Thursday, September 9, 2021

Junior WOAH (this is not an acronym)

 My new BFF Greg sent me a new batch of cards.
Just like that.
Because I'm a pretty cool guy

And also because we're both pretty excited to be able to talk about baseball cards in French (Matt: I still love you)

Anyway, he surprised me with that beauty:

These are 2006 Konami Griffeys, and they are pretty, pretty rare. Especially that refractor one. From what I understand, there are 2 parallels for 30 athletes (vs a 150 card base set). Foil, and that kind of refractor-like superfoil. He actually pulled those from a box he busted a while back, and thought they'd suit my collection best. 

I can't even find a listing for that refractor. 

But the base card sells for 50-80$, so I can only imagine.

Not that I'm in that friendship for the money, mind you (and I'll never sell it anyway), but it just shows that blogging generosity knows no borders !

TJ, I hope you're impressed !

That blanket I threw on my couch doesn't do that beauty justice, but I absolutely love that box topper.

I found the perfect place for it

There were more cards that I really liked, but I figured I'd do a special Junior in Papoy land. Thanks for reading !

Monday, August 30, 2021

Jim Thorpe coloring book

 Today, I thought I'd mix it up a little and talk about my Jim Thorpe project.

As you may know, I signed a book deal (well, graphic novel, actually) with a major publisher in France to write about an American sports figure. I wanted to write about baseball, but they told me it was too small a market in France, so I went fishing for football ideas, and some of you directed me towards Jim Thorpe.

Let's make a long story short: his life in general and collegiate in particular is perfect for a book subject, and the project was accepted.

Basically, here's how it works:

I write the story with my own words (which is always better) after having read a ton of material on the subject. I'm not writing a biography, which means I take certain liberties with facts. Not too many, because I want the spirit of things to be right. But for example, for the sake of rythm, I put two years of school (1907 and 1908) into one. I couldn't have 2 super intendants during that span, so I put Friedman in there one year ahead. It's really just a question of continuity. But major historical dates aren't moved around (the Harvard and Army games, for example, in 1911 and 1912). It's a lot of work to find an angle that makes for an entertaining story without piling up clichés. But his relationship with Pop Warner and the anti-native american racism is golden material for what I had in mind.

Unlike a novel, I have a space constraint. I can't have more than a 90 page graphic novel. Which makes it all the more challenging rythm wise. You don't want to rush the end just because you're running out of pages. Right now, I've written 75 pages out of 90. And I still have to write about the Olympics and the Army game. Those will be the toughest 15 pages of the album to write ! Which explains why I've been procrastinating for 3 months (also because the artist in charge of drawing the album is extremely slow)

Anyway, here's the process: there's someone (his name is Michalak) who draws a storyboard after making sense of what I wrote. He uses the dialogues, but besides that, he's free to interpret any way he wants. He's the eye of the camera and choses the angles, the staging. I just give directions, saying where the page should end ideally, but that's it. Some writers will tell the artist what's in each panel, each box, but not me. I'm really not good at visualizing things !

This is page number 2. Michalak is usually able to draw one storyboard per day. Usually, storyboards have way less details. But he's a little crazy. We go back and forth to make sure we get the scene right, and once it's final, we send it to the artist.

Another artist (her name is Jeanne Chapelle) then inks those pages. 

This should take a day or two, but the process is a bit longer with her. But hey, as long as the result is great, we can wait a little...

Finally, there's Melissa who adds color. It's always a delicate part of the story. You don't want the colors to be too dark, or not subtle enough. I really love what she's done.

There, now you know everything !

It's a lot of work, but it's also a lot of fun, and it's amazing to work with very talented people (the one helping me write is one of the best comic book writers of the past 20 years). I'm really hoping for a 2022 release. And who knows, maybe it'll be picked up by an American publisher so you can understand what's in those bubbles !

Sunday, August 22, 2021

French Connection

 Hey everybody !

I miss you all.

And Topps losing its licence has me wanting to embrace the little things in life, because nothing lasts forever. Or not for more than 70 years

So I'll try to post a little more often here.

For the past 2 or 3 years, I hardly had anything to show, and my interest in cards waned (I suppose it's the other way around). As the pandemic roared and card prices soared, I lost interest completely (I did check my boxes to see if I was rich. Apparently, not just yet)

I did get a Comc order in July (that was checked out early December) and I'm waiting for a baseballcardstore order from early july, so all isn't stale. But I haven't opened a pack of cards since forever.

But you know what ? I met someone. Yeah, most stories start that way

He's sweet even though he collects Derek Jeter cards and has the same view about the hobby as me. Plus, he's French and loves bikes

Oh Boy.

We started talking, we quickly connected, I'll show you mine if you show me yours and we took it to the next level: a bonafide trade.

I don't think you guys realize how it is to collect cards in France: nobody cares. Especially baseball. I have never shown my collection to anyone, it's very frustrating. What's the point in having a 1960 Mantle if you can't show it off ?

Anyway, here's what I got !

