowy hair, almost non-existent clothes and a nice view of sideboob stares up in horror at the creature. And Conan himself squares off against the Evil with a steely sword, a lion shield and the most ludicrous codpiece ever. And inside you see lots of action, monsters, fighting and tons of nekkid boobies. A couple of them aren't on men! Why didn't I read this stuff when I was a kid??

Ah, but I said this post which wasn't about baseball cards was about to take a sports cardy turn. I'm not talking about the fact that Frank was an excellent baseball player who was once scouted by the New York Giants. No, I'm talking about the back cover of this comic:

Sportscaster cards! All the cool kids at my school had these cards. I was not a cool kid. I still don't have one of these things come to think of it. Oh, how I dreamed of having a giant filing system full of odd-sized cards with rounded corners and bizarre sorting symbols up at the top. It wasn't meant to be. Maybe in another universe there's a parallel dimension me with the complete set, poring over them contentedly.  Meanwhile in this universe I don't even have one single card to post while I frantically type at 1:30 AM trying to keep up with the writing muse that has been AWOL in my life recently.

This comic came out in 1980 just was just slightly before my obsessive collecting days. Man I wish I could go back with this coupon and a buck. You get the first set (a complete set!) of 24 cards. PLUS you get a second set of 24 cards FREE just to hammer home how useful these cards are. But wait, you also got the patented Big Red Filing Case! And accessories! JOY! And even if you look over these wonderful cards and think to yourself, what a giant crock of bullcrap, you get 6 more cards to keep absolutely free even if you send all the other junk back. There is a price, however, you have to fill out the survey of questions concerning sports in America. Well, I'm American, I love sports, I GOT THIS.

Which sports do you practice?
[ ] Swimming - water sucks
[ ] Golf - I still root for Tiger
[ ] Tennis - you must be crazy
[ ] Football - I'm too old for that crap
[ ] Baseball - I play at least 50 games a day. in my mind
[ ] Jogging - more like waddling
[ ] Other - does fantasy baseball count?
[X] None - Hey, I try to take walks now and then!

Which sports do you watch on TV?
[X] Baseball - Braves!
[X] Football - Falcons!
[X] Tennis -  the ladies' matches where they go UUUUNGH
[X] Basketball - Not until next season after the Magic swept our asses
[X] Golf -  Tiger! And his extracurricular activities!

Do you prefer to attend a sports event or watch it on TV?
[ ] Attend - have you ever tried to get to a game on Marta?
[ ] Watch on TV - Chip Carey and John Smoltz. 'Nuff said.
I'm writing in 'radio' on this one.

Which Sport do you follow most?

Curling. (there's a lot you all don't know about me)

Do you read a sports magazine?
What's a magazine? I has teh INTARWEBS!

Do you discuss sports events often?
[ ] with the family - not unless I want that divorce
[ ] with friends - I'm middle aged and working all the time, who has time for friends?
[ ] Don't discuss - my brain would explode
[X] with anyone who will listen

Do you have children who like sports?
When I was eight I would have checked off yes just to mess with them.

Do you follow sports events?
[ ] Every day
[ ] Every week
[ ] Occasionally
[X] Every single moment ever awake or otherwise

Does the history of sports interest you?
No, that's why I just wasted 15 minutes of my life filling out this stupid form to get free sports cards you idiot

The absolute best part of this ad the the bit under the questionnaire:

FREE this medal
if you return this coupon 
within 5 days

OH MY GOD THIS MEDAL. What the hell is that medal supposed to be anyway?? It looks like a rejected medal design from a '60s Olympics. I must free the poor ugly medal from its Sportscaster opressors. And you only get it if you return the coupon within five days.


Underneath you find out the whole thing is a record club scam to get you to buy more cards that they will keep sending you forever until you cancel. Right now Mr. Arnold J. Shaumberg in Piscataway, NJ is still receiving Sportscaster card sets at $2.49 a pop because he's too damn lazy to mail Sportscaster cards a letter telling them to knock it off. That could be me, if only I had known of this coupon when I was 8.

I don't have a Sportscaster card but I do have this Donruss insert knockoff of a Sportscaster card. This was one of Donruss' desperate attempts to hop on the retro bandwagon when they a) had only been around for 25 years b) their designs were crap and c) Topps, Fleer and Upper Deck had beat them to all the really cool pre-war tobacco and bubble gum card designs. This is serial numbered to 45 on the back and the total numbers existing depended on the combination of colors and symbols on the top, thus making this the single most confusing gimmicky parallel  insert set ever in the history of eternity. Nothing can be more obscure and complicated than this set, period. It's nifty looking though.

As I was flipping through the comic looking for nekkid boobies good examples of comic art I came across this ad:

Frazetta posters! Oh man, I want polar bear sled team up on my wall. Looks like I got a little bit of Frazetta in my collection after all! I have no shame! Wait, that didn't come out right.


madding said...

I had a bunch of those cards when I was a kid, but they were all a bunch of tropical animals or something.

dc said...

I confess that Frazetta's art often eluded me--a terrible pop culture shortcoming to admit. Therefore, I hope the dayf in our dimension doesn't read this comment.

dayf said...

nooooo I read the comment

The Wax Wombat said...

My older half-brother was a watercolor artist who was influenced heavily by Frazetta. I was more influenced by Kirby, but whatever. The world lost a giant... The man was a Da Vinci of his time.

Todd Uncommon said...

Finally! Something re-discovered that can exceed the Three Wolf Moon!

That would be the Four Polar Bear Sled Team! Because if you can sled fast enough, the friction from the air will keep your bare extremities warm. Only a Four Bear Sled could possibly go that fast.

This needs to be a shirt, like, yesterday.