For the past few years, Abrams ComicArts has been producing a truly fun series of books. Working in partnership with Topps, these tomes have revisited popular sets of non-sports trading or “bubble gum” cards or stickers from the days of old.
Each book presents one or more sets of cards from a given property, providing crisp images of each card’s front and back, with all of the pictures accompanied by background info or other anecdotes about the card set or the property in question. There are volumes devoted to fondly remembered sets like the Garbage Pail Kids, Wacky Packages, Bazooka Gum, and my personal favorites: Mars Attacks, Star Wars, and Star Trek. The last one is even cooler because it was written by friends and ace wordsmiths Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann.
Each book is a true slice of nostalgic heaven, made even more interesting because in most cases, they’re developed with the help of someone who was actually involved in the creation of the particular card or sticker set, or at least is familiar with the film or TV property being highlighted that they can provide entertaining background text. The dust jackets are even made from a wax paper similar to the old pack wrappers, and reproduce the original art. They even bundle in extra, all-new “bonus cards” which fit seamlessly with your original set, should you be so lucky to still have them. All that’s missing is a stick of that hideous gum that came in every pack, but even that’s reproduced on the book’s cover.
Which brings us to the latest entry in this series: Planet of the Apes: The Original Topps Trading Card Series. This book has a subtitle previously known only to me, and which I’m now sharing with you: Yet Another Book I’m Supremely Jealous I Didn’t Write.
When I was a kid in the 1970s, Planet of the Apes was my jam, ranking right up there with the original Star Trek and The Six Million Dollar Man as the favorite science fiction shows of my childhood. I never saw the original movies in a theater at that point, but I did watch every episode of the short-lived live action television series and its animated successor as broadcast. At the time, Apes had a pretty decent merchandising machine going, with all sorts of toys, comics, games, and other stuff on store shelves. Topps, arguably the king of bubble gum cards back then, seemed to be releasing card sets for every film and TV property it could find, and that included Planet of the Apes not once but twice. The first set was based on the original 1968 film, and which was long gone from stores by the time I was old enough to start collecting. Not so for the second set, which showcased the aforementioned TV show, and I was all over those cards like a dog on an unattended sandwich.
Just my luck! Planet of the Apes: The Original Topps Trading Card Series will be revisiting both sets, providing eager readers with a gloriously priced way to revisit these tasty slices of Apes goodness.
And hey! It releases on June 6th, just before my birthday. Go, me.
The only question left to answer is whether the bonus cards included in the book will fit with the TV set I still have.
Waiting until June is gonna suck.