Cardboard Gods by Josh Wilker refers to the author's baseball heroes found on trading cards in plastic packs with a stick of gum, but it's really about growing up in the 1970's and beyond. The baseball cards themselves, although extremely important to the author, are a device. Something to pull the narrative along. And it's a fascinating tale, told by someone growing up around the same time as yours truly.
The book grew out of the Cardboard Gods website that Mr. Wilker has been running for a while now. I believe most of the chapters were blog entries at some point and the book was arranged in chronological order afterward, but I can't be entirely sure. There is definitely some new stuff in there.
I didn't collect baseball cards when I was a kid. I was familiar with them through friends and some cousins, but I was more into comic-books. But I didn't really collect those either. I didn't bag them with cardboard backing, no sir. I read them. Sometimes I rolled them up and stuck them in my back pocket before riding my bike to a friend's house. The comic-books from my childhood were dog-eared, tattered, wonderful things.
I didn't keep any of them. When I grew to an age when superheroes were no longer part of my life, I threw them away. Or gave them away. It wasn't until many years later that I regretted both the handling of those treasures and the eventual disposal of them. I used to go to comic-book conventions or stores, looking through back issue bins and I would get so angry when I ran across something that I owned and mistreated as a child. Maybe a Giant-Size X-Men #1 or the incredible Marvel/DC crossover Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man (the Battle of the Century!).
But now that I look back, I think I enjoyed them as a child should enjoy comic-books. I remember nights when I would grab an old issue of The Fantastic Four or Iron Man or Marvel Team-Up, and I would fall asleep while re-living the heroic acts contained within. Sometimes I fell asleep clutching the fragile issue in my hands, awaking the next day to see it a little worse for wear with no regrets. To me, that's what comic-books were all about as a child.
Josh Wilker knew that same magic. Instead of superheroes in comic-books, his gods were real. Captured for a brief moment in a goofy pose on a trading card.
___________________________________________________Note: Remember to play the Badgerdaddy Trivia Challenge every day. Hey...I've got an idea.
I collected just about anything as a boy from the inevitable stamps and coins to beer mats and cigarette packets. I've still got a few packs of stamps knocking about in a box somewhere alone and ignored. There were sporting cards too but I never collected them.
I've still got a pile of old Zap comix from the early 70s somewhere. Does that make me a pornographer? Don't answer that.
Comics and baseball cards for me. Also Mars Attacks cards. And a Davy Crockett lunch box. Also coonskin hat. What exactly happened to that kid, I dunno...
I had some of the same feelings when I started to see what Star Wars action figures were selling for out there in the world. "Dammit! Why did I throw that Milennium Falcon off the porch? Why did Han Solo have to be tortured on the stove top?" But hell, they were TOYS, and I had a damn lot of fun playing with them. And I still have most of them...Alas, not in mint condition.
I never got that into comics though...My brother was a big collector...I remember borrowing(and being VERY CAREFUL with his Howard the Duck and "What If?" comics...I think the What ifs were always my favorites.
I also really liked the gum that came in baseball cards.
Wabbit - Those are some of the early R. Crumb stuff, right? Very cool!
RW - Yeah, I missed the Davy Crockett thing by a few years...
Paticus - I never liked Howard the Duck or the What If...? series. I preferred my comics to be a bit less silly.
Ever read the book Fortress of Solitude by Lethem?
Hank - No, but I'm guessing you are recommending it?
My friend used to collect stamps and i could never understand why. What the fuck do you do with a stamp once you bought it? at least with comics you got a story out of it.
and my very beat-up, much-read-as-a-child first appearance of Wolverine weeps that i didnt take better care of it.
I sort of am. I think you may enjoy it, but it could have used a little better editing.
Slyde - Yeah, I don't get stamp collecting either, but to each their own.
Hank - I'll check it out when I have some time.
The only thing I've ever collected is dust.
Doggie - You should have your maid feather-dust you more often.
I grew up with the "anti-packrat." My dad kept nothing that wasn't needed in the current time, or near future. He was an organizational fool...so I was never able to have a "collection." On a positive note, I always knew where everything thing if I needed it. :-) :-)
I was never all that fond of comic books as a kid. Sure I read them but it never really grabbed me in the same way it did other people. Video games though - you couldn't pry me away from my Commodore 64.
Earl- Silly, eh? So I take it you never liked Captain Carrot either?
Nej - My father was the ultimate packrat. When he passed away we needed to rent one of those industrial garbage bins to throw all that shit out.
Kevin - I hear ya. A lot of my friends were big-time video game geeks.
Paticus - No sirree.
Told you you'd like it.
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