30 Years of Garbage: The Garbage Pail Kids Story (2017) Movie Script

What are Garbage Pail Kids?
Pail Kids are pictures of
people who are
a little bit worse off
than you are...
but only slightly.
Garbage Pail Kids
were part of the kids counterculture
of the 1980s in a fine tradition
of anti-authoritarian stickers
and jokes would be sold
with bubble gum for,
I think it was a quarter.
They're a take-off
on Cabbage Patch Kids dolls
as gross little characters on
bubble gum stickers
in 1985 we're still in the Cold War
and here was a
card of a Cabbage Patch Kid
going nuclear.
And I was like wow
you know this,
this means something.
I knew that even then.
There's always a
smile they have on their face
like something terrible
is happening but I'm still good.
They're just jokes...
Never has there been
a more exciting time to be alive,
a time of rousing
wonder and heroic
achievement, as they said
in the film Back to the Future,
Where we're going,
we don't need roads.
If you don't
like the subject of this next piece,
just think this too shall
pass. Here's Jeff Greenfield.
Just come
to any neighborhood school
and watch as the
latest fad instantly sweeps
across a classroom
and then across a continent.
Watch that is
if you dare because
the odds are that
what appeals to the
young is going to
appall the old.
Latest case in point.
Are you ready
for Garbage Pail Kids?
Throw away like trash
We party all the time
I can see you
The party in the
corner having apple juice
Freddy Roberts on the guitar
We are the
garbage pail kids!
We are the
garbage pail kids!
Here we go...
You got it?
Your sure?
I gotta get these
out of my hands.
We just made it
to Art's house, Art's studio.
Do you wanna hear that?
Yeah, I don't know,
would it be funny to talk about it?
Hi, I'm Art Spiegelman.
I'm a comics artist.
Um, and for many decades I
worked for Topps Bubblegum
Company making novelty
items to be sold with bubblegum
and one of the more
renowned of the projects
I worked on with
Topps was Garbage Pail Kids.
And they were parodies
of Cabbage Patch Kids
although attorneys
would not like to hear
me say that. But they were
parodies of a then popular doll
uh, that uh, allowed kids to
destroy parents' refrigerators
and taunt each other and
excoriate themselves for
whatever they'd been named, by
having their little first names
underneath grotesque
images of these cute,
little uh, doll kids.
And they became a fad
and Topps was
essentially something that was
in the fad business.
At the top of the heap were the
comic strip artists below those
were the comic book artist and
somewhere way down right before
you hit tattoo artist
was the people who
worked at Topps Bubblegum.
Topps was like, to me the
end of the road in Brooklyn,
like the real
southern end. And that was
probably about a 45-50 minute
bus ride from where I lived.
Topps was in Brooklyn
then, in a very, kind of,
romantic area - kind
of - good background for a
Mafia movie, where they
put people in cement and stuff
and throw them into the river.
It was a warehouse street and it
was really cool.
And when you would go
into inside the
buildings it was like a bunker.
There were like no windows and I
don't know. It was
just really strange.
These interminable,
Xeroxed buildings that looked one like
the other going forever
and every direction near
the waterfront. Inside one of
which on a kind of,
cobblestone street there's
one building
looking like all the others,
except it had, uh, detached
doll heads in the street
that you had to step
on while walking
and because a place called
Uneeda Doll was right on
top of the bubble gum company.
The Uneeda Doll Company. And
yeah, I mean you know on our way
to work with our coffee in
our hand, we'd be walking down
the street and
there'd be doll heads
like littering the sidewalk.
I'm sure worked it's
way into our - into -
into our work the
following afternoon.
When I first went out to Topps
Bubblegum to meet Len Brown,
I didn't know
what to expect. And
so I took the dingy subway, out
to the dingy part of Brooklyn,
walked the dingy street to this
weird factory building. I knew
it was Topps
because when I came out
of the subway stop
I smelled bubblegum.
It was unique in that
the gum was made two flights above
our editorial business offices.
When you be approaching our
building just like walking down
the street.
You could be talking,
and the sugar dust would
actually land on your tongue.
And you could
actually taste the sweetness in
the air and smell it, you know
from the manufacturing. You knew
you were approaching
Topps. It was totally unique.
I'm Len Brown. I'm
living in Bee Cave, Texas and I
worked at Topps for 40 years and
the last 25, I was the creative
director in the New
Product Development Department.
We started to come
into the candy business
in a much bigger way.
Bazooka uhh, was our big
bubblegum, I don't think
I mentioned the name of it.
But Bazooka was
probably the number one
bubblegum in the country
back then. It was
such an icon up America
in the '50s and '60s.
They made as a
staple bubblegum, not even the best
bubblegum eventually but they
made bubblegum and
that allowed them a franchise
to move into
these baseball cards.
And it was this man who would
become incredibly important to
the history of popular culture
and certainly to me,
named Woody Gelman.
Woody's job was to
come up with trading card ideas.
Woody Gelman was of
course the creative nucleus of Topps.
He had been a cartoonist.
He was a story
and idea man first
for Disney and then
for the Fleischer Brothers.
Going back to the
earliest days, he helped create baseball
cards and hired all these
amazing artists to work on the
Topps product that people from
EC, Norm Saunders later Robert
Crumb, Len Brown. The list goes
on and on.
But then we started talking
about different products that we
could be putting out.
And more and more, there
was a need for what they called
non-sports cards. They felt that
was a market that we weren't
really tapping
into as best we could.
One of the first
things that we worked on
collectively was a civil war
series back I guess around '61.
We were instructed by the
president that a company with a
civil war Centennial coming up
let's put out civil war cards
and Woody and I both at first
thought it was a terrible idea.
That it's educational.
Kids get that in school.
Why would they
want civil war cards for?
And Woody had the notion
well, we'll make them want it.
We'll make them violent
and bloody
battles of the civil war.
We'll show blood and guts.
And 'lo and behold
it became a big hit.
And that was a
forerunner of Mars Attacks.
And that was a
forerunner of Mars Attacks.
Wacky Packs which
was one of the very important
pop culture moments
that Topps engaged in,
grew out of
hanging out with Woody.
Oh, Woody was the world's
greatest collector, I mean,
going to his
house was a real treat.
It was like going to a
great museum of pop culture.
Stuff that nobody
could ever get to see like
all the Little Nemo Sunday
pages. A lot of the originals.
Multiple runs of
Life Magazine
when it was a humor magazine.
All the old Argosy, the
old Amazing Stories pulps,
old runs of Saturday Evening
Post from the '20s and '30s.
And what Woody did was
collected one run that
just stayed as bound volumes.
Two runs that
he could cut apart.
And then say OK-
here's the Art Young file.
Here's the Harrison Cady file.
Here's the John Held file.
He'd like be organizing
the stuff in a time
when nobody had any
interest in this stuff,
I can't tell you how far
outside the radar this was.
It wasn't a world of e-bay.
It was a world
where finding it involved
meeting like-somebody just
happened to have a
pile in their basement you know.
And one day he brings
in a bunch of these things
to Topps on a day that I'm there
and shows me and he says
I love these things.
These are advertising cards
from like the
1890's and early 1900's.
They'd be things that
would look like a tin can
or an ear of corn
was one I remember...
an airplane... whatever.
And there'd be an advertisement
for something
printed on the back,
on the front was
this really beautiful rotary
printing on light cardboard.
He said you know we
should be doing these,
says Woody. I think
what he envisioned was
a pouch that a
pre die cut ears of
corn and apples with a
bite taken out and whatever
and something on the back.
They're beautiful.
But you're saying
what? Like we would
do a box of cornflakes?
Or a pea pod
with some peas in it?
Well, yeah that would be good.
Well, wouldn't it be better to
do it like the way Mad does it
and do parodies of these things,
rather than the actual thing?
I remember the back cover
of one issue of Mad had a spoof,
a spoof of the cigarette Salem.
But I cut out the size of that
package and showed it to Woody
and he liked it right away.
And either he or
Art suggested that
and it should be
little more illustrative.
Like a little
funny guy doing something.
So there's a visual besides just
the word gag.
And I felt that that was
the beginning of Wacky Packages.
Uh, Harvey Kurtzman,
the guy who created Mad,
also had done these
kind of humanistic, if not
anti-war, at least understanding
about the real horrors of war.
War comics at a time where
the equivalent of Sergeant Rock
would be like pulling a
grenade pin out of his mouth
and tossing it
into a pile of nips and saying
Here's one from my Aunt Tillie!
Meanwhile the
Harvey Kurtzman war comics
were cognizant of the
fact these were kids that were
drafted into wars and
were being blasted apart
not knowing what
they had gotten into and their
lives were being cut short as a
real tragedy in war. This was
the height of the Korean War
that they became very popular
but I thought that those war
comics which
were never as popular
as Mad became
which he'd created,
were the ones that taught
you to question authority.
And I really do believe
that they had a lot to do
with that 60's
moment where a lot of
members of my generation
said "Hell no, we won't go".
Or "Hey, hey, LBJ, how
many kids did you kill today"?
And stuff like that-all was born
from that Mad
counterculture influence.
Because Harvey
Kurtzman who created this thing
had created a new paradigm.
It was a kind of
self-reflexive, ironic humor
that cut through
the bland American 1950's.
