Wednesday, March 21, 2012
A reason for my irrationality
As you may have gathered over the last three-plus years, I have very particular tastes. There are things I like and things I don't and the smallest detail can sway something from one category to another. This is especially true with people ... er, cards.
Sometimes I can't even explain it.
For example, the 1963 Topps set, and now, the 2012 Topps Heritage set. The '63 set is widely known as being colorful with a breakthrough design -- two aspects about card designs that I love. It is appreciated by many collectors and some consider it a favorite of Topps' sets of the '60s.
It should be a favorite of mine, too, considering my love for super-colorful sets like 1972 and 1975 Topps.
But it isn't.
Part of it is I'm just not a fan of the look of early '60s cards and early '60s design in general. The colors, the fonts are off-putting for some reason. I don't know why. That's for another post. As Topps progressed through the '60s, I began to like the sets more (1968 excluded) -- in other words, as it got closer to the '70s. The '70s and '80s are just more my style.
But there is another, bigger reason, for my opinion, which I already knew, but didn't hit home until I saw a post from Nick at Dime Boxes yesterday.
His Obak cards tipped me off.
Obak is a set that a fan of baseball history -- like me -- should love. But I don't. I like most of what's featured and I like the interesting factoids found in Obak, but the look of the cards makes me avoid collecting it.
In each case -- Obak, 1963 Topps, 2012 Topps Heritage -- the reason for my opinion is the same.
I don't like black-and-white and color photos mixing.
It's kind of ugly, and in the case of '63 Topps and its homage, the black-and-white image is almost useless because it appears as a lifeless blob amid all that color. There's a disconnect between that image and the rest of the card.
The scans seem to bring out the black-and-white image more, but I think ol' Frank's card would have looked a lot better if his tiny image was colorized.
If I had the time and ability, I'd do it myself to provide an example.
But I don't and I don't, so I'll just show one of the manager cards from '63. The managers didn't get a second image of themselves. Instead, Topps went with the team logo. But it's all in COLOR. It looks so much better. All of the card elements appear as one.
Now, you may be saying that the logo in the corner has been used countless times and removing the second image takes the heart out of the '63 set. Which is why I would have preferred if they just colorized the small image. You know, like the fantastic 1983 set.
I know I'm being picky. But I'm not alone. When I was first designing the sports section for the newspaper, there was some story that came over the wire about someone from long ago. I had a color image of the person from more recently, but I wanted something from his playing days, too. The story deserved a couple of photos. But all I could find were black-and-white images. So I tried to present them together. Black-and-white and color. It didn't look right.
The editor supervising me saw my attempt and he said, "you never mix black-and-white and color photographs."
I nodded in agreement. It's what my brain felt all along.
Since that time, I've heard that a few other times in the newspaper world. There are ways to get around it. Use the black-and-white photo, but surround it with color graphics and/or lettering. And designers more clever than I can mix a black-and-white photo with a bunch of color without you even noticing -- and definitely without you taking a step back and going "oh, no, that's not right."
And that's what I think when I see '63 Topps, 2012 Heritage and Obak: "Oh, no, that's not right."
Can you imagine if Topps kept the 1972 set with its colorful borders, but made the photograph black-and-white? Ick.
So, yes, I'm picky. Possibly anal retentive. Fussy, definitely. But not insane. Or at least there's a reason for my insanity.
At least I know the reason instead of shrugging my shoulders and saying, "I don't know. It's just ugly."
I know what I like. And now I know why.