1 - How long have you been collecting sketch cards and how/why did you get into it?
- I started collecting sketch cards in March of 2010. At the time I was really big into collecting comic books and Josh Howard’s DEAD@17 book was one of my favorites. I followed his blog and saw one day that there would be a sketch card set release from 5finity and Josh would have an allotment of packs to sell. When they became available I ordered just one pack from him directly just in the hopes of pulling one of his cards. When the pack came I actually pulled a Frankie B Washington card of the character Nara. Although it wasn’t the Josh Howard I had hoped for it was a sweet looking card and I was hooked.
2 - Have you known about sketch cards before Josh Howard's DEAD@17?
- Yes, I remember seeing sketch cards as incentives advertised for a Red Sonja trading card set in Diamond Previews before I heard about the DEAD@17 set. Frank Cho was one of the possible pulls which was really exciting since he doesn’t do commissions at cons. I ordered a box from the place where I was getting my comics at the time but before it came out the store changed ownership and the order got lost in the shuffle and I never saw it. I had no idea there was such a following for collecting just sketch cards at the time though.
3 - What was your impression of them before you started collecting?
- I thought when I discovered them that they were something really new. I had no idea they had been around for as long as they had. I liked the small size too. I was just getting out of action figure collecting after a little more than 12 years because of how much space it took up and the self-pressure to have a complete collection. My wife appreciates the space savings sketch card collecting has afforded me too, lol.
4 - Are you a fan of puzzle cards? What do you think of some companies having all the puzzle card pieces available in one box/pack?
- I like puzzle cards but I really don’t like when I only pull part of a puzzle from a pack. So, to answer the second part of the question I wish all companies would have all the puzzle pieces in one box/pack. I have three partial puzzles right now that I’ve never seen their counterpart surface anywhere and it frustrating. For one puzzle piece I actually commissioned the artist to draw a variation of the missing piece on an AP just so I could have a complete piece. If an artist is drawing puzzles for a company that doesn’t keep them together they really should make sure each piece looks good as a stand alone too.
5 - How many cards do you have in your collection...roughly? How do you store or display them?
- I have a little over 200 cards in my collection as of right now. Not a huge collection by any means but I like to be picky about what I’ll buy and what I’ll keep from pack pulls.
- My cards are kept in penny sleeves and Ultra Pro top loaders for standard size cards and magnetic cases for thick cards. I keep them all in card boxes in order by set and artist within a set. I tend to look at them more through the scans on my computer probably though because it’s difficult to have my collection spread out with a toddler always trying to grab it, lol.
6 - Has the way people collect sketch cards changed much since you started? If so, how?
- I don’t really think as whole people have changed how they collect sketch cards since I started but I have. The majority of collectors from my perspective prefer either superheroes, movie characters, T&A or some combo of the three. Until 2012 I only really collected 5finity releases which tend to fall into those categories. In 2012 Viceroy Card Company put out their first set, Cryptids, and it really took my collecting in a different direction. That set has really expanded the range of artists in my collection and brought my attention to the possibilities of some really cool set ideas that aren’t licensed. In my opinion those non licensed sets offer so much more in terms of creativity for the artists.
7 - Some collectors prefer collecting specific characters or artists. How do you decide which cards you want to collect?
- My first artist addiction was Penelope Gaylord. I really liked the work she did on 5finity’s Hack/Slash and since she was a regular artist for the company I just kept collecting her work. She also is great to work with when it comes to commissions. I have over 80 Peng-Peng cards right now. Most recently, I can’t get enough of Mike Vasquez’s Cryptids cards. I have four of his pack inserted cards, 12 APs, and 2 more APs in the works.
- When it comes to choosing which artists to collect I first have to visually like their work and secondly they have to represent themselves well in social media. There are artist who do some great work but the way represent themselves online is just too much of a turn off for me.
8 - Do you think there is much competition among collectors?
- I really don’t see competition between collectors. I have been reluctant in the past to post some of my collection in fear someone would recognize a card I’d really want and dangle it over my head with one hand and have a large empty sack with a dollar sign on it the other. It may have been unfounded fear, but either way I’m over it though. I’d much rather share my collection with people who will appreciate it.
9 - As a collector, what do you think about the market being over saturated with sketch cards? Does it make it easier for you to choose what you want?
- I think when it comes to the larger companies who put out a sketch card per box and put out thousands of boxes, like the Marvel licenses, it is too much. I think they would be better off to make sketch cards more limited in those large runs of boxes. I’ve primarily been into purchasing “premium pack” style cards where it’s one pack one card out of a limited run of packs. I think you are creating value for the long run that way.
10 - Obviously not everyone have the same taste, but is there anything you'd like to see more of from artists?
- I can’t say I’d want anything specific from the artists. They are out there trying to make a living doing something that can go widely unappreciated when it comes to compensation. What I don’t like is when an artist uses the same background for every card they do on an individual set.
11 - What do you think about all the various sketch card groups/forums that have popped up? They're usually made up of a lot of the same people from other groups. Do you occasionally check them out or do you stick to a few regularly?
