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Laughing w/ Lucy & Pranky Products
By Kurt Kuersteiner (© 2001 Monsterwax Monster Trading Cards) for The Wrapper Magazine

 

These are troubling times: Terrorists attacks, Anthrax outbreaks, Middle-East wars... If there were ever a time to get serious, it's now. And yet, in spite of these horrific events-- or maybe because of them-- Americans seemed determined to keep their sense of humor and laugh. Parody songs flood the morning radio shows, Leno & Letterman are yucking it up again, and the trading card companies are publishing comedy cards. Here's two such series designed to keep Uncle Sam smiling: Pranky Products by E.I.E.I.O. and I Love Lucy 50th Anniversary by Dart.

Wacky collectors should be very pleased with the new Pranky Products set. It's a test item designed by Wacky fanatic Neil Camera. He's owned, sold, then recollected at least three complete series of Wacky Packages through the years. (Medical experts define this condition as addiction.) Being a graphic artist, Camera decided to make the series in order to promote his work.

"The cards were originally created as a promotional tool for my portfolio." He says, "I thought they would be a nice way to present my skills to art directors. The plan was to produce just a small quantity and hand them out at interviews, but a printer friend saw them and convinced me to do a limited run of 1000 for card collectors. As things evolved, I decided it was a good idea and so, Pranky Products Trading Cards were born as a Limited Edition Test Set."

The quality of the artwork is impressive. The most obvious difference between these and Wackys is that these are not stickers. They are printed on flimsy paper stock that feels about the same. Camera elaborates.

"The set of 30 cards (plus checklist, title card and certificate of authenticity) was printed on a new high speed digital press at 175 lines per inch. I think collectors will enjoy them because they hearken back to the nostalgic product parodies of the 60s and 70s. Inspiration for these cards came mostly from artists such as Norm Saunders, Wally Woods and Basil Wolverton."

The concept of this set has been percolating for some time, the seeds of which were actually planted a decade ago, right here in The Wrapper!

"I actually created some of the ideas many years ago." Camera explains, "Forgettios originally appeared as a b&w sketch in issue #88-Jan/Feb 1990, page 5 of The Wrapper. While many ideas were created over the last decade, the set actually began to take serious shape about 3 years ago when I started sorting literally hundreds of sketches and ideas and selecting about 50 of the best ones. Most of the art began as color pencil sketches. I then scanned these and digitally rendered them on a Macintosh computer. Each one took approximately 20 hours to complete."

One of the very unusual aspects of this set is the extremely limited number of promo cards. So limited, it is almost impossible for any one collector to acquire a sample of each variety. Camera gives details.

"There are currently five promo cards in circulation: p1 is available by a SASE and was made in a relatively large quantity (about a thousand). The other four I like to think of as specialty cards, because quantities are very limited and the printing is tailored for these specific cards on various paper stocks. P2 is a limited edition card that echoes the SASE promo with some minor changes in the art. The big difference is that these were distributed exclusively in The Wrapper in a quantity of 50.

"P3 is the elusive 'Pie' Promo (a nickname that was coined by several customers). This card was printed after the Sept 11 events as a tribute to U.S. pride. I printed just 10 cards and randomly inserted these in sets. One of these has been set aside and is being offered on the website, www.eiozone.com as a prize for our latest contest. P4 is a Halloween promo card and less than 25 were produced. These were randomly inserted in orders received before October 31, 2001. P5 has been produced as an exclusive Wrapper promo to celebrate Thanksgiving. There are 50 of these and you might find one with your issue. There will be other promos coming, but I can't say much about these yet, only that the best way to keep abreast is to visit www.eiozone."

There are other added bonus items as well. Camera explains.

"In addition to the promo cards, there is a bonus card which has been randomly inserted in 50 sets. It does not appear on the checklist, but is called, 'Motorin V8'. Also, there are 6 different souvenir wrappers. One wrapper is distributed with each customer order."

Is this a one shot "flash in the pan"? Not if Camera has his way.

"There are plans to possibly produce a sticker version of the 1st series, with some different titles. Also, a second series is well under way. I've enlisted the help of some artist and writer friends to contribute to the effort. It should be available early in 2002."

So it appears there is plenty to look forward to with this series. Let's wish Neil the best in his independent project and hope the Wacky legacy continues on for another generation.

Meanwhile Lucy fans should be grinning about the newest release from Dart. I Love Lucy 50th Anniversary is a 72 card set featuring black and white photos from the classic comedy series. Like so many other sit-com talents, Lucy began her career on radio. She was the zany housewife in a series called, "My Favorite Husband" (1948). It was the basis for another series called "Granby's Green Acres", which moved over to TV as "Green Acres". (Just imagine Lucy as Lisa Douglas!) In 1952, the red headed Lucy teamed up with (and married) Cuban born Desi Arnaz, and recorded I Love Lucy for TV and radio. The radio version was never aired, but the TV version was an instant hit. She popped on and off the TV screen for several decades afterward. Although her latest 1990s come-back was a record breaking disaster, her earlier work is considered some of the best TV comedy available and still holds up well today.

The Dart series is an excellent review of Lucy's golden era. The base set has a wide variety of interesting photos. There are also six color Classic Moments chase cards (1 per 11 packs) which feature prismatic backgrounds, plus four Ricardos/Mertzes Character cards (1 per 16 packs) which have some sort of holographic border. Not mentioned on the packs is the CT-1 card or the BT-1 card. They have prismatic backgrounds and a publicity photo on the front. The odds and significance of these cards could not be determined this close to release. There is also a bonus card on the bottom of the 36 pack box (B-1). So all tallied up, there is actually 85 cards available in this series... as well as a binder.

If you love Lucy, you'll probably love this set. There are only a handful of grainy images in the lot and the selection offers a wide array of funny moments and situations. This is not the first Lucy set, and it probably won't be the last. But its release comes at a time we all could use a good laugh.

 

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