We’re willing to bet that whether or not you think baseball, or baseball cards, are cool, you probably think monsters are cool. Who doesn’t think monsters are cool? And if an artist took a bunch of famous baseball players and illustrated them as really awesome, creepy, scary monsters to put on baseball cards, well, you’d probably think that’s cool too.
We hope so at least because that’s exactly what’s happened. The artist in question is Alex Pardee, best known for detailed, stringy, bright art that’s usually creepy and scary even if it’s of something cute. This year Pardee was recruited by Topps to help with a project called Project 70, an initiative celebrating the 70th anniversary of the company in which artists create unique baseball cards that could never have existed. Modern players on old designs, old players on new designs, or sometimes players if they were the Predator, a zombie, or a skeleton.
Matching players to a monster was rarely easy. Sometimes, like New York Mets star Pete Alonso, it was. He’s already called “the Polar Bear.” But for most others, Pardee had to dive deep. “For the most part the ‘monster-application’ to the design happened literally when I was drawing the cards,” Pardee told io9. “I would research photos of them, or read their wiki pages, or watch highlight reels, and sometimes ideas would pop up.”
So you get a stellar third baseman like Pittsburgh Pirates star Ke’bryan Hayes with a ton of arms like a spider. A dual threat like Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani as a Malignant-esque set of conjoined twins, and on and on. “I started researching current/modern players and found out that there’s some really FUN players out there now,” Pardee said. “Younger players that genuinely look like they are having an amazing time playing. Players like Ronald Acuna Jr, Fernando Tatis Jr, and Pete Alonso were all just smiling in highlight videos while they were dominating these games. So I decided I wanted to do about half older players and half modern players.”
io9 is exclusively revealing Pardee’s card for Toronto Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. right here for the first time. Just click the next slide to see him, followed by the rest of the series so far, which will include two more yet-to-be-released cards. For more info, you can visit Topps.com or @alexpardee on Twitter or Instagram.