Thursday, October 8, 2015

Pope's visit inspires Flags of the World custom

As a kid I collected the 1956 Topps Flags of the World set, and as an adult I built the set again (and still have it).

Still, when I began to notice the Vatican flag all over television during Pope Francis' visit to the U.S. in late September, I had to get out my card set to see whether the Vatican flag had been part of the original Topps set.

It wasn't. So I made one.

If you're a regular reader of the blog, you probably saw my two earlier Flags of the World custom cards: Isis (Aug. 25) and Iran (Sept. 18). Those were more political statements in the guise of bubblegum cards, than an updating in the spirit of the old Topps set.

My Vatican flag card is the latter.

It could have easily been part of the Topps Flags issue back in 1956. And, as is my usual practice with my custom cards, my Vatican card was done in a retro mode as if it HAD been issued in 1956. (As a custom card maker I  try to avoid anachronism in my creations.)

In that regard, I tried to keep my card back as true to the original format as possible, with the "stats" on back reflecting the reality of 1956.

Those of my generation may find familiar the youngster giving the language lesson in the "How They Say" panel at bottom.

Did you recognize Speck the Altar Boy? Speck was a newspaper cartoon syndicated between 1953-79. The cartoon was originally created by Tut Le Blanc, 1953-54, then taken over by Margaret Ahern in 1955.

I suspect Speck the Altar Boy went into decline after the horrific crimes of mass murderer Richard Speck came to light in Chicago in 1966. If that didn't put a cloud over the cartoon, the surfacing of decades of clerical pedophilia and its cover-up, apocryphally linked to altar boys, made a cartoon about an altar boy uncomfortable subject matter.

(If you want to reminisce about Speck's glory days, here's a link to a 1960 compilation of the cartoons: Speck the Altar Boy ).

I've got a handful of other ideas for Flags of the World custom cards that Topps missed in 1956. The Topps set had 88 cards at a time when the United Nations had 80 members. Perhaps in the coming months I'll work up at least a handful more.

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