Mark Pingitore Leaving Topps to Focus on Magic Marker Art

Long time Topps Garbage Pail Kids artist Mark Pingitore has decided to leave his freelance job at Topps. As he first mentioned on the GPK Underground Message board a few days ago, Mark has left to focus on his own art and his company, Magic Marker Art. His last six paintings appeared in the recently released 2017 Garbage Pail Kids Adam-Geddon set. Mark was hired by former Topps Art Director, Jeff Zapata, and started with the GPK brand on the Flashback 1 set. Mark’s front card final paintings have appeared in every set since that Flashback 1 set. I conducted an e-mail interview with Mark this week. We discuss his reasons for leaving Topps, what he has planned with Magic Marker Art going forward, and we also get a little nostalgic with Mark and his time at Topps.

GPKNews – Mark, thanks for doing the interview with me. Say it isn’t so! Recent reports have you leaving Topps to focus on your own art and brands. Why the decision to leave Topps?

Mark Pingitore – Thanks for reaching out for an interview Jeff! Yes, Adam-geddon will be the last GPK release that I contribute to. It wasn’t a conscious decision per se, but more so just the direction my focus has gone. Over the years I have done my own GPKesque parody work on the side for conventions and art shows. Doing them, I’ve really enjoyed having complete creative control, deadlines that I plan, and a consistent overall look with the artwork that producing my own stuff allows. That coupled with a general dissatisfaction of the current direction of GPK with the political focus, not enjoying or following politics really, it has just become my preference to focus on my own work, which is a more rewarding creative outlet for me.

GPKNews – In October of last year Topps sent their lawyers out on a cease and desist mission to protect their intellectual property. Many GPK artists and websites were hit with notices, including yourself, right as your Horrible Kids set was launching. How much does that experience play into your decision?

MP – I will just say that how Topps handled themselves definitely played a part.

GPKNews – In our previous interview you talked about how you collected GPKs as a kid and into high school. How hard of a decision was it to leave Topps? Did the nostalgia and something you collected as a kid pull at the heart strings a little bit?

MP – It’s always a difficult choice to commit to a big career decision, so it wasn’t without some weighing of pros and cons. I had 10+ years working on GPK though, and feel like I accomplished the original goal I had when I first started submitting ideas. It took a lot of work going from a concept artist to a final front artist. I was able to create some GPK that I’m really proud of, that I feel captured the original appeal and look of the OS sets. As I continue on in my own projects, I strive to make each one better than the last.

GPKNews – Let’s chat about the future and the Magic Marker Art brand you have. In the last year you’ve released three new sets, Disasters of the Universe 1 & 2, and Horrible Kids 1. Have those releases been successful for you?

MP – I’ve been very happy with the response to the work I’ve been releasing. I couldn’t do it without the support of those who buy the product and original art from me, so I can’t thank them enough. It was the artwork and writing that made the OS GPK so great, so making that quality and having everything flow together well is important to me.

GPKNews – What’s next for Magic Marker Art? I’ve seen you post previews for a GI Jokes set that you are working on. I’ve also seen some talk about a TMNT set in the pipeline? Any release timelines in mind?

MP – I’m working on finishing G.I. Jokes right now and am planning on a February 23rd release for those. After that will be a TMNT parody set, Mutagen Canister Kids, that I have the rough sketches for Series 1 finished for. I’m looking at a late March or early April release of those, depending on when the art is ready.

GPKNews – How about long term? Do you have plans for another Horrible Kids series? Or Disasters? Any other ideas floating around?

MP – I definitely have plans for a lot more in 2017. I’d like to get a set out every month or two, and have ideas for more Horrorible Kids and Disasters, as well as other directions to go in like a classic NES parody set, other fun 80s/90s toylines/cartoons, as well as movie and comic book parodies. There’s a lot of places to go. I have a bunch of unused GPK ideas from over the years that I’d like to finish up at some point too. I also want to release more shirts/phone cases/pins, etc.

GPKNews – Do you have any other upcoming freelance work for other companies we can keep an eye out for?

MP – I’m currently working on the first in a series of children’s book I’ve been commissioned to illustrate, and will also be getting back into larger scale work that is more in the realism vein.

GPKNews – Will you continue to attend some of the comic/art conventions? Any upcoming shows planned?

MP – Yup, I’m actually planning on increasing the number of conventions I set up at this year. Mostly in states surrounding the PA area, but also some others across the US. So far I’m scheduled for Greater Philadelphia Comic Con April 7-9th, East Coast Comicon April 29th & 30th, Harrisburg Comic Con May 20th & 21st, and Retro Con October 14th & 15th. I’m also looking into others including returning to Designer Con in November.

GPKNews – I commend you for taking the chance and going out on your own. What are your feelings on making this jump? Nervous at what lies ahead? Excited about new opportunities?

MP – Thank you. It is always a scary thing to make a big change, but I’ve done it before. I worked in animation for 5-6 years before I left to freelance on my own fulltime for Topps. That was a big change and somewhat of a risk, but it worked out, so I’m excited to see where this takes me. Social media and the direct interaction with the people interested in the product is a big thing for independent artists to self-produce.

GPKNews – I believe you have six final paintings in the latest GPK release, Adam-Geddon. Any idea on the total number of GPK finals you’ve painted over the years?

MP – I have a binder of all my published GPK cards, so my count is 121, not including subsets like Adam Bomb Thru History or the Locomotion cards.

GPKNews – From Garbage Pail Kids fans everywhere I want to thank you for all the art over the years we’ve been able to enjoy. You have a lot of fans, and I know you will be missed by collectors. I know you won’t miss some of the deadlines and procedures, but are you going to miss working on the Garbage Pail Kids brand? Or will your own brand fill that void for you?

MP – Thanks very much! I’ll miss the excitement of all of the GPK collectors seeing the new cards when a set is released, and seeing different reactions, but I’ll still get that with my own stuff too.

GPKNews – Finally, I know we touched on this a little bit last time, but there has been some new releases since then. What is your favorite Garbage Pail Kid you’ve painted over the years?

MP – My favorite GPK I did is still either Wade Shade from 2015 S1, or Rick Grimey from 2014 S2. Those are my two favorite sets of the new GPK too. Thanks Jeff!

Thanks Mark for the interview! Follow Mark and Magic Marker Art on Facebook. To purchase G.I. Jokes when it’s released on Feb. 23, or to buy any of Mark’s other sets, visit the Magic Marker Art website.

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Interview With Garbage Pail Kids Brand Manager Mark Von Ohlen

gpk_94x94Mark Von Ohlen has been Brand Manager at Topps for almost two years now. Originally hired on by Topps to be the Brand Manager over the Star Wars brand, he is now the Topps Brand Manager, Entertainment. He oversees all Topps non-sport brands for Topps; Star Wars, Wacky Packages, Mars Attacks, Walking Dead, Preacher, WWE, Doctor Who, and of course GPK. Working hand in hand with Colin Walton, they are responsible for all Garbage Pail Kids sets/merchandise for Topps. Mark was nice enough to agree to an e-mail interview on the eve of the launch of the next GPK set, Prime Slime Trashy TV. Mark talks about his background, and what his job entails at Topps. He shares some hints about what can be found in the next GPK set. He shares his thoughts on the Direct to Print movement at Topps, and what the future holds there. Mark also shares what’s being offered at this year’s New York Comic Con. And yes, I asked him about Chrome OS 3….

GPKNews – Thanks for the interview, Mark! Being Brand Manager at Topps is a dream job most collectors would love to have! How did you get started with Topps?

Mark Von Ohlen – I’ve been working in marketing for almost a decade, and after my last job I decided that I wanted to work on something I was really passionate about. I am a big geek and pop culture junkie. I go to conventions all the time. Last year I went to 15 shows. This year I’m scaling back slightly – only going to 12! I’m an avid collector of action figures, trading cards and other collectibles. You should see my office; it’s lined with autographed photos, mini figures and binders of cards. When I found out Topps was hiring, I jumped at the chance to work on Star Wars! It’s every geeky kid’s dream. We had a fantastic year with several great new product launches plus of course the new movie. Then, I got to launch the first ever Topps Doctor Who trading cards in the US. As a Whovian, this was seriously a dream come true. Now I’m working on GPK, another brand I grew up with and love tremendously. It’s been a real thrill so far.

