Saturday, June 14, 2008

Round Robin: We Made These!

(Apologies if this entry takes a long time to load. I saved some of these photos in a larger size than usual so you can click on them and, I hope, read the text in the pictures if you're so inclined.)

It's Round Robin time again! This week's topic, "I Made That" was suggested by Jennifer Robin of Robin's Woods. She wants us to photograph something we made, other than photos, of course!

First off, let me state for the record that I'm not at all good with any kind of craft work. I can't sew, knit, do needlepoint, create macramé or decoupage, or build a coffee table (except maybe from a kit). I've had lousy eye-hand coordination all my life, so I seldom attempt to make any kind of physical object. The last one I recall doing was my Tiki mask last year. It took me all night, and it was...well, acceptable, let's say.

Consequently, nearly all my creative endeavors are technology-assisted. I blog and take photos, I write fiction, I mess around with photo editing software. When it comes to making an actual thing, I need a printer, or a buttonmaker, or...


Back in the early 1980s, John, his friend Kal and I owned a record store called Rockarama. I was the manager. Among our wares in those days were handmade buttons, based on topical rock and roll images or slogans, or cut up photos from magazines.

In the 1990s, the Murray twins and I made Quantum Leap and Doctor Who buttons for the fan clubs and conventions. They came in two sizes. Eventually I shipped the buttonmaker that produced the smaller, more popular buttons off to Margaret Colchin so she could continue to produce "goodies" for Project Quantum Leap members.

A commercial grade badge maker from Button Up

We kept the large buttonmaker. It's still sitting in a closet here at the Museum of the Weird, along with our leftover Doctor Who buttons and a bust of Sherlock Holmes (and no, we didn't make that!).

No, I didn't make this standup. John designed it and put it together.

During roughly the same era, John went into the trading card business. He designed and produced trading card sets for the anime properties Robot Carnival and Akira, British favorites The Avengers and Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and even the rock group KISS.

In 1994, John's company, Cornerstone, made the first of four series (or was it five series?) of Doctor Who trading cards. I introduced the project to some of the key actors at a convention in late 1993, because the BBC had told us we needed to contract with each of them individually.

Later I wrote the backs of nearly all of the cards that had text in Series One through Series Three. I also selected the quotations for the cards in Series Four, some of which came from interviews the Murrays and I had conducted ourselves. Before Series Three I even got to accompany John and his business partner to London, to help select pictures for the cards from the BBC archives. The writing turned out to be surprisingly difficult, because the extremely limited space on the back of a trading card forces the writer to be very concise, which isn't my strong suit. Still, I'm very proud of what we did with these.

Eventually the Doctor Who cards license ran its course. John made another Monty Python set and a couple of Austin Powers sets before the bottom fell out of the trading card market and he had to get a real job.

No, there isn't really a Dalek guarding this case of trading cards.

But here at the MotW we still have binders and boxes full of trading cards that John designed and I wrote. I didn't run the printing press, didn't diecut them from the oversize sheets, and didn't pack them in cartons to be shipped. But all in all, I think it's far to say that John and I made those cards. Don't you?

Now let's go see what the other Robins have made!


Linking List

Jennifer Robin - Posted!
Robin's Woods

Steven - Posted!

Wammy - Posted!
The Ellis Family Cincinnati

Karen - Posted!
Outpost Mâvarin

Gattina - Posted!
Keyhole Pictures

Olive - Posted!
Ur Olive


Jill - Posted!
Letting Crazy Take a Spin

Jan - Posted!
The Prytz Family

sweet memories.....

maryt/theteach - Posted!
Answers to the Questions

Sandra - Posted!
Strong Chemistry

Robinella- Posted!
Not A Stepford Wife

Janet - Posted!

Carly- Posted!

Kiva - Posted!
The Eclectic Granny

Teena- Posted!
It's all about me!


Gattina said...

I consider taking good photos is also a talent everybody can take a picture but good once is not so evident !
So your pictures you did yourself ! I can't knit or sew either !

Janet said...

I think it's quite fair to say :-) Funny, I think many of us qualified our shots this week...I know I did!

Do you use the Flair option on facebook? Lots of really cool buttons!

Teena in Toronto said...

Looks like a lot of fun!

I played too :)

Jan said...

Wonderful interesting post. I enjoyed learning about your history, and the photos are great.

Carly said...

I like the buttons. I collect them sometimes, mostly political buttons, I don't think I have any novelty ones. Cool stand-up... kidos to John.

Always, Carly

Jennifer Robin said...

What a blast from the past! Very cool.

Kiva said...

The cards and buttons definitely count. You definitely contributed and what would trading cards be without text?

Steven said...

I knew you were scifi cool but I'm in awe now. Whoa! The button maker is neat.

Wammy said...


Anonymous said...

Buttons! Who would of ever guessed. And the Dr. Who cards are very interesting. What else do you have in that "weird" closet of yours?