War Of The Worlds

The Art of H.G.Wells

By Joel P. Bevan (reprinted from The Wrapper Magazine #212)

In the years prior to 1898, how could Earthlings have known?

"No one would have believed that in the last years of the 20 th century that this world was being watched keenly by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own Yet across the gulf of space, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this Earth with envious eyes and slowly and surely drew their plans against us."

Welcome to a wonderful new 102 card set of nonsport trading cards, The Artwork of H.G. Wells, in three series. Produced by Kurt Kuersteiner of Monsterwax, with the all original art of Ricardo Garijo, the third series, War of the Worlds, is just ready to be released. What follows is an interview with Kurt K. about these spectacular new cards.

Kurt, tell us about War of the Worlds and The Art of H.G. Wells. What are the highlights of WW and why did you decide to produce it?

This project has been "in the cards" for over ten years. I used to talk to Harris Toser (of Non-Sports Update magazine fame) about it when I lived in Harrisburg and we played racquetball together back in the early 1990's. War of the Worlds is a great card subject for a variety of different reasons. First off, it's a wonderful story. There's action, suspense, hideous alien monsters and shocking revelations of accurate futuristic prophecies. So clear was H.G. Well's imagination that the story still seems current today, a century after it was written.

Sounds like there hasn't been anything like it in a card set since Mars Attacks.

Right, and here is another reason War of the Worlds is a perfect theme for cards. The 1898 book inspired so many subsequent science fiction stories. Classic movies such as Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers, TV shows like The Invaders and of course the 1938 Orson Wells radio broadcast that sent thousands of Americans into the streets in a blind panic.

Well, this summer, a new high budget War of the Worlds movie is due out sometime at the end of June. Nice timing. I suppose the big name card manufacturers will release some quickie knockover set about the new movie, manufactured around reproduced photos, taken from the stills.

Those facts are a sad commentary on the state of the card companies of today. The reason is cost. Hardly any of the large card makers are willing to invest in paying artists to draw or paint original art. This situation has been in place since the 1980's. Even the fantasy art sets of the 1990's were recycled art, just pictures of paintings already done. The mainstream companies aren't willing to gamble on original artwork when they can just use photographs and make money the easy way.

They don't have your secret weapon, the artist from Argentina, Garijo. {My digressive note: The real difference is human imagination, which God in his wisdom placed upon the Earth ages ago.}

That's It! We do well together because we like the same things and have a similar vision. He has complete artistic freedom. I tell him the scene and he does the rest. He doesn't have to submit a sketch, he just paints it. Now here is the whole master plan: The entire three part series is painted by Ricardo Garijo (of Don't Let It Happen Here fame). Each series tells one of H.G. Wells most famous tales. The first series is The Time Machine, the second is The Island of Dr. Moreau and the third is War of the Worlds. We will have three different wrappers.

So the last series is coming out first?

Yes. We wanted to capitalize on the free publicity generated by this summer's block buster film. Advertising is one of the big expenses we try to hold down in order to afford ultra low print runs. I think collectors will agree with our choice.

Are you going to have your middle series artwork disappear and be lost and then resurface in Philadelphia in the year 2055?

Give me a break. However, that question leads into a special innovation. We tell all three stories in one unbroken narrative, in the manner of the 1951 Bowman set, Jets- Rockets and Spacemen.

Well, I re-read the original H. G. Wells novel a few days ago and indeed, the whole tale is told in a narrative format.

We were able to use this technique without compromising the original texts. In the books, The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine, H.G. Wells never named the main character. Only in Dr. Moreau, is the main character given a name. So, the three stories dove- tail together well and form a very exciting three part saga. Remember now, in WW we stay true to the storyline of the original book, unlike the 1953 movie or the new Spielberg movie.

So, the setting of the card's storyline is in Victorian England?

Just so. The cards are designed to look like turn-of-the-century tobacco cards. As such, the print is small, the spaceships (and time machines) have a quintessential Victorian design and the graphics reflect an old-time flavor. You won't find any UV coating or foil stamps in this set!

A limited edition?

Extremely. Only 166 boxes of the series three (War of the Worlds) will be made. 36 packs per box, 6 cards per pack. That's less than 4 boxes for every state in the Union, with no reprints or reissues ever produced.

How about a 21st century bonus for early orders ?

There is a six card promo set of unique artwork that is available for collectors. A free set will be included in each box that is preordered. (Late comers may order them separately for $5.95.) There is also a bonus autograph sketch card in each box. (NOTE: There will also be three different prototypes given away for FREE in the September issue of Non-Sports Update.)

What about "chase your tail in circles cards"?

There are no chase sets with this series. (NOTE: We've since added a few extras. See War Update page. There's nothing to chase though since every box has at least one of everything in it.) One reason for this is because our base sets are already scarcer than other companies chase cards. Yet our price tag is very modest. Collectors may pre-order a set of each series for just $9.95 (The price increases to $12.95 in 2006). With only 166 boxes ever made, even if every single box were broken down and sorted, only 1,000 sets would exist. To verify this scarcity, each checklist is numbered.

How long until the set is available for purchase?

Collectors may preorder now and I suggest they do. Given the demand and low supply I expect a quick sell out. Series 3, War of the Worlds, should start shipping this summer. Series 1 & 2 , Time Machine and Dr. Moreau, later (Feb 2006). Wrapper magazine readers should check out:


Suddenly, the interview is broken off. As I look out of my den window into the darkness I reflect upon the Martian's one hundred foot tall walking machines of death. Combined with their terrible poison gas, the Black Smoke, the pitiless and unequal struggle of man against Martian continues.

 "And this was no disciplined march; it was a stampede-- a stampede gigantic and terrible--- without order and without a goal, six million people unarmed and unprovisioned, driving headlong. It was the beginning of the rout of civilization, of the massacre of Mankind."

As to the end of the story, dear reader, you must obtain a set for yourself to view the drama played out. But as H. G. Wells related in WW,

"slain; slain as the red weed was being slain, slain after all man's devices had failed, by the humblest things, that God, in his wisdom, as put upon this Earth."


Read also the Non-Sport Update Magazine review of this Product


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