15 more Defective cards show up
By Mark Voger
Defective Comics Trading Cards
I swear I drew ’em.
In the three decades since I illustrated 500 Sketch Cards to be inserted into packs of Defective Comics Trading Cards (1993), only two had turned up in the Sketch Card community. Why was the number so low? Don’t ask me. But there’s breaking news on this front.
Fifteen more cards have materialized since January, suddenly bumping the total to 17. The first to note this was Sketch Card expert/collector Chris Mixer in his blog “Original Art That Fits in Your Pocket.” Click HERE to read Chris’s post of March 17, 2023 titled “It’s Been 29 Years … Urban Legend Confirmed.”
I’m very grateful that Chris apprised the community of this development. But being a dinosaur, I didn’t find out about his post until four months later. (I’m not a very “plugged in” kinda guy.) Maybe I still wouldn’t know, if not for the following message from a gentleman in Ontario named Brian Schmolling, which he sent on June 23:
“I recently learned about your story and it inspired me to start collecting your Sketch Cards,” Brian wrote. “I reached out to an eBayer who had 2 boxes of Defective Comics (sets) for sale, on the off-chance that he might have a Sketch Card for sale. I almost p***ed myself when he told me he had 4. Sadly, not the very first one. I immediately made a deal and bought all 4, currently awaiting delivery. He was also the seller of the Sketch Cards on eBay, twice, earlier this year. I’m excited about your cards because I previously owned an Art de Bart (from SkyBox’s 1993 ‘Simpsons’ series), not realizing your sketches were the very first. I think that’s why I’m drawn to them. From the ones you have posted for the public, I absolutely love them.”
A man of impeccable taste.
I messaged Brian back, wondering aloud which four Sketch Cards the dealer had; how he got ’em; and what Brian paid for ’em. (I added that the last question was Brian’s private business. I only hoped he didn’t pay too much.) Brian spilled the beans:
“Good evening,” he wrote. “There have officially been 10 (Defective Comics) Sketch Cards (including mine) that sold on eBay. Mine was a private eBay sale for $360. The first 3 were “Buy It Now” (BIN) for $50 each, and the last 3 were auctioned. They were all sold by the same eBay merchant. I asked him about amassing them. I’ll also send his answer, in pic form, to you. I planned on buying some boxes (of Defective packs) to rip them to look for Sketch Cards, but I saw the odds are 1:4320, lol. Might just be cheaper to see if any more pop up. I’m betting there are far fewer left in existence than the 500. All cards in the early ’90s were mass-produced, and because the market for cards like that was vastly smaller than for sports cards, I imagine a lot were thrown out or are now in a dusty attic somewhere.”
So Brian indeed asked the eBay dealer how he came across so many of the Defective Comics Sketch Cards, and as you can see above, he replied: “We broke (opened) a lot of cases of closeouts through the years! On many, we only break cases/boxes as some of the inserts sell.”
Brian also furnished me with some informative screen shots …
Above are the three cards initially sold at a “Buy It Now” price of $49.99 each.
Above are three cards that were auctioned to the highest bidder rather than offered BIN. These cards sold for considerably higher, with one nabbing $206.27 (though I know of someone who bought a single card for more than 10 times that amount).
Above are the ones Brian purchased. I told him I got misty-eyed when I saw the “Uncle Fester is God” card (177/500). It was like seeing an old friend after 30 years. Yes, I took the trouble to Xerox the 500 cards before shipping them to Active Marketing for pack-insertion. (It’s one of many “receipts” I have supporting my claim to have introduced the Sketch Card in 1993.) But a Xerox is nothing like a photo of the real thing, which still has a warmth to it.
I recalled that the card showing Defective’s cartoon mascot Spikey singing a line from the “Mickey Mouse Club” theme song was the penultimate Sketch Card, #499 out of 500. Those “smear” marks on it were mine. It could only smear like that when the ink was fresh. So 30 years later, I apologized for being so sloppy. (What can I say? I was rushed and exhausted.)
Since our intial contact, Brian bought five more. They are above. (Yeah, some of the 500 Sketch Cards were more clever than others.)
BRUCE WAYNE MOMENT
Brian’s origin story as a hobbyist — his “Bruce Wayne Moment” — was triggered by an instance of blind luck.
“My original interest in Sketch Cards is an extension of my interest in rare collectibles,” wrote Brian, 42, who was born in Toronto and now resides about an hour outside of the Greater Toronto Area.
“That passion started in the early ’90s, when I pulled the now infamous Stanley Cup Hologram from a $7 Pro Set box of cards, which is numbered out of 5,000. My Sketch Card interest specifically started with SkyBox’s Art de Bart Sketch Cards hand-drawn by Matt Groening. I only became aware of them through a ‘rare card’ search on eBay about a decade ago. They rarely come up for sale, and I waited until it was my turn to acquire one.
“Fast forward to 2023. I was doing a Google search for Art de Bart Sketch Cards, and stumbled upon an article about the very first Sketch Card, which could be pulled from a Defective Comics (pack). I did some more research and naturally went to eBay to purchase one. That’s when I discovered that these cards are next to impossible to find, as only 10 have sold publicly on Ebay in the last 30 years, all in 2023, if we believe the eBay ‘sold records’ to be accurate, and me, owning four of those 10 sold. My interest in this set is the story behind them, which has only broken in the last few years and is still highly unknown.”
Amen. If you’re interested in my still “highly unknown” story, HERE is my post explaining all. Also, HERE is a pdf of my article in Back Issue #120 (June 2020) subtitled “The Secret Origin of the Sketch Card,” which was my first public comment on Defective Comics Trading Cards since they were introduced in 1993. (I was busy.)
Brian plans to have his Defective Sketch Cards graded, one by BGS (Beckett Grading Services) and the rest by PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator). I hope these organizations read up on the Defective history, or how will they know what they’re worth?
Nuts, I sound like Ron Popeil. It’s just that I’m psyched that more cards have turned up. Give me my moment. Don’t hate, con-grat-u-late.
More as it happens …