Philly Non-Sport Card Talk Panel Transcripts

GPK collectors attending the spring Philly-Non Sport show recently had a chance to hang out with numbers GPK artists, and shop for the latest GPK merchandise. Part of the weekend’s festivities was a Card Talk. Five attending GPK artists gathers early Sunday morning before the show opened for a one-hour question and answer session with fans. Stephen Sodergren and Erica Fox were on hand for GPK News to cover the event. In this third and final article they transcribed the entire card talk. If you missed the first two articles on the show be sure to check out, Philly Non-Sport Dinner/Jay Lynch Tribute Transcript and GPK Collectors Enjoy Weekend at Philly Non-Sport Show. Thanks to Erica and Steve for the fantastic job reporting on the show!

Sunday April 23, 2017, Hilton Garden Inn
Garbage Pail Kids/Wacky Packages Panel

Harris Toser: Today we’re going to have a special Garbage Pail Kids and Wacky Packages panel with these five celebrated artists up here.

(various announcements, not transcribed in full here)

The next show will be October 21 & 22, 2017 here at the Merchants Square Mall.

…One other thing- we are selling today a special TOPPS nine card Garbage Pail Kid and Wacky Package set. It’s 25 dollars. It’s selling over at the prize table at the show itself. We had limited the set to 300. Yesterday’s allotment was sold out by like 12 or 1 o’clock. We held some back for today and so if you’re interested in one of those you should get it first thing when you get over to the show.

Audience member: How much- how many were sold yesterday?

Harris Toser: W held a number back for Sunday people. We’re not saying specifics but most of them were sold yesterday. But there are some- we knew some people would only be coming Sunday and we wanted to make sure that they would be covered as well.

Roxanne Toser: Harris, plus we never had 300 to start with because of –

Harris Toser: Oh – okay, yeah because of artists and TOPPS and everything else, so… but there were 300 made. So, with that, let’s get to the artists. I’d like to introduce the five artists up here. I’d like you guys to introduce yourself, tell us where you’re from, and what you work on, maybe a little bit about yourself if you don’t mind. So, we’ll start with Layron.

Layron DeJarnette: Hi, my name is Layron DeJarnette. I’m from California and I work on Garbage Pail Kids and I’m currently working on the new Mars Attacks series that’s coming out this September.

Audience member: Wait, wait, I’m sorry you gotta speak up buddy!

Layron DeJarnette: Oh, I’m sorry – is this better? Sorry about that. My name is Layron DeJarnette and I’m from California. I work on GPK and I’m currently working on the new Mars Attacks The Revenge trading cards series, making actually half the set. I also do animation work. I don’t really talk about that here but I also work in animation. Currently I’m at Marvel studios working on The Avengers series [applause].

Chad Scheres: Good morning everybody, I’m Chad Scheres. I’m from Spokane, WA. I haven’t done any final art for any sets. I do sketch cards for Garbage Pail Kids and Wacky Packages and Star Wars. And I’ll be working on the next set of Walking Dead doing sketch cards. And I love Wacky Packages and Garbage Pail Kids and that’s me [applause].

Joe Simko: Hi, I’m Joe Simko. I’ve been doing Garbage Pail Kids and Wacky Packages for a few years now. Oh, sorry – yes, louder – I’m Joe Simko from New York. I do Garbage Pail Kids and Wacky Packages art. I also have a company called Waxeye where we put out Cereal Killers – breakfast cereal killers – and Stupid Heroes trading cards. And I also freelance on the side non-trading card art. I do rock posters for bands and concert shirts. Happy to be here! [applause] And co-director, co-producer of the 30 Years of Garbage documentary!

