10 Questions With….Garbage Pail Kids Artist Smokin Joe McWilliams

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.

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2018 Series 2 Garbage Pail Kids to be Horror Themed

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.

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10 Questions With…Magic Marker Art Artist Mark Pingitore

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.

GPKNews – What does 2018 hold for Magic Marker Art? I know you have the new Nintendopes Seres 1 set here at the show. What other sets do you have planned?

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.

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10 Questions With…Garbage Pail Kids Artist Brent Engstrom

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.

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Bay Area ToyXpo Announces Gross Card Con Event

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.

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10 Questions With…Garbage Pail Kids Artist Layron DeJarnette

Being one of the longer tenured GPK artists isn’t all Layron DeJarnette does. He’s an accomplished artist who besides his Topps projects also currently works for Marvel Animation. He’s also worked for Disney in the past, as well as other card and comic companies. I sat down with Layron at Gross Card Con in Las Vegas. We talked about how he got started with Topps, some of his favorite projects he’s worked on, and perhaps his biggest GPK claim to fame his appearance on A&E’s Storage Wars.

GPKNews – You started working on the GPK brand with the ANS 5 set. Was that your first Topps project? How did you get started with Topps?

Layron DeJarnette – I’ll make a long story short short. At the time I was working with the Wayans brothers. They had a Topps card line called The Dozens. They were signing the cards at a booth at the San Diego Comic Con in 2004. I went to meet them at the Topps booth but they were being held over at a panel discussion to promote the movie. At the time the Art Director, Jeff Zapata, was there. He said let me take a look at your portfolio so you don’t have to waste a trip. At that time he looked at the portfolio and offered me to work on Wacky Packages and Garbage Pail Kids.

GPKNews – How aware of GPKs were you as a kid? Did you collect?

LD – Yes I did, but I was mainly a Wacky Packages collector. At the time as a kid I identified with the Wacky Packages more than the Garbage Pail Kids. As I got older I appreciated all the Topps brands. My two favorite ones were Wacky Packages and Mars Attacks.

GPKNews – I’ve noticed you are a busy artist! Besides working for Topps, you’ve done work for other card companies, comic companies, and even Disney. Is painting GPKs still as fun now as it was when you started?

LD – Yes, I actually like working on GPK because a lot of the other jobs require digital work. It’s a lot faster to get done, but I’m a traditional artist. So for me, if I do a lot of digital work I feel like I have to do some painting. So Garbage Pail Kids, any of the Topps brands, are traditional paint, so its actually a stress reliever for me. I really appreciate painting the Garbage Pail Kids or Mars Attacks.

GPKNews – Over the years the number of cards you paint for each set varies. The latest set, We Hate the 80’s I think you did 5 cards. While 2017 didn’t see as many. Is it just a timing issue for you? Have you been busy with other projects? What determines if you are featured in a set?

LD – I think its all of it. A lot of times we will get an email from Topps saying a set is coming up and we are looking for gags, like the 80’s or whatever type of theme they request for us to submit gags. In most cases, the gags that get approved the artist would like to work on their own gags. Sometimes either, a) I’m not able to submit many gags because I’m working on other projects, or b) If I submit gags and they don’t get approved then I don’t get to paint any because there other illustrators like to work on their own gags.

GPKNews – You haven’t done pack inserted sketches for a while now. Is that also just a timing issue? Do you foresee ever doing sketches again?

LD – You know it was kind of funny because I was so busy at the time I would get offered to work on sketch cards, but I would have to turn it down. Now I don’t even get offered e-mails anymore to do them, they think I’m too busy.

GPKNews – You did the art in last year’s Mark Attacks set for Topps, right? You mentioned you collected those as a kid, that must have been fun for you to work on?

LD – That was awesome that gig, I was so happy. I was like I kid in a candy store. Mars Attacks the original series I was really into . I appreciate the good art, the design of the martians, the grotesqueness of it. It was done in a cool way. Originally I was assigned half of the paintings but I wasn’t able to complete them so they were assigned to Fred Harper and I. I think I did 20 or 21 paintings.

