Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Finally, Isis gets a bubblegum card
If this blog unexpectedly goes dark, you can assume I'm locked up in a secret CIA prison somewhere, being waterboarded for the sake of my "art."
I fear the google-searching I did to gather data for the back of my latest non-sports custom card may have piqued the interest of Homeland Security.
Other than a potential Isis recruit, who else would be trying to find out how many air miles separate New York and Al-Raqqah and photos of Isis fighters?
Just me, I guess, trying to make my "update" to the 1956 Topps Flags of the World set as accurate as possible.
The Flags set was a childhood favorite. Besides the bold colors of the banners, the background art had a lot of appeal to a kid. There were Commie soldiers, Vikings, an octopus, a Canadian Mountie, an erupting volcano and sports action such as soccer, bobsledding and skiing. What's not to like?
The 80 cards in the 1956 set (one of the last from Topps in the 2-5/8" x 3-3/4" format) covered much of the world, but there were some countries omitted, from Kenya and Uganda in darkest Africa to Bermuda and the Bahamas in our part of the world.
I looked at the feasibility of creating some Flags customs a year or so ago, but was discouraged because my lack of true artistic ability would have required me to work with background art that appeared on existing cards and because my Photoshop skills are not advanced enough to convert a flat picture of a flag to a flapping banner as shown on the cards.
A recent image search for the Isis flag unexpectedly turned up a suitably waving version of the terrorists' dreaded ensign. (There are some funny vulgar parodies of the flag to be found, as well.)
It then occurred to me that Topps' FOTW card for Syria was perfectly suited for conversion to an Isis card. The Topps card already featured a sword-waving Arab and a Mideastern backdrop.
I merely had to swap out the flags and convert the figure's burnoose to the preferred Isis basic black, adding a face cloth. I did take the liberty of keeping a bit of bling on the lungi and the colored sash. Covering them over would have given the figure a pretty flat look.
Providing the translations on the back of the card was much more of a challenge than I anticipated. There are no -- at least I couldn't find them -- web sites that offer a simple phonetic translation from English to Arabic. My solution was to use a site that gave an aural translation of English words. I had to use my imagination to come up with written versions of the spoken form, and even though I listened to them half a dozen times or more, I'm sure my interpretations horribly butcher the actual words.
On a more technical note, I could not find a font that very closely replicated that used by Topps for the word balloons on the backs in 1956. I cam close enough that I don't think many will notice.
On that topic, fortunately for me I was able to cut and paste the front font to make "ISIS" out of "SYRIA". Finding a close match to the country-name font would have entailed a long search.
Some of the stats on backs had to be my interpretation of estimates by international news sources for the amount of territory under Isis control and the population. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the "official" monetary unit of Isis and its nominal conversion rate were easily available.
For reasons already spelled out, I'm pretty sure this will be my one and only FOTW custom card. You never know, though, the right piece of art may drop into my lap someday.