Strictly Ink Is Strictly Awesome

eBay is a dangerous place, denizens. A wonderful, dangerous place. It feeds my need for collectibles. It never judges me for my nerdy passions. It remembers what I like most and makes awesome recommendations based on what makes me squee.

It also introduces me to things that I never knew existed, and in doing so, makes me wonder how I ever lived without them.

Okay, that’s an infamous Loba HyperboleTM. However, eBay did show me a new dimension to trading cards to which I was previously clueless. It’s been a while since I dabbled in this particular collector subgenre, so imagine my delight to discover “sketch cards.”

Maybe it’s because the concept of trading cards has become a bit quaint and silly (yes, I’m fully aware that “normies” would argue that they have always been silly). Whatever the reason, I have noticed a few snazzy concepts that have been introduced to genre card series that have helped keep these as viable collectibles. The two standouts that I already knew about were limited edition autograph cards and costume cards, which contain pieces of fabric cut from costumes worn in genre shows like Star Trek, Xena, et al.

These are both creative concepts, even if they didn’t really reach me on any particular level. I’m a bit old for autograph collecting (unless it’s Keith Birdsong…or the autograph accompanies latex body parts), and the only costume prop I actively lust after is a Dr. Crusher lab coat. And I don’t want a scrap from it. I want the whole enchilada.

The sketch card concept that I just learned about, however, is one that I think is utterly brilliant. The trading card companies design a shell template that identifies the card as being part of a particular set, but they leave the bulk of the front side nothing but white space. They then disseminate copies of this shell to various genre-related artists and pretty much say, “Show us what you can do in this space that’s somehow related to our [show, cartoon, comic book, etc.].”

What you end up with is a pint-sized original drawing that gives a unique take, not only on the trading card concept but also on a genre favorite. Like this card, part of Strictly Ink’s CSI sketch card series:

Loba's protective pawprints of approval added for effect...

This sketch card of Sara Sidle was done by artist Rowena Pagarigan. I love everything about this card: the still visible pencil guide marks; the rough, cartoonish coloring; the random details like the surfer-esque beaded necklace and the pensive eyebrow arch. It’s quirky and one-of-a-kind. Just like Sara Sidle 😀

Does this mean that I’m going to start collecting trading cards again? Nah. But do I think this is a wonderful idea? Absolutely.

Now if you’ll excuse me…I still have some lunch time left. I’m going to go stare at my sketch card a little more…