#Shortstops: Comic gold

Written by: Janey Murray

Daniel Horine could never have imagined where one comic-style art print of former All-Star first baseman Will Clark would take him.

Little did he know that what began as a pandemic hobby, creating prints of baseball players in the style of comic book covers, would eventually land him in the Hall of Fame. Now, nine of his prints are preserved within the Museum’s Library Archives.

“I didn’t really expect much or think much of it – it was not a deliberate thing, like, ‘I’m going to do this, and I’m going to turn it into a business, and my work will one day be in the Hall of Fame,’” Horine said. “It was very much, ‘Oh, I’ll try this, not much else has happened with my little projects, so I’ll try this, see what happens, maybe do a couple, then call it a day and move on to something else.’ But to be at this point is totally novel and very exciting.”

Horine grew up loving two things more than almost anything else: Art and baseball. As a kid, he was always drawing, painting and coloring. And though he grew up in the Los Angeles area, he was a member of the TBS generation of Atlanta Braves fans, developing an affinity for the team and his favorite player, Dale Murphy, because their games were accessible on national television.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Horine had become interested in recapturing his youth through art, and wanted to start a new project into which he could channel that effort. A friend proposed he do a piece on Will Clark in comic book style, and thus the project began.

“For my first few, I was just putting them on Instagram, and whatever followers I had at that time or whoever happened to see my hashtags, they were able to see it,” Horine said. “I really expected to sell maybe two, three, four – which I did – and that would be that.”

He decided to start putting out one print a week, each for one week only – after which it would be retired forever. By his fourth release, he got the opportunity to partner with his childhood hero to create “Power Alley.”

“We had turned the corner from me being a fan to us being friends a year or two before, so [Murphy] was like, ‘Let’s do something together,’” Horine said. “I always will be very grateful to Dale Murphy for that. That early connection to the project really set things in motion in a good way.”

From there, Horine’s work continued to grow in popularity and reached a turning point in December 2020, when he was able to promote his work through an appearance on MLB Network’s Hot Stove with Matt Vasgersian and Harold Reynolds. A spike in sales immediately followed.

Despite his work’s widespread notoriety, Horine was still shocked when he got word that the Hall of Fame was interested in adding several pieces to its collection.

“I read the email and came downstairs immediately, gave my wife no context – I just came down and started reading the beginning of the email,” Horine said. “It was very, very exciting to me, and out of the blue. I didn’t realize I was on anyone’s radar there.”

He ultimately donated nine different prints to the Hall of Fame: “The Cobra”, “Codebreaker: Dark Arts”, “The Wizard”, “The Green Monster”, “The Big Red Machine”, “The Hawk”, “The Curse of the Bambino”, “World Series 75: Waving it Fair”, and “Rubberband Man.”

For the lifelong baseball fan and artist, it’s a dream come true to be able to combine baseball and nostalgia into works of art that people enjoy.

“I don’t want to make it too dramatic to say this, but it’s an artist’s dream to be able to do the work that you want, and to have that resonate with people,” Horine said. “Oftentimes when you’re an artist, you end up doing the work that other people tell you to. So to be able to tell my own stories is rare and novel, and I am extremely grateful for that.”

To learn more about Horine’s work and view his latest drop of the week, you can visit popflypopshop.com.

Janey Murray was the digital content specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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