GPKNews – I have to ask you about your big GPK claims to fame, Storage Wars! Can you believe its been almost 5 years since the episode aired? How did that come about? Did the producers just contact you out of the blue?

LD – Its kind of funny because I live in California and Storage Wars is produced in California. The producers originally contacted me to see if I could contact either John Pound or Tim Bunk. Bunk did reply, but they really wanted John Pound because he’s the man. He didn’t even reply, he didn’t want to have anything to do with it. We were talking through e-mails and they didn’t know where I lived. They said we aren’t having any luck contacting the original artists, so where do you live, we might have to come talk to you. I told them where I lived, and they realized it was 35 mins away from where the storage unit is. So they said they would just come by my place.

GPKNews – What was the filming like? How was interacting with Ivy?

LD – How reality TV works is they want to get a natural reaction. So they don’t warn you about some things. They just tell you to be prepared. They put the mic on you, so you know you’re about to be on TV and its an episode. They try not to tell you too much so they can have a general reaction. When Ivy came, I didn’t know when he was coming or anything. I just knew they wanted me to look at some cards and get my opinion. They didn’t tell me too much about the details, so when they filmed it they would get a natural response. It was surreal. It was surreal because they filmed for 3 hours but they edited it down to a short piece. They had to setup inside my house, and they had to set it up for filming. They had to set up lights and had cameras in your face. It was really hot inside, but it was great.

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?

LD – Its been great, I always like Garbage Pail Kids fans. I always say they are true fans because they appreciate everything, the art and the concepts. The community is really great. The convention is going great. The exclusive trading cards are always a seller. I’ve sold an original art piece. I have some other people who might come by later in the show to purchase some other original pieces, so hopefully I’ll sell some more.

GPKNews – Have you see the 30 Years of Garbage movie that Joe Simko and Jeff Zapata did? Did you enjoy the movie?

LD – I’ve seen it. I’m in it for just a short period of time. I love it! It’s one of those tings where I originally thought it was just going to be exclusively about Garbage Pail Kids, but it’s even more. It talks about the non-sport card community and how it started. Also, how it’s influenced pop culture. It’s just a great documentry to learn about non-sport cards.

GPKNews – What is your favorite GPK that you’ve painted?

LD – Its funny because I don’t know if its a fan favorite, but so far my favorite is the GPK card based on the Marvel character Ant-Man. Just because I work at Marvel Animation as well, so its was the best of both worlds. I love Marvel superheroes and I love GPK. The Ant-Man one I painted is a parody of Ant-Man’s first cover. So to me that’s one of my favorite ones.

GPKNews – How about favorite GPK?

LD – Of course Adam Bomb is good, but I would say Dead Ted. He’s my favorite one because he’s so different. He’s a parody of famous monsters. Really great detail.

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10 Questions With…Garbage Pail Kids Artist Joe Simko

Joe Simko has been one of the core GPK artists for a number of years now. With his 30 Years of Garbage doc now complete, Topps has been keeping him busy drawing GPKs. I saw down with Joe and talked with him at this years Gross Card Con in Las Vegas. We talked about what future projects he is working on, his thoughts on the 30 Year movie, and what’s next for movie Director Joe Simko.

GPKNews – In 2017 you guys hooked up with Indican Pictures to distribute the 30 Years of Garbage documentary. The movie was released in a handful of theatres, released to numerous online streaming sites, and had a DVD release. How has working with Indican been?

Joe Simko – Indican has been great because they’re focused on distributing for small independent film makers. They really want to try to get as much word out to as many people as they can to know that it was made by small independent film makers. They’ve been great as far as staying in touch with them when we needed. We do want to get the release of our film out even wider than it is now. They’re making the steps to make sure that happens.