It was basically saying
The whole adult
world is lying to you.
And we here at Mad are
part of the adult world.
Good luck kid.
Figure it out.
It was like a
zen koan to work with.
My name is Mark Newgarden.
I'm a cartoonist.
I am from Brooklyn, I was born
in Brooklyn, I live in Brooklyn
and I'm one of the
creators of Garbage Pail Kids.
One of the early
trading cards things
I did was they were
revising Wacky Packages
and this would have
been around '83 or
'84, I think.
And I started working on those
pretty early on.
I remember, Len and
I drove out to Toys R' Us
in Bay Ridge, one
day - went up and
down the aisles looking
fat toy things to parody.
And um, at that time,
Cabbage Patch Kids
were a big hot
commodity and it just seemed
like a very
obvious thing to include
so, I did one that I entitled
The Garbage Pail Kids
and that was sort of the
original coining of that term.
And the problem of the day
around this conference table
was what are we
going to do about
Cabbage Patch Kids?
What is going on here?
People are fighting over
something that's become hotter
than Santa Claus.
The Cabbage Patch Kids.
Cabbage Patch came out.
Cabbage Patch Kids
and became enormous.
And we thought maybe we could
get the rights to
do Cabbage Patch Dolls
on cards. You know
pictures of them with
the names and all that.
And we thought
would be a nice collectible.
And so they were
asking an incredible,
formidable amount of
money for Topps which was
anything above $5
I would think, for the license.
And the, the result was
that wasn't going to work
because they were
asking for too much money
and it was too far along
in its own cycle of popular
culture of fad to
be guaranteed hit.
If you could already get
the T-shirt, it
wasn't quite as big a deal
to get the little sticker.
We were disappointed
and I think Arthur Shorin
then said - Well,
hell with them. Let's do it.
We'll make fun of them.
You know, we'll parody them
like we did with Wacky Packages.
Arthur Shorin
had a term for certain -
he had terminology for
different types of products.
And one of his favorite
types of products to make
were fuck-you products.
He said - let's do a fuck-you
product of Cabbage Patch Kids.
Stan Hart had been working,
going back to the 1950's
at Topps and was married into
the Shorin family. Brother in
law of the CEO and Stan was a
Mad Magazine writer and had done
a lot of TV show writing
other stuff a Broadway play.
So at that point Stan,
in a rather imperial way,
said Well,
we'll just do the parody
version. We can
do the fuck you version.
And then me and
Len looked at each other
because very often
these these cryptic
statements from Stan
would leave us gulping.
And he was like
Well Stan, what would that be?
Uh, well you
know we would just do
funny versions.
All right. Uh, And.
We had no idea
how to do more than one.
I remember Art or
it might have been Len.
I think it was Art
running back into the meeting
room, the NPD room where
I was sitting
working at something
asking for the painting for the
Cabbage-Garbage Pail Kids that
we had sitting in the pile
and he ran back into Arthur
and then maybe an hour later
coming back to his room -
Okay, we've got to do
a series of these now.
So that was
from my vantage point.
And that was
Arthur Shorin's edict that now
we've got to
do a series of these.
And that team -that
group which wound up being
Artie Spiegelman
and Mark Newgarden, Stan Hart
was this big towering
voice coming into the office.
Hello, hello, hello.
This big guy who worked
on the Carol Burnett Show
and had his Emmys and all that.
And there was Len Brown
as the creative director
kind of, you know
pulling all these nuts together
and the various artists who
are going to be involved on it.
And they would get
together and have meetings
and discuss where they,
how they were going
to develop this parody.
I was not a part of that.
I was never a part of
the GPK team while they
were doing that. I
was probably you know
writing and editing
Howard the Duck cards.
God help me at that time.
So at that point
the problem was how
do you make up a series of
these things because there
wasn't much to build on except
this generic doll that indeed
did have adoption papers with
it. And one of the things that
worked well back
in the very earliest days
when I was at Topps was
something called Ugly Stickers.
Before Garbage Pail Kids they
did a series of Ugly Stickers.
And the first ones
they did were just ugly
Basil Wolverton
characters that had the name of
supposedly kids on them.
So it would be like an ugly
creature and it would be called
Fred or Art or
Bob or something. Except
and it didn't work
at first because they
use the names of
the people at the Topps office.
So there would be these ugly
Stickers with
names like Maurice.
You know. Nelly or I
don't know if Nelly wasn't used
back as the
name. They weren't
like names that
norm, that an average kid had.
They were like names for
people that were in their '50s.
So originally Garbage
Pail in a real early stage,
Art sent to me
a rough of a doll,
just a goofy lookin' doll, that
said the name was Olga.
So you know
it could have been that
But, Art came up
with the idea of the
name plus an adjective to
what her vice is or
what her grossness is.
You know, like
Leaky Lindsay is a kid blowing
her nose. And
that's what worked.
That's how come
they were able to
do thousands of
these things over the years.
We immediately tried
to come up with a concept
that would work and
now it seems like gee that
must have been fun and
obvious but it wasn't at first.
So the style is
all over the place and then
I kept doing idea
sketches for them every few
months to refresh the idea pool.
And they kind of
started evolving into pages
where I divided
into comic panels that had no
connection to each other.
And I just do the same...
I love one,
I see where you're going with this guy...
So this room,
three-fourths of it was the studio.
So Adam Bomb was born
right here - in this spot right here?
Yes. And his 400 or
500 brothers and sisters.
So then in the fall of '84
one day the phone rings.
And it is Art Spiegelman and him
saying "Hi this is Art
Spiegelman from Topps and",
John, you know
we know your work.
"Would you be interested in
doing a few Wacky Packages?"
And one of them
was Garbage Pail Kids,
a little
rough that I think it was
Mark Newgarden's rough.
And, and a
little doll in the box
and which was
making him into a little bum
undershirt and
a trash can and so on.
I was doing from '79
to about '84, I was doing these
fantasy paintings as
well as comic book covers.
And I was starting...
There was a period
a couple of things happened.
There was a gap
in my jobs coming in
and I was also
thinking I really miss humor.
Because doing
fantasy art for me,
I was almost having to pretend.
In a different way than
doing humor cartooning.
And so I just
remember saying I wish I
could get some
kind of humor job.
So John sent us in
just sheets and sheets of ideas.
And out of everybody's work.
John was obviously
the guy there was
just no question
right off the bat.
It's like OK this is
it. John. This is John's job.
I'd started working on it.
And I instead of getting
like six idea sketches
I found myself writing.
It's like this stuff was coming
into my mind almost these ideas
and thinking how about Little
Monsters? I'd start listing up
all the monsters.
How about body fluids?
I'd do a list of words
and then I'd do some pictures.
Now and then, How
about a walking dead one?
Because I'd
done recently that year
I had done a walking
dead cover for Twisted Tales.
And I had a little collage in my
sketchbook from somewhere
where it was a
spoof on Ronald Reagan
sitting at a desk
pushing a button. And I thought
Hey, how about a little
kid pushing a button?
And in the background
let's have an atom bomb
going off.
So I sent them in.
There's a little
pause for a while and
then I get a phone call saying
Hey John we got the job.
You think you can do
all of 44 paintings in
two months? And
this is like late 1984
and so basically I
said Yeah I'll try.
You know I was
a little unsure because
doing fantasy art. Everything
was taking two to four weeks
to do a completed
painting and this was
like a real change of gears.
But John was the
one who had the chops
to make this thing
look like a Topps product.
The problem with it was
it had to be as grotesque
as the Ugly Stickers,
but as sweet as these
Cabbage Patch things.
And that was a funny spot to hit
because if it's really ugly-
it's not cute.
So it was trying to get
John to get cuter and cuter
while getting uglier and uglier;
it was a complex zone.
And finally something that,
again probably lawyers
would not be thrilled to know
uh, if they're
working to defend Topps
but at some point I said
Could you take a look at these
damn Cabbage Patch Dolls?
They're much cuter
than anything you've got.
Just, if you have to, just buy
one of the dolls and I'm
sure Topps will reimburse you.
You know, and all of
a sudden it came back right.
Part of one of
the things I would do
come in on a Monday
and I'd get the FedEx's
and I would
open up John's FedEx.
I remember like taking out that
painting that was in the
very first batch and thinking
Oh man, this is good.
This is really good.
And just having this gut feeling
we we're on to something special
with the series.
And then it was a
matter of coming up
with other gags
because one does not make a
series even two
doesn't make a series
if you can come up with three
you can come come up
as we proved with 300.
So I just thought I guess
I have to do a painting a day
and... and that
means I had to get
methodical about
it because I thought
if I just don't have
myself very organized
this is going to
get real sloppy everywhere.
So I thought, OK let's
break down a painting a day.
OK - got to do the drawing.
Got it. I need
to a color rough
so I know what the
heck I'm doing for the effect.
So that's... that's a two
hour chunk for pencil and color.
And then, then...
let's say I was trying to be
humane to myself, So I said OK -
do, that means
the actual painting
would take four hours.
So, you transfer it,
do the flesh in one hour,
do the clothes in one hour,
do the props in one hour,
do the background in one hour.
And I thought I got it!
There's a painting a day.