On card stadium club auto ! Yay ! Great picture as always (oh and sorry about the photo qualities, apparently I need to clean my lens). He was included in the trade that sent Donaldson to Cleveland. A 29 year old Rookie who won't get me rich either, but very nice card anyway

Needless to say, those are my first 2021 cards. No radical changes in the SC design, but then again, that's not why we love that set (then again, I love the changes between the 93, 94 and 95 sets)

My other team being the Mets (yeah, I know...), he sent me another batch

What's not to love about those cards ? All cards that I needed. Those horizontal Flair showcase are actually the first ones I see.

More shiny needs ! I miss Pillar...

2021 Archives !
This is probably also my first 2020 A&G. I have a lot of catching up to do

Same thing for 2021 flagship. I will not pay $150 for a box of series 1 Topps. This simply won't happen.

Vladdy ! So, MVP or not MVP ? I guess they'll have to sort out that Ohtani MVP vs Cy Young thingy

And for good measure, he even added a Maple Leafs relic

Greg (that's his name) has an amazing Jeter collection, it's always great to follow him on Instagram or for him to show me his prized (and non graded) pieces.

And even though I have a new friend, I'm not forgetting about you all.

Because, again, seriously, I miss you

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Checking in

 Hey everyone !

I've been staying away from blogging and reading blogs (for a lot of various reasons mainsly connected to life, I suppose), but I still miss you all (you know who you are) and hope you're doing good and ready to tacle a brand new year ! (yay)

I subscribe to a digital magazine service, and was reading the latest Beckett issues, and they actually made me mad. Because the content is really poor, for one, but also because of the insane prices that are advertised in it. It's 96 all over again. Beckett used to bring me joy....

I'm a little bummed, here in France. I used to enjoy getting a few boxes a year, a hanger pack here and there, some 7 or 8 pack boxes and something nice for our year long box breaks with Matt and Brian. I'd buy on Ebay trade fodder to make my trading partners happy, and all was well.

But now, I'm priced out.
I traditionaly congratulate myself on a job well done in December at the book store with a start of the year binge, but there's really nothing I can buy, and I refuse to pay over $100 for a box of flagship, or $3 packs in blaster boxes. It's close to x2 compared to a couple of years ago. Even old 90s boxes with nothing much to be found in them are twice as expensive as before (and basketball is a real joke).

 Prices on Comc seem stable enough. I actually bought some cards yesterday. ETA is May. That's 5 months from now, for those counting. The good news is that I'll have completely forgotten ordering cards by then and they'll come as a total surprise.


I suppose flea markets and card shows are a no-no right now in the US, but I wonder if there'll be a revival there too ? 

Anyway, I was wondering how everybody was living this newfound popularity ? Is there excitement ? Resentment ? Impatience ? Are you selling your collection and cashing in ? (not really the blogging mentality, but who knows?) Has it affected trading ?

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Overseas confinement

During those weird and somewhat scary times, I figured I'd check in with everybody ! (hi !)

As most of you know, I live in France. And our country's been put in lockdown since March 17th. 1/3 of French people work from home, 1/3 go to work and 1/3 are officially at home with nothing to do. That is my case, because as you know, I work in a bookstore, and all non essential businesses are shut down.

Which means I'm basically paid to stay home and read or play video games, make music, write or watch tv (I'm watching the Ken Burns documentary on baseball, actually. Haven't seen it in 25 years). It may sound like a nice vacation, but the anxiety is high and lockdown means no going out. You're allowed 1hour per day to walk your dog or exercise a little (no more than 900 yards from your place), and buying food is a nightmare. No masks and no testing have been made widely available yet, so until then, there won't be much moving forward.

It was announced yesterday that we were to stay put until May 11. We have no idea what will happen after that. They say schools will reopen, but there's really no logic in that. I'm pretty sure I'll start working again, though, as the bookstore doesn't hold that many customers, and safety instructions can easily be followed (social distancing, masks, soap etc.). The year promises to be real rough, business-wise, because things won't be back to normal before at least a year. And that's hoping there isn't a second wave coming our way before there's a vaccine available.

My thoughts go out to Riccardo, as Italy has been really severely hit, and of course to all my American friends who might suffer from an ailing and downgraded Health care system. My advice is to not take it lightly. It's only a 0.5% death toll, but when everybody is contaminated, it adds up to huge numbers. I have many friends in my surroundings who have had it. More often than not, it's a real bad two week cold, but I also know a couple who have had to go to intensive care.

I miss sports, of course, and baseball most of all (I'll probably need to pick up MLB the show 20 !), but it's really all a question of being patient.

I took the time to downsize my card collection, and that also felt good. It's always a good thing to stay focused !

I hope you're all safe and looking after the elderly and the weaker ones.


