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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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The Upper Deck team was excited to be a part of the Origins Game Fair recently in Columbus, Ohio, as we showcased a multitude of gaming products from Marvel, 20th Century Fox and Sanrio. Fans loved the look of the booth located in the front of the hall. Seats went quick at the booth as eager gamers had the opportunity to demo the new Legendary™ Villains core set and the new Firefly dice game.

The event was attended by over 14,000 gamers from all over the globe, looking to play their favorite games (some of which ran for 24 hours a day). Our Legendary Organized Play tournaments were a huge hit among fans who had the chance to test their “Legendary” skills and win it all, including bragging rights, awesome prizes, and even the big $1,000 grand prize.

Fans were extremely excited to hear about our upcoming releases (including the new Firefly Game and Alien Encounters)! Origins was a great experience for fans, gamers, and the Upper Deck crew, and we look forward to participating again next year.

Take a look at this exclusive interview with Upper Deck’s director of entertainment brands as he runs through what is new from Upper Deck from the show floor:

Check out some of the photo of the action from Upper Deck at the Origins Event!

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Families were out in force at the Origins Game Fair excited to see what’s new from Upper Deck.

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Everyone was excited to demo new games from Upper Deck like the Legendary Villains core set.

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Jason Brenner was busy with media at the event and said after the show, “The event was an overwhelming success. Players couldn’t be happier to demo Legendary Villains for the first time anywhere else.”

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Gamers packed in to play in the $1000 Legendary tournament!

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This happy Captain America fan walked away $1000 richer for besting the competition at Legendary in Upper Deck’s tournament at Origins.

Want more on the Legendary™ Villains core set? Check out this exclusive demo!

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We are excited to bring you a behind-the-scenes look at an artist’s work included in Upper Deck’s groundbreaking Marvel releases. Today we want to shine the spotlight on artist Neal Adams. This legendary Hall-of-Fame artist will be lending his talent to the sketch card set for 2014 Marvel Premier, the highly anticipated follow-up to the 2012 set of the same name. And what would you expect from a super-premium release like this? Probably art like this from an industry icon like Neal Adams.

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Recently we were able to get some time from Neal where he answered some questions we thought you would enjoy hearing a response to.

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Legendary artist Neal Adams contributes a variety of sketch cards to the new Upper Deck release of Marvel Premier!

UD Blog: What inspired you to become an artist?
Neal Adams: “What inspired me was that I live in a world of art and I wanted to be part of it. But it was no different than living in a world of science and wanting to be part of that. I like to be part of the world I live in.”

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UD Blog: Who helped you along the way to become the artist you are today?
Neal Adams: “My mother helped me. If you’re asking who overtly helped me, nobody helped me that I didn’t pursue and suck the life out of, and learn from them whether they wanted to let me know their secrets or not. I don’t believe that there is such a thing as being taught, there is only learning. The teacher is there to bestow knowledge, but it’s the one learning that makes the difference. It’s the person that wants to learn through which the process has to happen. There was nothing that wasn’t available to me that wasn’t available to every living person on the planet.”

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UD Blog: What excites you about drawing Marvel characters?
Neal Adams: “I live with Marvel characters, just as all artists who do work for Marvel do. I watch their evolution and their change, and I watch them as they pass through the hands of different artists. I love to give my interpretation of these characters, and see what other artists are doing. Sometimes I agree with other artists, sometimes I disagree with other artists.”

UD Blog: Who are your favorite characters to draw?
Neal Adams: “I honestly don’t have a favorite character to draw because I am a professional, and a professional, when he is drawing any character gives his best effort into doing that character. In fact, it’s because he wants his interpretation to be the one that people like. So my favorite character is the one I am drawing at this very minute.”

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UD Blog: Do any characters give you any trouble to draw?
Neal Adams: “Between you me and the fence post, Spider-Man is a very frustrating character to draw. It’s because of all those lines on his costume, and the fact that all those lines have to be there in the same place in every panel. If you make a mistake with the lines, suddenly it messes up all the other lines. So you have to be very careful and it’s kind of a pain. With Iron Man, for example, there are as many Iron Men as there are artists, and nobody compares where this piece of armor goes or that piece of armor goes with the details. Not so with Spidey.”

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UD Blog: What card do you think fans will like the most from what you have drawn so far?
Neal Adams: “I hate to seem egotistical, but I hope they’ll like them all. I believe that a drawing is a communication between 2 people: the artist and the person who receives the artwork. And I can tell you that I have received letters and emails that tell me that fans feel the same way whether it’s a quick sketch or a fully developed piece, or in this case, these cards.”

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UD Blog: How do you come up with your ideas on how to show the characters for these sketch cards?
Neal Adams: “To be perfectly honest, I flip through comic books and look for poses that I like, or I sit and imagine how I want to see the character portrayed. If an idea comes to mind, usually that’s the best ideas, so I do it.”