So by knowing where I
was going for my color rough
I would have the white
of the paper as my white
and just worked my
way through light to dark.
Then I do the
same for things like
the hair and the
clothing and like the character
would usually,
sometimes have a prop
maybe it's safety
pins or maybe it's a bomb,
maybe it's a doll, a trash
can, a gun, a steamroller
maybe rolling
the character down.
I had time limits on myself
and in drawing these things
so if it was
something where I had to
make a trip-if I had
to make a trip to the library
that's across town
I had to figure -
can I afford the
time to get references?
Or can I just make
do with my clips file
or my imagination?
Art would usually call John
And, um, or he'd
be on a conference call
and we'd kind of
go through these
drawings you know, item by item
make this kid's nostril bigger.
Make this kid's ear lobe longer.
Make the fangs sharper.
Like one picture
in particular is that
like Russell Muscle or
whatever he is-number 51.
I had done a little muscular guy
and Art said well that's OK.
But I mean that's kind of there,
but put muscles on his muscles.
And another thing
he would say, you know
on particular
pieces exaggerate more-
Which, I mean, that's great
advice and really appropriate
for what we're doing.
You know pump - pump it up more.
The doing the fantasy art had -
I was trying to go for drama
and swagger in the work there.
And so when Garbage
Pail Kids came along
I was still
bringing that mindset to it.
I thought these are
cute little characters.
But when I could
think of an idea
or a pose that would
work for the little guys
I was, I would try
to go for something-
I, mean I didn't
get it on everyone
but you know sometimes
you just do a little character
Here I am! Tah dah!
I mean, literally,
like you know,
many, many fine tuning
comments as we went along.
And John was
great. I mean you know
he really would always improve
what we were asking
for and then go beyond.
On series after
series sitting across
from Mark Newgarden
where we'd glare at each other
unhappily until
one of 'em would say
Well you know,
One of us would say
what about a kid with
his eyeballs dripping out?
What about a kid with uh,
who's been ripped opened?
What about a-you know,
so just like trying to
find possible hooks
for one thing after another.
And that was
basically a full day
of sitting there and arguing
over the names endlessly.
I think it was a
total balance of ideas
the way they would bat
things back and forth one would
say something the other one
would-it was like a comedy team
actually - Art and Mark.
And now we're
on the track and at that point
it was working with
what the backs could be
that could personalize it-
well, like adoption papers
or other kinds of documents
that you could personalize -
because Topps had
a series that wasn't successful
way before
that of Dopey Diplomas
or Loony
licenses - things like that.
The very first
set of backs, as I recall,
Um, Len dug into the
archives and found some old
series that Jack
Davis had illustrated
that were sort of license
plates and permits and they were
very deliberately a
take off of like a early
1930s exhibit card series-
the kind that you
would buy on like arcades.
You put a nickel into a slot
and you'd get like, you know, a
back seat driver's license.
It was a very,
old staple in sort
of lowbrow American humor.
Um, So Len pulled
these things out. And he said
Well how about
these for the backs?
And I said, ok, you
want me to like
sort of like riff on these?
And, he goes No, these.
And I literally
hand-wrote out for
the first series
every one of those backs,
making very, very minor changes
where I could just
I want to try to update
them and made them
funnier and then sketch out
whatever illustration might
work in terms of the characters.
And that was the
very first series of backs
and I think by
the second series Len trusted me
to, okay, you know, you
can write your own now.
Towards the end
Jay Lynch was doing a bunch
of the backs.
He was um, he had
been a contributor to Topps
projects for years. He was not
involved with Garbage Pail Kids
at all early on.
Basically because
he seemed to be working
for the competition
which was Cabbage Patch
on a series of
Cabbage Patch stickers
for another company.
So it was deemed
that he was not um,
it was not ethical
for him to be doing
both of these
projects at the same time.
A series would run 44 images
and that was based on the sheet
that these cards were printed
on, in rows of 11. And 44 was
always the minimum you would
ever want for a series. And with
Garbage Pail Kids they want to
do the minimum because they were
double printing. They would
have two names for every kid.
So in theory, a kid would not
only be collecting 44 images;
they'd be collecting
88 cards altogether.
And that took
off in a big way also,
almost the way a,
you know, a decade earlier.
Wacky Packages had taken
off. In fact those are the only
two products that Topps put in
the history that I think we ever
did something like 13 or
14 different series one after
another. I mean we just kept
going one. When one series was
done, we immediately started
coming up with material for the
next series because
it was just so popular.
As a result it
immediately became every kid had to know
about it; Every parent had
to censor it. They were being
confiscated in classrooms all
over the United States and it
became a true fad phenomenon
like Topps was always trying to
do, but mostly Wacky Visors
was not one of the big hits,
but Garbage Pail Kids
was, you know.
It's the hottest medium
of exchange right now in classrooms
from Manhattan to Malibu.
Bubble gum cards featuring the
most grotesque
caricatures imaginable.
Luke warm, Spacy Stacey.
Some are gross, some are neat.
They're like -
beautiful to other kids
and sometimes gross to me.
They're really disgusting.
They're gross,
that's what I like.
They're cards with
drawings of grotesque parodies
of Cabbage Patch dolls.
Dead Fred, Acne Amy, Baby Barfy.
You get the picture.
Kids all over the country,
buy them, collect
them and trade them
like baseball cards.
I will trade you for.
Hairy Kerry, for Messy Tessy.
I all ready have Messy Tessy.
We're the Garbage Pail Kids!
We're the Garbage Pail Kids!
The chorus is
repeated over and over
When I first
discovered Garbage Pail Kids cards
I was actually
on our school bus heading
actually to school
and I was sitting in the middle
of the school bus
and saw these kids
with their knees
touching in the aisle
and I was like why
are they looking at?
So as we were stopping I
was kind of making my way up
as we made stops
and I notice
that they they're actually
going through these cards
and I'm like what are those?
And instantly
when you look at them
it's almost like a
parent not talking down to you
as a child.
It just was right away
like almost
adult material to me.
And she sent me this.
This is Beth.
I still remember her
name from when I was a kid.
I absolutely loved
my Cabbage Patch Kids
just as much as my
Garbage Pail Kids.
I saw all of the fans
around the Cabbage Patch Kids.
And then the Garbage
Pail Kids came out obviously
making fun of it.
And to me as a
six seven year old.
That was hilarious.
I absolutely love it
because Cabbage Patch Kids were
so sweet and innocent,
and little pacifiers and
little dogs that
come along with them
and bunny rabbits
and then you go here
and they're like ripping
the legs off storks,
and missing teeth, and witches,
and demonic
and that was so hilarious.
And that was probably
around that age where I realized
that I didn't just
want to be around
sweet little girly things.
I wasn't a princess.
I wanted to watch horror films
and collect really gory cards
that grossed out my parents.
You know my
parents can't find out that
I have this Garbage
Pail Kids because:
they strictly forbade
having them in the house.
I paid for them with their money
that they did not give me.
So I go to bed one
night in middle of the week.
And I'm fast asleep
dreaming the dreams
of a 10 year old of
Garbage Pail Kids
and Goonies and
I am jolted awake.
The blinding light
is flashed into my eyes.
The bedroom lights are on.
The drawers of my
dressers have all been opened
my clothes are
strewn everywhere.
And my dad is now sitting at the
edge of my bed waking me up.
Brian. Brian.
We have to talk.
Where are they?
What? Where's what?
Where? Where
are the drugs?
We know. This
money's been missing.
My parents.
Have been convinced
that their 10 year
old son was a drug addict.
Um, Instead
I turned over a big stack of
Garbage Pail Kids cards.
I remember growing up
and kids my age
were always trading
baseball cards and keeping
them in their little binders
in mint condition
and I just hated
baseball. I
didn't excel at sports.
That never spoke to me.
And then I remember
vividly in second grade
someone had-
I saw an Adam Bomb card
and my name is Adam
and all of a sudden like
everything felt right to
me and like here is a card
for people like me.
Um. I didn't really fit in.
I didn't play
sports and it was funny.
It was crude;
it was crass.
At that age I was
already had aspirations
to be a comedy
writer and I was like the
universe is right -
Garbage Pail Kids.
I ended up writing Topps through
one of the wrappers the address
and it somehow got to whomever
At Topps and she - you
got the blanket letter back
from Topps-back in the day.
And then on the
back when you flipped it
there was three hobby
shops that you could contact for
if you wanted to
purchase and so forth
and I wrote all
three and Roxanne was
the only one that
actually responded to my letter.
And these were also issued
the original time in the
late 80s for Garbage Pail Kids.
They were folders for kids to,
for real kids to take to school.
Put some of their
work in, in the folders
and this doesn't
have anything to do with
Garbage Pail Kids
but it's a great piece.
This is Batman
sitting on the toilet.
And this was done by Norm
Saunders as a joke at Topps;
it never made it
into mass production.
But some of us were lucky enough
to get hold of
one of these cards.
During the time of
Garbage Pail Kids
in the '80s was the busiest time
that we ever had.
And I just, when I first heard
about them it
was from Mark Macaluso
who was another mail order
dealer at the time and he
called and told me about them
and I said to him,
what is wrong with Topps?
Have they cracked up altogether
that they're going to put
something like this out?