Smokin’ Joe: Hi, I’m Smokin’ Joe, sometimes confused for Joe Simko [laughter]. Our names – they use all the same letters so everybody interchanges us but we are two separate people and this is proof so get your photos now! [laughter]. Don’t change our heads in front of our nameplates! I was a Wacky collector as a kid, in the seventies of the original series in Detroit. I moved to Phoenix and couldn’t collect them there anymore until years and years later I became an artist and contacted TOPPS and became a Wacky artist. So, I’ve been doing Wacky Packages since ANS-3 in 2006 and been knockin’ on the door trying to get some GPK work from them since 2013. And they finally approved some of my gags this year. So I’ll be in the Garbage Pail Kids lineup, hopefully, if I get my paintings in by their deadline which is moments after this panel ends [laughter]. So, that’s me! [applause]

Jeff Zapata: Hi, I’m Jeff Zapata – all around card guy… worked for TOPPS for years. Since leaving TOPPS, I’ve done a lot of freelance for different card companies as far as doing sketch cards. I still do gags for TOPPS now and then, a promo card here and then. Right now, I’m currently trying to produce my own parody card set. I’m also co-producer and co-director and good friends with Joe Simko and -for the 30 Years of Garbage. I also finished – recently- Ultra Spiderman Fleer sketch card sets so that should be coming out soon. But mostly I’m concentrating this year on publishing my own stuff and maybe doing my memoirs [applause].

Harris Toser: Alright, I have no specific real program planned other than I’d like Q & A from you guys on GPK and Wackys. So does anybody have a question for the artists for specific artists?

QUESTION 1 (unidentified male audience member): “Smokin’ Joe, you mentioned [in your intro] that when you moved you were not able to find WP at your new place of residence. How old were you – like what did you do to try to get the cards?”

Smokin’ Joe: Different city situation. So, in Detroit, out in the countryside a little bit, you could walk through a horse farm and a field and down an old dirt road and get to a five and dime and buy any of that stuff, or any pharmacy in town. And I had a baby, baby sister so I would tag along with my mom to go get baby formula and attack whatever Wackys they had. So I had a good collection right up until series 14 and then we moved. And- different urban situation in Phoenix and didn’t know where to go. I finally found them – they were already through the original series and into the re-issues. And part of my story is, I come home from school one day and my baby sister that’s in Kindergarten now is in the front yard and she’s got all the neighborhood kids running around her and she’s doing this [gesturing]. And I’m like, “What’s going on?” and she’s got a handful of my Wacky Package collection and she’s handing them out to everyone [groans from audience]. And they’re gone – except for perhaps 20 or 30 that she had in her mitt and it was like aaahhhh! I have no idea how to recollect those, nobody to trade with, throw them in a little suitcase and stick ‘em in the back of the closet and forget about them for 25 years, right? And late in 1999 or so, I started getting into the internet and finding out maybe I can get a book with this whole collection again and I’ve visually got them. So, I went on the internet and found all the guys that were collecting and trading and I thought wow, I found out some of them are rare and worth something and I’m like I wonder if the 20 I got left are worth anything? So, I went to my mom’s house, into the storage room that I cleaned out every Christmas and Halloween and I know every box that’s in there – every bag that’s in there – I go in there, I know right where I’m going but I have to step on a few boxes to get up to a little suitcase I’m looking for and there’s this bag sitting on the box I gotta step on. And I pull it out of the way and I just peek into it and it’s full of my Wacky Package collection and I don’t know where it came from! I think it blinked out of existence for 25 years [laughter] and then when I was ready to get them again, they were there! And I’m like, holy cow! So I got them all framed up all over my house – series by series – and that was before ANS was out. And I sent a letter to TOPPS and I started doing Wackys myself, so.. I hope that’s some part of an answer for you. [laughter].

QUESTION 2 (male audience member, “Joe”): “Chad Scheres, would you guys or you ever consider doing a set of Rat Finks or Hot Rods -cause I know you do great work with that stuff online, I see it all the time.”