GPKNews – What’s next for the 30 Years doc? Any other promotional things planned with Indican?

JS – As far as streaming, hopefully now most people knows, its on all the major US sites, and there are talks to finally branching out worldwide. We did sign a contract for worldwide release. That is in development, of course as soon as we get the word we will let all the fans and collectors know.

GPKNews – Looking back at the long journey, its been probably 5 years now when you guys started planning the film, how satisfied are you with the way everything turned out?

JS – Jeff, June, and I were very satisfied to not only have a completed film, but to get to hear it from people that have seen it. The most critique we get is how much history they get from it, its actually a learning thing. It was great to hear from Adam Goldberg, who is the creator of The Goldbergs, to go back and forth with him in e-mail and talk to him on the phone. He was blown away by it. He was like, “How did you guys do this?” I was like yeah my wife sat for two years on a chair while she was pregnant editing this entire film! He was just amazed. To hear from him, he was impressed. He’s ready to push it onto Netflix with his agents, I’m like we already signed with a distributor but its good to have you in the wings. He’s a good champion of it.

GPKNews – Do you have a highlight from the production of the movie that stands out to you? Maybe a behind the scenes story, or favorite interview?

JS – Gosh there’s so many different ones, I’m trying to think of some. The Goldberg set was a great one because we actually got to go to the set to do some of the interviews with actors from the 1987 GPK movie. We interviewed them on this Goldbergs set, its different from a lot of sets with how television shows do them. This was a real house that they built inside of a studio. So we got to go into the rooms and there’s a backyard and a front yead. I think filming the actors from the movie was great. They were super friendly. Going to their homes they had food and water out for us, they really treated us like family. They would set things out on the table that they could find. Kevin Thompson who played Allie Gator had a gold record where they did a Garbage Pail Kids song. They were very inviting and warm.

GPKNews – The feedback on the film has been overwhelmingly positive from what I’ve seen. The movie has received numerous positive reviews from various websites. I’m sure you’ve heard from all kinds of GPK fans. That has to be the best thing hearing all the great feedback?

JS – Yes, of course the GPK fan, fans of anything, are always going to be vocal so you’re going to hear what ever kind of criticism or critiques on things they’d prefer to have or people that may have been left out. It’s like we did what we could. I personally would have loved to film another two hours on the fans and go to their rooms and their collections, but I know that’s a second movie. I don’t think I’m the one to do it, I think a fan could do it cause they would probably know more about it. Jeff and I were always focused on just coming from the background of an artist, the artist who created it, we’ve got to get that history. So this would make a good first movie. If there was ever to be a second movie, hey guys anyone out there, start the collector sequel because I want to see all these crazy collections.

GPKNews – Is there anything you wish you had done differently on the film? Any interviews you weren’t able to complete for whatever reason?

JS – No, you know, there’s nothing I would do different in the pre-productions. I would say if anything maybe in the post production doing the editing I would have shelved out more money to pay for the licensing of those 80’s television news clips of Ted Copel and Dan Rather talking about Garbage Pail Kids. You know what, that needed to be in the beginning scene when the television starts appearing. It was getting into the thousands of dollars to have a newscaster. Once you get a distributor you have to pay even more money. It’s funny all these little tiny things you don’t even know, hundreds of dollars per second. So when we are editing it, we have to say ok that’s 8 seconds, can we do that? No, we have to shave some off. So if anything just the tiniest little changes. I’m very proud of it, very proud of it.

GPKNews – When’s the sequel coming out? What’s next for Film Director Joe Simko?

JS – Oh my gosh, I don’t know when the sequel will come out. Peel Here Productions is a company that now exists. Jeff, June, and I have talked about, oh we could do a Wacky Packages thing which would focus on the collector aspect of it. Now that, if you want to get into stories, these are the 10-20 year age older guys. We have doctors, lawyers, accountants from serious money, and there’s real drama, fighting and craziness. Again it’s a matter of time and money, and we have none of that. So I would love to see that be made. Peel Here Productions is still around, but for now its just 30 Years of Garbage.