For more information on the artwork of Neal Adams, please check out the following links:

Neal Adams website: www.nealadams.com
Neal Adams online store: www.nealadamsstore.com
Neal Adams commissions: http://www.nealadams.com/index.php/commissions
Neal Adams convention schedule: http://www.nealadams.com/index.php/convention-schedule
Studio & Productions: http://nealadamsproductions.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NealAdamsDotCom?ref=hl

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One of the frustrating parts for collectors of comic collectibles is that the vast majority of the products in the market are dedicated to the classics which ultimately results in many of them looking the same. When Marvel may the decision to reboot many of their comic titles with the Marvel NOW! initiative, it gave fans the opportunity to experience their favorite characters from the Marvel universe in more current situations with some new looks as well. And with that came the opportunity for Upper Deck to produce a trading card set dedicated to these new-look Marvel NOW! characters that looks much different than anything fans have seen before in terms of comic trading card releases.

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Open a box of Upper Deck’s Marvel NOW! trading cards today and experience the product for yourself!

What is it like to open a box of Upper Deck’s Marvel NOW! trading cards though? Well take a look at what we found in some packs from quality control testing.

The base set is easily attainable at 100 total cards, but fans will appreciate the new looks of many of the beloved Marvel characters.

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There are also silver foil variant cards that can be found one per pack that give fans the opportunity to put together a more limited version of the set.

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The “Then & Now” inserts give a good look at the differences between the classic characters and the characters as they look today.

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“Cutting Edge Covers” and “Cutting Edge Variant Covers” of key Marvel NOW! comic books can now be found in card form in this set and make for very cool collectibles.

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Lucky fans may find autographed versions of these covers by illustrators and creators. And on occasion, as we found, dual autographed versions can be found as well like this one from Leinil Francis Yu and Mark Waid.

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Sketch cards are always an important aspect of comic card releases and as always Upper Deck pulled some of the best talent in the industry to create some miniature masterpieces of Marvel NOW! characters.

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Upper Deck also added some innovation to the set with the “Holo F/X” insert cards that you really have to see to believe with the 3-dimensional attributes of the cards.

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And lastly, rare one-of-one printing plate cards can be discovered at roughly one per case. We didn’t find one in the packs we saw, but many have been making their way to online auction sites like eBay. But if you haven’t been able to open a box yourself, watch as this Beckett Box Buster video where they do just that!

Upper Deck’s Marvel NOW! trading card product is available at Certified Diamond Dealer locations throughout North America and through Upper Deck’s network of Authorized Internet Retailers.

Would you like to score all nine cards we showed in this blog for FREE? Just share in the comment section below as to why you would love to open a box of the new Upper Deck Marvel NOW! trading cards. The fan who most skillfully shows their excitement and knowledge of why opening a box would be fun will receive all nine cards shown above. Please keep your submission to four sentences or less. Submissions must be received by Monday, February 3 at 3:00 p.m. Pacific.

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Are you ready to “Become Legendary”? Well, now is your chance to do just that. Upper Deck Entertainment is pleased to announce our first ever “Legendary™ Name a Set” contest.

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As most of you know, and for those who do not, Legendary™: A Marvel Deck Building Game will release its next expansion, a set focusing on Spider-Man and his allies, in February 2014. In doing so, we are offering fans of the game a chance to name the set! That’s right, YOU, the fans, get to name the next Legendary™ expansion!

Here are some guidelines to help you out:

1.    The set focuses on Spider-Man and his allies

2.    Carnage will play a major role as a Mastermind

3.    First appearance of Black Suit Spider-Man

All you have to do to enter is post your name idea in the comment section below and if we pick yours as the winner, then we will use it as the set name on the box!

In addition to having the set name on the box, winner will receive a Legendary™ bundle from Upper Deck, which includes all current sets as well as enough sleeves to sleeve all the cards!

Please have your submissions in no later than Dec 2nd, winners will be chosen by Dec 13th.

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. This contest is not sponsored, endorsed, or administered by Marvel. Must be age 13 or over to participate. All set names are pending third party licensor approval. Should two fans submit the same name, the name that is submitted first will have the opportunity to be selected as the winner. The name selected in the contest may NOT be used on the actual product. Please see [http://upperdeckblog.com/2013/11/rules-copy-legendary-contest,] for official rules.

UPDATE: Hey all, well we have hit the date where we pick the winner of the Spider-Man name a set contest. We received hundreds upon hundreds of entries and I can honestly say this was a tough decision.

We narrowed our selections down to five and then one final was chosen from those. Here are the four runner ups:

These are in no particular order:

• With Great Power
• Along Came a Spider
• Back in Black
• True Believers

These names , as were hundreds of others, really good and I thank all of the fans for participating. But there was one name that I thought really captured the feel of the set both in regards to characters and mechanics and that is

“Paint the Town Red” by Joshua King.

There were a couple other entries with the same suggestion but Joshua was first to post it, so lets all congratulate him as his selection will be on the front of the box. Marvel has already given the ok!

Congratulations Joshua!

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