Having been a teacher,
I thought they were pretty gross
and I just didn't
like some of the things in them.
I thought we always try to teach
children to
respect our Presidents.
And here was Rapping Ron
and things like that. But
then I started selling them
because I would sell
everything that
was out at the time.
Well, mainly they
wanted complete sets
and we would sort them. We
would buy cases and boxes and
sort them and make sure that
all the variations were in them.
Now when Series 3 happened
I didn't know until much later
that they started bringing in
other artists like Tom, Tom Bunk
and a couple of other
artists that show up
in the book here.
I mean, I didn't know
til they were printed.
To keep John from burning out.
And then there was
a talent hunt that extended
to and included some
of the key artist were really
Tomas Bunk who I had met
when he first came to New York
because he'd been
from the German wing
of the
underground comics planet.
And when I met him
he had also been inspired
by the same Mad comics artist
that inspired me as a kid.
We got along swell.
Well you know
I'm not a politician.
I don't have anything to lose.
You can ask whatever.
Hey! Good seeing.
Yeah, get a good sound.
Here's one.
Oh yeah, that's cool.
You used for reference?
Yeah, that's what
I had. I had to hide it.
He's from the 80s, then?
Yeah he is from the '80s.
Isn't that ugly? Oh my gosh.
So, Art said to me if
I would do the fronts too
because I did the backs
for the first three series
and the fourth also,
and he said, if I would
do the fronts? And I was
kind of like... You know,
I'm not really very ambitious.
A little bit I am.
But I said, Oh I don't
know if I can do that and stuff.
And uh, Yeah you can,
you can try and then
I had to do it
in the the style of
John Pond
which was kind of difficult
because he used acrylics.
And airbrush. And so I
have to learn airbrush and do
all the stuff so in the
beginning it was kind of tricky
because acrylic also is very
tricky to work with because it
dries it gets darker
and I couldn't get like.
So I panicked often and so on.
But then, then it worked fine.
And then a guy
named James Warhola.
As, a, it's kind of great to do.
I'm going back to these I
loved doing them, but these are
Just, I usually use a lot of
tissues working on tissues and
of course I'd get
them to the point where
I'd sketch them
up and fax them to
the art director and
they'd give me the go ahead.
And then I'd go
with the final artwork.
My originals were always
done in oils back in the 80s,
mid-80s, '86 -'87.
But then I went into
doing these in acrylic. And
acrylic were for a short period
it was easier
because they dried faster.
Paint never got on anything.
There's one of my color
sketches that I'd done for
for the one
with that was kind of
a take off on the
World War II poster.
My name is James
Warhola. I live here in New York
New York City and
I do art work, I'm a painter
and I have a vast history
in the illustration field.
I guess I've hit all corners
of the field and I guess
you could say, one of the low
points was Garbage Pail Kids.
Well... I talked to Art and
Mark and I got to meet them
and they showed
me what the project
was and it had to
do with doing these gross,
disgusting images of Garbage
Pail Kid cards they call them.
And I thought wow
that's kind of interesting.
But on my trip back from Topps
I thought to myself I
would never do these things.
I just couldn't face the fact
that I was coming from,
you know doing some
of the best writers in the
science fiction field
like Heinlein and Asimov
and William Gibson and I'd be
doing Garbage Pail Kid cards.
I thought no way. So,
I told them I'd think about it
and I left the
factory in Brooklyn
I took the long
subway home and I
said "Gee it's just crazy.
I don't think I can do it."
You know, and then I
looked down on my shoe
and I had gum on
my shoes and I said
Oh my gosh I even got gum
on my shoes when I was there
Well in those days the
deadline was all was yesterday
because it
had to be done very quickly
because it was just such a hype.
So Topps wanted
to throw one series
after another onto the market.
In terms of the
quality of the series,
in some ways I feel like in
some aspects they kind of got
better as they went
along. In some aspects,
they lost something, they
became a little bit more busier,
a little bit sort
of more self-reflexive,
a little less iconic
than the first couple of series.
I couldn't wrap my
head around how do you get
to do like Tom Bunk did
and come up with all this stuff.
He's so
generous with the detail.
And I thought, Oh, oh, here I am
trying to keep
things kind of simple
and, and all of
that and I guess -
I don't have to but,
then I would feel lazy when I
look at his pictures. Oh shoot.
So he'd bring these cards
in and have a big meeting
with Arthur Shorin
and Arthur Shorin
was the CEO of
Topps. For a corporate guy
he was... he had a very
good sense of humor.
I've worked for
a lot of other corporate guys
that I wish had
Arthur Shorin's sense of humor.
Who... really took
an Arthur Shorin
to be able to say
not only - Let's do this
fuck-you product. But yeah I
think it's funny to see that kid
blowing his brains out.
Show me more like that.
Not that
Arthur's ideas themselves
were always that good.
He was always saying
"Put in underpants.
Underpants are funny."
And it's like
"they're really not."
But we tried to include
underpants thing for
Arthur every once in a while.
We always made extra cards.
Some of them we kind of
knew would
probably never get printed
but we figured what the hell.
And sometimes we pushed
the envelope a little bit
and sometimes
we were surprised that
Arthur said "Great". And
sometimes Arthur said "No way".
There was one
with a little girl being
pushed off of a
diving board into a pool
in a wheelchair which
did not make the final cut.
There was a middle
finger card, as I recall.
There was a
number of cards that just
for whatever reason,
never made it into the mix.
But that was something
that we were sort of,
that we always knew that
we'd have a couple that
we'd get a ""no"" on,
so we would always
keep an extra couple in play
to sort of compensate for that.
Occasionally Art would say
Oh, We're meeting at
my place on Canal Street.
So instead of
going out to Brooklyn
we'd have a, have a meeting
over at his loft on Canal Street
and I'd bring my
things over and there
Mark and Art would
kind of go over the art instead
of meeting out in
Brooklyn at the Topps factory.
So that was a nice change.
But uh, there I
got to see some of
Art Spiegelman's
work that was aside from the
Topps bubble gum which is really
fantastic since he was
doing RAW magazine at the time
with his wife.
Francois was there and
I was introduced to the idea of
him doing MAUS at his apartment.
He was working on it while he
was giving us GPK
jobs and I never realized it
would have become
so historically important.
My Pulitzer Prize
winning graphic novel
about the Holocaust.
Which has...
Certainly I'm grateful
for what that book became,
but it was really immersive
and deep, difficult
project for me while I was
in the middle of it.
One of the real ironies
though, was as Maus
number one is about to be
published by Pantheon Books
who like every
other publisher in
New York and
New England had rejected
it as an impossible concept.
It's a comic for
grown ups and it's about the
Holocaust and it uses
cats and mice. Thank you.
You know,
It just wasn't getting anywhere.
So it was rejected
by everybody including
Pantheon books that eventually
took it on on a second
submission through the art
director who I was friends with
Luis Fealy who designed -
was their top book designer
in New York
publishing at the moment.
But one thing that they were
terrified about was that it
would get out into the world
that I had done
Garbage Pail Kids.
They said "You know how
hard it is to put over the idea"
that this is a serious
book about the Holocaust
using cats and mice?
This is really
an impossible task.
If we also have to
explain that you're doing
this thing that...
is, are outraging
editorial columnists, parents,
and educators, and psychiatrists
all over America we're dooomed.
That's just like all of a sudden
it's going to be Garbage
Pail jews and it's over.
So many youngsters
have become so obsessed
that the cards have
been banned by some
school principles from
the West Coast to the East.
Simply said
If you have them fine, keep
them home,
Monday morning I don't
want to see them in school.
You can't
even play with at recess time.
What are you supposed
to do just sit there?
I mean, really.
I think almost as soon as
Garbage Pail Kids was out,
it was criticized by educators,
parents, psychiatrists and the
like and had a few very negative
editorial op ed columns about
what a danger it was to today's
youth. And that
put it on the map.
80s Heavy Metal Music Plays
While at the time in the '80s
parents were
very upset about it.
And I think it was just in
the beginning, where family life
was changing
where - when you see
a kid with a knife
or a gun it was like
Look it's just for fun.
Kids don't do that.
But then around the mid-eighties
those things were becoming real.
Instead of just something that
was made fun of, you
know cupie doll with a knife
or something
like that wasn't funny anymore
when you saw a real kid might be
using a knife or a gun, which
was happening during the '80s.
Here's one from 1987,
Acne Amy Connect the Zits.
And find out what
Acne amy found to eliminate her
acne problem forever.
And if you connect the zits
you find it's a
revolver aimed at her temple.
So there you go.
For a 12 year old
kid that's really funny
and dangerous. So
it's great. Still funny today.
We were doing
this transgressive series
and the kid you know hit
the mark. The kids loved it.
The parents hated it.
That's where we wanted to be.
We were making things that Topps
that kids bought
with their own money.
I would like
2 Garbage Pail Kids.
We we're not
making things for librarians;
We were not making
things for parents;
We are making
things for the kid.
So that was, you know,
it felt like we succeeded.
Because kids are kids
and they just like to do,
to see things that their
parents say they shouldn't.
And all that stuff:
the bodily liquids
and all the warts, and snot.
All that parents say
you shouldn't do and
then you see it
there and it's so exciting.
