Mars Attacks: Wikis


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Card #1: "The Invasion Begins"

Mars Attacks is a science fiction trading card series released in 1962. The cards tell the story of the invasion of Earth by cruel, hideous Martians. Scenes depicted bizarre methods of attack, torture and slaughter the Martians used. The story ends with a combined Earth invasion fleet attacking Mars by landing on the planet and destroying it.

The cards proved popular with children but their explicit gore and implied sexual content caused an outcry, leading the company to halt production. The cards became collectors' items.

In the 1980s Topps began developing merchandise based on the Mars Attacks storyline, including mini-comic books and card reprints. An expanded set of 100 cards was issued in 1994. Director Tim Burton filmed Mars Attacks! in 1996 based on the series, spawning another round of merchandising.


Trading cards

The Mars Attacks trading card series was created by Topps in 1962. Product developer Len Brown, inspired by Wally Wood's cover for EC Comics Weird Science #16, pitched the idea to Woody Gelman. Gelman and Brown created the story – with Brown writing the copy – and created rough sketches. They enlisted Wood to flesh out the sketches and Bob Powell to finish them. Norman Saunders painted the 55-card set.[1]

The cards were test marketed by Topps through a dummy corporation called Bubbles, Inc. under the name "Attack From Space". Sales were sufficient to expand the marketing and the name was changed to "Mars Attacks". Cards sold for five cents per pack of five. The cards sparked parental and community outrage over the graphic violence and implied sexuality depicted on the cards. Topps responded initially by repainting 13 of the cards to reduce the gore and sexuality, then, following inquiries from a Connecticut district attorney, agreed to halt production completely.[2]

Adaptations and merchandising

Rossem Enterprises re-issued a set of 13 cards from the original series in 1984. The set consisted of those cards found most objectionable upon first release. also in 1984, Renata Galasso issued a full reprint of the series that included a cover card featuring the original wrapper art. In 1988, Topps collaborated with Pocket Comics to create a 54-chapter mini-comic book serialization of the card series. Sales and distribution were poor and the series was canceled after four issues. Topps issued an expanded 100-card set in 1994, featuring the original 55 cards and 45 "New Visions" cards. Twenty-one comics and graphic artists collaborated on the new cards, including Zina Saunders, daughter of the original artist. In conjunction with the expanded set, Topps issued a six-issue limited comic book series written by Keith Giffen and drawn by Charles Aldred. The series featured a "flip-cover" format, with 22 pages of the book following the story of the card set and six pages detailing previous encounters leading up to the invasion. The limited series was successful and lead Topps to continue it as a regular series.[2]

In 1996, Tim Burton's film Mars Attacks! was released by Warner Bros. The film combines the storyline and tone of a B-movie spoof with the budget of a blockbuster movie and features an ensemble cast including Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Pierce Brosnan, Joe Don Baker, Annette Bening, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Michael J. Fox, Rod Steiger, Natalie Portman, Lukas Haas, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jim Brown, Pam Grier, Tom Jones and Jack Black. In conjunction with the film, two novels were released: Mars Attacks: Martian Deathtrap by Nathan Archer; and Mars Attacks: War Dogs of the Golden Horde by Ray W. Murrill. Screamin' Products released a tie-in set of Mars Attacks model kits.[2]


  1. ^ Stewart, et al., p. 150
  2. ^ a b c Rice, David T. "Mars Attacks: The Original Invasion Begins Again!". Outré magazine #7: pp. 44–9.  


Stewart, Bhob, Bill Pearson, Roger Hill, Greg Sadowski and Wallace Wood (2003). Against the Grain: MAD Artist Wallace Wood. TwoMorrows Publishing. ISBN 1893905233

See also

External links

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