In 2014, as part of a series of articles looking at Marvel Comics’ plans to cancel the Fantastic Four comics and any licensing of the Fantastic Four, as part of a falling out Fox Studios, we ran a letter sent to Marvel “sketch card” artists, instructing them not to use any Fantastic Four characters.
Sketch cards are original pieces of artwork, trading card sized, commissioned by artists to be inserted into trading card packs. Upper Deck pay artists $3 per approved sketch, though their value on the market is much higher.
Today we have a fuller list of the characters Marvel states that sketch card artists may not use, as issued up Upper Deck. Last updated in early 2016, it is still being sent to prospective sketch card artists in 2017.
Marvel have some guidelines of course, so you can’t use Marvel characters that are licensed from someone else, have shared ownership, royalty payments due or don’t fit in with Marvel’s style…
Conan The Barbarian & associated universe including…
o Red Sonja
o Thulsa Doom
o Kulan Gath
“ROM” the space night
Any and all Shogun warriors including Red Ronin.
“CRYSTAR” the Crystal Warrior
All Marvel Zombies (under no circumstances can these be done)
Any and all “MAX “or “MATURE CONTENT” books (*see below -subject matter-)
The Micronauts (however, “Bug” from the Guardians of the Galaxy is allowed)
Any “Steven King” Characters (i.e. Dark Tower series)
Characters from the Clive Barker Universe
Any “Malibu” Characters
Ant CROSSGEN characters
“KICK ASS” “Nemesis” and any other Miller verse characters.
Criminal and anything owned by Ed Brubaker.
Powers and anything owned by Brian Bendis.
Any character not owned by Marvel even if they appear in a comic book published by Marvel. (if you’re unsure please ask)
All Earth X characters
All Amalgam characters
Any Marvel /DC team up’s.
Live Action Hulk TV show (i.e. Lou Ferrigno as Hulk)
Earth-8311 (The Spider-Ham universe of characters)
And there are certain looks that are forbidden, no smoking, no alcohol, no nudity, no real guns, no trademarks, no Nazis,
Smoking or Drug use of any kind by any character.
Realistic Guns. If you gave to draw a character with a gun make it a fantasy gun an nothing that exists in the real world.
Guns can NOT be pointed at the viewer.
Alcohol consumption of any kind by any character.
Any nudity. All risqué elements will be a case-by-case basis and subject to modification or rejection. (*see below -subject matter-)
Third party trademarks (i.e. Spider-Man drinking a can of Coke)
Any German WWII army iconography at all. Including but not limited to..
o “SS” or the Nazi secret service lapels or logos
o The German Iron Cross.
o The Nazi Eagles standard
o Anything that resembles the red & white arm Nazi armband.
The “No Fantastic Four” addendum we previously reported is dated 12th November 2013 for any timeline fans.
All Marvel characters related to Fantastic Four are now off limits and will be immediately rejected by Marvel.
This includes but is not limited to:
Etc…. any derivative. If in doubt, please draw something else.
But on the 3rd March 2016, that became more specified, listing all the characters that Marvel won’t let you do sketch cards of. This means that these are the characters that Fox Studios can use for Fantastic Four movies, which are mostly those who first appeared in the Fantastic Four or Silver Surfer comics. With a couple of odd exceptions such as Brigadier Alasynde Stuart who Marvel may have revcently realised is based on a Doctor Who character.
Please note the following list of characters that may not be depicted on cards. Cards with the following characters likenesses will be immediately rejected by Marvel.
There is also an undated addendum for further characters off the board that some may see relate to the Fox movie X-Men: Apocalypse.
NEWLY ADDED: Apocalypse, Gambit, Nightcrawler, Rogue and Shuma-Gorath
That last one is a Robert E Howard character who may or may not have turned up in the Doctor Strange movie. There may some legally unstable issues with that as well. Movie likenesses are also verboten in a series of additional guidelines.
Don’ts on the cards:
NO Nazi symbols (this includes Iron Crosses, Iron Eagles, swastikas, etc.)
NO zombie iterations of any Marvel character (including Zombie Deadpool and Headpool)
NO nudity, blood, gore or over the top violence
NO inappropriately dressed or suggestively drawn characters, even if that is the character’s typically costume (this product should be appropriate for all ages, especially children)
NO licensed characters (Rom, G.I. Joe, Transformers, or any other licensed property Marvel has done over the years)
NO shots of any Marvel character smoking or drinking alcohol (Nick Fury, Wolverine, Tony Stark; feel free to draw them, but no cigars, cigarettes or alcoholic beverages!)
NO movie or animated likenesses; Marvel will reject them wholesale. This means no reproduction of scenes in the movies, the actors staring in them or the costumes they are wearing.
NO Realistic Guns. If you have to draw a character with a gun, make it a fantasy gun an nothing that exists in the real world.
Guns can NOT be pointed at the viewer.
No depicting Captain America holding a gun.
No depicting heroes with a torn/distressed uniform/Costume
Do’s on the cards:
Show multiple characters on single cards. We sometimes showcase specific cards for a set. Doing this will dramatically increase your chances of this happening to your cards.
For cards depicting a single character, half to full body imagery is preferred
Cards should be in full color.
You can use multiple cards to form a single scene (image). If you do chose to do this, please limit the amount of puzzles you do to no more than 10% of your overall cards. Also, please do not make any puzzles over 6 cards in size.
You can use different media; we’ve had everything from colored pencil to oil paintings done on these. Just use spray fix before returning if you use a smudge-able media
Be creative with recreating the reference material – it does not need to be an exact replica.
It’s a lot to remember for $3 a card!