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.


  1. Sorry Bob this is really in bad taste

  2. Seriously, why would you even figure out what "behead", "murder" and "rape" translates to. This is awful taste. PSA killed your thread in this one and recommend you do the same here. Would you do a Nazi Germany card and post it here? I doubt it. Use you skills for the betterment of the community, no producing this garbage. Imagine how many followers you are going to lose with this crap. I hope it was a temporary lack of judgment as you are much more capable.

    1. Those words are what comes to mind when I think of Isis. I see my card as the latest in a long hobby tradition of confronting our enemies and teaching America's kids about them. In the years leading up to World War II, the bubblegum companies made many cards depicting Hitler, Nazis, Japanese atrocities, etc. In 1956 Topps pictured the swastika on its Adventure card of Max Schmeling. Also in 1956 Topps included cards of our Cold War enemies Russia and Red China. As George Santayana said in 1905, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." My Isis card is meant to help insure we don't forget this stain on 21st Century human civilization.

  3. To me, although the subject matter is abhorrent, this card completely captures the offensiveness of the early trading cards for "Horrors of War" and other wartime sets. I think the fact it IS offensive is exactly what is right about the card. 50 years from now, no one would think twice about this card. However, right now, it is very fresh. ISIS = modern-day Nazis.

  4. What is abhorrent, in bad taste and "crap" is what ISIS does. Keeping a spotlight on that abomination does not offend me. If it does you, do not let the door hit you on the way out and take you political correctness with you

  5. Well done, Bob, and I too think this card captures the spirit of the set and hobby around this topic/period.

    I'm uncertain why some "special snowflakes" were so horribly offended that at least one of them ran behind Jackie's skirt pleading for her intervention?

    Do they think this somehow glorifies the Islamic State? Makes light of their atrocities? Represents "Islamophobia"?

    Regardless, such is the culture these days. If you don't like what someone says, then deem it as hate speech and lobby to get it banned from public discourse. Sad.

    Keep up the great work, Bob, I always enjoy seeing your creations!


Your comments, criticism, additional information, questions, etc., are welcome . . . as long as they are germane to the original topic. All comments are moderated before they are allowed to appear and spam comments are deleted before they ever appear. No "Anonymous User" comments are allowed.