Trash Talkinโ€™ With Former GPK Art Director Mark Newgarden

Interview is republished, by permission, from Sybil Ferro and the Garbage Pail Kids Misfits Facebook group, ยฉ 2020.

๐˜ฝ๐™š๐™›๐™ค๐™ง๐™š ๐™„ ๐™š๐™ซ๐™š๐™ฃ ๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™–๐™ง๐™ฉ, ๐™„ ๐™–๐™ก๐™ง๐™š๐™–๐™™๐™ฎ ๐™ ๐™ฃ๐™ค๐™ฌ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™„ ๐™˜๐™–๐™ฃโ€™๐™ฉ ๐™ฌ๐™ง๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™š ๐™–๐™ฃ ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™ง๐™ค๐™™๐™ช๐™˜๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™˜๐™ค๐™ช๐™ก๐™™ ๐™ฅ๐™ค๐™จ๐™จ๐™ž๐™—๐™ก๐™ฎ ๐™š๐™ญ๐™ฅ๐™ก๐™–๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™ข๐™ฎ ๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™๐™ช๐™จ๐™ž๐™–๐™จ๐™ข, ๐™š๐™ญ๐™ฅ๐™ง๐™š๐™จ๐™จ ๐™ข๐™ฎ ๐™œ๐™ง๐™–๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ช๐™™๐™š, ๐™˜๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™–๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™ข๐™ฎ ๐™š๐™ญ๐™˜๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™š๐™ข๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฉ ๐™ค๐™ง ๐™ข๐™–๐™ ๐™š ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™š๐™ก๐™ก๐™ž๐™œ๐™ž๐™—๐™ก๐™š ๐™ข๐™ฎ ๐™ฃ๐™š๐™ง๐™ซ๐™š๐™จ, ๐™š๐™–๐™œ๐™š๐™ง๐™ฃ๐™š๐™จ๐™จ ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™˜๐™ค๐™ข๐™ฅ๐™ง๐™š๐™๐™š๐™ฃ๐™จ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ ๐™ค๐™› ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ž๐™ข๐™ฅ๐™ค๐™ง๐™ฉ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™˜๐™š ๐™ค๐™› ๐™ฉ๐™๐™ž๐™จ ๐™„๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™š๐™ง๐™ซ๐™ž๐™š๐™ฌ.

๐™’๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™๐™ค๐™ช๐™ฉ ๐˜ฝ๐™ž๐™ก๐™ก ๐™‚๐™–๐™ฉ๐™š๐™จ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š๐™ง๐™š ๐™ฌ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ก๐™™ ๐™—๐™š ๐™ฃ๐™ค ๐™ˆ๐™ž๐™˜๐™ง๐™ค๐™จ๐™ค๐™›๐™ฉ. ๐™’๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™๐™ค๐™ช๐™ฉ ๐™‹๐™–๐™ช๐™ก ๐™ˆ๐™˜๐˜พ๐™–๐™ง๐™ฉ๐™ฃ๐™š๐™ฎ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š๐™ง๐™š ๐™ฌ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ก๐™™ ๐™—๐™š ๐™ฃ๐™ค ๐˜ฝ๐™š๐™–๐™ฉ๐™ก๐™š๐™จ. ๐™’๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™๐™ค๐™ช๐™ฉ ๐™˜๐™๐™–๐™ฃ๐™œ๐™š, ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š๐™ง๐™š ๐™ฌ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ก๐™™ ๐™—๐™š ๐™ฃ๐™ค ๐™—๐™ช๐™ฉ๐™ฉ๐™š๐™ง๐™›๐™ก๐™ž๐™š๐™จ. ๐˜ผ๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™ฌ๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™๐™ค๐™ช๐™ฉ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™ž๐™จ ๐™ฌ๐™š๐™š๐™ ๐™จ ๐™๐™ง๐™–๐™จ๐™ ๐™๐™–๐™ก๐™ ๐™ž๐™ฃโ€™ ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™š๐™ง๐™ซ๐™ž๐™š๐™ฌ๐™š๐™š, ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š๐™ง๐™š ๐™ฌ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ก๐™™ ๐™—๐™š ๐™ฃ๐™ค ๐™‚๐™–๐™ง๐™—๐™–๐™œ๐™š ๐™‹๐™–๐™ž๐™ก ๐™†๐™ž๐™™๐™จ!