GPKNews – Can you share with collectors what a Brand Manager does? Specifically when it comes to GPK, how are you involved with the brand?

MVO – The brand manager has a long list of responsibilities. It’s kind of like being a movie producer because no one really knows what you do, but you kind of do everything. Brand managers are generalists, typically, meaning they have a degree in business management or, in my case Economics and Business, and work with specialists who execute the strategy. As the brand manager, I work with my fantastic associate brand manager, Colin Walton, on product development and marketing. Fans of GPK know Colin as he has been the editor/art director/artist relationship manager/brand expert working on GPK for almost a decade. I would seriously be lost without him. He and I will ideate a product (ie the upcoming GPK Adam-geddon). From there, we will decide on the design elements, what insert cards should be included, sku configuration and pricing, exclusive content, etc. From there Colin works closely with the incredibly talent pool of artists to sketch the jokes and images for the cards. We review them together, and then the ones we like get painted. We also decide on any retailer exclusives and partner with the Sales team on retailer executions. We also decide on marketing initiatives (what conventions to attend, what ads to place, etc). It’s like running your own business on a brand by brand basis.

GPKNews – How aware were you of Garbage Pail Kids when you were a kid? Did you collect back then? I know you are a big Star Wars fan, what do you collect now?

I had so many GPK stickers when I was a kid, and used to put them all over the walls in my house. It used to make my parents so angry, but they kept buying them for me anyway! I collected a lot of entertainment trading cards when I was young. I had several Star Wars sets, ET, Ninja Turtles, WWE and even a Cyndi Lauper card set. I’m still a big geek and have a pretty massive trading card and action figure collection.

image002GPKNews – Garbage Pail Kids Prime Slime Trashy TV is set to launch in early October. The recent GPK sets have all been themed sets. How did you guys decide the time was right to do a GPK set based on parodies of current TV shows?

MVO – The themed sets for GPK are so much fun. The American As Apple Pie set really tapped into this incredible year-long conversation in the pop culture surrounding the election. It was basically the catalyst for our Election pulse program running on Topps.com right now. We have so much more planned between now and the election! Regarding the TV set, we really are living in the new age of content. An age where Amazon can win Emmys! Seriously, think back even 2 years ago. Doesn’t that sound ridiculous? But there’s more content than ever. Not necessarily great content, but certainly more, so we felt TV (in all its forms) was the right medium to make fun of as it undergoes this incredible transformation.

GPKNews – I know you don’t want to reveal any secrets about the new set yet, but do you have a favorite card in the set? Maybe something that really caught your eye?

MVO – I reviewed every card with Colin and honestly this theme is spectacular. The artists really gave us fantastic paintings. As someone who watches too much TV, the whole set a lot of fun. Some standouts: we have a Twin Peaks card that I love! (One of my favorite shows.) We have Kathy Lee and Hoda behaving exactly as you might expect. My name ‘Mark’ is finally back on a card and with a TV show that I’ve loved for the past 20 years (hint). Plus we’ve got classic shows, current favorites and even returning series like The X-Files, which is one of Colin’s favorites.

GPKNews – I know Topps is already working on the next GPK set, Adam-Geddon, set to release in Jan. 2017. Collectors seem to be excited about that theme. Is there anything you can share with collectors about what to expect with the Adam-Geddon set?

MVO – Get ready. This one is over the top ridiculous. Adam-geddon is explosive, literally, and one of our more hilariously violent sets in recent years. In many ways it feels like vintage GPK because it delivers on that shock factor that the original fans loved.

GPKNews – A change that jumped out to me when looking at the sell sheets for Adam-Geddon was the pack configuration across the board. Hobby/Retail packs moved down to 8 cards, while Collector packs up to 8 cards. I noticed prices on pre-orders are lower than past releases. Was the reason for this change to get to a lower price point?

MVO – We lowered the pricing in retail to $2 packs to create a lower barrier to entry for new consumers. We’re always trying to reach new collectors and felt the current pricing structure was a bit prohibitive. We also streamlined the hobby sku to eliminate confusion about content.

GPKNews – What does the future hold for the Garbage Pail Kids brand? Can you share with us any other plans for 2017?

MVO – Well, we still have 3 more months of 2016 to get through first, and they are going to be insane. With the election imminent you can expect us to be even more engaged in the political conversation, as we’ll have several more releases between now and Election Day. We also have something special planned for Inauguration Day that we’ll reveal toward the end of the year. As for 2017, I expect to continue our pop culture Topps.com products where we make fun of celebrities, music, movies and TV. We saw some amazing press coverage regarding our music sets, in particular the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame and Riot Fest. We’re looking to do more of those partnerships.

GPKNews – I know you attend conventions like San Diego Comic Con, Star Wars shows, the National Sports Collectors show, etc. Do you enjoy meeting with fans and hearing what and how they collect?

MVO – I love going to conventions. I attend between 10-15 per year. Only a few are ‘official’ for Topps like SDCC, NYCC, The National. The rest of the time it’s just me walking around meeting celebrities and artists. I love meeting the fans and always want to hear from them. We’re making products for the fans so the more information we can get from them, the better we can serve the needs. Luckily the GPK fandom is not shy so I’m pretty up-to-date on their requests. I would love to do a Topps sponsored GPK con at some point, and I know there is interest there. We haven’t been able to make it work yet but maybe sometime in 2017?

GPKNews – Topps offered Jumbo GPK sets at this year’s San Diego Comic Con. I know Topps usually has a presence at the New York Comic Con in October. Any show exclusives from Topps planned for the event? Anything GPK related going to be offered?

MVO – Yes, we will have some pop culture oriented exclusives at NYCC. We branded them as GPK Prime Slim Trashy TV and we parody Star Trek, Powerpuff Girls, The Flash, Big Bang Theory, and My Little Pony. It’s 5 new paintings (so 10 stickers total counting the A&B names) for $29.99. You can find us at NYCC Booth #454 with the GPK exclusives plus a Star Wars Rogue One exclusive card set, giveaways, and some surprises.

GPKNews – Funko recently started offering GPK Series 2 to distributors for a Nov. release. Collectors are excited to see the GPK license agreement continue with Funko. I know during 2015 there were many license tie-ins with the 30th anniversary of GPK. Is Topps still open to licensing the GPK brand for merchandise? Anything cool in the pipeline?

MVO – Yes we are thrilled with the Funko items! Aren’t they awesome? In fact they did exclusive GPK Election Funko’s as well featuring Donald Dumpty and Billary Hillary. We are still continuing to explore new licensing opportunities but nothing new to announce at the moment.

chrome2GPKNews – A popular topic with collectors, really since 2014 and the last Chrome GPK release, has been, will there be a GPK Chrome OS 3 release? I know there have been some comments on Facebook that you guys are looking into the possibility. Can you share your thoughts on Chrome OS 3 getting a release? Maybe as an online exclusive? Would a Kickstarter type of campaign work for something like this?

MVO – This is every GPK super fan’s favorite topic. I honestly get emails every week on this product, but Chrome is really tricky. It’s an expensive technology, and it’s not for everyone. Our goal on GPK is to expand the brand to a wider audience. That’s the reason we’ve done the themed sets (American Pie, Trashy TV), the Election items, the Pop Culture parodies (The Grammys, The Academy Awards, etc) and partnerships (Riot Fest) and expanded licensing (Funko). Obviously as we are looking for new fans we don’t want to leave our super-fans behind so we are exploring ways to make Chrome a reality. We don’t have a solution yet, but we’re open to ideas. I wouldn’t rule out Kickstarter, but maybe even something as simple as a preorder that requires a minimum purchase quantity before we go to print. If we hit the number, it happens and if we don’t, it doesn’t get made. Would fans be okay with something like that?

GPKNews – Print on Demand products has been a focus for Topps as a whole this year. Topps Now on the baseball side, the Preacher cards, UFC, WWE, are just a few. I want to say the trend might have actually started with the Garbage Pail Kids online sets released early this year. Most of the GPK online sets have been released under the Apple Pie theme. Will new sets continue being offered by Topps? If so, for how long? Through the presidential election? Are there any plans on offering online sets under the Trashy TV theme after the release of that set?

