This year’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductions are over, but did fans show up to buy their GPKs? Today Topps revealed the print run for 2018 Garbage Pail Kids Rock & Roll Hall of Lame online set. After calling the set “Hall of Fame” during the week it was for sale it appears Topps has changed the name of the set back to the previously used “Hall of Lame”. Sales for the set continue to be strong compared to online sets from last year. Sales for the 9 card all GPK set came in at 171 total copies sold, almost the same as the recent Not-Scars set. There might be a lull in online sets, as award shows are over and we are holidayless for the next few weeks.
Smokin’ Joe McWilliams hit the ground running with Garbage Pail Kids in 2017, and collectors have been really pleased with his work. While Joe is new the the GPK world, he’s worked for Topps for a number of year’s as one of the Wacky Package artists. I sat down with Joe at this year’s Gross Card Con is Las Vegas. We talked about how he got his start with Topps, the differences between painting GPKs and Wacky’s, and his new upcoming website venture.
GPKNews – While you recently just started working on GPKs, you’ve been working with Topps on Wacky Packages for a while now. When did you first start working for Topps, what was your first project? How did you get your foot in the door at Topps?
Joe McWilliams – I was a Wacky Packages fan from the original series back in the 70’s. I missed the feeling opening a pack of Wacky’s and that excitement you get, the smell of the gum and everything. So, I decided back in 2005 to start designing my own Wacky Packages. I had 3 or 4 of them done when I heard that Topps was doing All New Series Wacky’s. I sent them a letter and showed them the ones I had done. The letter said “Dear Wack-jobs, I collected your Wacky’s as a kid, thank you very much. I can prove it because I have all the scars in my mouth from the razor sharp gum. I’m a successful artist and I would love to waste my time doing Wacky Packages. Until Mad Magazine calls and I’ll know I’ve hit rock bottom.” Two weeks later I get a message from Jeff Zapata saying I just got a letter from you. That was for ANS 3, I got 15 gags in there, a couple got painted by John Pound and other artists. The first one I painted was Coka-Cobra. I couldn’t believe in all the years of Wacky Packages nobody had done the largest brand on the planet. I figured if I can land this, I’m in, be part of the history. I wrote what I thought was a good joke, and they liked it. I painted five different versions of it to familiarize myself with the paints and to try to get it right. I sent the best one in and its kind of become my iconic original Wacky. I painted Wacky Packages for all the ANS series.
I was also holding down a full time job. When they asked me to do the Garbage Pail Kids, I couldn’t do that. Then a few years later I left that job and became freelance only in 2013, and said hay I’ll do GPK now, throw some of that my way. It took them until 2017 before I could figure out how to get into the door submitting ideas for the online Trumpocracy series, and they said yes paint that, paint that, and that. Then I did sketch cards. Then, for for Battle of the Bands they asked me to submit ideas and I got 7 base paintings in that, then the same for We Hate the 80’s, I got a couple paintings that one. I’ve submitted a bunch of designs for the next series, and I have a couple of approvals there.
GPKNews – How aware of GPKs were you as a kid? Did you collect?
JM – I was a Wacky’s guy. When Garbage Pail Kids came out, I was a senior in high school. My only connection to it was, I didn’t even know GPK at that point, but I know Cabbage Patch Dolls were out. I was in journalism class and we had to do a video of a news broadcast. I was the anchor and I did a story on we lost this year’s crop of Cabbage Dolls due to cabbage rot. I brought up a doll with spaghetti hanging off of it for the parody there. That was my first attempt at that kind of humor on that subject. I knew all the other kids were into the GPK at the time, but I was into girls and drinking by then, I wasn’t collecting them.
GPKNews – You’ve done a number of GPK cards in the last couple of retail sets. Collectors also really seem to enjoy your pack inserted sketch cards. Are you having fun working on the GPK brand?
