-By Dan dos Santos

In the 1990’s, comic books were enjoying an incredibly healthy revival, which spawned the creation of a ton of new comic book characters, several comic book companies, as well as a plethora of comic book themed trading card sets. One the best trading card sets was the Marvel Masterpieces Series. In particular, the 1994 set is a real favorite of mine.

The 1994 Marvel Masterpieces base set consists of more than 140 cards, all of which are hand painted by Greg and Tim Hildebrandt.

Any fan of fantasy art can appreciate what a staple the Brothers Hildebrandt are to the industry, as their Lord of the Rings work is still a mainstay of the genre. So to have a collection of 140 paintings, depicting some of my favorite fantasy characters of all time, is huge treat that I was anxious to revisit.

Comic trading cards were a real success for comic publishers. It was often a way to repackage pre-existing art and make it suitable for resale. The price per pack was decently high for such a small amount of cards, and the entire process of trying to acquire them all was the perfect business plan made to appeal to obsessive collectors. As a teenager, I would purchase sealed packs of the cards, hoping to acquire a complete set. But that required a lot of money, and a great deal of luck. Fortunately, you can now get these sets quite easily on Ebay for an incredibly reasonable price. Still, all of these cards illicited countless hours of enjoyment for me as a kid, as I reveled in the trivia on the back, and redrew the amazing images on the front.

Even today, seeing the sheer number of fresh, vibrant composition that the Hildebrandt’s came up with for so many different characters is a serious treat for the illustrator in me.

I have a LOT of trading sets, all showcasing the work of some amazing artists, like Boris Vallejo, Julie Bell, Joe Jusko, Jim Lee, Luis Royo, San Julian, and even Moebius. And the best part is, these sets often contained artwork that wasn’t published anywhere else. I will be showcasing a few more of these sets here on Muddy Colors very soon.

Until then, please enjoy a small sampling of some the Hildebrandt Brother’s paintings for the 1994 Marvel Masterpieces set.

You can also see the complete set, including the backs of the cards, HERE.