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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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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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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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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