Sunday, April 5, 2009

1977 Bob Parker "More Baseball Cartoons" #5, Doug Flynn

Pro artist Bob Parker, known in baseball circles for cartoons he drew for classic Topps card backs, based several sets in the 70s and 80s on his own player drawings. This 1977 issue profiles a mix of players, 24 in all, spanning a number of baseball eras. The #5 features Doug Flynn, a decent shortstop best known as part of CIN's trade for Tom Seaver.

Like most of Parker’s other sets, "More Baseball Cartoons" comes on thin, over-sized card stock without finishing gloss and I assume he printed them for sale direct to collectors. The backs are blank, so what you see here is what you get.

Parker's art style evokes the second half of Goudey's 1938 Big League Gum, with batting and fielding poses encircling a portrait sketch. I find this homage charming and wish more contemporary issues did the same. This set uses a mix of formats, including full and multiplayer poses, giving you every animal in the barnyard to look at. (Gallery of a PSA set.)

Bob made this set avant garde by producing it himself during an era when few could. These days, artists can turn out a more polished product, given computer drawing tools and a quality inkjet printer. Publishing your own card sets really meant something in the President Carter years. While fellow artist Robert G. Laughlin created similar oddball sets in the same generation, Parker’s "Topps card back" style remains tough to beat.

Value: I found this #5 for a $2 at a show many years ago. Complete sets and singles also appear on eBay and elsewhere online.

Fakes/reprints: This set's scarcity insulates it somewhat from reproduction. Real cards are oversized and come on rough orange paper, two aspects almost unique to this set. Any examples sized like typical baseball cards won't be from the original set.

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