Chad Scheres: Yeah, I would love to do my own stuff with Rat Fink type characters. I could probably get the license to do actual Rat Finks cause I was —

Audience member Joe: I mean, with the Hot Rods back in the 60s the magazines – I used to live for that stuff–

Chad Scheres: –There’s always a lot of paperwork involved in getting into a licensed character and Eileen has the rights to the Rat Finks, Ed Roth’s widow.

Audience member Joe: I’d love to see it happen.

Chad Scheres: Well I haven’t talked to her recently but it could be done, it’s a possibility if there’s – was a demand and I would love to be a part of it.

Audience member Joe: Let me know.

Chad Scheres: Alright thanks.

QUESTION 3 (Erica Fox/ GPK News): “This is a question for each of the artists. There’s a lot of mixed feelings and mixed opinions about the TOPPS on demand cards in the collecting community, so I was wondering if we could hear just your brief perspective as an artist, maybe one pro and one con, or maybe what you like and don’t like about it, because I think your opinions and perspective on it could really broaden the perspective within the collecting community.”

Layron DeJarnette: Well, I got asked this question before and I kind of look at it from all ends. I’m old enough to remember why –how the parody got started – based off the Cabbage Patch Kid dolls and they did a parody of that with the GPK cards, but there are some fans that collect the cards that know nothing about Cabbage Patch Kids. They only collected the cards because either their parents collected or they said, “Oh wow these are cool cards.” So, with the On Demand cards, I find that there are people who were into the hobby before that and collected it way back when. They might not be too happy about the online because it’s a different way of collecting cards – it’s not like you’re going to a store and buying a pack and get a chance to pull out the type of cards you want. It’s more like, oh I’ve been looking for this card so I go On Demand and buy this particular card. But with the political cards, I find that there’s actually like a fan – another GPK fan base – that got started based on that alone because they were into politics and, “Oh here are these cool cards that are kind of making fun of the politics that are going on at the moment.” And then that was their introduction into GPK.

So, it’s kind of like…I understand all ends of it. I understand if there are cards that are coming out some everyday fans who are not used to that type of collecting – I can see how that could irritate them because it’s not like how I collect cards. And you have the “now” generation, they order everything online, get everything they want, and they order what they want, specifically what they want, and they might love it because now- now, now I don’t have to buy 25 packs of cards to get that one card that I want. I can just go and buy that one card. So, that’s kind of like where I’m at. I see all different ends and I can understand the positions from where each person comes from – if they are for or against it.

Chad Scheres: I like a lot of the stuff that’s on there. It’s amazing to me that these guys can see something on the news at six o’clock and then at eight o’clock the next morning there’s a card up for sale. I don’t know when they sleep [laughter]. It’s so fast, it’s just amazing to me. I’ve submitted a few ideas and none of them have been accepted so of course I might like them more if some of mine were accepted [laughter]. And I don’t even necessarily have to do the art. I would love them to say, that’s funny, and then give these guys the chance to do the art- would be great So, I’ll keep submitting my sick, funny ideas that I think are funny until Colin says, yeah that’s right.

Joe Simko: I also see it – like Layron’s saying – I do look at it from every angle- as an artist, as a fan, as an outsider who doesn’t even know what they are still. I do see it as an evolution. There definitely can be improvements on it. I’m coming from the side of, I just want to be a parody artist, and so I do like the idea that we get to do really super-topical, like current of the day of moment parody jokes. Like Jay Lynch said in our film about bringing down the false god – the mission or job of a cartoonist is to parody, make light of something. So I like that aspect. And yeah, there definitely can be improvements on it. I’m seeing it as the art side too – maybe some artists – or designs – like Wackys now changing everything from the design of the card being flimsy, maybe the die cut of the Wacky is gone now. It’s unfortunate that you know, they’re the business and they gotta make their money so we can make our money and survive and put this stuff out. So yeah… but you know, it’s cool that we still get to do these in store sets. So there’s these themed sets that are still happening, you know, at Target or Wal-Mart, that are not really current events but overall general parodies of things that are happening in the world. I’m actually happy about doing the specific new Garbage Pail Kids in store set cause it’s a topic – I don’t even know if I can say it because they probably didn’t release any announcement – but it’s probably my favorite themed set that’s been done so far and something that I do on the side, so I’ll leave it at that. But I’m working on it right now and for the next two months, yeah, but that will be out in the fall. But I understand what you’re saying about the online stuff.

