Friday, January 1, 2010

A 1971-style Carl Weathers custom card

I just noticed this will be my 100th blog posting for 2010. That's not as productive as I would have liked to have been, and falls short of the 123 posts I had in just over half a year in 2009 when I began. However, with my "day job" and my contributor's work on the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, there never seems to be enough time to work on my custom cards or to share the results here with you.

I'm pretty proud of the principal topic for this entry, as it represents another new format in my expanding opus of custom cards done in classic styles . . . in this case, 1971 Topps football. 

As I mentioned last time, after years of searching for photos of actor Carl Weathers in his earlier incarnation as a college and professional football player, I found three different, all very suitable, photos in just one Google-search.

The photo on which my custom card is based likely originated with the Topps photographer who shot the other Raiders who appeared in the 1971 set. The format (full-length pose) and background of the Weathers photo are consistent with most of those that were actually used.

The photo I found was black-and-white. I can't tell whether the Topps Raiders cards started out as b/w pix; I doubt it. I can't imagine anybody shooting for Topps, or hoping to sell photos to them, was working in black-and-white at that time. If they were, I know the ease with which I was able to colorize the black-and-white image with Photoshop would have seemed like magic to the bubblegum company's airbrush artists of four decades ago.

Besides the colorizing, I had to do a bit of pixel wrangling to eliminate the red "watermark" on the photo, but that, too, was made easy by Photoshop.

That's not to say that producing my 1971-style card was a piece of cake. There were other challenges.

Most daunting was the need to produce the volume of back copy required for the player biography. While much has been written about Carl Weathers' acting career, specific details of his football playing days, especially statistics, proved extremely hard to come by. 

Signed as a free agent in 1970, Weathers was, according to the Raiders media guide for 1971, "active for" seven games in 1970 as a linebacker and on special teams. If he had any stats in those areas, they eluded me.

I opted to go with an "INTERCEPTION RECORD" stats box at the bottom on back anyway, largely because I just didn't have enough other information to write two or three more sentences  about his career to that point.

As it is, my back copy runs to 147 words. I'm used to trying to squeeze a lifetime into 80-90 words on my 1955 All-American style cards, so writing "long" was a real change of pace for me.

Also, more than usual, recreating the work of the Topps graphic artists in the choice of fonts on back was a challenge. I had to use eight different fonts from four "families" to closely replicate the originals. And some of those aren't as exact a match as I'm used to being able to make, but I doubt that anybody would notice if I hadn't mentioned it.

Finding the cartoon for the back wasn't too hard, I correctly guessed that the back of an O.J. Simpson card would have a mention of his acting aspirations, and I found it on his 1970 rookie card.

That's really all I can tell you about the process of creating this 1971-style Carl Weathers card.

I'm expecting to receive any day now a 1972 O-Pee-Chee football card that will provide the template for my third Weathers' card. That will probably be the subject of my first post of 2011.

I do envision one special challenge in creating my first Canadian-style card, though. The backs of the '72 OPC are in both English and French. I suppose I'll wind up using an internet translation program, but I'm a bit skeptical of their ability to transform football idiom into something that a native French speaker wouldn't find laughable.  

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