MVO – Thank you for giving credit where credit is due. The GPK Election pulse was basically the ‘beta’ version of Topps Now. And the GPK community delivered! Print on demand is happening because of this awesome group of people. We’re looking to expand it into more properties as well. For GPK, we have 3 more months of election madness ahead so more is on the way. In 2017, we’ll continue to parody pop culture (music, movies and more) and try out some new territories as well. We have a few ideas for Trashy TV – would you guys like a GPK take on classic Christmas Specials?

artgpk-stic-16gpkrace-0001_fr_1GPKNews – Do you see Print on Demand being the future of card distribution for manufactures? Do you see a future where this is the main method GPK collectors will go to purchase cards?

MVO – Our industry is changing significantly and in many ways catching up to where media is going. Think about your TV viewing habits. At one point it was crazy to think people would record shows and zap commercials, but now that’s standard practice. Binge watching has also become the new norm. I can tell you I watched ‘Stanger Things’ in one Saturday. As media consumption becomes customized or immediate so must trading cards. Print on demand is a great solution to this. I also think it eliminated some of the hurdle of not knowing what you’re getting. Trading cards are the original blind bag purchase, which while it’s all the rage in 3D mini figures today, there’s also a consumer base who just wants to know what they’re getting. I love the chase, the hunt, the gamble, but I’ll also open my wallet for something specific that I really want to avoid the ‘work’ of hunting it down. That’s where print on demand really delivers. It also allows us to be very in-the-moment. Topps Now captures moments right when they happen. GPK has been doing that all year with the election. If you play any of the Topps card trader apps, that’s the same experience. The immediacy and relevance is maximized with print on demand and digital. We’re looking at the 2017 plan for GPK and seeing how we can really play in this space even more than 2016 as it will allow us to be in the moment. This doesn’t mean ‘traditional’ trading cards are going away. Tactile collectibles are always going to be important and we intend for our full-series sets to always be around.

GPKNews – At the 2015 National Sport Collector’s Convention, during the Topps Q&A session, there was discussion around pack searching in retail stores like Target/Wal-Mart. Topps representatives mentioned Topps was working on packaging that would make searching packs harder. This is a very common frustration with collectors who walk in to Target and see the local pack searcher “fingering” the packs. GPK Jumbo Retail packs were “see through” for the Apple Pie release. Is there any work going on at Topps to help combat pack searching?

MVO – Yes, Topps is working on something but I can’t reveal any details right now. My #1 recommendation for fans looking for hits and high value items is to shop in hobby or buy full boxes or cases, as that is where you get your guarantees anyway. The odds are really long in mass for hits unless you pick up a $20 value box which usually comes with a manufactured relic card. The retail market is really for the casual collector and to fill in your base and inserts as the price per pack is lower.

GPKNews – Have you had a chance to see the 30 Years of Garbage documentary Jeff Zapata and Joe Simko directed? If so what were your thoughts on the film?

MVO – Yes, I was at the premiere in NYC. It was so great to meet those guys in person. Colin works with them regularly and they were instrumental in bringing GPK back to the current fan base. I personally loved the film and learned quite a few things that I didn’t know about the history of the brand. I hope we’re still talking about GPK when it comes time for the 50th!

GPKNews – You are in charge of classic brands for Topps that in many cases collectors have been collecting for decades. What are your thoughts about being part of this Topps history?

MVO – I feel the weight of this role every day; and I mean that in the most positive way. There’s an incredible legacy that people who worked at Topps before me have left and I want to add to that. The reason I wanted to work for Topps in the first place was to be part of something I truly love. Being the brand manager working on awesome brands like Star Wars and GPK is a dream come true. I hope the fans see the passion I have, and are as excited by everything we’re doing with these brands now as they were years ago.

GPKNews – Finally, what’s your favorite Garbage Pail Kid?

MVO – I have Monstrous Mark on the door of my office. 😉

monmark

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10 Questions With…Garbage Pail Kids Artist JungHwa Im

imautoFor most GPK collectors JungHwa Im is a mystery. Unlike a lot of current artists, JungHwa doesn’t have much of an internet presence. However, having painted over 100 GPK card fronts, JungHwa is a part of GPK history. She started painting card fronts with the BNS 1 series, and continues doing paintings on the current sets. She also made a bit of GPK history by becoming the first full time female GPK artist. I was able to conduct this e-mail interview with JungHwa this week. We talk about her art schooling, how you can contact her to purchase art, and her place in GPK history.

GPKNews – Thanks for the interview! You are a veteran GPK artist now, you started back with the BNS 1 release, I believe. What is your art background? Did you have any schooling in art? Self-taught?

JungHwa Im – Yeah, I started working on GPK from BNS 1, but I still don’t feel like I’m a veteran artist for GPK. There are many other artists who have been working on it for so long and who are really talented doing it. I will wait for a few more years to call myself a veteran artist, but thanks so much for your acknowledgement. Yes, I did go to an art school for my BFA and went to a grad school for my MFA, both in painting.

GPKNews – What memories, if any, do you have of Garbage Pail Kids growing up? Did you collect when you were a child, do you collect now?

JHI – You know, I grew up in South Korea and we didn’t have GPK there. But there was Cabbage Patch Kids, of course. So, it was only 11 years ago that I first saw GPK. I loved the oddness and boldness of it. Images like GPK were/are non-existent in Korea. There are a lot of cute characters, mainly from the influence of Japan, but I hope someday it will make its way to Korea. So my answer to you is no, I didn’t collect GPKs when I was growing up. I’d love to collect some original artwork when I pay off all my student loan debt!

GPKNews – How were you brought in the door at Topps and working on Garbage Pail Kids?

JHI – I went to Pratt Institute with Colin Walton. I heard that he was looking for some new artists for GPK. I studied the character style and finally showed a few of my sample paintings to him. It was scary!

GPKNews – You’ve also painted Wacky Packages cards for Topps. Have you done other work on trading card sets for Topps or any other company?

JHI – No, the only other Topps product I worked on are Wacky Packages. I haven’t worked for other trading card companies.

GPKNews – How many paintings did you do for the upcoming Trashy TV set?

JHI – I did 15 paintings for the Trashy TV set.

imrelicGPKNews – Do you know how many total GPK paintings you’ve completed for Topps?

JHI – I’ve lost count of how many total GPK paintings I’ve done since I started.

GPKNews – Many of the GPK artists in the past have done pack inserted sketch cards for the various GPK releases. I don’t believe you have done any. Have you ever considered doing pack inserted sketch cards?

JHI – I have thought about doing the sketch cards, but I’m not good at doing quick sketches. I know there’re a lot of artists who are good at it.

GPKNews – It seems almost everyone is on the Internet and social media these days. Many of the GPK artists have art websites or Facebook pages showing off and selling not only their GPK artwork, but other artwork and commissions. Do you have an Internet presence that shows your art?

JHI – I don’t have any English social media, just some Korean ones. I do get emails from collectors every now on then, and I appreciate them so much for their support and love of GPK! I like the small email exchanges with the collectors, because by having a conversation you become more personal to them and they are to you.

GPKNews – Do you take on any commission work for Garbage Pail Kids?

JHI – Yes, I do take on commission work.

GPKNews – Do you sell your final GPK paintings? If so what’s the best way for collectors to inquire on what may be available.

JHI – Yes, I do sell my final pieces. The best way to reach me is at imjunghwa@gmail.com.

GPKNews – Are there any other projects you have in the pipeline besides Garbage Pail Kids?

JHI – Yes, I have some Wacky Packages on the way.

GPKNews – Have you seen the 30 Years of Garbage documentary that Joe Simko and Jeff Zapata directed? If so, what did you think of the movie?

JHI – Sorry, I haven’t seen the movie yet, but plan to.

GPKNews – GPKs have historically been a male dominated realm. While Mae Jeon, (a Topps in house artist), was the first female to paint GPKs, she only did a couple of OS cards. What are your thoughts about being the first and only full time female GPK artist? Do you see yourself as a pioneer?

