In what kinda-sorta amounts to a stab at self-parody, J.J. Abrams recently put a cryptic countdown online for something called a “mystery box,” a literal wooden box bearing the name given to his favorite story device – intense secrecy surrounding something that usually turns out to be a letdown. Indeed, the box, “made of 100-year-old reclaimed wood,” now turns out to contain 12 decks of sealed playing cards, “art-directed” by Abrams and Jonathan Bayme, made in partnership with card manufacturers Theory 11.
Each deck of Mystery Box Playing Cards is sealed with a kraft paper, letterpress wrap that inspires intrigue and endless wonder. Keep it closed, tear it open, or share the experience with a friend. The choice is yours.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that, since the “art direction” on the cards appears to be little more than the insertion of Riddler-like question marks into the design, you won’t feel the need to tear them open. At $150 (some proceeds go to programs sponsoring creative writing in schools) this is, like most of the director’s metaphorical mystery boxes, perhaps best left closed, lest it reveal too much disappointment. As card-trick magicians are fond of saying, he has nothing up his sleeve.
Hey, you know what he should do next? Flared jeans with pictures of camera lenses all over them.
What other partnerships could sum up JJ’s style?