GPKNews – With 30 Years winding down, what other projects are you working on?

JS – Really Topps is keeping me busy with the Garbage Pail Kid line. We are working on the new series that will be out in the fall. Hopefully they will be able to make an announcement soon. Of course we already know, and this theme is something that fans have been wanting for a long time. I’ll just say that! The 80’s set was my favorite one ever to work on, and that inspired me to do some cool comic covers, these 80’s synth wave style. That’s what I do in my down time. Its crazy to think, I’m getting freelance work outside of Topps, but when I do get contacted by these companies or individual people they always ask can you do it GPK style. Even in the down time it’s Garbage Pail all the time.

GPKNews – You are involved on Chance Raspberry’s Little Billy project, right?

JS – Chance is like one of the super sweetest guys, I’ve never met him in person, I’ve only talked to him online. He’s the lead animator for the Simpsons for several years now. Physically animating in California, he’s not in Korea, he’s not an in-between artist, he’s a lead animator, so he’s setting up the scenes. He is also a child of the 80’s and is trying to get his own animation series called Little Billy, based his own life experiences of having Turrets or ADD. The character Little Billy itself embodies all children that have some form of disability and bringing it to light that they are normal too, its just what makes them unique. He reached out to me, its great we connected. I did some poster work. If he gets the project off the ground, which he got his Indigogo backing, I think I’ll be involved in doing some background art for him, some cool paintings. I wish the best for him, I’m really pulling for him, I want him to get it done. He wants to do this traditional 80’s squash and stretch style animation you don’t see anymore.

GPKNews – Finally, this is your second GCC here in Vegas. How does this one compare to the first? How has the fan interaction been?

JS – Fan interaction has been great here at Gross Card Con. This has been probably my best show. The first day has been the best day I’ve had of any show. I’ve been selling original art, which is great. I think the Toy Con being in Circus Circus is a little more beneficial to the artist because we are getting a lot more foot traction from the toy crowd who maybe couldn’t find us, or who maybe didn’t have the desire to goto the second floor in the Orleans and find us where we were last year. Although we are in a smaller room there’s a lot more foot traffic. We’re getting more buyers, meeting more people, and hopefully getting them into the next generation of the garbage scene.

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10 Questions With…Garbage Pail Kids Artist Michael Barnard

Michael Barnard is part of the new breed of GPK artist. Not only has he done sketch cards, but also final artwork for numerous online cards. While his professional life has been built around creating artwork for t-shirts, his first love is Garbage Pail Kids. I sat down with Michael at Gross Card Con in Las Vegas. We talked about how he got started with Topps, how his passion with GPK began, and him being a proponent for digital artwork.

GPKNews – You started doing GPK sketches for Topps with 2016S1 American As Apple Pie set. How did you get on with Topps and doing GPK sketches?

Michael Barnard – I grew up with Garbage Pial Kids like most people. I loved them and they made me want to become an artist. I always had a thing for them. I went off and got my career started as an artist, and here and there I picked up a few packs. Looking at some of the ANS stuff got the fires burning again. I contacted a few of the guys on Facebook, Joe Simko and Brent Engstrom, and asked them who do I get in touch with, how do I get my foot in the door. They gave me Colin’s info in New York. So I came up with four originals, and mocked them up like the real ones with the logos and names and everything. I took those and a few other samples of my work and mailed them to NY. About 7-8 months later I got an e-mail asking if I wanted to do sketch cards.

GPKNews – What other card sets have you worked on for Topps or other companies?

MB – I’ve only done work for Topps. I’ve done one Wacky set, the MLB set. I’ve done many of the Star Wars sets, and a handful for The Walking Dead, but Garbage Pail Kids are my favorite.

GPKNews – What are your memories of GPK as a kid? Did you collect?

