Playing Cards and Comics: Brawl in the Family Playing Cards by Matthew Taranto

24 Jun

“Brawl in the Family” Playing Cards (Bitf Cards) were created by the American comic artist and writer, Matthew Taranto. The deck is some type of by-product of his parody comic strip dedicated to adventures of many famous Nintendo characters that have appeared in the Smash Bros games.


“Brawl in the Family is a comic strip centering on Kirby and by extension, many famous Nintendo characters that have appeared in the Smash Bros games. There are cameos from other titles as well. The strip began as a series of doodles during one of my many art history classes in college. I was bored one night and doodled up six comics, then put them online on a message board on IGN. From there, people seemed to enjoy them, so I put them up at a few other locations, such as Game FAQs. It began as a comic about the Kirby characters, but once I added the Smash Bros cast (and Kirby’s interaction with them), the scope of the strip expanded significantly.

Most of the characters in Brawl in the Family are parodies of characters that are the property of their respective copyright owners (mostly Nintendo Co. Ltd. and Masahiro Sakurai). This is a parody strip. I did not create the original characters, merely these bizarre interpretations of them.” ~ Matthew Taranto

The comics happened to be so popular that Matthew was able to collect $ 276,502 on Kickstarter (November, 2014) for publishing books with his comics.

The deck: 52 playing cards + 2 different Jokers. Poker size. All faces of the playing cards are custom. Playing cards were printed on cardboard and have some kind of “embossed finish”. Tuck cases are glossy (slightly).

Brawl in the Family Playing Cards: Tuck Case


As you can see, both sides of the tuck case have the second name of the deck presented as an abbreviation of “Brawl in the Family” – Bitf Cards. The top side of the tuck case has four pips designed as smiles of… Kirby (read below), I have to think 🙂


Crowded with parodies of characters which are frivolous in their initial essence, a fictious world should have it unique rules for poker. And it has. Only Aces and Jokers are used for it in the Bitf World 😉


Aces are represented by Kirby. It’s a small pink creature from Nintendo’s games that can swallow and copy the abilities of others. Kirby is an inhabitant from Planet Popstar. He lives in the kingdom of Dream Land, which is ruled by the corrupt King Dedede. The self-proclaimed king frequently causes trouble, leaving it to Kirby to protect his homeland.

First you draw a circle, then you dot the eyes, add a great big smile, and presto — you’ve got the eight-inch, gluttonous star of the comic. Kirby has an open-mind; he’s willing to try anything once, especially with mayo. He’s also perpetually optimistic, considering even the cranky King Dedede a close friend. At times, Kirby’s loyalties may be brought into question, especially when he swallows his companions. But really, that just means he likes them. A lot.” ~ Matthew Taranto

Brawl in the Family Playing Cards: Aces


Almost all number cards in this deck have one character for each number. He, she or it is depicted on all suits of appropriate number. The pictures have two different colours in accordance with the colours of playing card suits. For example, Eario represents all deuces. Kirby is also depicted on tens of this deck.

The need for someone to keep the Mushroom Kingdom clean and tidy is self-explanatory: in every one of his quests of varying nobility, Super Mario leaves no block unbroken and no critter unsquashed. Nobody likes to think about the shattered, gooey remains of a red koopa troopa who was unfortunate enough to be in the path of Hurricane Mario, but the grim reality is that this plumber leaves quite a mess behind him. That’s where Eario comes in… Eario is personable and unassuming, but he does not appear to have any friends or family aside from Waluigi, whose relationship with Eario is of a questionable nature. Eario idolizes Mario from afar, content to live in the shadow of this great hero…” ~ Matthew Taranto

Brawl in the Family Playing Cards: Deuces


Waddle Dee is depicted on all triples of this deck. Waddle Dees are a species in the Kirby game series. They appear in Super Smash Bros. Brawl (a video game), acting as one of King Dedede’s (see Kings below) attacks, Waddle Dee Toss. King Dedede tosses a Waddle Dee at his opponent, and after it hits, the Waddle Dees will continue to walk around the stage.

To protect and serve. Waddle Dee has lived a life of loyalty dedicated to King Dedede, but after last year’s shenanigans involving a sled and stealing Christmas, he’s begun to struggle with his own life decisions…” ~ Matthew Taranto

Number four of this deck is for Princess Peach. She is the princess of the Mushroom Kingdom. Peach first appeared in Super Mario Bros. (a video game) and was created by Shigeru Miyamoto to be the damsel-in-distress throughout most Mario games.

The Mushroom Kingdom’s most beloved … royalty, Princess Peach’s pure heart and devotion to her people afford her many fans… When she’s not ruling her kingdom, playing tennis, hitting the links, throwing parties, competing in races, or hurling turnips on the battlefield, Peach tends to spend a lot of her time as a captive in Bowser’s Castle…” ~ Matthew Taranto

Fives are represented by Diddy Kong. The name ‘Diddy’ is a slang word used in some parts of northern England for “small”. The British company, Rare Ltd., created this video game character as a buddy, nephew, and companion for Donkey Kong (main hero of Donkey Kong franchise). Both had countless adventures on Donkey Kong Island. Nintendo owned Rare Ltd. and both characters.

Wide-eyed and excitable, Diddy’s childlike personality and boundless energy lead him and Kirby getting along well. The little guy can get pretty emotional at times, especially regarding his famous uncle. Diddy is also Kirby’s attorney, and hasn’t lost a case yet.” ~ Matthew Taranto

Six should be the favorite number of Jiggly Puff (Jigglypuff). It’s a round, pink, ball-like character from the Pokémon series (a non-Mario species, but some select Pokémon have interacted with characters in the Mario series, most notably in the Super Smash Bros. competitions). Its first appearance was in Pokémon Red and Pokémon Green. Jigglypuff can float through the air for a short time.

Kirby has developed quite an attraction to Jigglypuff since they first met on the battlefield of love. This could be because Jigglypuff looks sort of like a female version of Kirby… Jigglypuff is a passive presence in any situation and is very slow to action. It faces the world with the blankest of stares that suggests only the faintest hint of comprehension to the world around it…” ~ Matthew Taranto

Brawl in the Family Playing Cards: Number Cards



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