Smokin’ Joe: And I’ll talk at it from the Wacky point of view, alright, because I’m both a fan and artist, right, so there’s two really completely different angles to look at it. As a fan. I never liked the current events or the political jokes in my Wacky Packages. I wanted them the way I saw them as a kid, the way I was introduce to them, right? The stick of gum that you couldn’t possibly chew [laughter], the wax wrapper, you know, the two stickers with the card for a nickel. And when they changed any part of that, it wasn’t the same experience for me as a collector as a kid. But they were still Wacky Packages, so okay, I gotta accept the new thing that they’re trying to do, right?

As an artist, I look at it and say, okay, well, these things write themselves so that’s making our jobs a lot easier, right? These guys are giving us so much material politically [laughter] to work with. And I see two different product lines that happen to be using that brand to deliver. One for the store customers that is more the traditional way. And I think they’re going for a completely different audience for the online stuff. And there’s crossover and some of them don’t like it. But I see that they’re putting out two different product lines.

I also like that- I recognize that- okay these guys are cranking these things out and there’s gonna be another store product at some point and they’re not gonna be able to carry both projects at the same time so there’s going to be a window that opens on the GPK that I’m gonna be able to say hey, why don’t you let me do some of these while these guys are doing the real McCoy and I’ll step in and fill their shoes. And I’ll squeak into the club that way [laughter]. The demand will be there for another set of hands that they’re familiar with to do it. So I’m like, okay this is a good strategic thing for me and it pays my rent, you know, that part is important. So, it’s okay as long as I can come up with another joke or two every week and send it in… and the artists are somewhat interchangeable with it – cause sometimes I’ll get a call from somebody else, you know, “Hey can you help me finish up some of these paintings?” And sometimes they’ll say “Hey, you can’t finish all yours Joe we’re giving it to so-and-so and for the team, absolutely, switch my gag with his or do that, or he beat me to the punch on that gag so I’ll go a different route. So there’s a place in my world for both of – both of them.

Jeff Zapata: I think it’s still evolving… and it could definitely get to a better place. As a fan, I just like seeing parody cards no matter what form. I think it’s a miracle when you see one and have someone spend money to put an image on cardboard that’s for irreverence, you know… That’s someone sticking their neck out… and you know and it’s nice to see. But, I do agree that it loses the intimacy that one used to have coming and having that spontaneous buy, you know…. We were talking about when Wacky Packages found me – I didn’t find Wacky Packages. Now, a kid has to find Wacky Packages through a maze in Wal-Mart. Before it was just, hey, I’ll buy my dad’s paper and I saw this cool looking thing and I had to buy it. But with the online cards, well… I mean an evolving… where maybe it could be turned into something good like with the Jay Lynch thing where it was used for – the proceeds were used for – to help out with his medical bills. And that was using the internet and the wide – also the immediacy of the problem – of people using money for something they like doing but it goes toward the good. And I was also saying to TOPPS at the time – was that it also shows fans that this could be used for something besides monetary gain and using the hobby for you know, just using the hobby for people’s addiction to being, you know, collectors…

But in a business sense, I believe retailers would be angry and feel like there’s a conflict of interest. Cause it’s like how can you sell me this stuff – and when you buy directly from TOPPS you’re forced to buy stuff even that you don’t want. And when it’s stuck on the shelf and in the meanwhile you’re selling directly to the customers who are not gonna buy my stuff that’s on the shelf now because they’re buying stuff that you’re – so … I think TOPPS is facing that already. So, they make sure that it’s limited and they’re not gonna do a lot.