JHI – Isn’t it funny that Mae Jeon was also a Korean? No, I don’t see myself as a pioneer. I haven’t really done much for GPK. There are many more artists who deserve that title. I do feel proud that I’m working on a such unique characters as GPK. Really, there aren’t anything like them anymore. I don’t know if it has anything to do me being female or male, but yes, hopefully there will be even more female artists working on the GPK in the future!

GPKNews – Finally, do you have a favorite Garbage Pail Kid? How about a favorite that you’ve drawn?

JHI – My favorite GPK is Boozin’ BRUCE. I just love the joke and the how it’s painted. There’s a nostalgia. My favorite painting I’d say is Juan Percent. That piece is personal to me because we are all affected by social injustice.

juanpercent

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10 Questions With…Garbage Pail Kids Artist David Gross

File Aug 09, 12 11 32 AMBehind Tom Bunk, David Gross is the longest tenured current GPK artist. Doing Wacky Packs and Garbage Pail Kids, David has been an integral part of Topps products for many years. On Facebook he might be better known for the rejected concepts he constantly shows. Many of those rejected concepts found their way into a book he offered at the GPK-Con. David’s book was a highlight among collectors at the show. I sat down with David at the GPK-Con in Las Vegas for an interview. We talked about how he started working for Topps, his thoughts on the 30 Years of Garbage movie, and just why he would sneak into his sister’s room as a kid.

GPKNews – With the exception of Tom Bunk, I think you are the most senior current GPK artist, you started back with the ANS 4 series I believe? I’ve read you were a big Wacky Packs collector as a kid, what do you remember about GPK from back then?

David Gross – The first sight of GPK was my sister. She was a big collector, she was younger than me. She had boxes and boxes of them. In fact I have all of her cards now. I would sneak in her room, it was the only reason I would sneak in her room, and look at her cards. I would say these are cool cards. I wish they had made these during Wacky Packs times because I would have been a big collector of them. I was in just starting high school at the time. I now have all her cards because I raided the house before my parents moved and took all her cards. She’s still wondering where they are, don’t tell her.

GPKNews – What got your foot in the door to Topps and working on GPK, how were you brought in the fold?

DG – I knew Jay Lynch from doing some Wacky Packages of my own. I was just making up my own Wacky Packs in Photoshop, and I posted them on some site. Jay contacted me and we got to be friends a little bit. When he found out they were doing the new series he said, Dave you got to send some of these over but you can’t send the ones you did. I asked why, and he said because you did them in Photoshop, they are doing paintings. I was like alright cool. So I whipped out the paints and actually painted some. I was doing 5-foot by 5-foot paintings at the time, so doing something 5-inches by 7-inches was a little confusing to me at first. I’m so use to gigantic brushes. I had to find the smallest brushes I could find. I did three samples and sent them to Jeff Zapata. The same day I sent them, Jeff called me up and said we are going to use one of your pieces in the series as a bonus card, which was the Asteroids. Then, I immediately started doing the second series with them. I did 30 something pieces in the second series. This year I’ll be at 500 at some point.

GPKNews – Are you finished with the art for the next GPK set, Trashy TV? Is it full steam ahead on art for the first 2017 set, Adam-Geddon now?

DG – Yeah concepts have already been worked on. We are just starting the paintings. In fact when this is over I’ll be going home and start doing some of those.

GPKNews – You show your rejected concepts on your Facebook page, which is always a blast to look at. What % of concepts do you submit that actually get the green light?

DG – I’d say two thirds. I kind of have a good idea. Lots of times I’ll write them before I draw the thing, and say here’s the idea behind it do you like that or not. So I don’t have to waste the time with something they are flat out going to say no to. Lots of times he’ll say it sounds like a good idea but we have to see it first. You’ll get rejects when I do that, but it cuts it down a little bit.

GPKNews – How many paintings did you do for the upcoming Trashy TV set?

DG – I think I did 27, I believe.

GPKNews – Do you know how many total GPK paintings you are up to now?

DG – I don’t know the exact amount. I could probably figure it out, but I know its roughly 500 total Wacky and GPK after the 50th Anniversary Wacky set comes out.

GPKNews – You’ve mentioned to me this is the first show you’ve attended as an artist. What are your thoughts? Have you enjoyed meeting with fans of your work?

DG – I did San Diego Comic Con and New York Comic Con with Topps, but it was just going to their booth. I didn’t set up by myself. I set up there for a couple of hours and sketched for them. It’s cool every single person that’s come up I’ve contacted or talked to at some point through Facebook or eBay. Now I know everybody’s face. I’ve talked to these people many times and never knew what they looked like or had any meaningful conservations with them, other than talking about the artwork a little be briefly via Facebook. Now we are having some nice conversations. I’m meeting their kids, meeting their wives, so it’s cool.

File Aug 09, 12 12 07 AMGPKNews – At the show you are selling your reject book, your original art, roughs, and prints. Any other projects you have in the pipeline?

DG – Working on Wacky Packages 50th Anniversary set which will be for next year, but we are doing concepts for that. Then I assume there will be some more online sets. If there are any slow periods I’ll be painting some of my rejected ones and doing commissions. For the reject books I’ve got at least another hundred or so here. There are 30 something in the first book. I’ll just change the color of the book and do volume 2, volume 3… A lot of these are things I really wish had gotten in some of the sets.

GPKNews – You were interviewed for the 30 Years of Garbage doc. What did you think of the movie? What are your thoughts about being part of GPK history.

DG – I was blown away by the movie. I went to the premier with my family. They were blown away as well. We could not believe the quality of the movie. You would think it would be some low budget thing, but this is high quality, Academy Award documentary best feature material here. Great graphics, and the music was great. It was fantastic! We really loved the film. It was really cool to see yourself on the big screen.

GPKNews – Finally do you have an all time favorite Garbage Pail Kid? How about the favorite one that you have drawn?

DG – New Wave Dave of course, its my name. It really seems to be, over Adam Bomb, the biggest request I get seems to be that character. The characters I get the most requests for are Joe Blow, Adam Bomb, and New Wave Dave. New Wave Dave is my favorite for many reasons; I was into punk rock when I was young, wrote on a lot of walls… Of the ones I’ve drawn, the Willy Wonka one is up there. I like the Pac-Man one I recently I did. Also, the Marcel Duchamp one I did for the Artistic Influence, I really like that one a lot.

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10 Questions With…GPK Sketch Card Artist Chad Scheres

File Aug 09, 12 09 44 AMChad Scheres loves his monsters. That’s evident when looking at his table full of custom made monster figures. In addition to being a sketch card artist on Garbage Pail Kids and Wacky Packages, Chad focuses on drawing and selling monster related cards and figures. I sat down with Chad at the GPK-Con in Las Vegas. We talked about how he got started with Topps, what he collected as a kid, and what’s in store in the future for his work.

GPKNews – You started doing pack inserted GPK sketches this year with the American as Apple Pie set. How did you get involved with Topps and doing GPK sketches? Have you done any work for other card sets?

Chad Scheres – There was a post on Facebook a few years ago that they were bringing back the Ugly Stickers. That’s what I was loved from being a kid. I draw monsters and ugly stuff, so I sent them some samples. I said I can do that, I draw ugly monsters, and forgot all about it. A few months later they sent me an e-mail and said they wanted me to do this Artists on Demand thing. I’m like great, I love Topps and always wanted to work for them. I did a couple months of Artists on Demand. Then they cancelled that and I started doing more samples for the Garbage Pail Kids and Wacky Packs. Then I did American as Apple Pie, and did the MLB Wacky Packs. I just finished up the Trashy TV sketch cards, and now there will be another series in January coming out. I’m still waiting to hear on the 50th anniversary of Wacky Packs, because I would really love to work on those.

GPKNews – Were you a GPK fan/collector before you started doing the sketches?