MB – I was the perfect age when these came out, I was about 9 or 10 years old. I’d say maybe 3rd series was most popular when I was able to buy them on my own. I can remember taking my lunch money and skipping lunch so I could go buy some afterwards. We had a general store next door to the house I grew up in. The lady that ran that place always carried Garbage Pail Kids. She use to let me come in and work once a month dusting off the canned goods and sweeping the floors. She would pay me in Garbage Pail Kids. She would give me complete boxes and complete sets. To this day I still have every one of them. I have thousands of OS cards from back in the day. I was into them big time.

GPKNews – In 2017 Topps added you to the lineup of final card artists for some of the online sets. I believe you had 17 cards published last year. What would 10 year old Michael have thought if he knew he’d be a GPK artist someday?

MB – My 10 year old self’s head would have exploded. It’s funny to watch my parents because they remember watching me as a kid and being so obsessed with these things. I think they are as tickled as I am that I get to work on this stuff. Its really kind of surreal. Its awesome! I take it very seriously, every sketch card I do, everything. It means a lot. It’s a big deal.

GPKNews – You are a proponent of working digitally. All your online cards were created on a computer. What are your thoughts on creating artwork digitally vs. the old fashioned way?

MB – I look at the digital stuff as a tool. I mostly design t-shirts for a living and I work with a lot of screen print companies, and in that industry it has to be digital. That’s kind of become my comfort zone. I went to a very traditional art school in Columbus, Ohio, so I do paint, I do draw, I do a lot of stuff by hand. I’ve just gotten a lot more comfortable and faster doing it digitally. I don’t know, I can see why people would still gravitate towards the more traditional oil paintings. I love that stuff too. I don’t know, I think a lot of people don’t understand how the digital stuff is done. The way I do it, with the stylist and tablet, there’s a brush stroke for everything you see. It’s still painted, its just a little different with the pixels. I think they translate better to the actual cards. I think they look cleaner and more crisp. I’m more comfortable doing digital stuff because I think I’m faster at it, but I love to paint too. I think there’s a place for both of them. I think when digital stuff is done right it can look really good.

GPKNews – What tools, software/hardware, do you use for your digital artwork?

MB – I use a Macintosh, Photoshop and Illustrator. Mostly for Garbage Pail Kids, this kind of stuff, its done in Photoshop using the different brushes. I have a Wacom tablet and stylus. The stylus is pressure sensitive so you can airbrush. If you go in there and get the details you can zoom in high resolution and really get nice detail. I use mostly Photoshop on the Mac.

GPKNews – Right now I know all retail GPKs are still painted Do you aspire one day to work on a retail set? If you ever get the chance, would you push to create cards digitally?

MB – I would do whatever they want. I enjoy doing digital stuff, but doing them with the acrylic paints, I love doing that too. I just did a couple this week. I would do whatever he wants. I’d be glad to do it.

GPKNews – This is your first GCC. Have you ever done any other cons as an artist?

MB – Nope, this is it. Like I said I mostly do t-shirts for a living, I actually make a pretty good living doing that. I’ve never really had to do cons, or setup, or really promote myself. This is really more just for fun. Its been awesome. Its been great to come out and meet everybody, and put a face behind the Facebook profiles for people I’m use to talking to. Its been a blast.

GPKNews – What are you thoughts about GCC? How as the GPK fan interaction been for you?

MB – The show has been absolutely incredible. I didn’t really know what to expect, how much stuff to expect to move. I did more yesterday than I expected for the whole event. Its been great, absolutely awesome. Everyone has been so cool. Its like sitting here and talking with 30-40 long lost friends, everyone has the same interests, its really been cool.

GPKNews – At the show you are selling some of your own cards and prints. Do you have any other projects in the pipeline either with your own work or for another company?

MB – I’m always looking to add to my prints. I’ve got this thing going with my 80’s themed prints. I’ve really been itching to work on a Princess Bride print. I’ve also done these mini canvases with the matching easels that are done with acrylics. People really seem to love those, so I’ve been buying up a bunch at the hobby shops. I’ve submitted some gags to Topps for some of the upcoming sets. There’s always something in the works.

