Over fifty years old and going strong, Topps card series Mars Attacks will be returning with a new trading card set called Mars Attacks: Occupation. The video on their Kickstarter is amazing, featuring a Robot Chicken-style short of one of the Martians torturing humans while excitedly pitching the campaign. The artists involved are absolutely worth a mention, as this lineup reads like a genre dream team: Bob Larkin (Savage Sword of Conan, Planet of the Apes), Greg Staples (Judge Dredd, Magic: The Gathering), Ralph Horsley (Dungeons and Dragons, Magic: The Gathering), Ed Repka (Hellraiser, Megadeth), Dan Brereton (Vampirella, Red Sonja) and Alex Horley (Heavy Metal, World of Warcraft). The outcome is a great homage to the classic style while still feeling fresh and fun as ever, which is why I was so excited to get in touch with Mars Attacks: Occupation‘s art director Adam Levine:
“We’ve been itching to do a Mars Attacks set for some time, and unfortunately, [Topps] couldn’t commit to putting their weight behind it for a variety of reasons, but still understood the importance of keeping Mars Attacks alive. They handed the project over to me…” And the results are a brilliant Kickstarter campaign and fans clamoring for more. After you check out this artwork, you will be too. Levine was kind enough to give us some insight into each image – three of them being TR EXCLUSIVE REVEALS – so holster your ray gun for a second and behold your new Martian overlords.
1. “Earth, Occupied”
“This is our title card, card #1 in the series, which will set the tone for the set. A very iconic type of scene, with some Martians strolling through a post apocalyptic landscape. If you can believe it, this was Bob Larkin’s “warmup” painting. He hasn’t painted professionally in nearly 5 years, and without any direction from me just put this together to get back into the swing of things. By sheer coincidence it pretty closely matched my description for Card #1, “Earth, Occupied” so I simply plugged it into that slot.”
2. “Robot Raid”
“This is going to be card #2 in the set, and another by Bob Larkin. One of the big new features of this story are these robot drones – they stand about 9-10 ft tall and act as the Martian’s main occupying army. They don’t have the necessary numbers to control the entirety of our planet, and rapidly build a force of drone bots to maintain order.
In this scene, a robot has identified a human rebel sympathizer, and like classic evil robots, it is run by a strict protocol, disregarding any collateral consequences in pursuit of its objective. My direction to Bob, who is well-known for his classic ’70s Marvel covers, was to show a robot ‘tearing open a city bus like the Incredible Hulk.'”
3. “Murder at Midnight”
“The robot drones are going to show up a lot in this set, and they’re actually based on an old, unused design from the ’60s by Wally Wood. We fleshed it out a bit and are using them to help fill out the world of Mars Attacks. This card sort of illustrates how totalitarian and militaristic the Martian occupation is, as a drone murders a man (and abducts his companion) for being out after curfew.”
4. “Sky Giants”
“One of the coolest parts of this new set was the chance to bring back the classic ’80s card set, Dinosaurs Attack. This came about when, I approached artist Alex Horley – whom we hired as a last-minute fill-in on the last set – if he had interest in doing more paintings for this series. He said yes, no doubt, but asked if there were any opportunities to draw dinosaurs, a favorite subject matter of his. That got me thinking, what better way to reintroduce Dinosaurs Attack than through a crossover subset?”
(For those who may not know, when Mars Attacks celebrated its 25th year anniversary, Topps released a quasi-follow up called Dinosaurs Attack! Recently some of the previously unpublished comics got a new printing in the form of a trade paperback, telling the complete story of the rift in time that caused more mayhem than a meteor shower. There is a scene where a dinosaur materializes around an unsuspecting camper while he is peeing, trapping him inside the animal’s chest like Kuato. Do yourself a favor and check it out.)
5. “Hide and Seek”
“As Alex and I talked, I decided I’d let him derive a lot of the imagery himself. I had a basic story in mind, and still do have a narrative that will tie both universes together, but for the visuals, I wanted to give Alex – a tremendous creator and illustrator – the freedom to explore whatever gory scenes came to mind. Like the original Mars Attacks series, I wanted to focus on imagery, and let the story details be guided by the art.”
6. “Rage of the Raptors”
“The Martian ‘Monster-Men’ made were created by a fellow editor at Topps to be a sort-of ‘zombie’-like character set in Mars Attacks, and Alex Horley did a great card with them in our last set (Science Unleashed) so it made perfect sense for him to show these guys tearing into a pack of ravenous raptors. This image basically has everything fans love: Gore, Martians and dinosaurs!”
7. “Gladiator Games”
“Over the years, the Martians have been abducting humans from Earth, and have largely kept them in cryo-stasis for experimentation and study. During the invasion, many brought back to Earth to be used as ‘control subjects’ and a few escaped their stasis pods. Now, with the Martians in control, they use these men out of time as a way to keep the populace entertained, pitting them against giant, mutated insects in gladiatorial games for the amusement of Martians and humans alike.
These characters here: a 17th-century samurai and a 1970s boxer, will be followed over the course of a few different cards, and will be joined by other heroes from history – and may even show up in some of IDW’s upcoming comics.”
Speaking of IDW Comics, they frequently handle licensed properties very well, and the crossover series Mars Attacks Judge Dredd is no different. If you dig this crossover, you will be delighted to learn that as of May 21st Topps has announced a new 20 card set based on the mini-series. And as if this Occupation Kickstarter wasn’t sweet enough already, they have added this set as an incentive bonus.
The Kickstarter campaign will run until June 1, so if you want to show some love you’ve got a small window of time left. I should also mention that within the Kickstarter you can also purchase some of the original art prints from this series. The Bob Larkin piece “Earth Occupied” for $2500 (includes $300.00 worth of cards), “Robot Raid” for $1500 (also $300.00 worth of cards) and a piece by Dan Brereton. If you’ve got that kind of green, I can think of worse things to blow it on.
Another artist attached to this series is Jason Chalker (a fan of TR!), and he actually has the distinct honor of being the first artist do an officially licensed crossover between Mars Attacks and Dinosaurs Attack. This limited edition print hit the market just before the Kickstarter went underway, so it is not actually part of Occupation. If you want the piece of history you can find more information here, but Jason gave me permission to use the image so I am going to let it fly.
It’s easy to get us excited about something as awesome as a new Mars Attacks set (especially after seeing these new images), but it’s a huge task to actually see the project through. Adam Levine is doing a bang-up job so far, and we eagerly await more news and details. Here is the Kickstarter video, which says everything better than any Earthling can. Ack-ACK!
Bryce Abood is a musician and screenwriter. He has toured 40 states with multiple bands and played on over a dozen albums. Bryce has written about E3 and done video coverage for San Diego Comic-Con, as well as contributed to several podcasts including Topless Robot Live. Bryce also writes about scripts for never-made movies, often collaborating with a visual artist to produce fake concept art. His spare time goes to consuming or creating cartoons. Bryce lives in Los Angeles, in the Hip Hop section at Amoeba Records.