Hobby Musings: Cryptozoic’s DC Portfolio Booming – The comics craze has taken over everything from television to the movies. One company who has helped bring that comic mania to trading cards has been Cryptozoic Entertainment. With licenses for multiple DC TV properties, including Arrow, The Flash and Gotham to name a few, Cryptozoic has been able to provide collectors with a wide variety of cool items from these shows. I had the chance to catch up with Cryptozoic Entertainment’s Manager of Product Development George Nadeau to find out more about how they bring items from the screen to collectors. The following interview was conducted via email.
KS: Why did Cryptozoic choose to pursue trading card products for DC property shows like Arrow and The Flash?
GN: To put it simply, we’re big fans! We have produced trading cards sets for Warner Bros. shows since our founding, starting with The Vampire Diaries more than five years ago. Since then, many of our sets have featured DC Comics characters. When WB began producing its live action version of Green Arrow, we were excited to include it in our product line. Then, when the DC universe on TV expanded to include shows like Gotham and The Flash, we were eager to include those in our line-up as well.
KS: What process do you have to go through in order to secure the rights and produce the cards?
GN: For all of our trading card products, we work closely with the studio to acquire assets. It begins with the studio’s Style Guide, which contains approved logos, graphics, gallery and unit photography, fonts, and a color palette. On occasion, it may even include notable phrases and character biographies. Since trading card products are much more asset-intensive than other categories like calendars, t-shirts, and barware, it is often necessary to request permission to use additional imagery. This requires determining which cast members have granted merchandise rights to the studio—and for which episodes. Cryptozoic is responsible for obtaining rights for any cast members whose images are not already cleared for use.
KS: How tricky can it be to put an autograph checklist together for these products?
GN: It can be pretty darn tricky! Autographs are the focus of most collector inquiries and speculation, and we definitely understand why. Speaking generally, it is often challenging to balance the desires of so many people, which is one reason we don’t publicize our talent negotiations. In addition to the studio, which may have its own talent participation agreements and requirements, we sometimes have to accommodate the specifications of a talent agent/manager/ publicist. Often, it’s impossible to make everyone happy and that creates gaps on our signing rosters. Our team has decades of experience with autograph acquisition (wow, does that make us sound old?), so the fact that those gaps exist is proof of how difficult it is to pull an autograph checklist together.
KS: That being said, who have been some of the highlight signers that you’ve included in the products so far?
GN: So far, the biggest highlight for me has been obtaining Milo Ventimiglia’s autograph for our Season 1 Gotham set. The main reason I’m involved in the trading card hobby business today is because of the Heroes set released in 2008. I was a huge fan of the series and attended my first San Diego Comic-Con to hunt for any Heroes merchandise I could find. When I discovered Heroes trading cards, I instantly became hooked … and proceeded to transform my hobby/obsession into my career. Milo Ventimiglia (as Peter Petrelli) was among the biggest hits in the Heroes set, so to be in a position where I could design the Gotham trading card set and include his autograph was really satisfying. I feel very lucky to have my job.
Hobby Musings: Cryptozoic’s DC Portfolio Booming
KS: There is some discrepancy in terms of the seasons on the show against the season for the card product. For example, Arrow is in Season 5 while the card product is in Season 3. What is the reason for the difference between the TV season and the card product season?
GN: Our sets will always lag behind the seasons airing on TV because of the value we place on featured wardrobe and props. Most items do not become available until the show concludes production. Unfortunately, by the time a season airs in its entirety and we are able to present a list of desired items to production, the team is on hiatus. Sometimes the delay to receive assets can take many months. Trust us, we’d love to get the sets out faster!
KS: One of the really cool things about your DC products is the wardrobe cards. Just how do you go about getting the various relics for the cards?
GN: This will sound simplistic, but I ask for it. The teams behind all the DC shows are really fantastic, so if they can, they usually accommodate our requests.
GN: WB has always been very generous with its production-used costumes and props. We know how much collectors value these items, so we’re always happy with everything they provide. If I had to pick a favorite item we’ve received, it would have to be Ra’s al Ghul’s Demon’s Head ring. In the show, it symbolizes the leader of the League of Assassins, and it has belonged to several characters. Nowadays, I enjoy imagining that, as its custodian for a short time, I too have been the leader of the League of Assassins. (At this moment, it has not yet been claimed by a collector of our Arrow Season 3 Trading Cards.)
KS: If you had a dream card you could make for any of your DC-related properties, what would it be?
GN: Easy. Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth.
KS: Looking ahead, what does Cryptozoic have coming for DC products in the near future?
GN: I can’t say much now, but I promise there’ll be more amazing DC-based sets in the months and years to come. We’re as passionate about all these shows as the die-hard fans out there and we can’t wait to make more trading cards for them!