Good morning everyone, and welcome back to Masterpiece Theater on Hipsters of the Coast for the sixth and perhaps final installment of the 2020 Marvel Masterpieces Sketch Card Showcase! We are now close to three years from the initial release, but way back when, each box of Marvel Masterpieces 2020 (on average) contained a sketch card, an original work of art by an artist rendered on the same size and stock as the regular set. They are inserted at random, and could be from one of more than 150 artists and of almost any character found within the Marvel Universe. 

Among sketch collectors there are a lot of different strategies, from collecting by set (me), certain artists (also me), or a particular character (still me), and a few collectors just really seek out high quality sketches, regardless of anything else. In many ways it’s no different than an art collector in any other genre.

Volume I | Volume II | Volume III | Volume IV | Volume V | Volume VI | Volume VII | Volume VIII | Volume IX | Volume X | Volume XI | Volume XII | Volume XIII | Volume XIV | Volume XV | Volume XVI

For my Magic: the Gathering readers and Artist Proof collectors, sketch cards most similar to the artist proofs that MTG artists receive after illustrating a card. While Magic APs don’t ever appear in packs, the idea that each artist brings their own interpretation to a subject on a miniature blank canvas is the same. In Marvel, blank artist proof cards are provided to Marvel sketch card artists based on the number of sketches created, and they can illustrate and sell these both before and/or after set release.

This article will cover the 11 most recent pieces to enter my collection, and at the end, I will have pretty much covered everything, aside from a possible Rupleverse update and my impending Mysterio article. These will mostly be single entries of characters or artists, but the constant as always will be that each sketch tells a tale in the larger story of my collecting journey. There are some massive quests realized in this article, and I’m very excited to share them.

So for perhaps the last time: this is the Episode XVII of Exploring the 2020 Marvel Masterpieces; it’s the Sketch Card Showcase #6!

Spider-Woman by Ash Gonzales

This Spider-Woman by Ash Gonzales caught my eye during the artist’s Instagram previews way, way, back at the beginning of the set release. It was opened on ePack and quickly moved to a collectors PC, or personal collection account, and remained there. That is, until one day when it popped up on COMC, the ePack adjacent marketplace. Though more than I had in the treasure chest at the time, a quick conversation struck a deal both parties were happy with, and I finally acquired my third Spider-related Ash sketch for this set. This red-suit Jessica Drew joins a black-suit Julia Carpenter and a Cosmic Spider-Man at the top of my collection; Ash’s work on MM20 is perhaps his very best in sketch cards, and it’s an honor to own these three. 

Black Cat by Bella Rachlin

Bella Rachlin is almost always near the top of most collectors’ interests, myself included, but after all this time, I’d never found a sketch by her that fit what I was doing with MM20. But a chance trade on ePack landed me a card worthy of this most impeccable Black Cat from a good collecting buddy of mine. She came home to join her white-haired sisterhood in my Masterpieces collection. Rachlin’s marker work is all but unrivaled, and I’m simply stoked to finally have a sketch by her in the master collection 

Black Cat Puzzle by Elise M.P. Strong

Have you ever watched something on ePack, only for it to disappear and never be seen again? That’s what happened with this two-piece, pack-inserted puzzle sketch of one of my favorite characters by one of my favorite artists. Elise doesn’t work on a ton of sets, and her style is so very much my jam. But after having attempted to trade for it several times, it became no longer available, and I almost had forgotten about it. A serendipitous turn of events linked the ePack username to an instagram profile, and after working out a pretty large trade and getting to know this most excellent collector, she was on her way to her forever home. I promised the previous owner I would never sell or trade it, and I plan to keep to my word. This one is here to stay. 

Blink by Mai Irving

I started collecting Blink sketches when fred.ian’s beautiful Blink came out as a part of the first Unbound set. She became my non-Spider-related character to pivot to for AP sketches, and I’ve really enjoyed watching different artists explore her costume and style. This came from the PC of one of the greatest sketch collectors I’ve ever met. This is a rare occurrence of a Blink pack-inserted sketch card for this release. It’s also my third Irving, so even if my collection changes, I’ll still have a full row of the artist’s very distinctive style. 

