The Other Mars Landing

Posted inThe Daily Heller
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Forget about the American Mars probe, the rover Curiousity—it’s time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Mars Attacks, the Topps bubblegum trading cards co-created by my old (late) friend Woody Gelman and Len Brown, originally illustrated by Wally Wood, penciled by Bob Powell, and painted by the great pulp cover artist Norm Saunders. Now there is a book of all the cards produced from 1962 (there was also a film directed by Tim Burton in 1996) Mars Attacks 5th Anniversary Collection, with intro and commentaries by Len Brown.

An afterword was contributed by Zina Saunders (Norm’s daughter), who writes: “Dad would sit at his table, unwrap Powell’s sketch, and start painting. He was a fast painter, and he counseled me never to let an art director know how fast you are—they won’t pay you as much if they know you do the painting in half the time they think it takes you.”

One of the truly great card series, Mars Attacks was deemed “unsuitable for children” by a DA in Connecticut. “Sadly, the combination of bad press, some negative letters from concerned parents and the DA’s phone call, brought an end to Topps’s plans to expand the series,” writes Len Brown. But here they are, scores of them in all their gory glory.