JM – I am, because its not a lot of lettering which gets tedious on the Wacky Packages. Painting all those little letters are painful on your fingers. Designing the cards is a fun job. They can go anywhere and do anything, I like that. Doing big characters is a lot more fun then doing tiny stuff.
GPKNews – Besides the subject matter, how are painting GPKs different than Wackys?
JM – You can get a lot more expression in them even though there is a standard look. Because you are dealing with a much larger character, they can bend reality with the things they are doing. There’s really nothing that is off limits. I’m less of a body joke person and I love exploring the twilight zone aspect of it. If I can slip a common social comment in there somehow I kind of like that, but I don’t want to go political if I can avoid it. Listening to the fans, I know they love the kids rather than the Garbage Pail adults so I’m trying to keep my mindset there.
GPKNews – You are going to be launching a new website, monstersgopop.com. Tell me a little bit about the site? What will collectors find there?
JM – I’m wanting it to be a watering hole for collectors to go to find all the original art for these card series, and then a lot of these personal card sets these artists are doing on the side. The main thing is the art gallery side of it. You can get original art and art prints directly from the artist. I will not be the middle man. I’m just giving them the shelf space. When you want to buy a piece from somebody it will just link right to them to make that purchase. So collectors don’t have to go searching each different guy, trying to figure out how to get in touch with them and find their work. We don’t have to auction it off, we can just make an art gallery. Thats the main idea.
GPKNews – Have you seen the 30 Years of Garbage movie that Joe and Jeff directed? What were your thoughts of the movie?
JM – I thought it was really well done. I love the history of it. I love seeing the other artists being interviewed in their studios. I’m a fan of seeing what materials they work with, how they setup. I just think that’s really interesting.
GPKNews – This is your second GCC in Las Vegas. How does this one compare to the first? Do you enjoy meeting and chatting with the fans?
JM – It’s good now that I’m officially in the club, and everyone’s seen my sketch cards and appreciated them and like the way I’m going with that. I’m an old school Mad Magazine reader so that black, white, and gray approach is a holdover to how I was taught from Mad Magazine illustrations. That response has been really really well.
GPKNews – Finally what is your favorite GPK?
JM – I’ll always love the monsters, but Joe Blow of course, the name sake. They did it right by naming the kids because everyone has their namesake favorite. I like Creepy Carol a lot. I don’t think she gets enough love among the monsters. Hairy Harriet, she’s fun to draw. She’s got a lot to work with. I usually trim her beard or cutting herself up somehow. I used to do a lot of hair illustration back in the 80’s, rock band type of stuff, so I got good at doing masses of hair. I enjoy that.
As part of Topps’ 80th anniversary celebration they are offering classic reprints of wrappers from the products they’ve offered throughout the years. Today Topps launched the 80th Anniversary Wrapper Art Card #23 – 1985 Garbage Pail Kids card and poster. The OS1 GPK wrapper reprint is the 23rd card so far in the set, as Topps offers 3 new card per week. The front of the card features the OS 1 wrapper, while the back has a writeup on OS 1 and the 80th wrapper set. In addition to the card, there are also two posters being offered. The regular 10 x 14 poster features the wrapper reprint along with a writeup along the bottom about the OS 1 GPK set. There is also a special 1/1 gold version of the poster. The card is available by itself for $7.99, or you can purchase 5 for $27.99 or 10 for $44.99. The card can also be purchased along with the other two cards being offered this week for $14.99. The regular poster is available for $19.99 each. Topps also offered the special 1/1 gold version of the poster for $99.99, but quickly sold out. Shipping on both the card and poster is free within the US when choosing the SmartPost option, while international shipping is $10. The card is available for 7 days on topps.com, while the regular posters will be continue to be for sale. Topps will announce the print run of the cards at the end of the sale.