So, like I said, it’s still evolving and I think any kind of art that you see online is great but it’s not the same thing as we grew up with as kids… and maybe that’s also a chance for new kids who just look at the internet to find – see cards- and like oh wow – otherwise, they won’t go to Wal-Mart and go through that maze and be introduced to – maybe online they will.

But, like I said, I think it’s still evolving and it could be used for good if – if – if done for the right reasons and the right purpose. But… I think you can’t find out what’s the good unless you go through stuff and making it, and you know… what these guys do is the new – it’s new territory. So, I think we just gotta sit back and see what happens …and try to respect retailers’ point of view on it because in the long run, they’re the ones who really support the product and stuff and they stick their necks out as well by buying this stuff. So, you know, I think we need to support those people just as much. So, it’s a two-edged sword, you know… it really is. So, it’s a difficult question and a good one.

Smokin’ Joe: … and I think making fun of some of what’s going on in the world right now IS good! [laughter]

QUESTION 4 (unidentified female audience member): “This is for all of you also. If you look around the room you’re going to see we are an aging bunch and for us old school -it’s the fun of the hunt and that’s what keeps bringing you back. How do you feel, just you know, buying online what is it – is it going to help us? Is it going to bring more younger people in to do this, or is it going to harm it? I’d like to hear from each one of you.”

Layron DeJarnette: I guess I can echo what Jeff said. I hear it from younger people -sometimes they might not even know that – like, I get this all the time “Hey I didn’t know they were still making Garbage Pail Kids- I didn’t even know that Garbage Pail Kids still- oh you can actually go and buy this stuff and it’s- and a lot of times they come – like Jeff said – they find out about it because of the stuff they’re selling online. So from that perspective I guess from TOPPS’ perspective they’re not getting any new customers because they don’t even know that they’re even making them – I can see how posting something online, it could help them boost sales because now they’re getting a new fan base, a younger fan base – continue with the torch of collecting. But you know, I grew up going to the store so it’s .. I feel kind of weird even seeing it because it’s not the way I collected cards but like Jeff said, it’s evolving and who knows, you know it might – I don’t think it will take the place of collecting but it might be another platform to bring in collectors.

Chad Scheres: The online stuff – it’s good for the younger generation because that’s basically what they know. You know, I’ve got nieces and nephews and if they need something from the store, if they want something from the store, It’s like “Well go get it” “No, I can just go on Amazon and it’ll be here tomorrow and I don’t have to leave the house and I don’t even have to stop watching my Netflix show ” – it’s all there. To me, I miss the days of getting on my bike and riding to 7-11 and buying comics and Wacky Packages and Star Wars – the opening of the pack and the smelling of the gum and everything – that’s the memory I have. So, I’ll continue doing that and I miss the smell of the gum and I don’t care that I don’t ride my bike anymore. [laughter]. I still like to run out to Target and see what the new series are and grab packs and rip them open before I get home. I rip them open in the car and see what’s there- that’s the thrill of the hunt for me. But most kids aren’t like that, the younger generation just click and wait for the mail.

Joe Simko: Yeah, they’re pressing a button and buying a card. For me, I notice as soon as I do one of these online of the day, current event GPK, Wacky kinds of things, I’ll post it through my social media – Facebook, Twitter – and that’s where the followers or the friends who are not collectors share it, like it, and click it and they’re aware of that now. And that would turn into buying a pack, going to the store. We’ll hear this too – a parent will go, “Oh yeah we were at the store and bought our son or daughter a couple packs.” They may not be a collector or become a collector as we know it, like having everything- completists- but a casual fan, and they remember and turn their kids onto it and the kids will get packs. I mean the way -and this could be for any industry or subject – just everything’s going digital, virtual. I mean, I’m involved with this other developer for virtual reality – if you’ve ever seen the Oculus Rift headset, which puts you into a whole other world, it’s amazing. I think films, video games, everything, card collecting could turn into some strange hybrid of that. And this is like, decades from now, but you know, who knows, it’s hard to predict things like that, so… but there will still be tangible things.

