By Chris Roberts
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By Albert Samaha
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"It doesn't matter where you sell PeopleCards as long as there are people there," says Brant Herman. "We already have the cards in gardening centers, bookstores, Army surplus flea markets, and toy stores. They fit anywhere. You sell truck parts? It doesn't matter. These are the only cards a gardener and a mechanic will both find interesting."
As to the collectibility of the cards, Brant Herman trusts the human instinct: "Humans abhor a vacuum. If there are only 100 of something and you have 97, you will naturally want the other three."
"Won't it be great when Series 10 comes out and everyone is clamoring to get the No. 001 Bob Burkin?" suggests Todd Herman. "A high-voltage lineman from North Attleborough, Massachusetts, whose trading card has become a collector's item? And people are trading and bidding for a little piece of Bob Burkin?"
Chances are good. Since the first printing in January, over 30,000 cards have sold.
"It's funny," says No. 029 Rob Weisskirch, a professor whose perfect idea of happiness is simultaneous chocolate and oral sex. "I have odd sensations of being carried in strangers' back pockets at times."
To ensure PeopleCards' value on the collectibles market, the company will discontinue a few numbers during the second printing and replace them with others, fulfilling the collector's need for the hunt and the childlike thrill of acquisition.
According to Werner Muensterberger, author of Collecting: An Unruly Passion, "Collecting is an almost magical means for undoing the strains and stresses of early life and achieving the promise of goodness."
"But even if they don't become collectible," says Brant Herman, "it's really fun."
In addition to the cards, PeopleCards supplies a funny, very real, interactive Web site with sections for fan mail (moderated through PeopleCards to prevent stalking of real people), games, travel (hometown guides submitted by folks living in places like Thayer, Mo.; Mount Sterling, Ky.; and Vandra, Estonia; as well as Houston, San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles), crib tours (excursions through "ordinary" homes, cars, purses, or wallets), and a media bucket where folks submit strange clips of video or music they've created or come across.
Over the next year, Brant Herman hopes to throw PeopleCards mixers for the artists featured on the artcards (the first 15 works that appear in the series were created by Bay Area artists like robot builder Kal Spelletich, environmental sculptor Coreen Abbott, lithographer Nathan Price, painter Kelly Jo Shows, and photographer Jenna Brager). In the not-too-distant future, PeopleCards hopes to travel the country throwing PeopleCards parties in the hometowns of PeopleCards people.
"We'll go to Marquez, Texas, and serve chili, Dr Pepper, and strawberry ice cream," says Todd Herman. "And [No. 003] Don Hallwill be the guest of honor."
"We'd eventually like to hold Realympics," says Brant Herman. "With pack-a-suitcase competitions, bag boy competitions, set-a-table competitions. ... If you look at people in a certain way, everybody's interesting. That guy with the big belly has opinions and interests and dreams. He's as valid a human being as any movie star."
And as collectible. If anyone has PeopleCards No. 64-68, I'm in the market.
If you'd like to be kept in mint condition, log on to www.peoplecards.net and fill out the questionnaire.