Sunday, August 25, 2019

Classic 4 sports

The nice thing about holidays is that I have time on my hand.
The problem about holidays, is that I have time on my hand and end up checking Ebay listings and cards on Comc. My new fad (do people still say fad in 2019?) is to buy huge 3000 count lots and have fun with that. I bought some basketball and some football like that and it was pretty cool. I'm staing away from baseball cards though because I don't feel like sorting 89 Donruss for the rest of my life. Plus, commons are nice, but they get boring once you have 50 000 of them.

Anyway, I spent some time looking at cards from the 90s (as always)and figured I might as well check other sports. I collected basketball heavily until 95, so I have no idea what happened after that, and football and hockey for a very short period, around 93-94. Plenty of catching up to do. A certain MJ and very low print runs make late 90s basketball cards impossible to collect, but football and hockey are very affordable.

Let's check out those cards !

Here's an iconic card I've wanted for a while. This copy is in very poor condition, but it's ok and still nice to look at. Plus, it was $5 and usually bad condition cards go for $10. Felt like a bargain.

Just cards I like. Merv Rettenmund is a perfect name.

 I had a sheet just like that one 25 years ago, that I got at Mc Donald's. I remember there were regional issues, I think this is the national one. I might actually still have it somewhere. I don't always make the smartest of purchases.

 Some Carters I was missing. For some reason, I love those You crash the game cards, and those Gold medallions are awesome.

Cruz Jr, Carter and Olerud are my main Blue Jays collections. Cruz Jr because his cards are cheap, even the rarer ones, and he was in a bunch of insert sets from the late 90s. The Flair Showcase for example was seeded one per box. And it's shiny and all pretty.

More PC, with a nice Andruw die-cut, and I've always loved those Bowman previews.

Those remind me of maybe my favorite insert of all time : Slideshow. So I grabbed another cheap one ($1). I'll pick one from time to time to try and complete the set.

Aaaaaaaah. man I love those cards. All acetate, and that Turbo Charged looks amazing. I already had the Mo Vaughn Heading for the hall, so I added another player nobody likes. I'm kind of a cheapstake.

When it's not acetate, it's die-cut ! The Lumber one is kind of silly. There's felt on that Leagues of the nation card, and Deion Sanders on the other side.

 More Die Cut ! I got that A-Rod hitting machines for $2.75, which is a really good price for that set. And 94 Hot gloves isn't as impressive as 96, but it's much, much cheaper...

More inserts I love ! Photo Gallery is a great insert set , I didn't know about Stadium Club Royal court until I saw that very, very nice Piazza, Picture Perfect is also a favorite of mine, and 98 statistical standouts isn't as nice as 96, but I wanted to see one in person.

Now, for something completely different : vintage hockey ! I figured I might as well start vaguely collecting Maple Leafs cards. This is a great design, btw.

I picked up what looked like interesting and fun basketball inserts. I'm not disappointed !

Oops, it's all blurry. But still one of my favorite sets of all time. The golden age of Upper Deck holograms !

I could've picked up sooooo many interesting football cards, but I had to limit myself. But man, just when I thought I'd seen everything there was to see from the 90s, another door opens. Fun times lay ahead !

Monday, June 17, 2019

France and Italy friends again !

Things have been complicated between France and Italy because of, to be precise. We beat them in the World Cup in 98, then in the European Cup finals in 2 000, they beat us in the World Cup Finals in 2006...lots of bad blood ! (aaaah, the joys of sports having an impact on people in the real world. You're supposed to root for a team, not hate the people who root for the others)

Riccardo, from Italian Completist, reached out because we hadn't traded in a while, and because fellow Europeans should stick together when it comes to card collecting ! His approach to collecting is very similar to mine : we just like accumulating cards, maybe because they're so difficult to get here at a decent price, which makes even the slightest 88 Donruss pack enjoyable to rip.

He already sent me a bunch of cards I needed for my collection, but he decided to take it one step further by sending a huge 550 count box my way with a little bit of everything. And I absolutely love a little bit of everything. I told him the sets and years I was looking for, and he complied.

Needless to say, it's always a treat for me to be able to sort that kind of thoughtful box. It cost him $15 to send it accross the border. It would've been 4 times that for an American. That of course is part of the problem for us, but I've been rambling long enough about that for the past 5 years.

The photos don't really do this lot justice, but I simply couldn't scan everything ! Plenty of PC here, with a healthy stack of Blue Jays. That SI Griffey is one of my favorite base cards of his.

My collection really revolves around Upper Deck. Those are the base sets I've been pursuing the most. So it's nice to add some other brands from my beloved 90s . Most early Bowman and Topps Heritage for example are completely absent from my collection, except for some Blue Jays cards. SO it's always nice to see some new ones. 2007 A&G for example was pretty cool. Riccardo must've scored a lot of Ultra Gold medaillions, as he sent me a nice stack of doubles.

More Ultra, some Flair, some Leaf (I've always had a soft spot for Leaf) and even a dozen awesome oddballs !

Thanks a lot Riccardo, it's a great idea you had getting that European connexion going full swing. It helps remind us that even though it's not that simple (well it is, but you just need to overpay) to collect from overseas, the blogging community knows no boundaries and there's generosity everywhere.