For $20 you're guaranteed a sketch card. In fact, there's no base cards - just sketches. I was a little sceptical when I first heard of this release. Was it licensed? How much of the proceeds actually go to charity? Well, Archie Comics have licensed it and all proceeds are going to March of Dimes, an organization that supports infant health.
Although the sketch cards are "hits" in most every other product, 5finity has also included a variety of premiums such as autographs from Ron Dante, lead singer of The Archies, original comic art redemptions from "Betty and Veronica" artist Jeff Shultz and random Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sketches (remember they were connected with Archie Comics back in the day with their more light-hearted spin) from various folks including TMNT co-creator Peter Laird. 5finity also promises hot packs with two or three sketch cards in them. The odds of getting a fancier fancy pack are 1:14 but I went in not expecting anything other than a single sketch card.
So here's my box/pack/whatever you want to call it.
Oooo, pack 300/2,199. That's a round number. Maybe it's an omen of Archie goodness. I should point out the packs are big, measuring about 5" x 8" but the cards themselves are regular-sized.
Let's build the suspense a little more. Here's a March of Dimes informational card that was also included:
And now, the sketch:
It's Manga Veronica. Or is it Katy Keene? I'll go with Veronica. It's a colorful sketch and you can see faint guide lines so it wasn't rushed. It does seem strange to me because I've never connected "Archie" with "contemporary" but that's exactly what this is. I also haven't bought an Archie comic of any kind since the Double Digests were shrunken into little more than the regular digests.
Next thought: who the heck drew the card? The initials looked like 'TNT' but I couldn't find an appropriate match from the list of artists. A lot of Google searching led me to Scoundrel Art Forum and I stumbled upon this thread hoping to find some info. Not only did I identify the artist but they posted all their cards.
So what I have is a Terry Tibke who did a total of 28 cards, 15 of which were in color. According to his Deviant Art profile, Tibke is the artist and author of the comic Armageddon: The Birth of the Darkening Skies. Not surprisingly, there's a definite manga feel to the work.
What I like most about this release (other than the cards themselves) is the fact that 5finity is thinking outside the box. I don't know if the hobby would support a full-on Archie release right now. Maybe, but the Riverdale gang seems to be keeping a pretty low profile overall other than Archie's apparent arranged marraige with Veronica.
I should also mention that 5finity has also released a similar sketch card series for The Greatest American Hero. I've already got a pack on order and will post it when it arrives.