As far as turning a young generation into major collectors…it could be….but it’s just another form – virtually or digitally- you know, just like with the phone they have their digital collection- that’s their completist collection, but as for now, I just see them as pack buyers- that’s how I see it.

Smokin’ Joe: And I’m curious if the online has replaced the dime store that I used to go to, right? It just seems that’s way more accessible whether it’s through TOPPS directly or through eBay. Even as a collector looking to replace my old series, eBay was such a find, right? Where do you go to find these things? I was telling Roxanne at breakfast when I discovered Wackys were a collectible thing that people were talking about, I wanted to know more. And I learned there was this Irish set that was done, right, a UK set, and it’s like, holy cow, how do I get my hands on that? And I sent email out to every funky store I could find on the internet over in the UK trying to find who might have some of these or tell me how to get some of these. I didn’t get a response from anybody until eBay had a set up there, and it’s okay, so here we go. So, they were able to plug me, as a traditional old school type collector in with it. And I started collecting with original series 6 Wacky Packages- that’s when in second grade I discovered them – and so all the previous ones were these holy grail items. What are they? Where do you find them? They’re gone. I’ll never find them again. So, being able to put those series together and collect them, even just through the internet like that, through eBay, or connecting with another collector in Florida, and I’ve got a bunch of series 12- and [they’re like] I’ve got series 5 and 4 – I’ll trade you straight across and do it. It was like, alright, that worked out really well!

So, I love it as a tool that way, you know, and I do think that there’s a transition going on from one generation to the next and TOPPS is trying to figure out how to do this, right, without alienating our core group that brought us here. But we need to keep the youth involved in it, and so they’re trying everything. They’re pivoting alright? They’re criticized sometimes for not being very creative anymore like they were back then. But this is a different way of making this pertinent again with the brands that we love that just don’t have the same appeal that they did when they were back in the 80’s. I like that they’re trying different things and some of them aren’t going to work quite right and some of them hopefully will catch fire and they’ll grab that new audience and there’ll be a whole other group like this, you know, 30, 40 years from now doing the same thing.

Jeff Zapata: Well, I agree with a lot… I think we’re all saying the same thing, that the window’s closing on our memories of what – who we were of how we collected cards, and that’s – um a dying species almost, where, you know, people won’t remember this unless you passed it on to someone else, you know. Today’s kids don’t collect cards unless it has power involved. Power meaning power levels. Power – this – it has to have numbers, some sort of game factor involved. So that’s when they think of cards, that’s what they’re going to remember. So, with the online stuff, maybe it’s a last – a sinking pylon – an old art, let’s say, of trading cards and it’s at least showing to an audience that may be able to save it, you know. It may not go toward the retailers who are like a captain on a ship waiting for the tide to come back around, you know, and when you have something like this it makes it even worse for that tide to come around and seeing –but you know, at least we gotta face it. It’s eventually going to end because we’re all gonna pass away [laughter] and if you have online sets, at least it gets a chance, you know, for those who are not passing it on, a kid is maybe going by, googling something, “oh this is interesting” and oh, we got another one, you know. But like I said, it’s still there and it might be used for good, you know, and maybe retailers might learn something from it and start doing stuff themselves, start doing their own exclusive card and getting that audience and say, hey, come over here and start herding that audience towards you, and … cause it’s happening, you know? There’s Netflix – it might be a Deckflix or something [laughter] and who thought one day you’d be sitting at home and just pressing a button and flying through genres of what movie you thought – you had to go to Blockbuster and even that was crazy at the time. Your grandfather, “Blockbuster? I used to have to go to the movies and you’d spend all day in there!”