Tom Bunk:
This is Germany.
Bubble Gum war.
Torture sells
no matter where you go.
but they were forbidden and they didn't.
That was '88.
you go to jail if you're caught with them?
No, but the parents
were just too, too powerful.
How do you feel about that?
Are you proud of that?
I am proud of whatever
is against all these parents-
all these guys.
And this is so funny.
This German newspaper
and this guy was against this
Jugendschutzer means
he's a protector of young kids.
And look how he looks!
He looks like
a Garbage Pail Kid!
JEFF ZAPATA He does look like a
Garbage Pail Kids, one with glasses.
First I think that the
kids could buy it themselves.
It was just cheap. Something
that like - I didn't think much
about it. But
when I went to look for
jobs for children's
illustration and I showed them
Garbage Pail Kids -
that was totally wrong
to show it to them because
children's books are
made for parents. And this here
is made for kids. And because it
was cheap; it was like
a forbidden territory.
And the parents and the schools
and all... people who
are kind of limiting children
in their freedom,
they were all against it.
So that made it
even better, you know.
I had the good
fortune of having a relative,
who is also
interested in art and that's how
I think I became
interested in doing art and
that was my uncle Andy,
who was Andy Warhol.
And he was always
on the cutting edge
of everything.
But I remember
when I first started doing
the GPKs in like '86 - I showed
him those. And he was totally
enthralled with the idea
and he kind of suggested
that I should
do these paintings really large.
Not as kid art or card art but
do them as large paintings.
He kind of saw them
as an anti pop thing,
an anti-popular, kind of,
against society in some way.
We were bringing
the counter-culture to
a younger group of
children. But of course
it was the candy counter.
We have some things in here like
the Garbage Pail Kids bop bag.
It's very heavy.
Not sure what character this is.
Here are some Garbage
Pail Kids stick on pictures.
The phone calls that we got
during the Garbage Pail Kid
craze drove us crazy because we
just couldn't eat a meal
without the phone ringing.
In the middle of the night
the phone would be ringing
because of people
living all over the country
and it just was continuous
and it was it was hard.
You know the hardest
thing in the Garbage Pail Kid
thing to collect I mean outside
of original art of course
is Bukimi Kun,
the Japanese ones.
And I like that
even in this day and
age of eBay and the Internet and
everything going on it's
still hard to find something.
Like these things
you just can't find.
You know because in Japan they
didn't have Cabbage Patch Kids.
So when they tried to release
Bukimi Kun it didn't make
sense to them they had
nothing to compare it to.
So yeah all the foreign stuff
all that stuff so hard to find.
I really enjoy the search.
You know, they're so wacky!
Like, look at this
guy holding up these titties.
Yeah. And so now we
get into the green border ones.
Green with soccer balls,
yeah, So the Italian yeah...
You know and it's
just so crazy...
they're putting a flag and a
soccer ball on each one.
I really tried to
get Garbage Pail Kids
from all over the world.
And it was so hard.
And the one place that I really
wanted them from was Israel.
And I remember speaking to one
of the people at Topps, Bill
O'Connor. And saying, I have
to tried to get these they won't
send them to me
because you won't let them
import them into the
USA.What can you do for me?
He said there was
nothing that he could do that
I said well then
I'm just going to have
to go over there
and get them myself.
I collect fun
things all over the world.
Lets have a closer
look at North America,
Canada, French Canadian albums.
Columbia, Brazil these are
all complete
albums and seal packs.
There's a few wrappers in there.
Argentina, but all the
albums are complete.
Germany, Belgium
test set wrappers.
Still need the Dutch and German,
variation UK set
because I'm in the UK.
French sets, the Spanish sets
with the really
good double packs.
You know it's funny-even today
if you go to the FedEx Web site
you can't send Garbage Pail Kids
to Mexico because
of its depiction of
children and
degrading situations.
So basically you
can't ship turtle hides,
marijuana, or Garbage Pail Kids
to Mexico,
which is pretty great.
So very quickly it became
a fad and a phenomenon.
It was beginning to
make a lot of money for Topps
and this is when I got
my lesson in etymology.
Bonuses were being passed out.
Every vice president at Topps,
I wasn't one of those,
was getting literally a one
million dollar bonus that year
for how well Topps had done.
And the factor that it made
Topps that much money that
year was not the ongoing
perennials of
baseball cards or the bubble gum
that was coming
out year in year out...
But the Garbage Pail Kids that
had become this giant cash cow.
Like me and a few other people
had managed to
bring down this dinosaur.
It got eaten to the last morsel
by the people who had
nothing to do with the Garbage
Pail Kids who worked
on the baseball cards
or God knows what else.
But at least some
scraps were tossed to us.
At that point
I got somewhat disgruntled.
The artist might have
even gotten small bonuses
but I remember
getting I think it was a
$25,000 or maybe it
was even $50,000 bonus
which to me was
all the money in the world.
But when I
heard about the million
dollar bonuses that had been
passed out, I understood
that the root word
of bonus was bone.
I don't remember specifically
what series we were working on.
It was well into it
maybe at the halfway point.
I do know that I
walked into the office one day
and everything I'd been
working on was just gone.
And I guess there
was a discovery process,
and pretty much everything
on my desk
was considered discovery.
So all of my piles of sketches
going back to
series one vanished.
And that's how I heard that
Topps was being sued by OAA,
Original Appalachian Arts
who were the
Cabbage Patch people.
It's the gross vs.
The cuddly,
the sick
vs. The sweet.
It's an all out battle
for the hearts and
minds of kids.
What may have
started out as a joke,
is now a $30 million lawsuit.
There are legal
issues that weren't as clean
in the Topps bubble
gum world, which was to say that
comic books were the
lowest form of literature
but by God they were literature.
Bubblegum cards weren't exactly
literature even because
you were selling premiums.
You're selling
something that's sold with gum
and added value to the gum,
but wasn't exactly
an editorial form
because obviously
the First Amendment
was designed not for
bubblegum stickers and cards but
for dissident opinions
in the form of newspapers.
And as a result it came up
against a different body
of law that was
beginning to tighten
the noose around Topps from
the moment that even
Wacky Packs came out.
Because now, it seems
obvious in a world where
corporations are people too.
More so than people.
But at that time there was
something even more important
than the First Amendment
which was product disparagement.
Roberts's has filed a copyright
suit against the
chewing gum company.
My point is it's
not to take my product,
my creation, and tarnish it.
And that's really
where I'm coming from.
Early on in working on series 1,
I was pushing, not pushing -
I was just doing that the first
few designs as
generic looking little dolls
because I thought you can't make
stuff look like a
copyright or trademark design of
another company.
This is asking for trouble;
this is asking for
a lawsuit or something.
But they kept
pushing me to make them
look more like,
like Cabbage Patch.
You know and, and uh,
so I mean, but
I can see that
this is like a two edged sword.
It made, it more
appealing and more -
it underlined that
the title being a parody
more by making the designs look
more like Cabbage Patch.
But I saw it coming.
It seemed like the parody laws
back in, you know
back in that period
were a lot tougher
because we weren't even allowed
to parody Cyndi Lauper
in a particular series.
We did that series called
Hollywood zombies where we
clearly were parodying the
images of famous
actors and actresses.
And back in the '80s and
'70s we were told you cannot
do that. So things seem like
they were much tougher then.
I never liked the fact
that we couldn't do parody.
I mean Mad did
it for years and I felt we
should have that same
freedom that Mad Magazine had.
We were publishing artwork
and humor you know
and why, why could Mad do this
this and we can't?
And then we were told
well Mad's a publication and
there's different
laws of parody.
Which have
to do with undermining
the value of a
trademark. And that trumped the
idea of the right to parody.
But when Wacky
Packages were coming out
we would frequently
get cease and desist orders from
Kellogg's cereal or Pepsi Cola.
And we had to stop.
Because we were actually told
parodying the trademark
is more serious than
parodying an idea or a concept.
Well we were being sued,
you know...
by what we viewed to
be a hostile court. This was a
Georgia company. And the trial
was going to be held in Georgia.
In the suit we had to turn over
all our early files to the enemy
camp. Ultimately I had
to go down to Georgia
to give a deposition for the
attorneys for Cabbage Patch.
And I was
really strung out about that.
I wasn't looking forward to it.
Just fearful I would say the
wrong thing. Albeit the truth
but yet get Topps in
some worse trouble than
they seem to be heading
into right then and there.
So the guys
representing Cabbage Patch Kids
they just kept asking
questions and they have a court
reporter typing
out the transcript
of the...
of the conversation.
John would submit
rough sketches to us
then we would
send it back for a finished
painting. And there was some
note that somebody wrote
make it more, look more
like, you know - Cabbage Patch.
And then they were
digging through my papers and,
sure enough,
they found something
that says make them look
like Cabbage Patch Dolls.
And they thought,
Ah - we've got him!
We felt that might have
been like a smoking gun.
We're waiting for it to go
before the judge for the case.
So we hear
different things postponing it
and I'm sure this
isn't right, but it sounded like
the judge has to get a haircut
today so you guys will have to
take the day off. Or
something came up so you know.
Then after at
least a week there we hear
Oh, Ok they
settled out of court.
So you guys can go home now.
