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The Odd Fellows at Portfolio52 (2021)

The Odd Fellows at Portfolio52 (2021)



The journey of the Odd Fellows series began in 2020 when I agreed to create the 2021 deck for the United Cardists (UC) community. Every year, a playing card designer offers their services for free to create a custom deck of cards for UC.

I likened this diversity to the characters of a carnival or circus. In a movie, each character has its own distinctive profile. So, I searched for a name that would encapsulate this collective spirit. Initially, I considered “Freaks,” but it felt too extreme Then I thought of “Strange Strangers,” but I said “that’s odd”... When I said that, I immediately replaced “Strange” with “Odd” and “Strangers” with “Fellows.” “The Odd Fellows” sounded just right and became the permanent title for this project.

With that decision made, I began sketching the court cards, making them as odd as possible. In some cases, these characters are so eccentric that they end up causing harm to themselves with the tools or weapons they hold. The entire style is a blend of humor, macabre absurdity, oddity, caricature, and a touch of madness. The court cards take center stage as a gang of misfits on the loose, with each figure possessing its unique quirks.

Visually, they are illustrated with disproportion: large heads, small hands, and bodies. Each character is engaged in some action or displaying something unusual. In terms of layout, I opted to fill the cards as much as possible, with large indices and illustrations almost touching the borders, leaving a thin white border. This choice was only viable if the manufacturer could guarantee precise registration of the graphic elements. If I remember correctly, we chose EPCC as the manufacturer, as they were capable of achieving flawless registration and precise centering.


While I was getting close to the final version, I received news regarding UC’s acquisition by Portfolio52, an online repository for digital cataloging of card collections owned by fellow card designer Alex Chin of Season Playing Cards.
The Odd Fellows were going to transition as well, and become P52 debut deck.
The UC community likely overlapped with Portfolio52 users, which I didn’t view as unfavorable news. It simply meant that some adjustments were necessary for certain cards and the tuckbox.
Alex’s plan was to launch a Kickstarter campaign, and we struck an agreement for a third exclusive deck with foil application on the back design, obtainable at a promotional price via Kickstarter. It’s in this context that Sir Octo the octopus made its entrance.

The conclusive concoctions for each character were solidified, thanks to the creative and rhyming talents of Scott Mathew.



P52 launched the Kickstarter campaign on October 17th, 2021, and I was part of the team as a collaborator. My role involved providing graphics and visual materials for stretch goals and releases, writing updates, and overseeing the production process at EPCC.

We had a fantastic collection of images captured by Frank Alan Cuvin, which proved invaluable in presenting the product authentically. Our investment in prototypes saved time and offered backers a genuine representation of what we were offering. However, the process of ordering and producing prototypes, along with creating mock-ups, is time-consuming. In cases where time was limited, we had to rely on digital renderings to help backers understand the final product’s appearance.

For the campaign, we introduced the ODD-O-METER, a kind of progress tracker that showcased releases and stretch goals. The campaign coincided with Halloween, providing an opportunity to organize a Halloween release at the “Spooky Odd” level on the Odd-O-Meter. This kept backers engaged and informed about intriguing items and events. Additionally, it added an element of fun and inventiveness to our management approach. The Odd-O-Meter proved to be an invaluable tool for monitoring the Kickstarter campaign’s progress.

  • The journey through oddity began with “Barely Odd,” which featured the launch of Brass Monkey and Uncle Tibia.
  • “Triple Odd” introduced Sir Octo, and “The Odditor” showcased a small release, an enamel pin featuring Sir Octo.
  • “The Odd is the word” was a major release unveiling the “Odd Box 9,” an extraordinary collector’s box containing a set of 9 decks (3 of each kind). Designing and presenting this was quite a challenge.
  • The “Getting Odder” level unlocked a set of vinyl stickers and the intricately designed Brass Monkey patch.
  • On Halloween day, the “Spooky Odd” event introduced a new tiny Odd Fellow named Lil’ Jakko, a miniature deck featuring a young Jack-O-Lantern.
  • “Shiny Odd” was an exclusive perk for all backers who pledged for Sir Octo. Their decks were upgraded with red metallic gilded edges, and this upgrade was provided free of charge. This release also included a set of coasters as an add-on.
  • Finally, “The Oddest” marked the campaign’s thrilling conclusion one week before its end. It introduced a limited edition deck with only 888 units and an additional Odd Fellow: El Sapo Cubano (The Cuban Toad in Spanish). This deck featured bronze gilded edges, foil application on the back design, an extra card with a signature, and a unique progressive number visible through the toad’s wide mouth.

Funded with Kickstarter in 2021
Collaboration with Portfolio52
A total of 12,078 decks manufactured by Expert Playing Card Co.
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