Friendly Dictators Trading Cards
Friendly Dictators Trading Cards


Some Notes About this Site:
Eclipse Enterprises:Top of Page
Eclipse Enterprises was founded in 1977 by brothers Jan and Dean Mullaney and originally run out of a converted garage at their home in Forestville, California. The company quickly gained a reputation for producing comics that dealt with issues that the major publishers avoided. Journalist Catherine Yronwode joined Eclipse as an editor in 1981 and, with writer Joyce Brabner, persuaded the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors to fund Eclipse's anti-war comic "Real War Stories". A Georgia court injunction preventing the CCCO from distributing the comic for free at a high school career day was overturned by the Georgia State Supreme Court. Eclipse went on to publish "Brought to Light", a comic book series featuring factual accounts of CIA covert operations in Central America. These reality-based comics led to a series of trading card sets on similar political and non-mainstream themes: "Drug Wars", "The Iran Contra Scandal", "Serial Killers", "Rotten to the Core - New York Political Scandal" and "Friendly Dictators".
Much of the above information comes from Douglas Rushkoff's 1994 book "Media Virus", as does the following quote:
“[The Trading Cards were] ... an even more ingenious conduit for activist ideologies than comics. "Trading cards, sports cards, were already nonfiction," [Yronwode] explains. "It's the most effective bait and switch because the person thinks, 'Oh, I'm gonna get a bunch of little fact cards here about famous people.' And they do. But they find out that the Premier of some Latin American country was a convicted rapist. That the CIA supported him until he assassinated some dude in Africa. It's all right there in your face. And they don't know how to turn it off because it's on a trading card and a trading card is true." ... Unlike a comic book, which has a linear order, a trading card is a tiny unit by itself and can be arranged in any manner. Yronwode says this feature is not coincidental: "Our trading cards are designed so they read like Hypercard stacks. Each cross-references to other cards ... They all connect, and you can rearrange them in chains of interconnectivity. Or chronologically. You can find out who someone's boss was, how different people moved around, that this guy was in Vietnam at the same time as this guy, and then that they were both in Nicaragua at the same time, too." ... In this absurdly simplistic context [of trading cards], the complexities of behind-the-scenes government corruption are reduced to blatant and clear-cut violations of the public trust. Meanwhile the viral shell of "trading" cards promotes the idea that kids should be passing these memes around.”
In 1997, Eclipse had another legal success when a U.S. federal appeals court struck down a Nassau County, New York law banning the sale of trading cards depicting "any heinous crime". The court found for Eclipse who had challenged the law on First Amendment grounds - cf: Eclipse Enterprises, Inc. v. Gulotta (U.S. Federal Court of Appeal, 2nd Circuit, December 1997). The expense of this court case seems to have bankrupted them - at any rate, for whatever reason, Eclipse appears to have folded. There are no web entries for the company, no listing in any of the Publishing Indexes I've been able to find, and all its products are out of print, as far as the big web booksellers are concerned. So who knows - maybe, they just found something else to do with their time. If they are still around and don't want me messing with their stuff, they have only to ask and I'll take the site down. Unless and until that happens, please enjoy...

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Robert Weaver