GPKNews – Finally, do you have an all time favorite Garbage Pail Kid?

MB – All time favorite? I’m going to have to say, ever since I was a kid I’ve had a thing for April Showers. Something about the colors in that, the blue with the lightening bolts. I don’t know, when I was a kid there was something almost glowing about that artwork, I love that one. A lot of the OS stuff, they trigger memories and really speak to me. I don’t know if I have a specific favorite one, but if I had to pick one, that would be it.

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Collectors Enjoy Weekend at Gross Card Con

Gross Card Con has wrapped up, and the event left collectors and artists both overjoyed with the results. The show took place within the larger Vegas Toy Con at the Circus Circus hotel in Las Vegas this past weekend. The second Garbage Pail Kids inspired show drew a record 16 current and former Topps GPK/Wacky artists. This was more then the first Vegas show, GPK-Con, held in the summer of 2016. Collectors and artists came from around the country, and even Europe to attend the event. Here are the highlights from the weekend.

Artists

The highlight of the show was the amount of artists who attended the con. Former original series artists Tom Bunk and James Warhola were both in attendance. This was the first Vegas Con for Warhola, and the second for Bunk. Both were selling original artwork and prints, as well as signing autographs for collectors. Warhola had on display one of his popular large GPK paintings he’s done. Current GPK artists, Joe Simko, Brent Engstrom, David Gross, Layron DeJarnette, Smokin’ Joe McWilliams, and Michael Barnard were all in attendance. They all brought various prints, original artwork, and even their own card products to the show to sell. David Gross debuted his second Rejected GPK Concepts book at the show, a popular item. Former Topps artists Jeff Zapata and Mark Pingitore were also on hand. Pingitore debuted his Nintendopes Series 1 set at the show. GPK sketch artists Chad Scheres, Jon Gregory, and Chenduz were also on hand selling their own products and even doing sketches at the show for collectors. Chenduz came to the show all the way from the Netherlands for his first GPK con in the US. Finally, Wacky Packages collectors also had plenty to choose from. Not only was Smoking Joe selling Wacky art, but artist Joe Grossberg was also on hand offering his Wacky inspired toys and art.

VIP Experience

Once again GPK Super VIPs had many extras available to them at the show. While there was no exclusive artist dinner this time around, Super VIPs were treated to dinner Thursday night. They also were given a few goodies. They all were given a custom GPK Funko character. Each Super VIP received a different GPK Mystery Mini figure that had been enhanced. They also received a custom black & white sketch, and a copy of the show exclusive card set. Super VIPs and regular VIPs also could attend the show dinners on Friday and Saturday night. This was a chance for the VIPs to eat with and chat with the artists. While the weekend dinners were attended by all Toy Con VIPs, its interesting to note that 25%-30% of the attendees were GPK artists and collectors.

Artist Q&A

As a wonderful last second addition to the show, 8 artists held a Q&A session Saturday afternoon for GPK collectors. Warhola, Bunk, Zapata, Simko, Engstrom, Gross, DeJarnette, and McWilliams were all in attendance with Zapata leading the discussion. Approximately 75 GPK collectors were in hand as Bunk and Warhola both talked about their artistic influences growing up. They shared stories about their time at Topps, and the beginning of their involvement with GPKs. The entire panel answered questions on their art influences, digital vs. painting, and even a question regarding the grossness of GPKs. Engstrom even shared there is one final painting that has a real bug squashed into the painting!

Saturday Social

For the first time a collector/artist social was held at the West bar in the casino. The social replaced the Bowling night/breakfast that was held at the first Con. Roughly 30 artists and collectors attended the late night event. This allowed collectors and artists alike to visit and share stories about their Vegas adventures!