*๐™Ž๐™๐™ช๐™™๐™™๐™š๐™ง*

Will Marstonย โ€“ย ๐™ƒ๐™ž๐™จ ๐™จ๐™ ๐™š๐™ฉ๐™˜๐™, ๐™›๐™ค๐™ง ๐™’๐™–๐™˜๐™ ๐™ฎ ๐™‹๐™–๐™˜๐™ ๐™–๐™œ๐™š๐™จ, ๐™›๐™š๐™–๐™ฉ๐™ช๐™ง๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™– ๐™ฅ๐™–๐™ง๐™ค๐™™๐™ฎ ๐™ค๐™› ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ฅ๐™ค๐™ฅ๐™ช๐™ก๐™–๐™ง ๐˜พ๐™–๐™—๐™—๐™–๐™œ๐™š ๐™‹๐™–๐™ฉ๐™˜๐™ ๐™†๐™ž๐™™๐™จ ๐™™๐™ค๐™ก๐™ก๐™จ ๐™›๐™ค๐™ง ๐™˜๐™๐™ž๐™ก๐™™๐™ง๐™š๐™ฃ, ๐™—๐™š๐™˜๐™–๐™ข๐™š ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™—๐™–๐™จ๐™ž๐™จ ๐™›๐™ค๐™ง ๐™–๐™ฃ ๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ง๐™š ๐™จ๐™š๐™ง๐™ž๐™š๐™จ ๐™ค๐™› ๐™˜๐™–๐™ง๐™™๐™จ, ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ง๐™š๐™–๐™จ๐™ค๐™ฃ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™–๐™ง๐™š ๐™ง๐™š๐™–๐™™๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š๐™จ๐™š ๐™ฌ๐™ค๐™ง๐™™๐™จ ๐™ง๐™ž๐™œ๐™๐™ฉ ๐™ฃ๐™ค๐™ฌ. ๐™‡๐™ž๐™ ๐™š ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™๐™–๐™ซ๐™š๐™ฃโ€™๐™ฉ ๐™œ๐™ช๐™š๐™จ๐™จ๐™š๐™™ ๐™–๐™ก๐™ง๐™š๐™–๐™™๐™ฎ…๐™ž๐™ฉ ๐™ž๐™จ ๐™–๐™ฃ ๐™–๐™—๐™จ๐™ค๐™ก๐™ช๐™ฉ๐™š ๐™๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ง ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™ง๐™ค๐™™๐™ช๐™˜๐™š ๐™ˆ๐™–๐™ง๐™  ๐™‰๐™š๐™ฌ๐™œ๐™–๐™ง๐™™๐™š๐™ฃ!ย 

Mark Newgardenย โ€“ย Thanks Will, my pleasure.ย 

Well, Iโ€™m not the biggest Beatles fan on earth (and having worked for Microsoft, I have no illusions.) But butterflies? OK, butterflies, sure, Iโ€™ll go along with that…ย 

WMย โ€“ย ๐™’๐™š๐™ก๐™˜๐™ค๐™ข๐™š ๐™ˆ๐™–๐™ง๐™ ! ๐˜ผ๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™จ๐™š๐™š๐™ข๐™จ ๐™ก๐™ž๐™ ๐™š ๐™– ๐™ฅ๐™ง๐™š๐™ฉ๐™ฉ๐™ฎ ๐™œ๐™ค๐™ค๐™™ ๐™ฅ๐™ก๐™–๐™˜๐™š ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™–๐™ง๐™ฉ…๐™ฉ๐™š๐™ก๐™ก ๐™ช๐™จ ๐™–๐™—๐™ค๐™ช๐™ฉ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™ฃ๐™ค๐™ฌ ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™›๐™–๐™ข๐™ค๐™ช๐™จ ๐™จ๐™ ๐™š๐™ฉ๐™˜๐™? (๐™’๐™๐™š๐™ง๐™š ๐™ฌ๐™š๐™ง๐™š ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช? ๐™’๐™๐™ค ๐™™๐™ž๐™™ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™จ๐™๐™ค๐™ฌ ๐™ž๐™ฉ ๐™ฉ๐™ค? ๐™’๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™จ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ง๐™š๐™–๐™˜๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ? ๐™๐™€๐™‡๐™‡ ๐™๐™Ž ๐™€๐™‘๐™€๐™๐™”๐™๐™ƒ๐™„๐™‰๐™‚!!!)

MNย โ€“ย As Iโ€™ve mentioned in interviews before, the germ of GPK grew out of Topps Wacky Packages, which I collected myself as a 1960s kid (the very first ones, which were on thick gummed card stock – the stickers came later.) Wackys became a huge fad (and moneymaker) in the 1970s and Topps would reissue or revive them periodically – and around 1985 it was time again.ย 

I was given an initial assignment by Len Brownย  (longtime Topps New Product Development dept. creative director) to compile a working list of new, feasible products to parody. I was also given a fat folder of corporate cease and desist letters that Topps accumulated over the years and a list of companies and products that were considered off limits. Most of the familiar supermarket brands were now verboten and there was some doubt that that a decent Wacky Packages set could be pulled off in 1985. But even if possible, it would not be a simple task. The subjects had to be iconic, family-friendly nationally distributed products that were owned by companies that had not threatened to sue Topps in the past – and believe me there were damned few left!