There was some
negotiation that went on between
both sides after
that. And they made a
settlement. Topps
ended up paying for the right
to spoof the
Cabbage Patch series.
We agreed to pay
royalties to the Cabbage Patch
people for all the past series
we did. And then going forward,
we would be paying royalties.
Plus, we had to make changes
where it couldn't
look quite as much
like the original Cabbage Patch.
We had to change it
to look a little bit different.
I think they they paid till it
hurt, but it didn't hurt bad
enough to stop
us from going forward.
That lead to finally
have a logo being changed
for the Garbage Pail Kids
and the little arc lettering
being turned into a banner and
a few other changes in the
physiognomy of kids to make
it what it was which was now a
phenomenon in its own right.
I guess Tom worked up a model
sheet -Tom Bunk of several,
you know, several
designs that show the
new characters. They
had to be hard plastic
instead of soft
cloth dolls and have
different number
of fingers and had to
have little jug ears.
The proportions
were slightly different.
They would have some
random plastic cracks
in them to make,
everybody - make it super-clear
they were hard sculptured dolls.
So I just thought
these aren't going to be as cute.
I didn't like I didn't
want to paint ugly
dolls. I mean that sounds
funny because we were
trying to make them gross.
But I wanted them to look,
I wanted them to be real
appealing and lovable despite
the negativity of anything that
they might
have to do or encounter.
I didn't like putting cracks
in chunka joints you know.
But that was it
was the agreement
probably. I felt
that maybe Topps
might have agreed
to too much as far as
changing the GPK look.
I don't know how
many we ultimately
did with that design
how many series we did
but we did a fair
number of designs.
They were still selling.
They're always selling enough
for Arthur
to walk into the room and say
"Yeah we're going
to do another one."
And I think we
ultimately did 15 or 16 series.
The changes were
subtle but it was enough to
kind of, to kill
the whole concept I think.
If your teacher
says you're bad
And sends
you to the principal
You can be a
Garbage Pail Kid!
If your parents
say you dress like
You should be in a carnival
We heard
there was going to be a movie.
Naturally, we wanted to
be involved creatively involved
and we were told
we were not going
to be creatively involved.
Hey we're
the the Pepsi generation!
We met with Rod Amateau
who was the producer of it.
As I recall we had
a meeting at Arthur's office
one day where he
asked us a bunch of extremely
general questions about
Garbage Pail Kids.
It didn't really seem,
he didn't really seem to
understand what they were.
But he knew they were hot.
And I think he had a contract
to fulfill so this
was going to be his project.
So, I think we sort of showed
him stuff we were working on.
He would ask
some very sort of vague
general questions
about like this character
or that character.
But, it was, it was basically
a very non communicative
meeting as I recall.
But it was the
worst movie ever made.
And Rod Amateau I
think has admitted that the
reason he wrote that was
that he had a contract
to write a certain
number of movies
and this was, you know,
the thing that would end his
contract which he wanted
to do and that's why he did it.
I was working pretty regularly on a show
called The Facts Of Life
and had a career going,
if you will. And it was the
summertime and along
came a film that
I was able to audition
for the lead in.
And I was super-excited because
there was so much attention
on the cards at the time
and I figured it
would be incredibly popular
and a great opportunity
and I got the part I fit
the bill for
the character of Dodger.
Little did I know
that it would end up being quite
the film that it was.
I believe one of the
quotes from the critics is
they called it "a
stunningly inept and utterly"
reprehensible film" - which it
is - which it is."
And I don't actually
remember the audition
but I was glad that
I got the role of Valerie Vomit
as opposed to some
of the other characters
because I can't
stand bodily functions.
I don't like
them to be talked about.
When I got called for the
role I was called by a friend,
I believe it was Phil Fondacaro.
He said he needed, uh... uh
the production was
looking for six to seven
little people to play
some characters. And it
was the Garbage Pail Kids.
When I got
cast for the character
we went down to
Atlantic Entertainment
and met with
John Buechler and Rod
and they kind of
looked at us and said
You're this character.
You're this character.
I don't recall the
exact casting process
but I was honored
to play Windy Winston.
That was a fun character.
In fact, I brought in a little
of my New Orleans flavor
some R&B, some Jazz,
and some attitude you know.
And that's how
I developed the character.
I like the counter
culture of the opposite
of the Cabbage Patch Kids.
When you're my size,
you don't
get to play the neighbor.
You don't get to play the lead.
Very, I don't know why. It's
just it's just one of those
things... It would be
nice if that happened.
But we get to play some very
colorful characters.
Like Ali Gator - I'm green.
As an ewok - I'm brown.
So I was thinking
of what different character
of what he would do,
maybe he'd be from like
New York. A little bit
of deng, deng...
They said
not that type of a character.
Get it down a
little bit more like dat -
a little bit down and deep.
So I started doing
the voice of getting like dat.
That was how I
really started getting the
voice. A little tough guy.
Ooh, I'm spitting
all over the place.
Actually it was only my fourth
or fifth audition in Hollywood.
I heard of the Garbage Patch or
Cabbage Patch dolls.
But I was 22 years old
when I auditioned for this.
And all that stuff was
well in a different world as far
as I was concerned.
I had no idea what it was about
I had no clue.
So my fart direction
was actually a body movement
or like
a like a working it, working it
And like finally going whohaaa.
Ahhh, uh, Aaah.
There you go - one more.
And I would
knock the people down.
You know - they like - be
like - Oh my God! That stinks.
I hung out with the director,
Rod Amateau,
the late Rod Amateau.
And there he was the
ringleader with all these crazy,
little guys wearing these
ridiculous looking
Paper mache kind of heads.
And he's like, you know,
I don't have to do this movie
you know... it's not in
my contract to do it...
Oh, that's, that's
interesting. That's inspiring,
a very confident
building statement.
And of course the movie
wound up being pretty pathetic.
But I guess it's
become something of a
cult movie over the
years and some people like it.
As far as the movies
I remember getting in
piles of like, snapshots of
some very rough maybe
armatures for the costumes
and that kind of stuff.
Obviously, you know,
we were, somebody, Arthur
or whoever was
just approving anything
and they were not
soliciting our specific opinion.
I know the makeup guys
would need a lot longer time
to sculpt the heads and then
the different things
because of the Topps
would come in and say
"no you can't do it this way"
that looks too much like a
"Cabbage Patch Kid."
And so they would
have to change that up.
So artistry that
was tough on trying
to make the heads and
things like that of the
different characters.
Let's talk about the vomit.
Luckily I wasn't in the head
when the vomiting took place.
It was like a
projectile - it was a head -
a different head
with an enlarged mouth.
That had like
a spewing device I don't
know what it was
that pushed out the vomit.
But it was pretty, pretty gross.
I went to
the premiere in Times Square.
I was one of three
people in the audience
and there was a guy
living in the second row
and that was the premiere of
the Garbage Pail Kids movie.
You know what is it
that is that is so breathtaking?
Part of it, I think
stems from it being a terrible
execution of a terrible idea.
You know the, the
power of those cards
is in the cards.
You know, it's the
each indvidual - the artwork.
That's that's the
strength of thing.
That's why they sold.
That's why people were in to it
the ideas behind the artwork.
And to try to put that on film,
it just, it didn't work and
it was a catastrophic failure
in attempting to do so.
The thing that's so fascinating
about the Garbage
Pail Kids movie is,
as a as a writer now
and a producer, someone
who's had family films made.
The fact they made that movie
is so amazing
because it goes against
everything you would
do in a family movie.
In a way, it's like one of
those movies you look back
Mac and Me -
there's these certain
movies where you're like
that was just a really weird
period in the '80s where you
could get away with doing stuff.
And the filmmakers went
for it in a really weird way
and they committed and
we're left with this
really bizarre
piece of family cinema.
That I don't think there'll ever
be anything like that again.
You know hindsight
is a powerful thing.
So at the time
I didn't have any idea.
I thought I was
making the Goonies.
Well the popularity of the
Garbage Pail Kids led to CBS
wanting to air a produced
Garbage Pail Kid
cartoon on Saturday mornings.
The American Family Association
didn't like the sound of that.
You know, here
are these gross cards
of kids farting and blowing up
and killing each other.
This is terrible
for the children.
The children won't
like this. So of course
They start writing letters
and getting
it out there you know.
Boycott CBS.
Boycott their sponsors!
Boycott the advertisers!
And this, you know
scared the crap out of CBS.
And for the very first time in
history they actually cancelled
a show that
they've already produced,
that was ready to roll.
Just because of a public protest
so it never aired,
not here in the U.S.
I very specifically
remember being in a meeting
where Stan Hart announced
to us "That will
never be put on the air."
And he was dead right.
Six months, a year later,
it got up to the point
of being listed in TV Guide
but when that Saturday
morning came and the
kids tuned in for that show,
it was not there
and it never aired.
So Stan definitely had
the inside track on that one.
Interestingly enough, John K,
of Ren and Stimpy fame,
you know, before he ever
did that, did some
presentation materials
for his
version of a Garbage Pail Kid
cartoon which, God would have
been awesome!
You know, so, oh well.
We just kept going on it.
Working on, up through series 16
and I didn't know till after
work was done on the 16th series
that - hey, they weren't
going to publish it.
