There was one man who influenced elementary school gross out jokes for almost three generations, and there’s almost a 100 percent probability that you’ve never heard his name: Art Spiegelman. He was the man behind the wildly popular Wacky Packs (or, more properly, Wacky Packages) in the 1970’s, and the Garbage Pail Kids in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. And now the artwork from these cards is collected in two volumes for all the world to marvel at.
For those who don't have a frame of reference, Wacky Packages were trading cards that made fun of everyday products. The cards took an existing product (like All-Bran cereal) and changed the name to something funny or gross (All-Brain cereal) along with detailed artwork of the fake product. The Garbage Pail Kids took the concept a step further by concentrating solely on what was the 1980's most popular toy fad: Cabbage Patch Kids. Each Garbage Pail Kid had their own identity, and it was usually tied to something disturbing and/or gross (Dead Ted was a zombie doll, Adam Bomb had a nuclear explosion coming out of his head, etc.). They were not popular with parents, but the kids loved them.
The first and greatest thing about these books is, quite simply, the content. The cards from these series are becoming harder and harder to find, and having the artwork collected in one place makes enjoying them a lot more convenient and a whole lot less expensive. Also, the art is blown up so you can appreciate the detail more. It’s easy to dismiss these gross little sketches as child’s play when you’re throwing around trading cards, but when it’s bound in a beautiful coffee table style book, it becomes something more.
Which brings us to the actual books which are, in and of themselves, works of art. Serious thought went into the construction of these tomes. From the size (not too big, not too small) to the inclusion of an ACTUAL pack of Wacky Pack stickers and Garbage Pail Kids on the inside of the back cover, every decision was clearly made carefully. Our favorite design element are the dust covers which are made out of the same wax paper that the actual trading cards originally came in. And if you take the dust cover off, underneath is a picture of a shattered piece of the inedible gum that came in every GPK pack of 5. Genius.
It’s not all pictures, though. The introduction to both books includes an interview with Mr. Spiegelman. He explains the origins of each concept in a very entertaining way. And the Garbage Pail Kids book has an afterword by John Pound, one of the main artists that drew many of the original cards.
All in all, these books are great for anyone. For fans of the original series, you can thumb through and reminisce. And for those who have never seen the cards before, this will be the absolute best way to experience some of the best subversive children’s entertainment that has ever been printed on cardstock.
What's your favorite "gross" kids toy?