CS – I knew all about them and thought they were cool. By the time they came out in 1985 I was in high school, so I was off on other things. I’m more of a Wacky Packages guy because that’s what I collected as a kid. As far as Topps stuff goes, it was all Wacky Packages and Star Wars when I was a kid. I saw GPKs and thought they were cool. I had picked some up over the years, and picked some up when the new series came out in 2002 and 2003. I picked up a few of those, but I didn’t really start drawing them until after I got on with the Artists on Demand thing. I didn’t know what a sketch card was at that point. Once I started doing that, I started drawing really small because my stuff is on a bigger scale. Now that I’ve drawn so many of these things I’m getting better at it.

GPKNews – How is the work coming on the sketches for the next GPK set, Trashy TV? I saw some of the previews you posted on Facebook, they look great!

I’m done with the required cards. I still have to do my artists returns. I just got my duel artist cards back the day before I left here, so next week is going to be busy.

GPKNews – Do you know who your partner is on the Duel Artist sketches? Are there artists you would like to work with?

CS – I love working with all these guys. On Apple Pie I worked with Chris Meeks. His stuff is amazing, it blew me away. This time I’m paired up with a new artist Kelly Greider, really beautiful stuff. I got his stuff in the mail the other day, really beautiful. I’m proud to be hooked up with any of these guys.

GPKNews – Have you seen the 30 Years of Garbage documentary that Jeff Zapata and Joe Simko directed? What did you think?

CS – I’ve seen it twice. I watched it once, then had it on a second time while I was working and listen to it. It’s great, I loved it, very informative.

GPKNews – What are your thoughts about being part of that history now?

CS – I love being a part of it, it’s great. When I was a kid I would ride my bike to the store to buy Wacky and Star Wars cards. The Topps logo and the brand has always been a part of my life. So actually being able to work for them and getting a paycheck with that logo on it was really cool, it’s great.

GPKNews – How many of these comic/toy/art conventions do you do a year?

CS – Usually I’ll do 2 or 3 depending. I’m from Spokane, Washington so there’s always one there that I do every year. I’ve done Emerald City Seattle Comic Con. I didn’t do it this year but might to it next year. When I saw this pop up I definitely knew I had to be here for this one.

File Aug 09, 12 10 17 AMGPKNews – This is the first GPK-Con what are your thoughts of the show so far? How has the GPK fan turnout been for the show?

CS – Its great, there’s been a good turnout and the fans have been great. It’s nice to connect faces with names because I talk to people on Facebook all the time. It’s nice to meet them in person.

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

CS – Not really, I’m doing more sketch cards, prints, and sketch covers. I’ve got hundreds of sketch covers at home so if anyone wants one let me know. I love doing the sketch covers. I’m always sculpting something and casting something for a new resin figure. I’m just constantly working on something. I create something new every day.

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

CS – That’s really tough, the grosser the better. Usually any of the monster related ones. Nasty Nick of course because he’s a vampire. Any Werewolf or Frankenstein, any of the classic monster related ones are my favorites. Or if there is a lot of blood or snot in there. I like the gross stuff.

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10 Questions With…Garbage Pail Kids Artist Mark Pingitore

File Aug 09, 12 07 39 AMMark Pingitore is another of the current crop of Garbage Pail Kids artists that got his start with the Flashback sets. Not only does Mark paint GPKs, but he also has his own card, sticker, and t-shirt line from his Horror and Slop Culture Kids to his very popular Disasters of the Universe set. I sat down and talked to Mark at the GPK-Con in Las Vegas recently. We talked about how he was brought on at Topps, some current projects he has in the pipeline, and how getting married to his wife was GPK destiny!

GPKNews – You are a veteran GPK artist now, you started back with the Flashback series I believe. Were you a GPK collector as a kid?

Mark Pingitore – Big time! I collected them alI. I don’t know if I collected up through series 15, but definitely into the later series. Then in high school I started collecting them all again. I got all the old sets I didn’t have as a kid. I’ve always been a big fan.

GPKNews – What got your foot in the door to Topps and working on GPK, how were you brought in the fold?

MP – I was collecting the new sets, the ANS sets, and I knew other people had submitted concepts and had gotten ideas accepted. So I just started e-mailing Jeff Zapata, our Art Director at the time, and just trying to get some people to notice the ideas I was sending in. After a couple started getting accepted, they would contact me when a new series would start. It kind of snowballed from there.

GPKNews – Are you finished with the art for the next GPK set, Trashy TV? Is it full steam ahead on art for the first 2017 set, Adam-Geddon now?

MP – Yeah we are in early stages for the next set. We are still deciding on concepts. I’ve already submitted a bunch of concepts. They are sorting through the ones they want to use. A few have been done for the advertising of the set and announcing it. We are still in the midst of working on the next set

GPKNews – How many paintings did you do for the upcoming Trashy TV set?

MP – I did seven this time, there are seven finals.

GPKNews – Do you know how many total GPK paintings you are up to now?

MP – At some point I like to check in from time to time to see how many. I think I’m up to maybe 150 or closer to 200, around there.

GPKNews – For the first time you aren’t doing any pack inserted sketches for the Trashy TV set. Was time the biggest issue? Too busy with the art for upcoming GPK projects?

MP – Yeah I feel like I saw they had a pretty decent list of people who were participating in the sketch cards. I was originally going to do them, but work started on the next set. I figured I might as well focus on that this time around.

GPKNews – How many of these comic/toy/art conventions do you do a year?

MP – I usually do around 2-3. There are a couple that are local to me in the Philadelphia area that are pretty convenient to go to. I go to at least one of those a year. Then I try to get to get to either New York or San Diego, or I’ve been to Phoenix. Usually 2 or 3 a year.

GPKNews – This is the first GPK-Con what are your thoughts of the show so far?

MP – I think its been great. I was curious to see how it was going to be. Usually when I go to a convention I’ve gone with other artists. At most 2 other GPK artists. I was curious how it would be to have so many people doing the same thing, but its been great so far. A lot of fans have come to check it out, so far so good.

File Aug 09, 12 08 20 AMGPKNews – At the show you are debuting your Disasters of the Universe set, you also sell t-shirts with your artwork and some prints. Any other projects you have in the pipeline?

MP – Besides GPK and stuff for Topps, I would like to do more t-shirts and stuff on my own. I have a couple of ideas for stuff on my own and expanding that. I have ideas for another disasters set and some ideas for the horror and slop culture kids, kind of an off shoot of garbage pail kids style, that I would like to do more with in the future.

GPKNews – You were interviewed for the 30 Years of Garbage doc. What did you think of the movie? What are your thoughts about being part of GPK history.

MP – I thought it was great. I went to the premier they had in New York. I was really impressed, especially with John Pound, Tom Bunk, Mark Newgarden, and Art Spiegelman. I really enjoyed their interviews and hearing the history about that. I was really glad to be a part of it I thought it was great.

GPKNews – The artwork you did for you are your wife, not only the “ball and chain” piece for your wedding, but the “Bun in Becky” piece to announce the upcoming birth of your child is just fantastic! Congrats on that upcoming birth. What was your friends and family reaction, and I guess more importantly your wife’s reaction to those? She must have a great sense of humor!

MP – I was surprised actually, when I first met her. Usually when I tell people what I do, unless they collected them when they were younger, sometimes they don’t know what they are or weren’t a fan. I told her I worked for Topps and the first thing she asked was if I worked on Garbage Pail Kids. So that was kind of a sign that it was a good match. She knew what they were.

GPKNews – Finally do you have an all time favorite Garbage Pail Kid? How about the favorite one that you have drawn?

MP – My favorite Garbage Pail Kid of all time is Cracked Jack. OS 2 is my favorite. I think that is the pinnacle, just all the art and all the concepts. I feel like either 2 or 3, but Cracked Jack from 2 is my favorite. I don’t know why, just the artwork and the concept always stuck out to me. Favorite that I’ve drawn would be either the Rick Grimey, the Walking Dead one I did, I was really happy how that one turned out, or the Venetian Blind one the Wade Shade.

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10 Questions With…Garbage Pail Kids Artist Jeff Zapata

File Aug 09, 12 15 58 AMJef Zapata has done it all when it comes to Garbage Pail Kids. He’s done final art for the cards, card concepts, sketch cards, was Art Director and Editor at Topps during the ANS days, but perhaps his biggest mark left on the hobby will be his involvement with the 30 Years of Garbage documentary. Together with Joe Simko, they wrote and directed the movie which recently saw its premier in New York City. I sat down with Jeff at the GPK-Con in Las Vegas recently. We discussed making the movie and some of his favorite memories during the filming. We discuss his time spent as Art Director at Topps, his favorite and least favorite projects. Jeff also talks about what is next for him and his artwork.