So I went shopping and got to work. I read the fine print on labels and learned about brand acquisitions and corporate conglomerates. I filled pages of ideas in a spiral notebook. Supermarket workers eyed me suspiciously. Len drove us out to a Toys-R-Us one afternoon to see what was on the shelves. My running idea list included the requisite parody /switch concept right off the bat (Burger King/ Burger Thing, T.V. Guide/ T.V. Died, Cabbage Patch Kids/ Garbage Pail Kids, etc.) So the GPK title came before anysketches. Cabbage Patch Kid dolls were not even available in toy stores at that point, but they had gotten a ton of publicity and were on kidโ€™s radar, so it made sense to include them.

My finished list was reviewed by Len, the best prospects were OKed, (we ultimately needed 44 good ones) and I proceeded to flesh them out visually, adding the ancillary gags. I probably worked on these at a drawing board in the corner of the windowless NPD meeting room at Topps in Bush Terminal, Brooklyn over a number of weeks. I never really liked drawing there, the markers they used at Topps gave me the worst headaches (as did the ample supply of sugary gum products on hand.)

Len looked over my sketches next, as did Art Speigelman who would typically give notes. I donโ€™t recall any specific reaction to that one at all, there were no notes or revisions. It was just another gag, it worked, next. It was filed in the series โ€œOKโ€ pile and ultimately sent off to John Pound (who was just starting at Topps) to use as a basis for a finished rendering. How that Wacky Package was spun off into a series of itโ€™s own is a story that has also been told beforeโ€ฆ

WMย โ€“ย ๐™Ž๐™ค๐™ข๐™š ๐™ฅ๐™š๐™ค๐™ฅ๐™ก๐™š ๐™–๐™ฌ๐™–๐™ฎ ๐™›๐™ง๐™ค๐™ข ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™จ๐™˜๐™š๐™ฃ๐™š ๐™›๐™ค๐™ง๐™œ๐™š๐™ฉ ๐™Ÿ๐™ช๐™จ๐™ฉ ๐™๐™ค๐™ฌ ๐™—๐™ž๐™œ ๐™‚๐™‹๐™† ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™จ ๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ข๐™š. ๐™”๐™ค๐™ช ๐™๐™š๐™ก๐™ฅ๐™š๐™™ ๐™จ๐™š๐™ก๐™ก ๐™– ๐™‡๐™Š๐™ ๐™ค๐™› ๐™—๐™ช๐™—๐™—๐™ก๐™š๐™œ๐™ช๐™ข! ๐˜ฟ๐™ž๐™™ ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™ฎ ๐™ค๐™› ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™จ๐™ช๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™จ ๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™๐™ค๐™ฅ๐™ฅ๐™จ ๐™š๐™ซ๐™š๐™ง ๐™จ๐™–๐™ฎ โ€œ๐™œ๐™ง๐™š๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™Ÿ๐™ค๐™— ๐™—๐™ค๐™ฎ๐™จโ€ ๐™ค๐™ง ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™จ ๐™ž๐™ฉ ๐™ก๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™š๐™ง๐™–๐™ก๐™ก๐™ฎ ๐™Ÿ๐™ช๐™จ๐™ฉ โ€œ๐™ฌ๐™š ๐™ฃ๐™š๐™š๐™™ ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™ค๐™ฉ๐™๐™š๐™ง ๐™จ๐™š๐™ง๐™ž๐™š๐™จ ๐™™๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™š ๐™—๐™ฎ ๐™ฃ๐™š๐™ญ๐™ฉ ๐™ฌ๐™š๐™š๐™ ?โ€

MNย โ€“ย GPK became a big product for Topps. There were some modest bonuses for the creative team as new series accrued, but the suits paid themselves those kind of bonuses a thousand fold; the Topps CEO came from a sales background and any successes were routinely credited to the sales force. However, โ€œwe need another series done by next weekโ€ was a pretty constant refrain for the next several years. If anybody had ever invented a way to make new products without creative people, Topps would have bought the patent in a heartbeat!