Topps today launched their annual ode to the music’s biggest acts. Today Topps Launches 2018 Garbage Pail Kids Rock & Roll Hall of Fame online set. This GPK only set consists of 5 new images and 11 total cards. Four cards come in the usual a/b versions, while one will have three names. All the art in the set was completed by David Gross and Brent Engstrom. The set can be purchased for $29.99. Shipping is free in the US via the SmartPost option, or $10 for international. The set will be available for 7 days on Topps.com. Topps will reveal the print run at the end of the sale. Here is an unnumbered checklist and pictures of the cards.
- CANDY Oh No!/Cramped CARLA (Artist: David Gross)
- DARYL Straits/Money for NATHAN/Brothers in ARMIE (Artist: Brent Engstrom)
- Nifty NINA/Styling SIMONE (Artist: David Gross)
- RUDY Blues/Moody BLUFORD (Artist: Brent Engstrom)
- Jovial JON/BRAD Medicine (Artist: David Gross)
While sell sheets haven’t been released yet, Topps has started sending out invites to sketch artists for the next Garbage Pail Kids set. In the email to artists it’s mentioned the theme of the next retail set will be “Horror”. Artists are encouraged to do some sketch cards based on previous horror themed GPKs. Last year’s most successful online set, Halloween, was horror focused and paved the wave for the upcoming retail set.
Another big piece of news to come from the artist sketch invites is a new type of sketch card will debut in GPK. The new sketch is called a “Tryptych”. These are 3 panel connected sketch cards much like the panoramic cards have 2 panels. There is no mention of dual artist pano sketches on the invites. These new tri-panel sketches might be replacing them. Artists are set to complete a similar number of sketches as previous series. The due date is set for mid-June for the sketches to be returned by artists to Topps.
Generally sell sheets are released before the sketch invites. You can expect Topps to release official information on the upcoming set including release date.
For the first time since putting out online cards Topps decided to add an Easter themed set to their lineup. Today Topps revealed the print run for 2018 Garbage Pail Kids Easter online set. This set was smaller that most online sets, with just 7 total cards. With just 2 GPKs (with a/b versions) and 3 Wacky’s, collectors were vocal about the higher price per card than usual at $29.99. However, that didn’t stop them from purchasing the set. The set finished with selling 195 copies. The total is right up there with other holiday themed sets, and well above the awards sets. If history is any indication collectors can expect some musical and comic convention themed sets as the spring and summer months are upon us.
Popular GPK artist, Mark Pingitore left Topps just over a year ago to focus on his own Magic Marker Art store and products. Throughout 2017 Mark put out some amazing items, that collectors have taking a liking to. I was able to sit down and catch up with Mark at the Gross Card Con in Las Vegas. We talked about how the first year on his own has been, his thoughts on digital artwork, and what’s in store in 2018 for Magic Marker Art.
GPKNews – 2017 started off eventful for you as you decided to leave Topps and focus on your own art. How has year one gone for you? What’s it like being your own boss?
Mark Pingitore – Its been going great. I’ve actually had probably one of my best years since I’ve been working on my own since I’ve started art as a career. Last year was really good. I was happy with how that went, and looking forward to this year.
GPKNews – Was it scary leaving Topps? Is there anything you regret about that decision?
MP – When you have a big decision like that, it always goes through your mind whether you made the right decision or not. There’s always some questions about that. Overall I’m really happy with how its been going. Happy to be doing my own work and how its been turning out.
GPKNews – Your Magic Marker Art company released a number of sets in 2017, ending with Star Warped Kids Series 1. How has the reception been to the sets?
MP – It’s been great. I’ve been really appreciative to all the fans who have been keeping up with my work and all the different projects I’m doing. I can’t thank them enough for picking up the releases I’ve been putting out.
GPKNews – You’ve also released a number of other merchandise items featuring the same characters from your sets from pins, magnets, t-shirts, sticker sheets. Is there anything collectors seem to prefer?
MP – There’s different collectors it seems. Some like the cards, while a separate group of collectors like the pins. It depends on what their preference is. Thankfully I’ve found there are different avenues for different mediums to support them.