GPKNews – First off, congratulations on the 30 Years of Garbage Doc. I got my backer package in the mail and watched it, it was great, I really enjoyed it. What has struck you about the reaction the movie is getting?

Jeff Zapata – I’m really excited that people like the history of Garbage Pail Kids. That was one of my main concerns with the movie was showing stuff I always heard in the Topps offices and wanted to let the public know about it. The people like Woody Gelman, which you’ll hear his name out in the movie, in the early years of Topps who I considered invented the Non-Sport card genre. You’ll hear it from the masters themselves like Art Spiegelman, James Warhola, and Len Brown who was my mentor. What I’m excited about is people get to meet these guys who were never really up front in the cards or you would hear about on the boards, but they had a lot to do with the history of Topps and why we collect cards.

GPKNews – You got to work on this project closely with your good friend and fellow GPK artist Joe Simko and his wife June, how was that experience?

JZ – It was really great because Joe and I knew each other through work. We also lived close to each other at the time, and when you’re on the road you really get to know each other. Each of us sometimes had weak moments, but we had the other one help lift the other up. Whether it was physically or emotionally or whatever, but because of that we are really tight. We had a really great experience, it was an adventure, an odyssey if you will. An odyssey to meet all these artists. It was two generations, Joe is a lot younger than I am and he is the new generation of artist, and I was sort of still with the old but in between, I was the in between guy. June, I can’t say enough about her, I really can’t. She did so much grunt work that’s not seen on the film. We had another partner on the film who left which I wish I could mention more often, but due to legality I can’t, but he did a lot of work. June was a great, great asset. She helped finish with the kickstarter stuff, help fulfill orders, and edit things that our regular editor didn’t finish doing. Without her a lot of the work wasn’t done.

GPKNews – Do you have a highlight or story that stands out with you about the filming of the doc?

30yearsJZ – John Pound was really interesting because John Pound and Mark Newgarden were one of our last interviews to do that we thought we might not get. One was too shy, which was John Pound. He’s a very personable nice guy, but he’s just a shy guy. Most good artists are. Seeing him in his home and watching him be relaxed and talk about himself for the first time, he knew this was for a historic thing. Me and his wife encouraged him to do the interview. When we did the interview I told him to pretend the cameras aren’t here and talk to me as if we were talking in the office, because we would just talk about things that had nothing to do with cards. I think that interview was really golden. You also see where Adam Bomb was created and see where all that history was done. I think behind every great man there’s a great woman so I got to see who backed up John Pound. You could see without her a lot of thing wouldn’t have got done.

GPKNews – Did you know what you were getting into when you started the project? It took a few years from inception to the premier. What were your emotions on the night of the premier, relieved? satisfaction?

JZ – Everything that transpired I got to think more about the family, about Joe and June and all the stuff we went through. I was just so proud to see everything we did was on screen. When I was watching it, it was almost like the journey was unfolding in my mind even though I’ve seen the movie a million times before the showing. I was trying to look at it through the audience as well. I tried to look at it with fresh eyes. All I could do was think about the trip and the friendships and the family structure that formed after between Joe, I and June. The artists that we interviewed we all became family. When I saw the film it just kept coming up in my mind over and over again, it was just, wow I can’t believe we did it. As far as tribulations, there was a lot of them. We each took turns electing each other the president to fix them. It would depend on which problem it was. I was usually the ambassador for a lot of things. Joe and I wrote the story, and June and him edited it. It was a lot involved but it was one big family.

GPKNews – In the movie you talk a little bit about your time as Art Director at Topps during the ANS/Flashback GPK days. What GPK set during your Art Director days were you the most proud of?

JZ – I guess two of them, Series 4 I liked a lot. I don’t know why, I don’t remember why, but I think maybe it was the first time I did sketch cards. It was the first time Topps said, you know what, maybe you know how to do this better than us. That was then when I got to focus more on the artists I thought were doing well. It was the beginning of me trying to get a little more control of it. I never did get that control. It was only when I left when things were changing and a lot of bosses were leaving who used to really control that stuff. I said nobody is looking, let me go back to the original design and don’t have busy backgrounds. That was the magnet set. So the magnet set and series 4 was one of my favorites that stick out in my mind. Also which one has Orange Julius in it? (Ed. note: ANS 6 card 1a.) I don’t know, but that one sticks out for me because John Pound and I had such a beautiful conservation while drawing that. When he was making the painting that for some reason really sticks in my mind to this day about the orchard that I was describing to him, when I used to go to this orange orchard, and he drew it. He drew everything I described right on there. For some reason when I see it, it’s the epitome of everything GPK during those years.

GPKNews – I know you also worked on many other Topps properties during your time there, what other project besides GPK were you the most satisfied with?

JZ – Believe it or not, and people ask, what was one of your favorite card sets to do? I say it was Hannah Montana. I kind of felt it was at Topps you would go to the archives and you would see Beatles or Monkeys, I’m not saying they did that, but it was that sort of nostalgic card sets they used to do. So when I used to go to playgrounds and walk my dog, I would see Hannah Montana wrappers all over the place. When you’re an editor and you do these wrappers and you see an inch of it, you know its yours. You see it, and yeah that is my wrapper. That was great because there were no sketch cards in it, no autographs, and kids were buying them for the cards. I had to know everything about the show and Miley. Miley became a Wacky Pack fan, and I became a fan of Miley. For some reason I thought, this is bubble gum cards. This is what I was here for. To make bubblegum cards for kids to buy. So out of the weird ones, Hannah Montana was one of my favorites. Then I did WWE. I got to say I wanted to have fun doing that, but I didn’t. I loved doing Spiderman the movie. I thought that was great because I was a big superhero fan. Doing Marvel Legends was fun. But ones I didn’t like….In Sync. I did In Sync, that was horrible. The Toy Stories I wanted to love, but Disney was so hard to work with about getting information. It was always getting mixed up. I did a lot of Disney products. That Club Penguin I hated doing. Let me see which others ones I hated, there was a bunch. I got to say those stick out as the ones I didn’t like doing. Enduring Freedom they had me start doing. I just bowed out because I didn’t like making money out of tragedy, and they respected that.

GPKNews – How’s the work coming on the sketches for the upcoming GPK Trashy TV set? You have shown some of the sketches you are working on via Facebook, they look fantastic!

JZ – I’ve done all the puzzles and all the shaped sketch cards. What I’m trying to do with this one, is trying to be more powerful and cosmic. The characters I really want them to have more dynamic poses, and the backgrounds are going to be very Jack Kirby cosmic looking backgrounds. It might be my farewell set. I don’t know if I’m going to do sketch cards for a while. I wanted to do something different. I’m going to do color and inks on them when I usually do just colors or inks. I’m going to do both, it’s a first for me doing all the sets that way. Each character I’m going to draw from head to toe. So even though there are characters that don’t have toes or legs, you’re going to see them for the first time in this set I’m doing.

GPKNews – During the artist seminar you broke the news that you are possibly going to be returning to doing some final paintings for upcoming sets, is that going to be for the Adam-Gedden set?

JZ – I’m not sure. They sent me a contract a while ago and said, hey why don’t you get back. I told them I was interested. I was always a gag guy at Topps. I did a lot of gags, hundreds of them. I did some for the BNS series I think. I just want to get back into doing some gags. If the gags then might lead to me doing some new paintings. Let’s see we will take it step by step. Topps is changing all the time. The management and the products change. I wanted to wait to when things died down, but I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into them again.

File Aug 09, 12 17 40 AMGPKNews – At the show you are selling your own card set and some prints. Any other projects you have in the pipeline?

JZ – I wasn’t expecting this set until the last minute. I just found stuff on the computer and gave it to Clint Coleman, who’s been a great supporter of this Con and me. I told him lets make some more when I’m concentrating on this. I might do some more alternate universe GPK cards. I think people know my version of Garbage Pail Kids. They almost look like a adults. They are in dramatic situations, and they have realistic humans around interacting with them. I think I want to do a set like that, and do a real one that gives it justice.