WMย โ€“ย ๐˜ฟ๐™ค ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™ง๐™š๐™ข๐™š๐™ข๐™—๐™š๐™ง ๐™๐™ค๐™ฌ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™›๐™š๐™ก๐™ฉ ๐™ฌ๐™๐™š๐™ฃ ๐˜ผ๐™ง๐™ฉ ๐™Ž๐™ฅ๐™ž๐™š๐™œ๐™š๐™ก๐™ข๐™–๐™ฃ ๐™—๐™ง๐™ค๐™ช๐™œ๐™๐™ฉ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™–๐™จ ๐˜พ๐™ง๐™š๐™–๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ซ๐™š ๐˜พ๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™จ๐™ช๐™ก๐™ฉ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™ฉ ๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™๐™ค๐™ฅ๐™ฅ๐™จ? ๐˜ผ๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™๐™ค๐™ฌ ๐™™๐™ž๐™™ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™–๐™ก๐™ก ๐™˜๐™ค๐™ข๐™š ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™ฅ๐™–๐™จ๐™จ?

MNย โ€“ย I had been a student of Artโ€™s at SVA and then working with him as Raw magazine was getting underway. I was tossed a few random Topps assignments starting around 1982 or so while I was still at Raw. The first one was to research and write a series of backs for the upcoming Jaws 3D gum card series. They wanted 44 โ€œFun Facts About Fishโ€ over a weekend. Universal wasnโ€™t releasing the script for some reason & Topps needed a plan B in their back pocket, ASAP. I had written some funny fortune cookie messages prior so maybe that was credentials enough.ย 

How did I feel? I was happy to have a paying gig, however inane, but it felt like a Jr. high school homework assignment. I handed the job off to Art at Raw and never heard about it again. Anyway, about a year later, NPD decided they needed some young blood on a regular basis and I guess they liked my blood type. I began coming in once a week and essentially hung around for the next decade or so. It was a strange and fascinating place, filled with absolute characters. At best, it was like stepping into a well-written sitcom. (And at worst, a badly-written soap opera.)

WMย โ€“ย ๐—œ ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฑ ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐˜†๐—ผ๐˜‚ ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฝ๐—ผ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐˜๐˜€ ๐˜‚๐—ป๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—น๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐˜€๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐˜„๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ… ๐˜„๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐˜„๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—น๐—ฑ ๐˜†๐—ผ๐˜‚ ๐˜€๐—ฎ๐˜† ๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐˜†๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ฟ ๐—บ๐—ผ๐˜€๐˜ ๐˜๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐˜€๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—ฝ๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—š๐—ฃ๐—ž ๐—ต๐—ถ๐˜€๐˜๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐˜† ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐˜†๐—ผ๐˜‚ ๐—ผ๐˜„๐—ป ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐˜„๐—ต๐˜†?

MNย โ€“ย Yes, Iโ€™m sure I do. Those posters were fun btw, it was always enjoyable to extend things in a fresh direction, but they were done very quickly- another rush job. Anyway, I guess I would nominate that tattered spiral notebook of 1985 Wacky concepts that I mentioned earlier. If there is an actual physical starting point for GPK, thatโ€™s it.

WMย โ€“ย ๐™”๐™ค๐™ช ๐™จ๐™ฅ๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฉ ๐™ข๐™ค๐™จ๐™ฉ ๐™ค๐™› ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š 1980๐™จ ๐™ฌ๐™ค๐™ง๐™ ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™ค๐™ฃ ๐™จ๐™š๐™ง๐™ž๐™š๐™จ ๐™–๐™›๐™ฉ๐™š๐™ง ๐™จ๐™š๐™ง๐™ž๐™š๐™จ ๐™ค๐™› ๐™‚๐™‹๐™†. ๐˜พ๐™–๐™ฃ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™จ๐™๐™–๐™ง๐™š ๐™– ๐™ก๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ฉ๐™ก๐™š ๐™–๐™—๐™ค๐™ช๐™ฉ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ง ๐™˜๐™ง๐™š๐™–๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ซ๐™š ๐™ฅ๐™ง๐™ค๐™˜๐™š๐™จ๐™จ? ๐˜ฟ๐™ž๐™™ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™š๐™ซ๐™š๐™ง ๐™จ๐™ช๐™›๐™›๐™š๐™ง ๐™˜๐™ง๐™š๐™–๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ซ๐™š ๐™—๐™ก๐™ค๐™˜๐™ , ๐™ค๐™ง ๐™๐™–๐™ซ๐™š ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™จ๐™๐™š๐™ก๐™ซ๐™š ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™ฎ๐™ฉ๐™๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™™๐™š๐™š๐™ข๐™š๐™™ ๐™ฉ๐™ค๐™ค ๐™ง๐™ž๐™จ๐™ฆ๐™ชรฉ?

