Friday, January 11, 2013

Mars Attacks

Mars AttacksMars Attacks by Len Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Wherein I alienate every other Timothy Burton fan on the planet . . .)

Yes, my favorite Tim Burton movie, and I mean my FAVORITE, is, indeed, the much maligned Mars Attacks. No, it's not his funniest movie, nor his most emotionally moving movie, but Mars Attacks holds for me that certain je ne sais quoi that just pushes it past the rest in my eyes.

For some time, I've lusted after the original cards, but at over $1,000/set for the original card, they are definitely out-of-reach for my skinny little pocketbook.

So I was pleased to see that Topps, with Abram's ComicArts, had come out with a 50th Anniversary Collection that included reproductions of all 50 cards (from the original transparencies, no less). No only that, but Len Brown, co-creator of the Mars Attacks cards, and Zina Saunders, whose father, Norm Saunders, colored the original artwork, have each provided a brief historical introduction on the genesis of Mars Attacks and a reminiscence of Norm Saunders, respectively. Furthermore, the book reproduces cards that were introduced as a sort of addendum to the originals decades after the original set of 55, as well as the 32 card subset "Visions: New and Original". Top this off with several other pieces of art from various and sundry independent projects, including two promo cards for the Midwest Non-Sport Trading Card Show and Philly Non-Sports Card Show, and the set is complete, right?

Well, not quite. We are also treated to many of the original sketches, as well as a set of more-or-less censored cards that Topps contemplated releasing when the public outcry over the graphic nature of the originals died down. They never did release them.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the 4 bonus trading cards wrapped in cellophane at the back of the book. Mine will remain, for the foreseeable future, unopened.

Now, this could have been just another art-catalog containing relevant historical notes (the references to 50's monster movies and the unspoken implications about cold-war national angst are intriguing in and of themselves) and cute remembrances. At first, I thought that this is what I bought - and I'm fine with that. Like I said, I'm an unapologetic fanboy, so I knew I'd received my money's worth.

Then I looked a little more carefully. Maybe "looked" isn't the word. I felt something different. Not some soft emotional moving of the heart. Not the force. No, something physically felt different.

Then it dawned on me: The dust cover is made out of the same material used to wrap up collectors' cards with a stick of already-stale-in-the-package bubblegum, the gum that turned into a powdered avalanche once you bit into it, only saved from dessication by the saliva that coursed out from under your tongue. Ah, the memories! Yum, yum, bubblegum!

So I wondered what every self-respecting book lover wonders once they've played with the dust jacket: "What's under the hood?" I carefully removed the front of the dust cover and found, printed on the hardbound cover, you guessed it, a rectangular piece of that detestable delectable sugar slab. Then I flipped to the back cover and found, printed on the back, that same piece of gum shattered into 7 mummified pieces, just the way it always seemed to come out of the wrapper. I would have given extra credit if they could have somehow scented the book with that bubblegum odor, but despite that, I say: "Nostalgia Score = Perfect!"

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