- When I got into that DEAD@17 set I discovered Scoundrel. For a long time I just hung out in the 5finity forum because that’s all I cared about. When I ventured outside of that forum I saw a lot of negativity and silly trolling. Since George Nadeau made his exit from being a moderator there the 5finity forum has just kind of fallen apart so I don’t really visit the site much anymore. I check in with SCF on Facebook multiple times a day and is now the primary place I got to connect with people who share my hobby. Other than that I visit the Blowout Cards forums for updates and chatter on Viceroy sets since that is the place where it seems to get the most talk.
12 - What would you like to see more from card companies? If you could suggest something to them, what would it be?
- What I would like to see is a wider range of set ideas being generated from companies. How many way can you spin a Marvel set? One is really no different than the other as far as the sketch cards go. I wish the larger companies would take chances with sets based on more creator owned comics. The smaller companies shouldn’t get themselves tied up in one type of set either. I think Viceroy really has a great thing going for them. Taking non-licensed themes that you wouldn’t expect or think about as a card set and making some great product. Cryptids was huge with me and Space! Looks to be exciting as well. They just updated their website to add Carnival (which I have a part in) The Deep, Insecta, and Cryptids 2 (which I also have a part in).
13 - Do you think the hobby is growing, dying or just stale? And why? Any suggestions to improve it?
- I think the interest in the hobby is growing. I see new artist all the time excited to get into drawing on cards. I don’t the collector base is growing fast enough though. I’ve seen the same major players in collecting and dealing since I began almost 4 years ago without much change. I think if you want to get more people collecting you need to make sets for people who have other hobbies outside of art collecting. Themes for people who are into cars, history, literature, science, etc. could bring new life into the collector end of the hobby.
14 - Do you think people arguing in forums scare away potential collectors?
- I don’t think it scares away potential collectors. I doubt anyone makes a decision to start collecting something based on available forums online for that hobby. I think it makes current collectors say screw it, I’ll post my cards somewhere else or not at all. I try to avoid arguing online but even I’ve been sucked into one or two ridiculous arguments in the past.
15 - Any advice for new collectors? How about for new artists?
- For new collectors: Collect what you will be happy keeping for the long run. Don’t get caught up in buying so much just because it’s available, and don’t buy more than you can afford. You CANNOT always bank on flipping enough cards to cover what you keep for yourself.
- For new Artists: Be humble, positive, and respectful in social media settings, your future clients and employers are watching. Find a good balance of sharing your work without cramming it down collector’s throats. The same goes for companies when they post previews of their sets. This is especially important on the SCF Facebook page. It’s disrespectful to push everyone’s posts down by posting a ton of images right in a row and then commenting on the “likes” to get it bumped back to the top. Also, don’t take on more work than you can handle at one time if it will affect the quality of your work.
16 - Do you commission artists? Any horror stories with commissioning sketch card art?
- I love commissioning APs! 100% of money goes right to the artist AND I get to pick what I want on the card! I’ve been pretty lucky, nothing too horrible. I’ve had great commission experiences with Penelope Gaylord, Mike Vasquez, James Linares, Amber Shelton, Rusty Gilligan, Josh Howard, and Joshua Werner so far. The worst experience was with a very popular artist who I paid up front with an estimated 4-6 weeks turnaround time due to their busy schedule for two AP cards. It ended up being 6 months with less than stellar communication from the artist. I loved the cards when I got them but every time I looked at them I was just reminded of how the fun was sucked out of collecting by the experience. Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore and I sold the two cards. To this day I don’t regret selling them because I got quite a bit of money for them and was able to fund some more pleasurable commission experiences with other artists.
17 - You have an online sketch card gallery? Where might people be able to check it out?
- Yes I do! Pop Phenom’s Sketch Card Collection can be found at https://www.facebook.com/PopPhenomsSketchCardCollection . I started it as a way to show off my collection without it being tied to a specific sketch card site or my personal Facebook page. I also want to use it as a way to promote the artist in my collection. There you can find my entire sketch card collection plus any other original pieces of art that I own. I’m also having my own PSC stock printed pretty soon too. It will be called “The Pop Phenom Private Collection”. Mike Vasquez is doing the art for the card back too. I plan to take them to cons and events and hope to get some top comic artists and to do commissions on them for me.
9 of Adam Martin favorite sketch cards in his collection
1. Frankie B Washington – Nara from 5finity’s Dead@17. My first sketch card.
2. Penelope Gaylord – Cassie Hack from 5finity’s Hack/Slash. My first Penelope Gaylord card.
3. Katie Cook - Cassie Hack from 5finity’s Hack/Slash. The most “liked” card in my collection.
4. Drew Moss – Beagle from 5finity’s P’ups. eBay pick up and a sweet take on Charlie Brown and Snoopy.
5. Cassandra James - Manga Mandy from 5finity’s Manga Mandy. Pack pulled card
6. Bianca Thompson – Masters of The Universe Evillyn PSC. Won my choice of 80’s cartoon character in a giveaway on SCF.
7. Mike Vasquez – Aswang from Viceroy Card Company’s Cryptids. Commissioned AP
8. from Viceroy Card Company’s Cryptids. Pack pulled card.
9. Amber Shelton - Tata Duende from Viceroy Card Company’s Cryptids. Commissioned AP