And the thing I heard
was just that sales
were low enough that
they didn't want to do it.
That's the
story I got at the time.
And then
abruptly it just stopped.
And that was in late 88.
Another person
that was working at Topps
was a gentleman by the
name of Len Brown who was
a mentor of mine at the time.
He was one of the
guys who plucked me out
of obscurity and said
Hey, why don't you,
you should do more card sets.
The next thing you know,
we kept on saying we want
to bring back some of the old
brands. Should it be
Ugly stickers?
Should it be Wacky Packs?
Which one we should do?
And... we started and,
well let's bring back
Garbage Pail Kids.
Let's bring it, it's time.
And a lot of
the executives at the time
were sensitive to the lawsuit.
And because of that we were very
sensitive about how
we were going to go back
to doing Garbage Pail Kids.
And where were these artists?
It's almost... we had to
go find everybody again.
So the idea was to do an
All new series of
Garbage Pail Kids.
No wait, did they
call it "All new"?
Yeah OK. All new
That's the right title.
And it was
basically going to take
the unpublished 16th
series. And then they wanted
to add in, I guess it was
six paintings per artist for
myself and Tom Bunk
to do new work.
And Jay Lynch
provided some very, very
thoughtful, clear
drawings and he's wonderful
to get ideas from.
And when we restarted
the engine to this beautiful car
that's called Garbage Pail Kids,
20 years later
or whatever it was.
We still had the same card,
the same rules and all that.
We knew like we have
to do something different.
And it took us a while.
I... I... I...
Once you started art
directing and editing Garbage
Pail Kids you really
appreciated what they did
in the, in the original series.
And I actually
used to dab a lot into the well
of the old timers.
Call them up, "Art, what
would you do? And... Jay"
Lynch, what would you do?
Len Brown, what would you do?"
I think there was a
surprise after doing the work
that they were
printing, printed differently.
Technology has changed
in whatever the
time was like - 20 years
from, from '84 to 2003 there.
And I thought, oh this
is shiny paper and the
colors so much more detailed.
And it's like we had to
kind of get a feel for it.
We were doing Garbage Pail Kids,
the second series and I
didn't like some of the artists
we were hiring
that I was forced to hire.
That were... and it wasn't
that I didn't like them
I just didn't think that
they were right for this series.
So I said you know
what I think I could paint
just as good or better
than them and I went
but I am not a painter.
I'm not a good painter.
I'm not - I don't
think I'm good.
So I did a piece,
not saying it was from me,
and it got approved
and all that stuff.
And then I said Hey, that's...
I actually painted that,
I drew that.
And now it's Armed Arnie.
That's how Armed
Arnie came to be.
And but at least it showed
that I wanted to show them like,
Hey I'm not a good painter and
if we're hiring this we have
to get people better than me.
And that was when we got Brent.
Out of college, I was flat broke
so I moved in with my
older brother actually and was
living out of his basement.
I'd been getting
a lot of rejection letters
from different
comic book companies.
And, um, but I was getting
steady work to make
it worth my while to.
So then finally I
submitted to Jeff
and he sent me an email and then
asked if I wanted to try out
and paint a Garbage Pail Kid.
And it was a Jay Lynch
concept. It was really
stressful at the time.
Like I felt like I was finally
making it or something
Here's Pat of Gold here.
This one is Leafy Larry.
Oh, geez I can't
remember this ones name.
I think this
one is Roll-up Ralph.
That's this one - Roll-up Ralph.
Jeff said "Hey, you know..."
we're looking for GPK
artists and also
Wacky Packages artists.
Do you think
"this is something
that you'd be interested in?"
And you know, inside I
was just jumping with joy.
I had to have my
poker face on because
again I collected GPK
and Wacky Packages as a kid.
And at that time
I didn't even know
that the Garbage Pail Kids
had came back, You know,
I just thought it
was just an '80s thing.
first set I worked on was 2005.
But definitely remember
drawing my own garbage pail kid
and showing them
to my mom - stuff like that
and trying to fool her
that they were
real Garbage Pail Kids.
So I remember that.
And I just always remember
carrying them around with me
in a big stack with like
a rubber band stack of
cards and always just
looking at them wherever
I went and
bringing them with me.
And they gave
me a really cool character:
Split Kit, which was
one of the original designs,
which was like a normal kid and
then just put down a half and he
was like this
little juvenile hoodlum.
I think he had a gun actually.
Which is funny because
we can't paint guns anymore.
When we get
take the classic characters
and put them in
modern situations I enjoy.
Because that's when it's really
getting back into like OK,
this is what I grew up with.
I am now literally painting
the Garbage Pail Kids I saw.
Whenever anybody finds
out I'm a Garbage Pail Kids artist
the first thing they say is
"you have the coolest job ever."
So that's exciting.
And I have been
asked to go to my son's school
to talk to the kids and I
had them come up with their own
Wacky Packages ideas
and Garbage Pail Kid ideas.
And my kid, and my son...
he has his friends come over
and they've been asking me
to do Garbage
Pail Kids for them.
So it's pretty cool that
all the kids
around the neighborhood,
are always trying to
come in there and give
me ideas or
get their name in there
or try to
do something with that.
Topps is one of the few places
I worked at where you
actually, physically will paint
something. Most most companies
I've worked for they want
like a digital,
something digitally colored.
Really rare to
actually be able to do an
actual painting that is
like actual airbrushing.
Like physically airbrushing it.
I like having
to wear a respirator
so you don't inhale fumes.
It's a lot different than
sitting on your computer.
So my mother had
passed away when I was 10
of cancer and my
dad raised three boys:
myself, two younger brothers.
I mean I was 10 years old
and Garbage Pail
Kids came out in 1985
and that was it.
I was into that.
And yeah, my
dad was very accepting.
He was just, as long
as we were happy
and we kept to ourselves.
It was good for him.
And it was good for us.
So, and it made
us get along a little bit -
between the times that we
were watching professional
wrestling and
beating each other up, so.
What's great
about Garbage Pail Kids,
each artist has a
sensitivity to what sort of
humor they're putting into it.
And it really, when the viewer
sees it, there's a lot of that
artist's interpretation of the
gag. Because you could
come up with the gag
of, you know, of some
kid jumping off a roof,
or whatever, but it's
the way that the artist draws it
and makes it
where it's not dangerous,
it's funny and
he put's a sensitivity to it.
I think that's
what people get out of it.
And they look at
it and they have for a split
second when they're reading it,
they have a little contact
with the artist who drew it,
and that artist's
interpretation of that event.
You know, that's the
performance of it
and the artist
never hears the clap.
But I think hearing the
chuckle here and there
is worth the price of admission.
Blanche, down.
After high school I moved to
New York to go the School
of Visual Arts in Manhattan.
I took a major in cartooning
which is a real major,
believe it or not. We
had a lot of professors that
were in DC Comics.
They wrote and illustrated
for DC, Mad Magazine.
So we were
trained by a lot of those guys
in basic storytelling too.
How to tell stories, how
to come up with themes and
so it was kind of like we were
being trained as writers also.
Which helps with doing
the Garbage Pail Kids now
because it is like,
half of it's writing.
We have to write a
concept or a gag.
You know come up with not
just you know doing the artwork
but come up with an idea.
I still collect
the children's writing-
Children saying "I
bought this and my dad and.."
and I love the children letters
because I'm like I'm glad kids
are buying it because I remember
when I was a kid and it meant so
much to me to buy these things.
So when I hear from
a kid it's sorta really nice.
I saw my first
Garbage Pail Kid card
in 2012 at Target.
I was shopping at Target.
And then I looked at this
pack of cards and I said.
"What are those, mom?"
And my mom said,
"They are Garbage
Pail Kids; they are gross cards.
But, would you like them?"
I said "Yes."
I was so excited.
I can't wait.
So I opened them
in the car and I thought
they were the best thing ever.
I found out about them,
I got into them, and
I did not know there
was old series.
So I looked at YouTube
and I learned there
was more older series.
So there's a lot of really
neat GPK web sites out there.
When I came up with GPKCustoms
there was already Aaron's site
GPK World which I actually
used to discover the artists.
There was GPK Underground
which is a wonderful forum
where you can meet other people
who are interested in collecting
and trading Garbage Pail Kids.
So there so many different
nuanced groups that you can find
of any aspects of the GPK toys
or the Cheap Toys
or the pop-up toys.
It seems to be
something for everybody that
loved GPK as kids.
And I found these
wonderful web sites that
had documented every single one.
And that's when I looked on
e-bay and realized they are
actually worth a lot now.
That a lot of people
hadn't kept their cards
in such a pristine
condition as I had.
Well, you know
the cards themselves
now have a lot of
value as well. I mean it's
amazing what's happened, to
find a sealed box of series one,
first of all is very difficult
to find. And if you do, it can
bring anywhere from
three to five thousand dollars.
As far as the prices going up
on original series boxes,
they're not around that
much. So prices have to go up.
The individual cards graded,
which of course, is kind of
a more recent kind of thing.
People buy a card and
then they get it incapsulated
and graded
by a third party authenticator.
And if it
comes back a 9 or 10 on
a scale of 1 to 10,
10 being - gem mint.
A card like Nasty
Nick, 1A, can be $3000.
