We are thrilled to share an exclusive interview with one of Upper Deck’s top artists. Today we want to shine the spotlight on artist Joe Jusko. This iconic illustrator was the talent behind the famous Marvel Masterpieces trading card release from 1992 and Upper Deck is thrilled to share we have been able to secure Joe Jusko to resurrect the set. Recently we were able to sit down with Joe to talk about his artwork and what fans can expect from the new Marvel Masterpieces release.

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Joe Jusko will appear at the Upper Deck booth at the 2014 San Diego Comic Con! Come get a free autograph from Joe on Friday, Saturday and Sunday!

UD Blog: What inspired you to become an artist?
Joe Jusko: “As a little kid I would watch my older brother Danny draw. He was really talented and actually won a contest on the old Jon Gnagy ‘Learn To Draw’ TV show. Once I realized I also had a facility for drawing it became an obsession and how I spent every spare moment of my time. Comic books were always around the apartment and provided a direct channel for my creative instincts. I determined at the age of 6 or 7 that I would draw comics for a living! It was really one of those instances where the career chose me instead of the other way around. In hindsight it’s fascinating to me just how convinced I was of that being my calling, and how lucky I am to have fulfilled that dream!”

UD Blog: Who helped you along the way to become the artist you are today?
Joe Jusko: “I was fortunate having parents who never dissuaded me from art, but who actually encouraged my passion. I remember getting two of the Walter T. Foster art instruction books (The Nude and The Model, by Fritz Willis) at Christmas one year. How many parents would buy those for their 9-year-old? Henry Fiol, my grade school art teacher at St. Brigid’s was a constant source of encouragement, and several incredible teachers at NYC’s High School of Art & Design, including Richard Taylor and EC Comics legend Bernie Krigstein  put so much effort into helping me hone my skills. Howard Chaykin, who hired me as his assistant the summer after I graduated A&D helped me put the final polish on my portfolio, taught me many insightful tricks of the trade and opened doors for me at both Heavy Metal magazine and Marvel Comics that may have taken years to access, otherwise. Lastly, all the editors at Marvel (Jim Shooter, Tom DeFalco, Archie Goodwin, Louise Simonson, Larry Hama and Bob Budiansky) who saw promise in my work and who kept assigning me jobs at the beginning of my career, which gave me the experience to grow as an artist in a professional environment.”

UD Blog: Looking at the evolution of comic art from 20 years ago to today, what do you like and dislike about it?
Joe Jusko: “I love that the level of draftsmanship has gotten so refined, especially after that period of mediocrity in the late ‘90’s, but I do miss the quirky and stylized inaccuracy of the art I grew up on. I do think that the trend toward hyper realism in many instances has compromised some of the dynamics that first drew me to comics. It’s a nit-picky generational thing, though that makes me sound like a codger.”

UD Blog: What excites you about creating Marvel characters?
Joe Jusko: “I grew up on Marvel characters above all others and I’ve always had a lifelong affinity for them. They were drawn by all my favorite and most influential artists. I’m always excited to add my take on them to such a historic artistic pantheon. I know them better than any other company’s characters, as well, so my comfort level makes working with them a sincere pleasure.”

UD Blog: Who are your favorite characters to paint?
Joe Jusko: “I don’t know that I have a favorite. Just like my career path, I like bouncing around the characters. I especially like painting characters I’ve never worked on before as the challenge keeps my brain working. I do always look forward to the Silver Surfer, Black Cat, Hulk and Thor pieces, however. The bad guys are infinitely more interesting to me, as well. I can understand why actors prefer playing the villain over the hero much of the time. You can really have more fun with them.”

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Art from Jusko’s 1992 Marvel Masterpieces set is beloved in the comic community.

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UD Blog: What do you remember about creating the 1992 Marvel Masterpieces trading card set?
Joe Jusko: “I remember the excitement over initially being offered the project! Up to that point it was the largest job I’d ever had. It was definitely a ‘right place/right time’ situation. I was painting a great majority of Marvel’s covers at the time and I guess I was the logical choice for their first painted cards set. Next I remember the absolutely grueling schedule. I worked night and day for 3 months straight. Even though they were small (6”x8.5”) pieces it was a remarkably short time. In hindsight I’m not sure how I did it. Mostly I remember the incredible response to the set upon its release. No one involved expected it. It just seemed like a really cool project that took on a life of its own and its popularity has truly stood the test of time. To this day at conventions I still sign more of those cards than anything else I’ve ever done.”

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The level of detail in the 1992 Marvel Masterpieces set was unlike anything comic fans had ever seen in a trading card release.

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This was the inspiration for Jusko’s Namorita card.