GPKNews – I’ve asked a few artists this, and wanted to get your thoughts. I believe you’ve dabbled in digital work before. What thoughts do you have, specifically when it comes to GPK art or the art you do for your sets, on creating cards digitally vs. the old fashioned way?
MP – As far as the amount of work that goes into either, its about the same I think. There’s just a different feel to it. I don’t know what it is, but you can tell the tactile nature of the actual physical paintings in the print. I feel like it comes off better. Me personally, I started out doing digital, its just a different skill set doing them. It takes a while to switch over from digital to physical. If you know what you’re doing you can get great results with either. Me personally, I’ve gravitated towards doing the physical stuff now. I feel like it prints better, and you have something you can sell, like the one of a kind artwork.
GPKNews – Do you think we will see the day where the main way of creating GPKs or the like are done digitally?
MP – I don’t know if physical paintings will ever disappear. I know people have their preference. I see different media going digital, like 3d sculpting is something I’ve seen more popular. I don’t think either go away. I see an interest in both of them, I don’t think one will negate the other.
MP – At the end of 2017 I took time to sketch out ideas for my next four sets. So I have those all finished now. I just started painting the finals. As I finish one I just go onto the next one. There’s some other stuff in the works for later in the year. I’m looking to go bigger with the sets. Possibly looking into doing some wax packs and other stuff like boxes. I have a 3d sculptor I’m looking at, looking into doing some designer toys. Different options I’m looking into for 2018.
GPKNews – Do you ever envision returning to Topps in the future and working on GPKs?
MP – I don’t think with the current team there. Maybe if there was a switch up with the current direction they were going or change in their focus, maybe going back to the original without the theme sets. If there was new management there, maybe. Never say never.
GPKNews – Finally, this is your second GCC here in Vegas. How does this one compare to the first? How has the fan interaction been?
MP – It’s been great. Its a different atmosphere than the last one. Yesterday was great. It’s been great seeing some familiar faces and meeting new fans who are coming out this year. Overall it’s been a success again this year.
Will there be any GPKs in your Easter basket this weekend? Today Topps launched 2018 Garbage Pail Kids Easter online set. For the first time Topps is getting in on the Easter fun for a holiday themed set. The smaller 7 card set consists of 2 GPK with a/b versions and 3 Wacky Packages cards. The set is available for purchase for $29.99. The set was first listed by Topps for $19.99, but Topps changed the price at some point during the day. Shipping is free within the US when choosing the SmartPost option, while international shipping is $10. The set will be available for 7 days on Topps.com. Topps will reveal the print run of the set at the end of the sale. Here is a checklist along with pictures of the cards.
- 1a: LESTER Bunny/1b: Easter BARNEY (Artist: Smokin Joe McWilliams)
- 2a: Smashed SHELLY/2b: Raw MEG (Artist: Smokin Joe McWilliams)
- 3: Blecch’s Smelly Beans (Artist: Smokin Joe McWilliams)
- 4: Madbury Meanie Eggs (Artist: Smokin Joe McWilliams)
- 5: Paws Decorating Kit (Artist: Neil Camera)
Brent Engstrom has been the workhouse artist for Topps over the last year, especially when it comes to Garbage Pail Kids. 2017 saw Brent paint nearly 150 GPKs, as well as cards for many other brands. Besides the regular retail sets, Brent also was the main artist for the popular online GPK Classic release last year. Brent is a man of few words, he does his talking with a paintbrush. However, he was nice enough to sit down with me at Gross Card Con in Las Vegas for this interview. We talk about the process for submitting concepts to Topps, his passing John Pound recently for most GPKs painted, and his thoughts on painting cards digitally vs. traditional painting.
GPKNews – 2017 was a very busy year for you. You painted the most GPKs last year. My count had nearly 150 individual GPKs cards, and that doesn’t include other brands like Wacky Packages, Mars Attacks, etc. Do you ever get a vacation?
