What a fabulous book! There are 224 glorious pages dedicated to Topps’ Mars Attacks and the 50th anniversary of this fan-favorite set. It starts with a forward by Len Brown, one of the co-creators of this 1962 set and ends with an afterward by Zina Saunders, daughter of Norm Saunders who did all of the paintings.
On page 11, we see the front of the original wax wrapper and the back is shown on page 224. In between, the 55 original cards are shown both front and back. There are very interesting facts under each picture and you will learn things you never knew before (at least I did). Did you see the 1996 Mars Attacks movie from Tim Burton? The opening scene showing burning cattle taken from card #22 (page 55) was translated for the screen by Burton.
Pages 123-133 show the 11 paintings by Herb Trimpe and Earl Norem added to the reprint of the 55 cards issued as Mars Attacks Archives in 1994. For Non-Sport Update’s Vol. 5 #4 (July/Aug 1994), we were fortunate to use Norems’s painting for card #62 on our cover. This card is shown on page 129 and has always been one of my favorite covers. There was also a 32-card subset titled Visions: New and Original and these cards are shown on pages 134-166, starting with a card by Zina Saunders. On page 142, there is a card by Zina and it includes a self-portrait of herself. Another great card by Zina is illustrated on page 159. It shows a Martian attacking President John F. Kennedy.
Pages 167-181 illustrate a variety of Mars Attacks items. Many of these items are highlighted in the current Aug/Sep ’12 (Vol. 23 #4) issue of Non-Sport Update. This issue is dedicated to the 50th anniversary of Mars Attacks and almost all of the articles are Mars Attacks based. In the Abrams book, page 167 shows the artwork used for the second cover of Non-Sport Update (January 1991) painted by Jay Lynch, long-time freelance Topps’ artist. The same artwork was later used for a 1994 homage to Mars Attacks card distributed by Non-Sport Update at various distributer conventions, to subscribers, as a magazine insert and an autographed by Jay Lynch card was sent to distributers who ordered a certain amount of copies. In all, there were eight varieties and Non-Sport Update is currently selling a find of uncut sheets. Look closely at the backwards writing on the door and you will see it says “Toser’s.” It took Jay a long time to paint the cover and he used the excuse of how many pieces of glass there were. I asked who told him to break the window into so many pieces?!
Another Mars Attacks piece instigated by Non-Sport Update appears on pages 178 and 179. Needing a card to be distributed both at the Philly Non-Sports Card Show and the Midwest Non-Sport Card Trading Show, we asked Zina and Jay if they would design cards for us. Using his incredible genius, Jay devised a way for two cards to fit together as a puzzle no matter if the cards were placed side-by-side or top and bottom. The cards show Jay, Zina and the original painter of the series, Norm Saunders. They were painted by both Zina and Jay.
Beginning on page 182 is a section called Behind the Scenes and More. Here you will see rough sketches through page 201. Before the set was issued as Mars Attacks, it was test-marketed as Attack From Space. Wrappers and boxes for this are shown on pages 202-205, followed by wrappers and boxes for Mars Attacks on 206-208. Pages 209-221 show the tamed-down, unpublished set of 13 cards distributed by Rosem Enterprises in 1984.
And last but not least, there are four exclusive bonus cards included with the book. Again, this is a fabulous book. If there is one fault, it’s the pages with a green background and black type on top which is difficult to read. This is a small annoyance with everything else being put together so nicely.
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