Saturday, December 20, 2014

Monitor, Virginia added to Rails and Sails customs

Last time I gave you the background of my childhood fascination with the Civil War that has, half a century later, spurred my desire to create a couple of cards for my custom additions to the venerable 1955 Topps Rails and Sails bubblegum card issue. 

Today I show you those results and offer a few notes about the creation process.

Unlike some subjects I've tackled in my sports and non-sports custom card work, there was no shortage of pictures among which to choose images for my cards of the U.S.S. Monitor and the C.S.S. Virginia. I had plenty to work with in choosing art that would fit my interpretation of what the Topps artists might have done in 1955.

For my Monitor card, I used box art from a 1:144 plastic model kit by the French company Battle Axe. I'm unsure of the vintage, but believe it is rather recent. Model kit box art was also the source for my Virginia. In this  case, it was from a 1950s Pyro kit inaccurately labeled "The Monitor And The Merrimac". 

There have been plenty of paintings of both ships, separately and together, over the past 150 years, but I believe the model kit box art comes closest to the style set by Topps artists in the 1955 card set.

Perhaps the biggest challenge in creating these cards was trying to present the history of each ship in about 90 words on the cards' backs, while trying to stay true to the tone that Topps' writers achieved 60 years ago when writing for their youthful target audience.

While I am in a Civil War "mood," one of my next non-sports custom card creations will be an addition to the iconic 1962 Topps Civil War News issue. It may not be the very next card I make, but it will be featured in this blog soon enough. 

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