Brent Engstrom – Ha! Not really unless I’m at a thing like this. Really I do make time for myself.
GPKNews – It appears 2018 will be busy for you once again. You had a number of cards in the We Hate the 80’s set. When the process starts for a set retail set like that, how many concepts do you generally submit, and what percent get approved?
BE – It depends on the time frame we have to submit. We submit anywhere from 30-100 concepts. If you submit 100 concepts you don’t get that many approved, so maybe 30 of them. Then later sets they might pick up concepts that fit into those sets.
GPKNews – How much time do you think you spend on each retail card? From concept, to pencil rough, color rough, to final painting?
BE – That’s a hard question. From the thinking of it, its a lot of work. Getting it airbrushed and the concept approved and everything takes a some time.
GPKNews – Have you passed John Pound yet in total number of published GPKs painted? Its got to be pretty close by now right?
BE – I think so. I don’t know his exact number, it varies because he did a lot of other cards like the large cards. Its pretty close, if not it will be soon.
GPKNews – Whats are your thoughts about passing Pound? You’re the GPK king now, right?
BE – Ha! No you can’t top John Pound. He’s the best!
GPKNews – You were the primary artist on the online GPK Classic set released last year. While collectors had issues with Topps on the structure and pricing of the set, for the most part the feedback on the art in the set was overwhelming positive. How did the idea for the GPK Classic set come about?
BE – I think it was from the feedback from people. Some people liked the political cards and some didn’t. I tried to appeal more to the people who like the classic cards.
GPKNews – When coming up with concepts and doing the art for GPK Classic, what was your thought process since there was no theme for the set?
BE – It was a lot different, more open. I got some ideas in there from things I submitted years ago. Things I liked that they passed on for one reason or another. It was cool to finally get those in a set.
GPKNews – Do you think we will get a Series 2 GPK Classic set?
BE – I hope so, but I don’t know for sure. I don’t know how well that sold, but I hope so.
GPKNews – I’ve asked a few artists this, and wanted to get your thoughts. Right now retail GPKs still must be painted, but Colin has allowed some digital work in the online sets. What thoughts do you have, specifically when it comes to GPK art, on creating cards digitally vs. the old fashioned way?
BE – I actually painted the ANS 7 set digitally. It seems to take just as long to paint them digitally. I thought it would save some time. They almost took longer because I would zoom in and really detail things. It hurt my eyes more because I would look at a screen for hours. I prefer traditionally painted, I like the look of them better.
GPKNews – Do you think we will see the day where the main way of creating GPKs are done digitally, or will traditional painting continue to rule?
BE – Painting probably.
GPKNews – Finally this is your second GCC here in Vegas. How does this one compare to the first? How has the fan interaction been?
BE – Its been a lot of fun, I like talking to all the collectors. I like it.
Gross Card Con is expanding. The same people behind the recent GCC even in Las Vegas announced they are bringing the fun to the Bay Area ToyXpo. The show is set to take place Aug. 24-26 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Once again, the event will take place inside the larger toy and comic convention. The show first announced GCC would be appearing a couple of weeks ago, but only today began releasing details on the show. While not a large as the Las Vegas GCC, there is still a very strong lineup of artists scheduled to attend. Right now there are 9 current and former GPK artists set to attend. The show will feature former original series artist Tom Bunk. Also, current artists Joe Simko, Brent Engstrom, David Gross, Layron DeJarnette, Joe McWilliams, Michael Barnard, and Chad Scheres are all set to be there in addition to former artist and art director Jeff Zapata. No other GCC events have been announced yet for the show.
The show also has a Super VIP option for GCC collectors they are offering. The cost of $1000, which is up from the Las Vegas cost. The package includes 3 nights at the host hotel (TBD), early admission to all three days of the show, 4 event exclusive renderings, 1 custom GPK Pop, B&W sketch, and the Saturday VIP dinner. Tickets for the show are available at the show’s website.