I do other genres
besides Garbage Pail Kids.
I do Marvel
stuff. I also work on another
brand for Topps,
Mars Attacks as an artist.
And there is nothing
that comes close to
the secondary market of
sketch cards or original art
as it goes to the Wacky
and Garbage Pail Kids stuff.
The original series-
that art goes for thousands.
The original art
of these magnificent cards
or you know only 5 " by 7"
which is kind of
interesting that they're not
much bigger
than the cards themselves.
They're about 2 up. When
you see them in person.
They're so
colorful and the techniques
and everything used
to to create these images.
It's very impressive.
I've been impressed myself
by the prices they've achieved.
Certainly, first series
paintings can go anywhere from
you know 20 to 30
thousand dollars depending
on who or what it is.
Which particular card it
represents and was used for.
Second series
you're starting to see
you know go
somewhere in the $15,000 range
$20,000 range again
depending on which card.
And third series, already at 10
you know $10 to $15,000.
So you're really seeing
you know heavy duty
action on these things
as works of art
not just a collectible
but people are looking
at it in a different way.
Now, Adam Bomb,
the most iconic of all
the Garbage Pail Kids
obviously. In my opinion
is the Mona Lisa of
trading card art. Right?
I mean you think about it,
When you think about,
the 1980s pop and
culture in general,
that is one of
the iconic images.
No question about it.
So you know if I were asked to
appraise the Adam Bomb painting,
I would look at it in a very
different light than the
other paintings. And I've given
it a lot of thought and you
know if someone had it
and wanted to insure it,
I wouldn't insure it
for anything less than
a quarter of a
million dollars at this point.
Well one cool
thing about being a GPK
artist is that we get these
these fan commissions
and to some of the fans
you know,
money is not an object.
You know, they'll be
willing and ready to pay
for whatever
commission that they want.
Hey Joe!
James! How's it going?
Nice to meet you in person.
Come on in!
Absolutely! Thanks man.
So some of the
artists that I initially found
were those that
just had Web sites.
So Brent Engstrom and
Tom Bunk were some of
the first artists that
I originally commissioned.
Initially it started
off pretty simple just
single characters
and then I realized that
the thing I think everybody
wants at some point.
Is to have a Garbage Pail kid of
themselves. And so I got
a painting of my whole
family as Garbage Pail Kids.
And then from that I was
like wow you can do a lot more
when you have a full painting
than these little cards.
And so I started to think of
what would I want to see.
Well I'd want to see all
the Ghostbusters!
Well do you just want
them all standing around?
They've kind of
gotta be doing something.
So what are they going to do?
So I started to
imagine these vignettes.
My wife is very supportive of
my Garbage Pail Kid collection
but she's not a big fan.
But both my kids
love Garbage Pail Kids.
And do you like to draw
or make your own Garbage Pail Kids?
Well, I kind of
have an idea in my head.
I already got the name:
Stapled Stan and he's
like stapled everywhere.
His mouth is stapled together.
You know how some the
Garbage Pail Kids have like
their tongue sticking out?
His tongue is like stapled.
Hands, fingers stapled
together, he's all stapled.
He's all stapled together!
The Garbage Pail Kids are jokes.
Look - a cow jumping over the
moon spilling milk.
They're really funny to me.
They're super dupe.
It's a too-many headed baby.
When I first
got Garbage Pail Kids,
shortly after that I
was actually diagnosed
with cancer non-
Hodgkin's Burkitt's lymphoma.
And so while I had the
first series I didn't have any
of the other sets because I
was in and out of the hospital.
And my mom knew that
they would become a big thing.
So she bought me
more and more cards.
Like there's a kid
there with no hair
and looking sickly
and kids don't know
if you can't
catch cancer or not.
They're just see - somebody sick
and kind of run away.
But I had these cards
everybody really wanted
so they were willing to
approach me because they knew
that, hey if you want to
trade to get a Nasty Nick
there's the only guy who's
going to have one
so you better go over
and see what you can get.
So, yeah it was a way that,
that I didn't feel shunned and
or an outcast at all.
I actually felt like
people wanted to be around me.
I would never,
never sell this card.
This is part of my childhood.
This is what makes
this whole business
of collecting happen,
you know, is that attachment
to things that you had,
things that you lost,
things that you
never had, but wanted
and now you can afford.
That's what this is all about.
So yeah,
this one I'm holding on to.
Aaron Booton: And I was like
WOW these are sensational
the artwork, the level
of artwork to me was,
that's what really got me.
I don't know if there
ever will be anything
like Garbage Pail
Kids in the '80s!
30 years later, are
they talking about Willow?
Nah, they're
talking about Garbage Pail!
That's what actors live for
is for-I'm going to get
teary-eyed - people
appreciating their work.
That's just the cherry on
the icing on the cake!
So thanks, you guys!
But I did actually spend
some time in a treatment center
in the early part of this
decade. It was great because
I worked my shit out and that
was good. Part of the treatment
was that you go to
you see a psychologist
three times a week.
And that was actually
extremely, extremely helpful.
It's part of a rehab
facility where we talked to a
psychologist and one day I,
I pulled up a clip from YouTube
of the Garbage Pail Kids to
show the psychologist.
And I swear they were this
close to offering me a drink.
I think one of the
things that kids are
missing out on today.
There's so much access to
information there's not really
that phase in their lives where
they can sort of explore that,
that sort of adolescence
that Garbage Pail Kids
allowed you to explore.
Where sure it's
maybe not exactly
what your parents
wanted but it's not awful.
It's just a little
bit of dirt. It isn't dirty.
But my dad said
I am the patron saint
of the '80s and
Garbage Pail Kids.
So I keep trying to
go on and on to
to get more people to like
these cards because I think
more people should have them.
GPK has two things that I feel
that kind of make up the brand.
It's gross humor.
And then there's also
social commentary.
And I think those two things,
you're always going to have
people that like gross out
things. And then you're always
going to have people who like
art you know social
commentary represented in art.
I always felt it
needs to be funny.
If you make cool stuff
you have to make it funny.
So to keep the
balance and this balance is
I think was what
was so good about it.
That was... and we could
have gone even more so.
Because I'm...
I'm left anyway.
You always have to question
the whole establishment.
It is the
establishment of this you know.
If you don't question it,
you'll get Adolf Hitler soon.
It really did have an
independent life after
the giant
success of Cabbage Patch,
Garbage Pail became
a giant success In its own.
It earned its wings
as its own phenomenon.
Howard the Duck didn't
make it, but I'm glad
something did well for Topps.
It feels good. I'm a
little puzzled at sort of the
obsessiveness that some of these
people have about the series.
I mean we were making
these for a mass market.
We were not making
them for collectors. We were
not making them for the zealots.
We were not making
them for completeists.
We were making them for kids.
And I think a
little bit of that is lost now.
It's much more
sort of fan-focused.
It's more narrowcasting
than broadcasting.
As being an art director
for Garbage Pail Kids,
part of it was being a
psychiatrist. Every artist
has their own problems,
their own dynamics and
me taking over such a brand.
That had such a history.
Being able to talk to
the original artists that
I grew up with and admired
and finding out how great they
are and also they helped teach
me to be a good editor.
I'll never forget it.
I consider John Pound
like a father figure to me.
And if I get a little teary
eyed, excuse me.
But he's... without him
I could never have done it.
So, thanks, John.
I just loved doing the
work and I felt proud of it
and loved that
they had a place in the pop
culture arena
and in the market place.
And that I had work in print.
And that it was
funny stuff and silly stuff.
I'm proud of being silly!
Philly Non-sport card show.
We have our
manufacturers here this morning
as well as seven artists.
Please come by and say
hello to all of them.
I started to hear
back in the 1980s
that trading cards were no
longer a factor with kids that
they were moved on
to video games, computers,
all sorts of other things,
and they just didn't care to
collect pieces of
cardboard any longer.
The turn of the century
we had Pokemon and Yugioh
and all sorts of
products that made it big time
on trading cards.
So I still say trading cards
are always going to be with us.
It's the property
you have to match up
successfully on a trading
card and kids will want it.
It's cheap entertainment.
It doesn't cost a lot.
And kids love having
stacks of trading cards
of something that they love.
So I, I think
going forward in the future.
Garbage Pail Kids
could be around 20 more years
from now with it's 50th,
silver anniversary coming up.
If you're making a graven
image somebody might worship it
as a false god.
So the role of the
cartoonist satirizes
stuff and takes something
that's contending
for false-god status
and drag it down to reality and
show that it has feet of clay,
that they idolize a feet of
clay. That would be the
job of the cartoonist; that
would be the appropriate
job of the cartoonist.
So now you know, the
thing you've gotta watch is,
is that the
images of the Garbage
Pail Kids stop becoming satire
and start becoming holy icons.
That just exist
in and of themselves.
I see the same thing
with Mad Magazine;
It's become it's opposite.
They'll print one issue that
has different covers.
And so the collectors will have
to buy all
the different variations.
And originally they
were a thing that was out there
to mock consumer-culture and to
get people to
think about such things.
And now it's a part of
consumer culture.
Things naturally
evolve into that.
But I try to avoid it. But then
again I got to make a living
so I don't know what I'm saying.
Do you have fun with those?