Artist Mike Noren creates trading cards for heroes sung and unsung.
Artist Mike Noren creates trading cards for heroes sung and unsung. Credit: Courtesy Mike Noren

White Sox pitcher Carlos Rodón threw a no-hitter against Cleveland on a Wednesday night in April. Within a couple hours of that victory, Chicago artist Mike Noren tweeted a hand-drawn homage to the grand achievement under the handle Gummy Arts—that’s the name Noren uses for his sprawling oeuvre of homemade trading cards that feature lovingly rendered drawings of popular sports figures and musicians. Noren’s Gummy Arts endeavors can be traced back to January 2016, when he launched a Tumblr called Cecil Cooperstown to post hand-drawn cards paying tribute to great ballplayers who haven’t been gilded by the Baseball Hall of Fame. Noren’s got a knack for recreating the stylistic markings of Topps and Upper Deck cards, and his pictures balance touches of whimsy with immaculate detail. You can make out the curved shoelace loop on Rodón’s right foot in Noren’s drawing of the White Sox pitcher as he throws out the ball. Noren’s depiction of Rodón’s head is a smidge out of proportion than the rest of his body, but it works well with Noren’s established style—plus, it gave him a little more space to identify stray hairs that decorate Rodón’s cheeks. Noren’s Rodón card is as much a tribute to a great moment in the White Sox 2021 season as it is an example of how fandom can generate genuinely fun creative expression.

Best of Chicago 2021 is
presented by

sponsored in part by

Refer to the closed final ballot to see all the categories and finalists that were voted on.