GCC Wrap-up

The second Vegas GCC had a different vibe than the first show for a number of reasons. The layout of GCC was completely different this time around. This time all the artists were located in one room at the show. They were also right in the middle of the show, instead of off in a separate corner. This change was an overwhelming success in the eyes of the artists. Artists were close enough this year to visit with each other, something that was tough during the first show. Being in the middle of the show, as well as the flow of the room setup, seemed to make the GCC artists more accessible to the general attendees at the show. This brought more foot traffic past their booths compared to the first show. I spoke to multiple artists who were really pleased with how they did at the show. More than one artist told me they made more money the first day of this year’s show than the entire first show. The entire show seemed very successful for most of the artists.

The artists weren’t the only group satisfied with the show. Collectors had a great time at the 2016 GPK-Con. That was the first chance many of them got to meet not only the artists, but collectors they’ve been interacting with for years. This year’s GCC had a different feeling at the show. I heard the word, “family”, multiple times throughout the show from not only collectors but artists alike. Of course there were new artists and collectors in attendance. This time however, collectors were coming back together. Artists, many who had met for the first time face to face in 2016, were now also seeing familiar faces again. Throughout the weekend GPK collectors and artists had a blast trading, busting boxes, socializing with each other, and just hanging out enjoying the company of others who share the same interests. GCC was like 150 of your closest friends getting together for the weekend.

I spoke with Super Toy Con Executive Producer, Andy Goodman, to get his thoughts on the show. On weather Super Toy Con/Gross Card Con was a success Andy shared, “The show was a huge success, as was our mini GPK meet. Gross Card Con brought out more collectors and more artists then the last go round in 2016. It was great to see the artists and collectors on the same grounded level, talking, sharing feedback and just sitting down for a bit of social interaction. Hopefully, someday Topps will see the engagement this type of event brings to the community of their collectors and will support the gathering in some fashion.” I asked Andy if they had plans to continue to offer GCC in the future. “I am sure we have not seen the last of a gathering. Weather we move the show to a different venue in Las Vegas or state is yet to be determined, but we will continue to bring the collectors together as we can. Also, don’t forget to block out the first weekend of August on your calendar, as there will be a few artists attending the east coast Central Pennsylvania Collectors Con in Harrisburg, Pa. More info coming soon!”

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Schedule for Upcoming Gross Card Con Takes Shape

Update: In a late addition to the GCC schedule, there is now a Q&A seminar with the artists. According to the official schedule the talk will be from 4:00-5:00 at Convention HQ on the 2nd floor.

In a little over two weeks, Garbage Pail Collectors from around the country will converge on Las Vegas for Gross Card Con. Gross Card Con is part of the larger Vegas Toy Con being held at the Circus Circus Hotel from Feb. 23-25. This is the second gathering of GPK collectors in Vegas. In the summer of 2016, GPK-Con was held in Vegas, and at the time was the largest gathering ever of GPK artists and collectors. GCC is set to break that mark this year with even more guest artists. Scheduled to attend are 14 current and former artists. Highlighting the show will be the appearances by Original Series artists Tom Bunk and James Warhola. Both artists played integral parts in the first 15 series of GPKs. This will be Bunk’s second appearance, while a first for Warhola. Almost all the current final card artists will also be in attendance. Returning to Vegas are Brent Engstrom, Joe Simko, David Gross, Layron DeJarnette, Joe McWilliams, and Chad Scheres, while Michael Barnard will be attending his first show. Former Topps artists Jeff Zapata and Mark Pingitore also are returning for their second show. Sketch artists Jon Gregory (2nd) and Vincenzo D’ippolito (1st) will also be in attendance. Finally Wacky Packages artist Joe Grossberg round out the lineup, making his first appearance.

What events will collectors have to look forward to while at the show? What type of ticket is best for you? Read on for a quick FAQ of the rundown on this year’s Gross Card Con.

What type of ticket do I need?