Man-Thing by Breed

This was a sketch I think I’ve chased for more than two years, lobbing trades on ePack at its owner until one finally stuck. Breed is one of my favorite artists on this set and I think #3 in terms of total sketch count, and I was one card short of another three-row of his work. I love the Man-Thing aesthetic in general, and his line-work does the character an immense amount of justice. I’m very happy to finally have this one.

Silk by Marco Celix (AP)

Silk is a tough character to find in the pack-inserted sketches for this set. Even though she was a member of the base set, and most of my sketches of her reside in the realm of APs. This piece is no different, aside from it’s acquisition being from a fellow Silk collector and not directly commissioned. It also marks the first Celix in this collection- though I’ve traded many of his pieces, it took waiting until this right one to make it a permanent addition. 

Mary Jane by Ahjay Cerezo

Also purchased from another group member, and maybe as far back as last summer, this was MJ #3 for me. It allowed me to finish her row in my binder alongside pieces by Elise Strong and Tim Shinn. It’s quite different from the other two, and illuminates the diversity of the character herself; she’s particularly annoyed with Peter here, and it’s a fun juxtaposition to the other two. As I mentioned, each sketch card is an artist’s personal take on a character, and that makes them all special in their own way. 

Spider-Woman by Hayden Davis

I’ve mentioned a fair few times in this article about the rarity of some characters amongst sketch choices, and Julia Carpenter, the black suit Spider-Woman, falls into this category. There are just not that many instances of her on sketch cards, and I’ve spent a fair amount of time digging through ePack and online collections trying to pull out the best ones. It’s my favorite costume of the character and this fills the last spot on the page.

Venom by Ed Mark de la Criz & Erick Marshall

Venom is one of Marvel Universe’s most popular characters, and while I don’t have a particular personal attachment to the character, his importance to the larger Spider-stories merit him at least a minor role in my collection. These are only the third and and fourth non-AP Venoms I’ve been able to get even after three years of collecting; Venom character collectors are simply as voracious as the character himself. These too finish off a binder page (for now) and show the character in two different contrasting lights. I love a mix of realism and stylization, and two fit together for just that reason.

Black Cat by Cesar Flores

We’ll end with a somewhat unassuming Black Cat sketch by Cesar Flores, not because of what it is, but because of where it came from. This sketch came from the collection of the Marvel Card Collectors Podcast host, founder of MMC and MCCW, and Mr. Felicia Hardy himself, Ian Taylor. Ian has become one of my closest friends in this little section of the collecting world, and we talk all the time about the comings and goings of the hobby. He cares so very deeply for all those involved: collectors, artists, and everyone in between, and you can hear it in every podcast episode, and read it in every post. It’s a privilege to shepherd this sketch in my collection.

Wrapping Up

Well folks, that very well might do it for the Marvel Masterpieces 2020 Sketch Card Showcases. I’ll always be tinkering with this collection, adding some, trading some, selling some, rearranging sheets and making my own subsets, but I don’t foresee any major influx of new work anytime soon. Marvel Masterpieces 2020 will forever hold a very special place in my heart, and has unlocked a love of collecting I haven’t had in quite some time. This set bled over into more current Marvel releases, and I’ll keep on doing my character rainbows and AP commissions for the foreseeable future. I love being a part of this growing community of collectors. Marvel cards just keep getting better, and I’m looking forward to continuing to, as my buddy Ian Taylor says on the Marvel Card Collectors Podcast, Enjoy Collecting!

Next time in Masterpiece Theater we’ll catch up on Unbound 2022, and looking further down the road is the long-awaited My Mysterio article as well as a short review of Fleer Ultra Avengers. As always, you can keep up with all things Marvel trading cards by following me on Twitter. Feel free to ask questions or retweet to continue the conversation. Thanks and see you next time!

Donny Caltrider (he/him) is a Senior Writer at Hipsters of Coast writing about all things related to the art of Magic: The Gathering and the larger imaginative realism genre. He has an M.A. in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University and enjoys telling stories about art, objects, and the intersection of fantasy with real-life. When he’s not writing for Hipsters or working with artists, you can find him traveling with his wife, petting his two cats, and watching the Baltimore Orioles.

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