MNย โ€“ย For me, the most creative part of GPK (new gag concepts) was always the easiest and most fun part of the job. If I ever felt blocked, my personal method was to stop thinking and just draw. Eventually something would develop on the page.ย 

Yes, we shelved things all the time, only a small fraction of the ideas made it to print. And even then, โ€œobjectionableโ€ concepts could get all the way to the finished art stage & still be rejected by the powers that be. But we would always resubmit them in the next series and most would eventually get used. A few outliers never saw the light of day for a variety of reasons. I recall one painting of Johnโ€™s involving a smiling purple pickled kid in a jar that somebody there insisted just had to be a fetus.ย 

WMย โ€“ย ๐™’๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™™๐™ค ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™ฉ๐™๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™  ๐™ค๐™› ๐™‚๐™‹๐™† ๐™›๐™–๐™ฃ๐™จ ๐™ฉ๐™ค๐™™๐™–๐™ฎ ๐™ซ๐™จ ๐™‚๐™‹๐™† ๐™›๐™–๐™ฃ๐™จ ๐™ค๐™› ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š 80๐™จ? ๐˜พ๐™–๐™ฃ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™—๐™š๐™ก๐™ž๐™š๐™ซ๐™š ๐™ฌ๐™š ๐™–๐™ง๐™š ๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ก๐™ก ๐™Ÿ๐™ช๐™จ๐™ฉ ๐™–๐™จ ๐™ฅ๐™–๐™จ๐™จ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™–๐™ฉ๐™š ๐™–๐™—๐™ค๐™ช๐™ฉ ๐™—๐™ค๐™ค๐™œ๐™š๐™ง๐™จ ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™ฅ๐™ช๐™ ๐™š?

MNย โ€“ย Night and day. The original GPK was a mass-market product aimed at all kids – not fans, and something they could buy themselves with their own pocket money. Today itโ€™s a pre-sold niche market โ€œpropertyโ€ and โ€œbranding opportunityโ€ aimed at rapidly aging ex-kids (with far deeper pockets.)

Weirdly enough, there was an element of truth-telling in depicting gross bodily fluids in American pop-culture back in the buttoned-up Reagan era. Prior to GPK, that kind of content was considered beyond the pale in material aimed at children. For my part, I was always trying to include what I would have loved as a kid and proceeded accordingly. I was the oldest child in a large family, and snot and puke was just part of daily life in the Newgarden household. In fact, I almost got kicked out of art school for drawing a classmate of mine, vomiting and farting, on the walls there. Anyway, these became a 1980s kid-culture formula pretty quickly of course, and not just for Topps.ย 

WMย โ€“ย ๐™”๐™ค๐™ช ๐™๐™–๐™ซ๐™š ๐™จ๐™ค๐™ข๐™š ๐™ฅ๐™ง๐™š๐™ฉ๐™ฉ๐™ฎ ๐™›๐™–๐™ข๐™ค๐™ช๐™จ ๐˜พ๐™š๐™ก๐™š๐™—๐™ง๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ฎ ๐™›๐™–๐™ฃ๐™จ ๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ก๐™ž๐™ ๐™š๐™จ ๐™ค๐™› ๐™ˆ๐™–๐™ฉ๐™ฉ ๐™‚๐™ง๐™ค๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™๐™ค๐™—๐™š๐™ง๐™ฉ ๐˜พ๐™ง๐™ช๐™ข๐™—. ๐™ƒ๐™ค๐™ฌ ๐™™๐™ค๐™š๐™จ ๐™ž๐™ฉ ๐™ข๐™–๐™ ๐™š ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™›๐™š๐™š๐™ก ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™ ๐™ฃ๐™ค๐™ฌ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™๐™–๐™ซ๐™š ๐™ฃ๐™ค๐™ฉ ๐™Ÿ๐™ช๐™จ๐™ฉ โ€œ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™จ๐™ฅ๐™ž๐™ง๐™š๐™™โ€, ๐™—๐™ช๐™ฉ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ชโ€™๐™ซ๐™š ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™จ๐™ฅ๐™ž๐™ง๐™š๐™™ ๐™œ๐™ง๐™š๐™–๐™ฉ๐™ฃ๐™š๐™จ๐™จ?

MNย โ€“ย  Iโ€™m not sure what role โ€œinspirationโ€ ever plays, but if the original GPK series was great it was great because of the talents involved and because we all worked our butts off on it. There was a true serious of purpose behind all that snot and puke.

WMย โ€“ย ๐™’๐™๐™ค ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™จ๐™ฅ๐™ž๐™ง๐™š๐™จ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช?

MNย โ€“ย Cole Porter once said โ€œMy sole inspiration is a telephone call from a directorโ€. I tend to share that sentiment, if not the particulars. In other words you need to be pre-inspired, self-inspired and ready for the call.

WMย โ€“ย ๐™’๐™๐™ค ๐™–๐™ง๐™š ๐™จ๐™ค๐™ข๐™š ๐™ค๐™› ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ง ๐˜พ๐™ค๐™ข๐™š๐™™๐™ž๐™˜ ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™›๐™ก๐™ช๐™š๐™ฃ๐™˜๐™š๐™จ?