GPKNews – Finally what’s your favorite Garbage Pail Kid?

JZ – I’ve been asked that all weekend and I think I settled on Dead Ted. I think a lot of us said, besides dead ted, besides Adam bomb, and besides alien Ian, because I think those are the most popular ones. Which other one? I have my favorites from the All New Series, but those top 3 have always been my favorites. I would say Joe Blow is another one I love, and New Wave Dave. Those guys stick to mind I don’t mind drawing them. I love drawing Dead Ted and Adam Bomb. Those have always been one of my favorites, and Evil Eddie. I always considered Evil Eddie and Adam Bomb to be the Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny of the universe. If you ever see me do the comic books or covers I always try to put them together and have an Abbot and Costello type of thing going. I even did a cover of Adam bomb and Evil Eddie meet Frankenstein and it was based on Abbot and Costello meet Frankenstein, I’m proud of that one.

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10 Questions With…Garbage Pail Kids Sketch Artist Jon Gregory

File Aug 09, 12 02 25 AMGarbage Pail Kids sketch artist Jon Gregory started with Topps working on Wacky Packages sets. He began on GPK with the 30th anniversary set, and is quickly becoming a favorite of sketch card collectors. I sat down with Jon at the GPK-Con in Las Vegas and we talked about how he got started with Topps, collecting as a kid, and what he has in store with his sketch cards.

GPKNews – You started doing pack inserted GPK sketches with last year’s 30th anniversary set. How did you get involved with Topps and doing GPK sketches? Have you done any work for other card sets?

Jon Gregory – Topps is the only card company I’ve worked with. How I got into it is a funny story. I was selling some old Wacky Package material on eBay. I got a correspondence asking if I had certain things in my collection and I didn’t. I happen to see that it was signed, “Smokin’ Joe”, and I thought the guy was being funny using the Smokin’ Joe name. I started thinking about it and starting wondering if that was the actual artist asking about that, but why wouldn’t he have these cards if he was the artist. So, I asked and it turned out it was him. We started talking and I told him I had a bunch of ideas. I’ve been trying to get into this for 20 years and never knew who to contact. I sent him some sketches. He liked them and said the jokes were good so he passed them along to Neil Camera. Then, I started doing the Artist on Demand stuff with Neil. After that I got contacted by Topps do to the Wacky series first. I did 2 Wacky series, then they asked me if I wanted to do Garbage Pail Kids. I said sure I’ll do those too. So I’ve been doing those consistently ever since. If I didn’t sell that stuff on eBay I wouldn’t be sitting here talking with everybody.

GPKNews – What do you remember about GPK from when you were a kid?

JG – The first thing I had GPK was an OS 1 uncut sheet, my mother bought me an uncut sheet. They were selling them at a Ben Franklin, they had them up on a wall. She brought it home and said look what I got. I was like what it this? I unrolled it and was, wow they were cards that were not cut. I didn’t understand the whole concept of it. From there I started buying the packs and everything else and kept the sheet, I have a Wacky uncut sheet too I got the same way. You don’t see those sold in stores ever, so it was pretty cool. I still have them.

GPKNews – Your sketch work is great, you are becoming a favorite of GPK collectors. How is the work coming on the sketches for the next GPK set, Trashy TV?

JG – I just finished the sketches for the new set, I finished all my returns too. When I first started on the 30th I did a lot of pencil work. I think I did almost the entire series in pencil. As I got to do more sets and got faster, at this point there is no pencil whatsoever, its either black and while or full color everything. For the new set I did all my loadeds in full color, all my garbage can die cuts are in full color, all my panos are in full color, some of the standard ones are in black and while, but that’s it. Most everything is in full color. So I was happy about that.

GPKNews – Do you know who your partner is on the Duel Artist sketches? Are there artists you would like to work with?

JG – Eventually I would want to work with all these guys. A lot of these guys are the reason I’m here. I’ve admired them for years, and to be grouped in with them is a little surreal. As far as the duel cards, I got paired with Jason Heil. I just got them before I came out here so I haven’t had a chance to start them yet, but we are paired up on this set together. He seems like a nice guy we talked a little bit.

GPKNews – Have you seen the 30 Years of Garbage documentary that Jeff Zapata and Joe Simko directed?

JG – I’m a bad fan, I have not seen it yet. My copy is in my bag. I got my copy and I’m popping it in as soon as I get home. I was away for the premier or else I would have been at that because it was in New York. I just wasn’t available that weekend. I was kind of bummed about it, but I knew I would see them here and get my copy. I am looking forward to seeing it.

GPKNews – How many of these comic/toy/art conventions do you do a year?

JG – This is my first show. I’ll probably be doing more. I’ve been talking with Jeff Zapata about doing some in our area. I’m sure I’ll be appearing at others in the future. As more and more people get to know me, and get to know my style I’m starting to branch out so its exciting.

GPKNews – This is the first GPK-Con what are your thoughts of the show so far? How has the GPK fan turnout been for the show?

JG – When I first saw the show was advertised I didn’t realize there was never one before. I couldn’t believe they never did one before. When I saw it I wondered if I could get in on it. Then when I found out it was the first one I knew I had to get in on. It’s perfect for me. I’m a newer artist getting a good response, so it would be good exposure for me in the community to go to this. I contacted everyone I needed to just to make sure I could attend.

File Aug 09, 12 02 49 AMGPKNews – At the show you are selling your GPK inspired prints and some of your own artwork. Do you have any other projects in the pipeline either with your own work or for another company?

JG – I’m working on my portrait stuff, that’s big. A lot of it is commission work. A lot of people want their kids done and their grandmothers. I started doing the series of the famous portraits so everyone could see the style. The requests come from those. I’ve gotten a few requests to do the garbage pail kids returns done in that portrait style, which I thought was fun because no one has even done that before. I’m trying to find a little niche for myself to separate myself from other artists. Hopefully it’s a style that will catch on because its one of my favorite mediums.

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

JG – I just got asked this this morning. My favorite garbage pail kid, I guess it would be the most requested I get. I’ve done two the most of any so far and that’s Melton Elton, which I love doing, and Live Mike. I think Live Mike is my favorite and he’s on the back of my sketch cards. I’ve done those two the most and people seem to love the way they’ve came out.

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10 Questions with…Garbage Pail Kids Artist Brent Engstrom

File Aug 09, 12 03 50 AMVeteren Garbage Pail Kids artist Brent Engstrom lends his art to not only the main GPK sets, but also to online and special sets Topps produces throughout the year. As one of the mainstays for Topps, Brent’s art is everywhere. I sat down with Brent at GPK-Con in Las Vegas. We talked about collecting GPKs as a kid, how many pieces he completes for Topps, and the part he plays in GPK history.

GPKNews – You are a veteran GPK artist now, you started back with the ANS 5 series I believe. What memories do you have of GPK from when you were a kid?

Brent Engstrom – I just collected them like everyone else did. When they first came out I had some friends that had them. I would see the cards and start buying them at gas stations. I do remember when I got a little bit older I took them all off and stuck them places. I don’t have any of my original ones anymore.

GPKNews – What got your foot in the door to Topps and working on GPK, how were you brought in the fold?

BE – During the All New Series series I noticed they came back and I was submitting my portfolio around to different companies. I just did it on a whim not thinking much would happen, but I got a response right away. I had a practice painting I had to do to get in. They liked it enough to let me paint another one and then it led from there. It was pretty quick once I got the initial response from Jeff Zapata. It moved pretty quick and I started painting right away.

GPKNews – I assume you finished with the art for the next GPK set, Trashy TV? Have you done any paintings for the first 2017 set, Adam-Geddon?

BE – I have yes, I’ve painted one so far for Adam-Geddon, and when I get back from GPK-Con I will jump into that full time.

GPKNews – How many paintings did you do for the upcoming Trashy TV set?

BE – Right at 40 I think. It’s hard to know because sometimes they push them to other sets, but its right under 40.

GPKNews – Do you know how many total GPK paintings you are up to now?

