Chris Foss Trading Cards (or to give them their official and more ponderous title Chris Foss Fantasy Art Trading Cards) was a set of 90 base cards that featured the work of the popular science-fiction artist, and was published by FPG in 1995.
Foss, a Guernsey-based artist, began illustrating book covers after leaving Cambridge’s Magdalene College in the 1960’s. He found early fame by illustrating the controversial Joy of Sex in 1972 before working as a concept artist on director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s doomed Dune adaption and Ridley Scott’s Alien. He also painted the covers to science-fiction novels by, amongst others, Isaac Asimov, EE ‘Doc’ Smith and James Blish. By the late 1970’s his work graced the covers to dozens of novels and it’s no exaggeration to say that many fans bought those books solely on the strength of Foss’ cover artwork. I know I did.
This set of trading cards featured 90 base cards as well as five metallic chase cards (1:12) and an ultra rare autographed card (there were only 100 of these). The cards shipped in packs of 10 (the display box is shown above) and was the only set of trading cards based on the artist’s work. Each card measured 90 x 65mm, was printed on thick card stock and featured a Foss painting on one side and a caption on the reverse. Sadly, instead of using the captions to provide biographical information on the artist and the painting, they instead featured fictionalised descriptions of the images themselves. While some of the card’s titles do tally with the name of the book or project associated with the painting – card #1 for example is taken from Asimov’s novel The Robots of Dawn – many bear no relation to the painting’s original use. That’s a real shame as I’d have liked to have known a little more about the creative process that went into each painting. At the very least FPG should have listed the original title, author and publication date. (Although the caption side of the cards really do add nothing to the set I’ve included them anyway, just for the sake of completeness).
Here are the first 20 cards from the Chris Foss Trading Card collection, both front and back. I’ll post cards #21-40 in the next week or so (click here).
Card #1: Robots of Dawn
Card #2: Gargantua
Card #3: Death of a Robot
Card #4: The Class of 21
Card #5: Even Robots Die
Card #6: The Naked Sun
Card #7: City Gate Stos, Century 10
Card #8: Spider Droids
Card #9: Roderick
Card #10: The Solar Prince
Card #11: Escape from the Titan
Card #12: Sarcenna Pursuit Fighter
Card #13: Solar Tornado
Card #14: Another One Bites the Dust
Card #15: A Sense of Scale
Card #16: After They’ve Gone
Card #17: Pressure Rupture on K6
Card #18: Sharks Around Kia
Card #19: Easter Island
Card #20: Towards the Stars