MNย โ€“ย Harvey Kurtzman, the genius cartoonist and creator of Mad is probably the most pertinent influence in terms of GPK. Pretty much everybody involved in the creation of GPK was similarly enamored of Kurtzman, and his partner Will Elder. A comprehensive list would be too long to include here, suffice it to say it consists of hundreds of 20th century cartoonists, filmmakers, animators, performers, writers, illustratorsโ€ฆ I could go on and on, but you get the idea – old funny dead guys.

WMย โ€“ ๐™„๐™จ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š๐™ง๐™š ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™ฎ๐™ฉ๐™๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™ฌ๐™ž๐™จ๐™๐™š๐™™ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™˜๐™ค๐™ช๐™ก๐™™ ๐™๐™–๐™ซ๐™š ๐™˜๐™๐™–๐™ฃ๐™œ๐™š๐™™ ๐™ฌ๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ ๐™‚๐™‹๐™† ๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š 80๐™จ?

MNย โ€“ย Iโ€™m a perfectionist and never satisfied with anything I work onโ€”so sure, a million things. But thatโ€™s just the nature of the beast, especially when the work is deadline-driven and collaborative. After a certain point things are out of your hands. Letting go, moving on to the next project and incorporating lessons learned is part of the drill too. Iโ€™m still working on it.

WMย โ€“ย ๐˜ฟ๐™ž๐™™ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐˜พ๐™–๐™—๐™—๐™–๐™œ๐™š ๐™‹๐™–๐™ฉ๐™˜๐™ ๐˜ฟ๐™ค๐™ก๐™ก๐™จ ๐™ก๐™–๐™ฌ๐™จ๐™ช๐™ž๐™ฉ ๐™ง๐™š๐™–๐™ก๐™ก๐™ฎ ๐™–๐™›๐™›๐™š๐™˜๐™ฉ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ข๐™š ๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™ฉ๐™š๐™ง๐™ข๐™จ ๐™ค๐™› ๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™›๐™ก๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™˜๐™ง๐™š๐™–๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ซ๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ฎ ๐™ค๐™ง ๐™ฅ๐™–๐™จ๐™จ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ, ๐™ค๐™ง ๐™™๐™ž๐™™ ๐™ž๐™ฉ ๐™๐™–๐™ซ๐™š ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ค๐™ฅ๐™ฅ๐™ค๐™จ๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™š ๐™š๐™›๐™›๐™š๐™˜๐™ฉ, ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™จ๐™ฅ๐™ช๐™ง ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™ค๐™ฃ?

MNย โ€“ย Good question and Iโ€™m not sure I have a good answer. At a certain point GPK kind of got old, probably for all of us. We had figured out what made a good GPK image, what made a good card back and what made a good series. We had 3 outstanding, dependable painters, a good idea of their individual strengths and how much work each could accomplish per week. And the stickers were still selling like crazy. GPK wasnโ€™t exactly running on autopilot, but we had a solid handle on things and it became a little rote. John Pound (who was absolutely terrific with gag concepts) even created a computer program around this time to randomly generate new GPK ideas, that part had become so mechanical for him.

The lawsuit and settlement shook things up a bit and afterwards we had to rethink certain aspects all over again, to one degree or another anyway. In the meantime there were many proposals floated for similar, but completely different series and various other directions we might pivot to. They mostly came to nothing, but it was good exercise to flex our GPK brain cells in new ways. The original GPK really didnโ€™t last all that much longer after the settlement anyway, and then we were on to new adventures.