BE – Having a folder on Facebook I’m able to see the number easily. It’s over 300, its like 335 or something finished paintings.

GPKNews – For the first time you aren’t doing any pack inserted sketches for the Trashy TV set. Was time the biggest issue? Too busy with the art for the upcoming GPK projects?

BE – Yeah as soon as you’re done with one set you start working on the next. I used to have a little bit of a break to do sketch cards but I don’t have a break anymore. I’m not able to squeeze them in anymore so they got pushed. Then there are a lot of new sketch artists than came in and they’ve kind of taken over that.

GPKNews – How many of these comic/toy/art conventions do you do a year?

File Aug 09, 12 04 13 AMBE – Not very many, I go to smaller conventions around my town. They are nothing like this. They are usually comic conventions so no one knows what Garbage Pail Kids are. This is a lot different.

GPKNews – This is the first GPK-Con, what are your thoughts on the show so far? How is it meeting the fans face to face?

BE – That part has been cool. I talk to a lot of them online and its kind of cool to get a face with the name. It’s cool to get to know them and see what cards they collect and which ones they like. Usually I don’t even know if someone likes a certain character until they hand me some cards to sign. Then I can see, oh people actually like that one.

GPKNews – You were interviewed for the 30 Years of Garbage doc. What did you think of the movie? What are your thoughts about being part of GPK history?

BE – I thought it was really cool. I really didn’t know a lot of the early stuff, once it was broken down it was really cool. Its neat knowing you are part of a small group. It’s pretty cool to see, Topps is a big corporation but the GPK scene is kind of a tight knit group. It’s a small group of people and it’s really cool to be part of it.

GPKNews – Finally do you have an all time favorite Garbage Pail Kid? How about the favorite one that you have drawn?

BE – Unzipped Zach, I like him. For one I’ve drawn I like the Bearded Brent. It’s kind of neat to have that. It’s kind of hard to choose a favorite because each set I like one more, but I’d say Bearded Brent.

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10 Questions With….Garbage Pail Kids Artist Joe Simko

File Aug 09, 12 05 08 AMCurrent Garbage Pail Kids artist Joe Simko is a busy man. Not only does he do final card paintings for GPK and Wacky Packages, he has his own trading company, Wax-eye, and he was Co-Director of the recently completed 30 Years of Garbage documentary. I sat down with Joe at the first ever GPK-Con in Las Vegas. We talked about the 30 of Years documentary, his current GPK work, and other projects he has worked on.

GPKNews – First off, congratulations on the 30 Years of Garbage Doc. I got my backer package in the mail and watched it, it was great, I really enjoyed it. What has struck you about the reaction the movie is getting?

Joe Simko – It’s been great, the energy and the actual reception we’ve been getting has been very enthusiastic. We’re really pleased how it turned out. When we had the premier in New York City in July, there was a really nice packed crowd that was just very welcoming. I think they were waiting for this to finally be done, and so was I. It was great to finally put that out there and get that excitement, get that feedback back.

GPKNews – You got to work on this project closely with not only another GPK artist, Jeff Zapata, but also your wife, June Gonzales. How was that experience?

30yearsJS – Actually, it was good to have a group of people that I could trust. They were just so laid back enough to let everyone do their parts, but have the energy enough to know what they do really well. Jeff was really important to getting the original creators who made Garbage Pail Kids; Art Spegelman, John Pound, John Pound doesn’t do interviews you know, but as a favor for Jeff you know, ok. Jeff had such an important role in that, it was such a mega deal. When I explored and got other people, not just June, but I got Chud behind me sitting here doing the music. June explored the whole area of knowing this film needed some graphics, some artwork behind it. It couldn’t just be a straight documentary with a bunch of talking heads, which it was, but it needed art in it because it was about art. So she incorporated ideas with graphics, and the notebook. Showing it’s a school atmosphere with the Trapper Keepers and so it really worked well. Working at home and living with my wife, June, is a great way to have a Director/Editor relationship too. If I get an idea I can say let’s do it!, oh no it doesn’t work, ok fine we can move on to something else. We could be very quick in testing things out.

GPKNews – Did you know what you were getting into when you started the project? It took a few years from inception to the premier. What were your emotions on the night of the premier, relieved? satisfaction?

JS -That’s a good analysis of it, yeah. It was relief, satisfaction, excitement, just total euphoria in a way. It’s very exciting, like you said, we’ve been working on it for almost 2 ½ years with people leaving and people joining the project throughout the whole behind the scenes making of it. The team that we put together really was the best team in the end. The results are shown in the film. We needed to have the premier in New York City. Jeff is from New York, I’m from New York, June is from New York, and Topps is in New York. We were able to bring in some of the original creators; Mark Newgarden came out, James Warhola one of the original artists, and we even had some Topps brand managers come out and approve of the film believe it or not, or just put their stamp on it saying they liked it.

GPKNews – In the movie you talk about collecting GPKs when you were a kid. What childhood memories do you have of GPK?

JS -Gosh I think this going to sound like a lot of similar stories from kids finding them at school or on the school bus. Not really getting it or understanding what they were, but I felt like I needed to know what they were, I needed to have it. Even if I didn’t understand what it was. I needed to have this for some reason. One thing that really forged my memory when I think back about it now is that I made friends with these things. There are ways kids can communicate today with other kids online socially that way, but back then without social media a kid walking up to another kid can be awkward. You have a kid have these Garbage Pail Kid cards, I got some too, I need what you have, so lets trade. I met kids at school, and kids at camp that I became life long friends with.

GPKNews – I imagine work is finished with the art for the next GPK set, Trashy TV? Is it full steam ahead on art for the first 2017 set, Adam-Geddon now?

JS -I’ve done about 6 or 7, maybe 8 paintings for the Adam-Geddon set so far. So its full speed into that one.

GPKNews – How many paintings did you do for the upcoming Trashy TV set?

JS -I painted 32 but got approved 41 or 42 so other artists will paint the others. That’s almost a full set for back in the day.

GPKNews – Do you know how many total GPK paintings you are up to now?

JS -I don’t know exactly, its over 200. That’s just published Topps GPK cards. I’ve done random GPK stuff for Topps that was never published in that format.

GPKNews – How many of these comic/toy/art conventions do you do a year?

JS -Probably two a year; the Allentown, PA trading card show, and the New York Comic Con. Once and a while I’ll do a horror convention. It’s a nice mix of different genres, although its all kind of the same in some ways.

GPKNews – This is the first GPK-Con, what are your thoughts of the show so far? How has the GPK fan turnout been for the show?

JS -I’m loving it, I think it’s successful. I’ve personally had success at my table. The first night was great. This is the place to be if you’re a Garbage Pail Kids fan. Where else are you going to get pretty much all the current artists, you got Tom Bunk here, you have vendors selling stuff at tables, and events happening throughout the whole weekend related to Garbage Pail Kids. Its going good.

File Aug 09, 12 06 38 AMGPKNews – At the show you are selling not only the 30 Years DVD but, you have your own trading card company, Wax-Eye. You’ve released two Cereal Killers sets and the Stupid Heroes set. You are very busy! Any other projects in the pipeline for Wax-eye or another company besides GPK?

JS -You know the documentary was like the big project that was taking up every hour, and now that it’s done my break is just doing Garbage Pail Kids and Wacky Packages for Topps right now. There’s like one or two freelance jobs for a personal custom commission, but no big major projects, I might be doing a poster here and there for a band but nothing heavy duty.

GPKNews – Finally, do you have an all time favorite Garbage Pail Kid? How about the favorite one that you have drawn?

JS -I always say from the original series you go with the namesake, so I like Joe Blow. I feel like he’s a character that can be almost as iconic as Adam Bomb, because its representative of the Topps Bazooka Joe bubble gum they put out. For my own, I like the Nosferatu one I did. It only was released in the Bukimi Kun reprint set, it never made it to a formal GPK set. I have a skateboard I painted of the Nosferatu Dracula in a coffin in that same position. I just copied that directly into a Garbage Pail kid. I like making them really iconic. I want them to be very symmetrical, something that could be on a wrapper.

GPKNews – Thanks Joe for the interview!

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