The Gift Beyond Compare.


Yes, that is what you think it is.  The original Alex Garner drawing from the card heard ’round the world.  Longshot, Rebel Freedom Fighter.  Upper Deck’s Vs. System.  The legendary Mulletman.

For those of you that I know and love from our trading card game community, I beg your indulgence today.  I need to explain how special this gift is in a historical perspective for all our friends who have no idea how I got to this moment.

Nina and I had been playing Magic the Gathering for about 18 months when I saw the first announcement of a new game with Marvel and DC Comics superheroes on the horizon.  The game was called Vs. System, published by Upper Deck, and I dove in with all three feet when it was first released in April 2004.  I carved a niche and made a name for myself, much of it on the back of that little alien luckmaster you see in the original art.  I helped build a worldwide community on the message boards, and eventually earned a spot on the official company website as a writer.

We have suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune as a gaming community, and I have taken my fair share of licks in the process.  I never lost hope, I never stopped being positive and aiming only at the most possible joy for the most possible cardflippers.  Now it has all paid off in a way I would have never dreamed of, let alone asked for.

I pulled the original art from a surprise FedEx package yesterday when I got home from school.  It was a belated Christmas bonus, care of the incomparable Ian Estrin.  This was the note that accompanied it:

Dear Rian,

I can’t think of anyone who deserves or will appreciate this more.  It is the least we could do after all the heart and love you have poured into the game, the company, and the community.  I knew when I first saw the piece in my art director’s office two years ago that the only place Mulletman belonged was in your house.  I am glad it finally made it home.

Long live the mullet!!!

I was speechless for hours, and I still don’t think I will ever find the words to properly describe what I am feeling.  For all my friends in the community that helped me get to this point, thank you.  I couldn’t have gotten here without you.  For Longshot, thank you too.  I have been wearing you on my hat for two years now, and I knew you would bring me luck… but this is ridiculous.  It is a gift beyond compare.


Filed under Art I live with., Vs. System

13 responses to “The Gift Beyond Compare.

  1. Very cool.

    I’ll get you a REAL riding seahorse in exchange for the Cardiac art.

    Mmm… Cardiac…

  2. OSM

    That’s pretty cool stuff. A unique gift for a unique combination of efforts and achievements. Yep, it fits.

  3. shamilton777

    Very cool indeed and well earned stu.

    Mad Props to Ian Estrin as well. He’s an alright cat.

  4. Ian

    All I ask is that you don’t put this Longshot in your hat. 🙂

    All the best.


  5. kaleeshwarrior

    I cannot imagine the feeling of getting something that means so much. Congratulations!

  6. RD52169

    Wow, that is so cool!

    And keep up the good work!

  7. Congratulations, not only on the gift but on the appreciation that it shows in your efforts and abilities! 🙂


  8. I’ve always been a huge Longshot fan, he was by far one of my favorite X-men. I hate what they have done with him in the Ultimate universe.

    Great piece of art.

  9. Interesting. I rather enjoyed the Ultimate X-Men books when they ran the updated Longshot in a story called “The Most Dangerous Game.” I had written the article in the link at the beginning of the post six months earlier with an incredibly synchronistic title, and I loved his new boots.

    The mullet, however, was missing. I can understand your hate.

  10. gdaybloke

    Now you need to put it in a frame with a built in sound-chip that plays Achy-Breaky-Heart. Y’know, mullets and all that…

  11. Setting the Billy Ray Cyrus aside, it will be an agonizingly delicious decision… trying to choose the best frame possible for our little three-fingered bad hair day.

    I’ll post a photograph of our final decision when it is complete.

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