WMย โ€“ย ๐˜ฟ๐™ค ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™ฉ๐™๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™  ๐™ฉ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™–๐™ง๐™ฉ ๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š 21๐™จ๐™ฉ ๐™˜๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™ช๐™ง๐™ฎ ๐™ž๐™จ ๐™ช๐™ฃ๐™™๐™š๐™ง ๐™ฉ๐™๐™ง๐™š๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™ค๐™› ๐™—๐™š๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™˜๐™š๐™ฃ๐™จ๐™ค๐™ง๐™š๐™™, ๐™ฌ๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ง๐™š๐™˜๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฉ ๐™˜๐™๐™–๐™ฃ๐™œ๐™š๐™จ ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™‚๐™‹๐™† ๐™ฃ๐™š๐™š๐™™๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™ก๐™ค๐™ค๐™  ๐™ข๐™ค๐™ง๐™š ๐™ก๐™ž๐™ ๐™š ๐™™๐™ค๐™ก๐™ก๐™จ ๐™ฌ๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™˜๐™ง๐™–๐™˜๐™ ๐™จ ๐™ง๐™–๐™ฉ๐™e๐™ง ๐™ฉ๐™๐™–๐™ฃ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ค๐™ง๐™ž๐™œ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™–๐™ก ๐™ข๐™ค๐™ง๐™š ๐™˜๐™๐™ž๐™ก๐™™๐™ก๐™ž๐™ ๐™š ๐™™๐™š๐™ฅ๐™ž๐™˜๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™จ?ย  ๐™’๐™ค๐™ช๐™ก๐™™ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™จ๐™–๐™ฎ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™ฅ๐™š๐™ค๐™ฅ๐™ก๐™š ๐™–๐™ง๐™š ๐™ข๐™ค๐™ง๐™š ๐™จ๐™š๐™ฃ๐™จ๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ซ๐™š ๐™ฉ๐™ค๐™ฌ๐™–๐™ง๐™™๐™จ ๐™ฌ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™ž๐™จ ๐™˜๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™จ๐™ž๐™™๐™š๐™ง๐™š๐™™ ๐™–๐™ง๐™ฉ ๐™ซ๐™จ. ๐™ฌ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™ž๐™จ ๐™˜๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™จ๐™ž๐™™๐™š๐™ง๐™š๐™™ ๐™ซ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ก๐™š๐™ฃ๐™˜๐™š?

MNย โ€“ย Art is censored all the time, thatโ€™s nothing new. To answer your question, take a look at the self-censorship of arecently postponed Philip Guston show that was in the news a few weeks back. The curators were concerned that the artistโ€™s 1960s & 1970s paintings featuring unequivocal anti-KKK imagery might somehow offend in Trumpโ€™s 2020. Are we worried about hurting sensitive Klan memberโ€™s feelings now or is the cartoonish depiction of a white hood in and of itself just too traumatizing for public consumption?

Who is censoring GPK? Iโ€™m not aware of any recent changes, but then again Iโ€™m not looking too hard either. GPK were always supposed to look like dolls, albeit flexible, animated ones. After the lawsuit we had to add cracks to deliberately make them resemble jointed, hardplastic dolls as opposed to the โ€œsoft-sculptureโ€ Cabbage Patch variety. That was part of the settlement terms. It didnโ€™t help the product any, I always felt like those randomly added cracks were distracting. Iโ€™ve always wondered how much kids at the time noticed or cared. I think I would have.

WMย โ€“ย ๐˜ฟ๐™ž๐™™ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ซ๐™–๐™ง๐™ž๐™ค๐™ช๐™จ ๐™˜๐™ง๐™š๐™–๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ซ๐™š ๐™™๐™š๐™ฅ๐™–๐™ง๐™ฉ๐™ข๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™จ ๐™ข๐™ž๐™ญ ๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™๐™ค๐™ฅ๐™ฅ๐™จ? ๐˜ฟ๐™ž๐™™ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™‰๐™ค๐™ฃ ๐™Ž๐™ฅ๐™ค๐™ง๐™ฉ๐™จ๐™˜๐™–๐™ง๐™™ ๐™œ๐™ช๐™ฎ๐™จ ๐™œ๐™ง๐™–๐™— ๐™– ๐™˜๐™ค๐™›๐™›๐™š๐™š ๐™ค๐™ง ๐™– ๐™—๐™š๐™š๐™ง ๐™ฌ๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™จ๐™ฅ๐™ค๐™ง๐™ฉ๐™จ ๐™˜๐™–๐™ง๐™™ ๐™œ๐™ช๐™ฎ๐™จ? ๐˜ผ๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™จ ๐™ž๐™ฉ ๐™š๐™ซ๐™š๐™ง ๐™˜๐™ค๐™ข๐™ฅ๐™š๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ซ๐™š ๐™—๐™š๐™ฉ๐™ฌ๐™š๐™š๐™ฃ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™–๐™ก๐™ก?

MNย โ€“ย Topps was located in a Brooklyn waterfront neighborhood that was considered kind of dodgy in those days, so they maintained a company cafeteria to keep employees from wandering into trouble. I recall casual lunchtime intermixing with a couple of sports guys there, but to no great extent, on my part anyway. I donโ€™t think most of the folks in the sports department had a clue what we even did- or cared, for that matter. (And vice versa.) I did learn years later that the negative publicity around GPK created some moments of tension in renewing certain player contracts for the sports execs, which is sort of amusing. For years they kept telling these morally indignant ball players โ€œNo, no, we donโ€™t make those things anymore.โ€

WMย โ€“ย ๐˜ฝ๐™Š๐™‰๐™๐™Ž ๐™Œ๐™๐™€๐™Ž๐™๐™„๐™Š๐™‰ย  ๐™ƒ๐™ค๐™ฌ ๐™™๐™ค ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™›๐™š๐™š๐™ก ๐™–๐™—๐™ค๐™ช๐™ฉ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™‚๐™‹๐™† ๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™ž๐™จ ๐™ข๐™ž๐™ก๐™ก๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฃ๐™ž๐™ช๐™ข? ๐™„๐™จ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š๐™ง๐™š ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™ฎ๐™ฉ๐™๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™›๐™š๐™š๐™ก ๐™ฉ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™ž๐™ฉ’๐™จ ๐™ข๐™ž๐™จ๐™จ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™ค๐™ง ๐™ก๐™–๐™˜๐™ ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ?