So, it’s evolving, and let’s just hope it doesn’t go toward overpricing and making it exclusive only to those who can afford it. And where collecting and the chase becomes how much money you have to chase it, instead of just like, you know, who got there first that morning to the store, who did the legwork, you know what I mean? So that’s a different, totally different game now in collecting. Legwork might be how soon are you gonna be there to bid on it or how soon are you gonna have the money to be there when they’re offering it. Before, collecting was like, oh, I’ll get it don’t worry, I’ll be able to save money and have, you know, be able to buy it during this window. Now, you have a shorter window where it’s available. And let’s say you’re paying rent that week or insurance or something and that’s when it gets ugly. I don’t think it’s fair, you know, for other collectors, so we gotta change it.

QUESTION 5 (Harris Toser):I have a quick question for you guys. I know a lot of things get rejected these days. Can you tell us all a quick funny story about something – one of your GPKs or WPs that have gotten rejected?”

Jeff Zapata: I’ll tell you one that’s recently. For this show, I was doing some Superman gags and I finally got that, and I have this nice one I really like- I think I shared it with some people here – of a GPK, very dynamic, busting through a tower of building blocks, you know, the letters and everything. And I just thought it was funny, this kid busting through as if he’s Superman but it’s just blocks and he’s just coming through. But was very dynamic and very simple, plain to the point, you know, straight to the point. And it was something I was dying to – and eventually what got approved, I didn’t want to paint it. It was a gag, and I was like, “Are you sure about this?” [laughter] “Are you sure you want to do this?” And they have to be done quick. And it brought back a lot of memories, of like – gags at TOPPS is done by a group sometimes. If you don’t have that group laugh at the same time it won’t get approved. And there’s a lot of good gags that slip though fans fingers.

Smokin’ Joe: I’ll talk about it from a broader sense, because it was always a puzzle to me, “How come these gags got accepted and these didn’t?” Cause I wouldn’t see any real difference from them. And, for me, trying to earn a living doing it, you know, the more I get accepted the better that month is gonna be for me. So, it’s like, okay, so what’s the secret formula to get more accepted? And the first 20 gags that I sent in more than half of them were accepted, right. Alright, that was easier than I thought. And I don’t know why they didn’t like the other ones. I thought they were all viable. And often there was very little communication back about the “why.” And it just left me wondering, you know, I’d even ask, okay so what was wrong with this gag? And I’m sure that these guys got inundated with those kind of questions, you know, artists standing up, writers standing up for their idea. And there were a lot of legitimate reasons: “Well, two guys sent in the same product parody at the same time and we went with the one that was funnier,” or, “We went with the one that came first because they were both good,” or, “We already had too many cereal gags for this set ready to go, so we just pulled it back and we’ll put it back through again.” And I went through a period where I could send in 50 gags and maybe five of them would be accepted. It’s like, wow, that’s a lot of work. Was I not sketching my characters well enough for the whole idea to be there? Cause when – one minute they’d say. “Sketch them a little looser and easier, don’t spend so much time” and then my gag approval percentage went way down so I’m like “No, I can’t do that” [laughter]. So, I went the other way and it came back up. So I’m like, okay, the character obviously will help sell the whole idea. A good character can be all that appeals on a Wacky and you love it. So, I figured out, kind of, how I need to draw it to make sure that it doesn’t have any stigmas about it, that’s it’s not going to be good enough so that they’ll be able to execute this piece of art, or the gag concept wasn’t understood from the get go.

Harris Toser: Joe [Simko], have you had a specific one that’s been rejected?

Joe Simko: Yeah, so since back in the day when we’d do guns and cigarettes on Garbage Pail Kids, and the fact that we can’t do them now, I’m trying to look for – or still figure out ways to – still have that hard edge, you know, and get some sort of – get someone’s reaction. So it was during the American Pie Apple Set, uh, Americana Garbage Pail Kids set. It was also around the time that the Confederate flag was being removed from everywhere and taken down. So, I wanted to do a big melting pot of this character. I did a transgender hillbilly, southern hillbilly waving a Confederate – a rainbow Confederate flag [laughing] and I thought that it was a perfect way, it had a kind of, an effect, but “Nope.” [laughter].

