Top row: Magician, Priestess, Queen; Bottom row: King, Priest, Backcover
Art by Dave Sim
(from the essay at The Beguiling, 2004)
Oddly enough, even while we were running the Cerebus’ Six Deadly Sins portfolio ad on the inside back cover of issues 26 through 30, the only mention of the first series of Diamondback Cards came in Deni's Note from the Publisher in issue 29, indicating that they were to be offered as a fan-club premium and would be sent to anyone joining the fan club prior to the 1981 San Diego Con. Shortly thereafter we would take over the running of the fan club from Fred Patten for several years but, the inescapable fact remained that Cerebus was never really a 'fan club' type of thing. As I recall, the first series of Diamondback Cards were our attempt to give Fred something to really attract enough fans to make his efforts worthwhile - they were printed on good quality cardstock, with four-colour backs and an illustrated envelope. But it was all for naught and when we folded the fan club we ended up selling most of the decks through Now & Then Books and through the mail at $3.00 or so per pack after the distributors had ordered an initial number of decks (as Deni mentioned in her Note from the Publisher in issue 32). The direct market, at the time, just wasn't set up to sell cards in any great quantity. Kind of funny when you consider that the collectible card market virtually swamped the comic-book field for a period of time in the late eighties and early nineties.
I really worked to make the cards as attractive as possible and even incorporated the images into the Cerebus Held Hostage sequence in issue 27 (High Society pages 40 to 46) to get that 'tie-in' thing happening. In doing the hand separations on the back, I used some of the most subtle four-colour combinations I had in my separations book and made sure every one of them was cut as cleanly as I could with an X-acto knife. A subtle shade of brown, a subtle shade of ruby red. Then the cards came back and Cerebus was an albino. I had forgotten to slap a basic 30% gray on 'im. D’OH!