MNย โ€“ย Itโ€™s pretty depressing. Too much of what I have seen is frankly incompetent, so I try not to look.ย 

WMย โ€“ย ๐˜ฝ๐™Š๐™‰๐™๐™Ž, ๐˜ฝ๐™Š๐™‰๐™๐™Ž ๐™Œ๐™๐™€๐™Ž๐™๐™„๐™Š๐™‰: ๐™๐™š๐™ก๐™ก ๐™ช๐™จ ๐™– ๐™‚๐™‹๐™† ๐™จ๐™š๐™˜๐™ง๐™š๐™ฉ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™˜๐™ค๐™ช๐™ก๐™™ ๐™œ๐™š๐™ฉ ๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™ฉ๐™ง๐™ค๐™ช๐™—๐™ก๐™š ๐™›๐™ค๐™ง.

MNย โ€“ย Itโ€™s a little late for trouble but hereโ€™s a secret: the late great Jay Lynch was a NPD creative workhorse for decades but he didnโ€™t really have anything to do with GPK until pretty late in the game. Why? Well for one reason Jay was working on licensed Cabbage Patch Kids products for a toy company in Chicago at the time and had to recuse himself to avoid the suspicion of engaging in corporate espionage.ย ย 

WMย โ€“ย ๐˜ฝ๐™Š๐™‰๐™๐™Ž, ๐˜ฝ๐™Š๐™‰๐™๐™Ž, ๐˜ฝ๐™Š๐™‰๐™๐™Ž ๐™Œ๐™๐™€๐™Ž๐™๐™„๐™Š๐™‰: ๐™„โ€™๐™ข ๐™œ๐™ค๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™–๐™จ๐™จ๐™ช๐™ข๐™š ๐™ฉ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™ค๐™› ๐™๐™ž๐™œ๐™๐™—๐™ง๐™ค๐™ฌ, ๐™ก๐™ค๐™ฌ๐™—๐™ง๐™ค๐™ฌ, ๐™š๐™ญ๐™ž๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™–๐™ก ๐™จ๐™ก๐™–๐™ฅ๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™˜๐™ , ๐™๐™–๐™จ ๐™ฃ๐™ค๐™ฉ ๐™ง๐™š๐™–๐™™ ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™ฎ ๐™ค๐™› ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ง ๐™ค๐™ฉ๐™๐™š๐™ง ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™š๐™ง๐™ซ๐™ž๐™š๐™ฌ๐™จ (๐™ž๐™ฉโ€™๐™จ ๐™ค๐™ , ๐™ฌ๐™š ๐™›๐™ค๐™ง๐™œ๐™ž๐™ซ๐™š ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช). ๐˜ผ๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™จ๐™ค ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™ฌ๐™ค๐™ฃโ€™๐™ฉ ๐™ ๐™ฃ๐™ค๐™ฌ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™ฌ๐™š ๐™๐™–๐™ซ๐™š ๐™– ๐™ฉ๐™ง๐™–๐™™๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™–๐™ก โ€œ๐™—๐™–๐™ฉ๐™ฉ๐™ก๐™š ๐™ฆ๐™ช๐™š๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃโ€ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™ฌ๐™š ๐™–๐™จ๐™  ๐™–๐™ก๐™ก ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ง ๐™–๐™ง๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™จ ๐™ฌ๐™š ๐™จ๐™ฅ๐™š๐™–๐™  ๐™ฉ๐™ค…๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™จ๐™ค ๐™๐™š๐™ง๐™š ๐™œ๐™ค๐™š๐™จ… ๐˜ฝ๐™ช๐™ฃ๐™  ๐™‘๐™จ ๐™‹๐™ค๐™ช๐™ฃ๐™™?

MNย โ€“ย It all depends on the gag!ย 

Interview was conducted by longtime GPK collectors Sybil Ferro, Will Marston, Slippa Chervascus, Roddy Francisco Fell,ย andย Alicia Forrest in Sept. 2020, and originally appeared on the Garbage Pail Kids Misfits Facebook group. Sybil can be contacted here.