Saturday, January 14, 2012

Jim Lee X-Men Cards

This came for me in the mail last night. it was one of the Christmas presents I bought for myself.

The last time I bought this box of cards was about twenty years ago. Jim Lee's newest X-Men first issue was breaking all kinds of sales records in the comic book industry and, with card sets being so popular at the time, he was commissioned to do a full set of X-Men cards for Impel Cards.

I had just started working at McNabb Studios as an assistant artist and we were doing comic book card sets ourselves for Comic Images. So I would look at cards like this and learn a lot of things about coloring from them.

This was back in the days before computer art had taken hold and everything like this was painted by hand and with airbrush. Not only was all the black and white art in this set done by Jim Lee but every card was painted by an artist named Paul Mounts.

And, at the time, Paul Mounts was one of my airbrush coloring heroes.

The big difference in how Paul was coloring and how we were coloring cards for Comic Images is that Paul was probably painting each piece at 200% of the printed size and we were painting each card at the same size as the printed piece. Which means we were painting stuff a lot smaller than Paul was and he was able to get some detail into his art that we could never match. But, believe me, I tried.

I even met Paul once back when I was in school at a comic book convention. I'm sure he was amazed anyone even knew who he was (us colorists didn't have much of a fan following back then.) I asked him all sorts of questions and he even gave me a few tips about painting and using the airbrush. I think he stopped and shut up when he could see me taking mental notes and saw the gleam in my eyes as I plotted to take over his job. But, to this day, I am happy he even talked to me and told me the few secrets he did.

So, yeah, these cards were great back when I bought them and helped me a lot when I first started out as an artist. And, as I've been toying with the idea of doing an OilCan Drive set of trading cards this is one of the sets I thought about. Unfortunately, it was one of the things I left behind when I moved from New Jersey to Colorado. And, when I left those things behind, everything got destroyed by a flooded basement. I lost a lot. The only things I still own from that time are the things that fit in my Jeep when I first moved out here.

So, I went on Ebay and found a sealed box of cards someone was selling and threw a bid out there. I won and, last night, I opened up a twenty year old box of cards and felt like a kid again. I know you probably shouldn't open up such a "collector's item" but the joy I felt opening the box, setting it up, ripping open the packs, and making a complete set of cards was well worth any feeling I might have had by owning a sealed box of cards in a closet somewhere.

Seeing these cards again really brought me back to my start as a professional artist and really fired me up. I think that's why I like the idea of doing a set of OilCan Drive cards. Cards are where I started my career and I think it's about time I revisited that part of my life with my own characters.

Of course, I have to finish up a bit of this freelance work first and buy myself some free time but I like the idea. Maybe it's something I'll do this year when I get some free time.

Hey, it's an idea.

Have a great day.

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