- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 21, 2002

Firefighters, grooms, a pretty backpacker, a karaoke crooner: All smiling, all collectible and all dead. "Heroes of the World Trade Center" trading cards will soon go on sale, themed around victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
But please. Don't call these trading cards.
These are "memorial cards," and considered credible journalism shrunk down to collector-card format by Floridaentrepreneur Kingsley Barham, who spent months persuading some surviving families to contribute photographs and personal stories of the lost.
"These cards are meant to be fitting, honorable tributes to the fallen. No one is going to trade two firefighters for an airline pilot," Mr. Barham said yesterday. "People who have a problem with this have a problem with the medium. They think the trading-card size is somehow demeaning."
But they are, well, like baseball cards: a photo on one side, stats, quotes and symbols on the back.
Ghoulish, exploitive, degrading, tasteless? Since he announced his commercial intentions last spring, Mr. Barham and his cards have been called all these things in press reports, on talk radio and by relatives of victims.
More than 170 families, however, gave their blessing to the project, offering photos, memories, poems and permission to use the material.
"When Kevin got to heaven, this must have been his take. I wasn't sick. I wasn't old. There must be some mistake," wrote Mary Mulderrig of her son-in-law, Kevin Reilly, 28, a New York City firefighter who died at the World Trade Center.
Mr. Reilly's card shows him smiling in a wedding-day portrait, taken just two months before the attack.
"People will exploit anything if they think there's a market for it," noted Debbie Allen, an Arizona-based marketing specialist and author of the book, "Confessions of Shameless Self-Promoters."
The victims' cards, she said, "are just plain tacky."
"But this is America, and people are free to market and sell anything they want. These cards are controversial, but that's what makes them interesting. It's all unethical, but it's legal."
Mr. Barham, meanwhile, has done about 100 print and broadcast interviews about his cards, American culture, the media and public grieving, among other things.
"It's been infuriating," he said. "I could put the same information and photos in a coffee-table book or magazine and no one would care. The New York Times did their 'Portraits of Grief' series and won a Pulitzer for it. I put the same thing on little cards, and everyone is outraged."
Mr. Barham is no stranger to the format, however.
In the past 10 years, the one-time stockbroker has published collectible cards themed on tattoos, motorcycles and marijuana, which earned him $1 million and a letter from California's then-Attorney General Dan Lungren, who accused Mr. Barham of promoting drug use among children.
Undaunted, the entrepreneur was ready to ship off more "hemp cards" to record stores and card shops when the terrorists struck.
The cards are due to be shipped to retailers in a few weeks from Chestnut Publications, Mr. Barham's manufacturing headquarters in Del Ray Beach, Fla. The cards will be sold in eight-card, dark-toned packets for $2, with family members receiving 8 percent of the gross sales of the product.


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