Wednesday, August 13, 2014

TV Westerns newest "cards that never were"

I really wasn't looking for any new custom card creation projects.

My to-do list of vintage baseball and football card homages will already outlive me. Maybe the sheer size of my files of future fantasy cards has caused me lately to feel a little up in the air about which project to tackle next.

The recent death of James Garner has pushed me in a new direction.

As a seven-year-old buying packs of TV Western cards I never  gave up hope of finding cards from my favorite Western -- Maverick. There was no checklist issued with that set, so with the eternal optimism of youth I kept hoping to see Brother Bret and Brother Bart peeking out from beneath the bubblegum.

However, when nobody in the neighborhood ever found a card numbered above 71 -- what an unusual number for a Topps card set in that era! -- and Maverick, nor several others of our favorite shows, were not to be found, we figured "there's always next year."

However, like some of the shows that were featured, there was no "next year" for the TV Westerns card set.

The issue featured between three and 15 cards each (averaging half a dozen) for 11 television programs. While many of the TV shows were broadcast in black-and-white, all of the TV Westerns cards were in color, even if some were only colorized.

Truth be told, of the 11 shows, I only regularly watched four: Gunsmoke, Have Gun Will Travel, Wagon Train and Wanted: Dead or Alive. Today, 55 years later, I have little or no recollection of the other seven: Trackdown, Yancy Derringer, Union Pacific, The Restless Gun, Boots & Saddles, The Californian, and, Tales of Wells Fargo.

As I said, Garner's passing got me thinking about TV Westerns; the shows and the bubblegum cards.

I determined that, much as I have done for 10+ years creating "cards that never were,"  in vintage baseball and football formats, I could fill in some of the gaps left by Topps.

Just as is often the case with my baseball and football custom cards, the process of researching, photo gathering and piecing together the elements has proved educational, challenging and rewarding. I especially enjoy writing the backs, attempting to recreate the tone of the original Topps cards.

Fortunately, I still own a complete set of the 1958 Topps TV Western cards, so I was able to scan the real thing to make  front and back templates for my Maverick cards. 

Those tools will also allow me to rather easily expand my "Second Series" TV Western customs to include more shows that Topps missed. I've identified five other childhood favorite shows upon which I will base two or three cards. Be sure to check in on this blog occasionally to see what's coming down the pike. If you were a fan of these great old shows in the 1950s and 1960s, or whether you only know them from reruns that continue to this day, I think you'll like where this is going.

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