Friday, August 21, 2009


In the excellent anthology State by State, Tony Horwitz writes of Virginia’s status as the mortuary state. He’s right. As far as states go, we’ve had a lot of bad times here in the old dominion. We’ve had Indian battles. We saw action in the Revolutionary War. Most of the Civil War was fought in Virginia. Plus slavery was in full swing. That’s a heap of human misery in the land of ham and tobacco.

In Virginia, Civil War junk is everywhere. I live in the former capital of the Confederacy. A place where a giant bronze Jefferson Davis is a familiar sight. I grew up in rural Virginia. If you dig in your yard you may find Yankee killin' bullets. I’ve always been bored by it, which is strange when you consider that bloodbaths and massacres aren’t really that dull. Maybe it was the overexposure that made brother v. brother so uninteresting to me…or maybe it was the fact that I never had a set of CIVIL WAR NEWS trading cards.

Topps released the Civil War News card set in 1962 to coincide with the war’s centennial. They got away with selling overblown gore to kids by calling the cards educational, which they are to a certain extent. The cards certainly demonstrate how awesomely destructive the whole thing was. On the back, there are facts about battles and dates. It was a win-win. The kids got something ridiculously violent and the adults could take pride in their children’s interest in American history.

Here are the most insane cards that are set in my home state of Virginia:

Don’t that make you wanna fly a rebel flag and offend some of the neighbors? If only park rangers would incorporate more crushing and impaling on their plaques….

Topps had success with Civil War News so they put out another set of educational gore cards in 1962. This time they were educating children about the threat of Martian domination with the classic Mars Attacks! set:

In 1989, Topps did a set called Dinosaurs Attack! that is even trashier than Mars Attacks!

For the complete sets of Civil War News and Mars Attacks! go here.

For more on Dinosaurs Attack! (which is without exaggeration one of mankind’s greatest achievements) go here.


  1. These are just fabulous! I think 'Pushed to his doom' is my favourite, but I also love 'Painful Death' and 'Wall of Corpses'... oh, and 'Crushed by the Wheels'... oh I can't decide. I love them all.

  2. Damn, I wish I still had room for a sleeve. Cat Lady's Revenge would so be that tattoo. Damn you tattoos, for being so permanent.

    Also, as a fellow Richmonder, I have frequently been bored by our capital's bloody history. You drive by those monuments all day every day, you just don't give a shit after awhile.

  3. Matthew: I'm partial to "Bridge of Doom" because it takes place 15 minutes from my hometown. So many of these card titles would make great names for metal bands.

    Jenn: What's your favorite? I'm partial to Maury because of the fish but I've often imagined the giant Robert E. Lee walking through the fan Ghostbusters 2 style. Also, did you ever take a YA lit class at VCU?