UD Blog: What is your favorite image from the 1992 Marvel Masterpieces set?
Joe Jusko: “Wow, that’s a tough one. I really liked the Hulk, White Queen and Black Cat cards, but I think my favorite is Namorita, as it’s an homage to Jay Scott Pike’s cover to the Dolphin story in Showcase #79. I loved that cover and story when I was a kid. It’s always been a dream to own the original, though I’ve never seen it for sale anywhere.”

UD Blog: What excites you about re-imagining that set with Upper Deck?
Joe Jusko: “The time factor has always been an issue for me with that first set. The images were painted very quickly and while they made cool cards they were not great paintings, and I had to compromise cool card ideas for simpler alternatives in my effort to get the job in on time. No one can tell where all the shortcuts are, but I sure can. Upper Deck is affording me the time to really spread my wings on these new pieces. I’m 20 years a better painter with a lot more time to produce the images. I’m enjoying every second of this!”

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NEW ART from Joe Jusko for the upcoming Marvel Masterpieces set from Upper Deck!

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NEW ART from Joe Jusko for the upcoming Marvel Masterpieces set from Upper Deck!

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NEW ART from Joe Jusko for the upcoming Marvel Masterpieces set from Upper Deck!

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NEW ART from Joe Jusko for the upcoming Marvel Masterpieces set from Upper Deck!

UD Blog: What card do you think fans will like the most from what you have created so far?
Joe Jusko: “The Captain America card! It’s a strong Cap image with a couple of special guest stars that don’t have their own cards in the set.”

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NEW ART from Joe Jusko for the upcoming Marvel Masterpieces set from Upper Deck!

UD Blog: What is the process like creating the imagery for these cards?
Joe Jusko: “I’m producing fairly tight sketches for approval at both Upper Deck and Marvel/Disney. I do the sketches on tracing paper because once approval is granted I rub graphite on the reverse and trace it onto my board. Doing this way saves the surface from the damage of constantly erasing. I then tighten up the sketch as much as need and render the piece in acrylics.”

UD Blog: How do you come up with your ideas on how to show the characters for this set?
Joe Jusko: “As with the first set I’m trying to not rely on generic action poses. I think it’s important to imbue each card with a bit of the character’s personality or some reference to his/her history wherever possible. That’s not to say there aren’t some really cool pinup style action shots!”

UD Blog: What are some of your favorite things to create that aren’t Marvel, or even comic, related?
Joe Jusko: “I’m a huge fan of wildlife art, particularly big cats. Artists such as John Seerey-Lester, Simon Combes and Robert Bateman are major influences and I would love to spend a year or so just painting big cats.”

For more information on the artwork of Joe Jusko, please check out the following links:

Joe Jusko’s website: http://www.joejusko.com
Studio: http://www.theforestprimeval.com
Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/5hux63
Deviant Art Page: http://joejusko.deviantart.com/

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Fans taking part in Upper Deck’s popular wrapper redemption program at the 2014 National Sports Collectors Convention are in store for a special surprise! To help celebrate Upper Deck’s 25th Anniversary and Amazon.com’s increased support of the sports collectibles category with their specialty online store, the two companies are partnering for a special promotion. Randomly inserted into Upper Deck’s wrapper redemption packs are four Amazon.com exclusive autographs limited to 25 copies from four of the best players in each of the four core sports.

Baseball – Reggie Jackson

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Football – Peyton Manning

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Hockey – Bobby Orr

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Basketball – Magic Johnson

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We hope fans enjoy and appreciate the additional autograph content that will be available in Upper Deck’s wrapper redemption packs and we are appreciative for Amazon.com’s support to bring these cards to life!

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Upper Deck Authenticated rocked collector’s world in 2011 when the company unveiled the signed “Tegata” collectible for Michael Jordan and LeBron James that included an authentic hand print from these superstar athletes.

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In recent years Upper Deck Authenticated has created other “Tegata” collectibles for other legendary athletes like Tiger Woods and Mike Tyson.

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A major core group of collectors have been deprived of these special collectibles, until now. With Upper Deck Authenticated’s exclusive agreement with Wayne Gretzky, we are proud to bring hockey fans the first-ever “Tegata” memorabilia piece for this iconic hockey legend.

The word “Tegata” comes from the Japanese culture and translates to the American equivalent of a signature or autograph. Sumo wrestlers in Japan would use red or black ink and create a handprint, and then often sign their “shikona” also known as their fighting name, on the same canvas.

Only the greatest champions would be honored with a “Tegata” collectible, so it is high time to bestow that honor on Wayne Gretzky. Check out this behind-the-scenes look at how these incredible collectibles were made.