Chad Scheres: I haven’t had anything approved yet. I’ve sent quite a few gags and I get no response, or a “Thanks” – just “thanks,” not good or bad [laughter]. I did one when Trump did the whole Sweden thing, what’s happening in Sweden is horrible. I drew it out, I thought it was hilarious, and I sent it in and I thought, “This is gonna be it, this is good.” And I got a response and it said, “Sorry, Joe Simko’s doing a Swedish fish gag” [laughter]. So he beat me to it. Mine was a Swiss Miss Cocoa and Joe’s was a Swedish fish. So, I’m still waiting for my chance on that one and coming up with ideas every day.

Layron DeJarnette: Well, I would say I’m more of an illustrator. I haven’t really – I’ve submitted gags but they’re pretty few gags that I’ve submitted to TOPPS. The few gags I submitted to TOPPS all got approved so I didn’t have an experience where I had a rejected gag.

Jeff Zapata: Quick anecdote, regarding Wacky Packs. During the ANS Wacky Packs, we did a thing called Fright Castle. It was supposed to be, you know, White Castle. And we started putting flies around it, made them look spooky and goofy, and just made them like, you don’t want to eat these. So, eventually we had actually family members of White Castle come to TOPPS. And they came in with the bio of the company. And they go, “Listen, we understand Wacky Packs, we understand what you’re trying to do, but we really love our company and we worked really hard on it. Can you not do that? Put flies on our hamburgers and stuff? And make it not so bad?” [laughter]. And we respected that because they came down themselves and with the book, you know, explaining the whole history of the company. And from then on, we said, alright when we do food or anything like that, let’s not put any spit [laughter] or flies on it, or foot fungus. And that went on for awhile. And now I noticed it- they’re doing ones- they’re back at it again [laughter] — with foot fungus, snotcakes, or whatever and before it was such – we called it “The White Castle Rule” – you just don’t do that. Cause I felt so sorry for them. So anyways, that’s….

Harris Toser: Alright, we’re only gonna have time for one more question because we gotta get to – get you guys out of here and we gotta do prize, so do we have a last question? You, sir.

QUESTION 6 (unidentified male audience member): “Ok, this has been a complete source of frustration for me, and I’ve asked this before and it’s fell on deaf ears. Why don’t the artists get credit on the cards?”

Joe Simko: I think they started doing our names on the checklists, but I don’t know if they’ve taken them off recently. Maybe about three or four years ago, the checklist back, the very bottom, they would credit the artist and writer, for I think GPK and Wacky but that that was in the past, I can’t even say…three or four years ago?

Layron DeJarnette: I want to say three, three years maybe, you know when I first started that was a question I had. They started giving credit to artists now, like with the checklists and sometimes…well they only did that with the Jay Lynch set. I was gonna say with the online ones- certain exclusive sets they might credit an artist – like, put the name of the card, the artist who worked on it, worked on the card. So, they’re doing it for some of the cards.

Joe Simko: I think also in the social media world now, the artists can do it themselves, or TOPPS probably knows that. But they’re not going to help us too much on that end.

Jeff Zapata: When I was at TOPPS they used to really try to stay away from people putting names on anything because they always felt like if someone had their name on it, they might say they created it or they are the creator and, like… when we used to do movie cards, they’d have a little credit that would say managing director, publisher, and all that. And then eventually they said let’s take all that out too, let’s get rid of that. But what I remember, they used to whisper, “We don’t want people thinking – or debating – who created Garbage Pail Kids, if you put a name on there.” Because that was a longstanding thing within the office, that if you said Art Spiegelman created Garbage Pail Kids – “No, no, no, it was this person!” – and it had to be someone still working there in the company. So it was very, you know, you couldn’t say who created what, so maybe that’s why.

Harris Toser: Alright, well, I thank you guys very much [applause]. We’re gonna do a few prizes now…