There are three types of tickets being offered for the event. For the most serious GPK collector there is a Super GPK VIP ticket. These tickets are now sold out, so if you missed them you are out of luck! The GPK VIP ticket cost $750, and these few lucky collectors get 4 nights hotel, tickets to the show, early admission, dinners Thurs., Fri., and Sat., a B&W sketch, and the GCC card set, and more! Second, there is a regular VIP ticket. For $150 these ticket holders get admission all 3 days, early admission, and dinners Fri. and Sat. Finally, there is a general admission 3 day or individual day tickets available. The 3 day pass retails for $25, while single day admission is available; Fri. ($10), Sat. ($15), Sun. ($15). A tip for collectors, try checking Groupon for discounts on basic VIP and general admission tickets, you might just get a nice discount!

What hours is the show open?

The show is open Fri. 4:00 PM – 9:00PM, Sat. 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM, and Sun. 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM. Holders of the GPK VIP or basic VIP tickets will be able to get in one hour early to the show each day.

What should I expect at the show?

Being a larger toy convention there will be plenty of booths setup selling toys. You will see lots of cosplayers, and even indy professional wresting shows! But you are there for GPK! All GPK artists will be in one area of the show. This allows collectors to have kind of a home base to visit with artists, see people they’ve only spoken with online, and maybe even do some trading! All 14 artists will be in the same area. In addition Clint Coleman and GPK & Wacky Warehouse will have a table set up again selling all things GPK.

Is there an artist Q&A session?

Unfortunately this time around there will not be a separate artist seminar. Due to space restraints, show promoters were not able to facilitate a Q&A session this year. However, all the artists are very approachable and really do love talking to collectors.

Yes there is a late addition to the schedule. The artists will be getting together on Saturday from 4:00-5:00 for a Q&A session. According to the schedule the seminar will be located at Convention HQ on the second floor.

I’m a VIP holder, I get dinner(s)?

Yes, one of the big perks of the big GPK VIP package is an exclusive dinner with the artists on Thursday night. Ticket holders be sure to check your package details for time and location of the dinner. All GPK VIP and basic VIP holders also receive a ticket to the show wide VIP only dinners on Fri. and Sat. nights at 6:00 PM. General admission ticket holds must separately purchase tickets for the Fri/Sat dinners if they want to attend.

What other GPK events are there?

Saturday night there will be an evening social event at the West Bar inside the Circus Circus casino at 11:00 PM. The event is open to all collectors. While there is a breakfast mentioned on the event flyer, that event has been cancelled. Show promoters decided based on feedback from the previous show to leave more time open to collectors to have the freedom to do their own meet ups.

Is there a show specific card set available?

This year’s set is bigger than last year’s. Collectors will have a few choices this year. All 14 artists have created a card for the event, and in the case of 6 artists a second card. These 20 images will be available for sale in a few different formats. A master show set will be available at the show for $40. Cards #1-12 are regular cards done by the artists attending the show, Bonus #1-2 are the cards created by Tom Bunk and James Warhola. Rounding out the set are card #P1-P6. These are prism cards, printed on a shiny card stock. These images are the second card some of the artists created. Don’t want the whole set? Or just want extras of some? Cards #1-12 will be available by themselves for $15. While cards #P1-P6, will also be available separately for $15. The only way to get the Bonus cards is to purchase the maser set. GPK VIP ticket holders are in luck as the master set is already included in their package. There will also be a limited edition set of those same 20 images available as a proof/blank back set for $40. There are only 100 copies of the limited edition set available for purchase. Artists will also be given a number of their own cards to sell at their table and autograph/doodle on for collectors. Sets will be available at the GPK & Wacky Warehouse booth during the show. Those of you unable to make the show, should contact GPK & Wacky Warehouse after the show to inquire about purchasing any leftovers. Check out some images of the card art that artists have shared already!

What will the artists have available?

Ahhh that’s another article…..coming later this week! Tune into GPKNews to check out some of the goods the artists will be showcasing at the show!

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