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First Wayne Gretzky puts his hand in a black ink to transfer the ink to the special parchment paper.

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Then Gretzky takes his wet palm and applies the ink to the parchment paper. After cleaning up he then stamps each one with a specially made stamp that is custom to Gretzky.

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After the pieces have dried he autographs them, they are then hologrammed and framed.

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The Wayne Gretzky “Tegata” is the ultimate collectible for the Edmonton Oilers fan, as it is framed with a beautiful mosaic showcasing the memorable highlights from Gretzky’s career with this historic franchise. Own your Wayne Gretzky “Tegata” by visiting the Upper Deck Online Store today!

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Rory McIlroy is young, but by no means is he a rookie. At 25 years of age McIlroy has already captured 12 professional victories including three majors (2011 U.S. Open, 2012 PGA Championship & 2014 British Open). It was back in August 2012 when Upper Deck was finally able to ink the Northern Ireland star to an exclusive trading card and memorabilia deal. There were some promotional cards done for Rory by Upper Deck between 2012 and 2013, but it was not until the 2014 season that fans finally were able to score their first true rookie cards and a heavier mix of insert cards of Rory McIlroy from Upper Deck.

Many believe Rory McIlroy is a once in a generation type of player who could ultimately give players like Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus a run for their money in terms of all-time major victories, but only time will tell. He is certainly off to an amazing start though and with that comes increased interest in his authentic signed collectibles produced exclusively by Upper Deck. How high will some of these cards and memorabilia items ultimately be valued at? It really is anyone’s guess, but as of right now, they are most certainly on the rise.

Below is a breakdown on many of the Upper Deck cards and memorabilia golf fans are pursuing hard of Rory McIlroy.

Pre-Rookie Cards or X-RC Cards

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In 2013 SP Game-Used there was a promotional SP-1 card of Rory McIlroy inserted that has been in high-demand with collectors.

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At the National Sports Collectors Convention fans flocked to get one of 5 autographed McIlroy promotional items.

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Upper Deck employees were gifted with a special Precious Metal Gems card of McIlroy in 2013.

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Upper Deck’s NHL The Cup product has a multi-sport insert that has been continuing each year and the Rory McIlroy autograph card limited to 5 copies sells for big $$$$ in the secondary market!

True Rookie Cards

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First up this year was the 2014 SP Authentic Autograph Rookie of Rory McIlroy limited to just 299 copies.

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The 2014 SP Game-Used Golf Rookie Autograph card of Rory McIlroy is limited to just 199 copies.

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Rory McIlroy’s Exquisite Collection Golf Autograph Rookie Jersey card limited to just 99 copies is sure to be his most sought after rookie card this year!

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Rory shows off his Exquisite Collection Golf Autograph Rookie card during a signing session.

Rookie Year Insert Cards

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Upper Deck Authenticated Memorabilia – You can see a full rundown of Upper Deck Authenticated Rory McIlroy autograph collectibles at www.upperdeckstore.com.

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Upper Deck Authenticated goes all out to capture amazing imagery of players like Rory McIlroy.

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Upper Deck Authenticated also captures those major moments fans will never forget!

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Innovative collectibles like the Breaking Through pieces really stop fans in their tracks as the range driven golf ball appears to “break through” the glass on the piece.

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Super rare tournament-worn memorabilia that has been signed and inscribed is the ULTIMATE collectible for any fan of Rory McIlroy.

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It’s Throwback Thursday so let’s go back through Upper Deck’s trading card history and come up with a fun giveaway. It was 35 years ago today when Dave “The Cobra” Parker delivered an unforgettable performance at the 1979 All-Star Game. His throwing ability left viewers jaws on the floor as he showcased his cannon in right field. So let’s put up a throwback card and see if our fans can come up with some great captions for the card! Please share your comical caption to this card for your opportunity to score 5 packs of 2014 Goodwin Champions!

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Important Promotion Guidelines:

  1. You can only submit one comment per email address so think about it before you post.
  2. Comments are moderated so keep them clean and in good taste as we have a lot of youngsters on these pages. Comments deemed inappropriate will not be posted or eligible to score card set(s).
  3. Make sure to review other caption before you post. If you have the same comment as someone else or make slight improvements to it, the credit will go to the first person who posted the comment.
  4. You have until Friday morning, July 18th at 8:00 a.m. PT to post your caption before this promotion is closed.
  5. Upper Deck will review the captions posted and select one (1) fan who most skillfully share a comical comment to coincide with this card.
  6. Only the customer selected to receive the card set will be contacted via email, so please make sure to provide an accurate email address when you leave your comment.

 

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