1955 Topps All-American “Bluto” Blutarsky and Forrest Gump
by Bob Lemke
In the half-dozen years that I have been working on creating 1955 All-American style football cards as an exercise in creativity and computer-graphics problem solving, I have created more than 120 cards "that never were" of college footballs players -- some of whom also never were.
One of my favorites is this card based on the Animal House movie character "Bluto," famously played by John Belushi in the 1978 National Lampoon movie.
You may be surprised to see Bluto in a football uniform, as there is absolutely no mention in the movie of the character ever taking the field for the Faber Mongols. I'll admit it: I have never taken such liberties in creating one of my cards as I did with this one.
Animal House has, since its initial release, appealed to the puerile (Keith Olbermann taught me that word) portion of my psyche. I still watch it about once a year when I can find the uncut version on DirecTV .
Some years back, while paging through a copy of Playboy, I encountered an article about Belushi. The portrait in the accompanying photo clicked with me, and I decided a Bluto football card was next up on my to-do list.
I found an appropriate uniformed body picture on which to graft Belushi's/Blutarsky's head, and I was ready to roll. In the spirit of the movie, I sat down in front of a rerun with a bottle of black Jack and took notes. In some scene or other I saw a felt pennant on a Delta house wall that indicate the Faber nickname was the Mongols. In a stroke of very good fortune, a Google search of Faber turned up the Mongol team logo that appears on the front of my card.
Virtually everything that appears on the biography on back, however, is of my own creation, although -- while I can't verify this with a citation at this late date -- I seem to recall that I found on some website or other the fact that Blutarky's middle name was Adam.
The process of fictionalizing a fictional character in furtherance of creating one of my custom football card creations was especially satisfying. I believe true fans of Animal House will appreciate the effort.
A half-dozen or so of the nearly 120 cards I've created in the past six years or so pay tribute to college football players whose gridiron exploits were entirely in the realm of fiction or entertainment.
Certainly the most popular of these pop culture figures is Forrest Gump. It was some time after I had begun my 1955-style cards that I realized, as I watched a re-run of the movie, that there was a college football element to the story of that fictional savant simpleton. 'Bama, no less! In deference to the legions of Tide fans, I'll refrain from further comment on where Gump fits into the continuum of Alabama alumns.
Once I knew I wanted to create a Forrest Gump football card, I set about assembling the pieces I'd need . . . basically a picture and biographical details.
I was unprepared for how difficult it became to find a suitable photo. A Google search of Tom Hanks and Forrest Gump failed to turn up any in-uniform pictures that would be suitable for reproduction. I spent some time scouring eBay and a few other sites for movie press kits or stills, but those I did find did not include a football picture.
In desperation, one night I set my digital camera on a tripod in front of the TV and began playing back a recorded copy of the movie. When I got to suitable spots in the movie, I hit the pause button and moved back and forth through the scenes, frame-by-frame, until I found what I was looking for. I shot the photo off my screen in extremely high-res and was very happy with the quality once it was reduced to ink-on-paper on the front of my card.
In reading the back of my card you may notice some variance with the details as presented in the movie. That's because I decided to go to the source, and work from the original 1986 novel by Winston Groom.
Because the book is written entirely in first-person dialect, it is not an easy read, but it was worth the effort and as the base document for my card back, I believe it was the right way to go.
Bob Lemke is a collector of bubblegum cards in the 1950s-1960s, Bob Lemke's hobby today is creating cards of current and former “players” in those "golden age" styles. He currently edits the vintage sections of the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards and maintains a hobby blog at boblemke.blogspot.com.