10 Questions With..Garbage Pail Kids Sketch Artist Vincenzo “Chenduz” D’Ippolito

Chenduz has been a fan favorite sketch artist for a number of sets now, a sketch card veteran. Sitting down with Vincenzo at the Gross Card Con in Las Vegas was a highlight. He was so appreciative of being able to attend. His attitude was contagious. You could tell he loved meeting the GPK artists and collectors. GPK collectors kept him busy during the show with commission requests. In the interview we talk about how he first found GPKs as a kid, how the kids in the Netherlands would battle for the cards, and what the future holds for his sketch art.

GPKNews – You started doing GPK sketches with the 2015S1 set. Dare I say you are one of the GPK sketch veterans now. You live in the Netherlands, how does someone living overseas get the attention of Topps, and hired on to work on sketches?

Vincenzo D’Ippolito – Well I actually don’t know. I started doing fan art. On the forums some guy saw my sketch card, and he offered to buy the card. I said sure, I was not expecting that. That started the ball rolling. I think it started off there.

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

VD – I started on the Wacky Packages Old School Series 5. After that I had to prove myself again with Wacky Packages set 2014 series 1. After that I got the invite for GPK 2015. Now for Topps I’m doing Star Wars and Walking Dead. I’m also working for Upper Deck, I did a Spiderman set last year. I have a new project coming up for Upper Deck. I worked with Neal Camera on the Monster series. I’m on the list for Cryptozoic. I just missed the boat for Rick and Morty, but I will help on the next set I hope.

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

VD – Yeah, there was one day I was in the mall with my mom and little brother. We were grocery shopping and my eye caught the pink packs in the cigarette section. I said what is that? I picked it up and just bought it for the gum. I wasn’t even sure what it was. It’s like you bought a piece of gum and three cards came with it. Then you saw all these funny faces. Then when you arrived at school it was crazy. People were trading the cards. In the Netherlands we battled each other with the cards. We played a game where you throw the card against the wall. The one who’s closest to the wall, won. So we battled.

GPKNews – How hard was it to get your hands on cards back then? Did you collect the European releases or the US releases?

VD – The cards were everywhere. If you went around the corner where they sold the candy there were 400 wrappers everywhere. The most series we saw were the black ones, series 5. Then the red ones, the UK series. These were all the UK releases. One day a kid at school came back from vacation, and he had a bigger Garbage Pail Kids card than I was used to. I was like what is it, he showed it to me and it was Melba Toast. I said to myself there’s more than series 6 out there. He told us these are the original ones. The arrow was different, it was pointing to the die-cut. I asked him to battle that card. I put up like 30 UK cards, and we started throwing against the wall, and I won. That’s my first US card, and I still have it at home. That’s how I discovered US GPKs.

GPKNews – What was the GPK collecting community like back then? Did you have friends that collected? 

VD – Yes mostly the guys, I don’t remember any girls playing with the cards. The kids had stacks of cards in their backpacks with elastic around them. Nobody cared about mint condition. It was all about the quantity. We would put up stacks against each other, it was three straight years in a row.

GPKNews – How is the collecting community in Netherlands now? Do you know anyone there that collects?

VD – Yeah I know a couple of guys that collect. There is one friend of mine, Stephen, he lives around the corner from me. He’s a huge collector. He collects final art. My brother is a huge collector. I still try to fill out everything, besides the parallels because it gets a little extreme. For me base sets are like the main thing, and I always pick a character with a nice autograph. The most I like is my name, Vinnie or Vincent.

GPKNews – You have been a sketch card fan favorite. Collectors look forward to seeing your work each release. You’ve done sketches on 8 releases now. Is it hard to keep things from getting stale? What do you do differently each release? 

VD – For me even if I have to draw Adam Bomb 10 times, it comes out different 10 times. It depends on the day and the mood. You want to keep on changing, you want to add new colors. I did the half tone dots and the splash. You want to keep improving and surprise the people with a nice card. I can’t get enough of the Garbage Pail Kids.

GPKNews – So far you’ve only done sketches for GPK. Have you thought about trying your hand are doing final card paintings?

VD – Wow, I don’t think its up to me. I’ve already showed my dedication to the brand. I’m still going hard core. I really hope to do a final art one day. Even if its just one, I would love to do it.

GPKNews – This is your first GCC. Do you attend cons in the Netherlands as an artist?

VD – We did one in 2016, in my home town of Rotterdam. The excitement was beyond the sketch card part I’m doing. We don’t have Garbage Pail Kids anymore at the moment in Holland. Non-Sports cards are not big, so its really difficult. They walk by and say they remember them from when they were a kid, and they ask about the cards, but not really for the sketch cards. For me sitting there is tough. Being here is like a dream come true. Everybody knows you, I get requests. Its beyond what I expected.

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

VD – Wow, its mind blowing. I should be on the other side of the tables. Meeting all the artists I admire and look up to. They are so friendly. Even the fans its ridiculous. I didn’t know so many people were into my art and sketch cards. Shaking hands and spreading the love, that’s the thing. GPK is all day every day.

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

VD – My number one, its difficult. You can’t beat Adam Bomb, he’s like the plush toy you take to sleep. If I have to choose one, its the Dracula guy, number one, the vampire, Nasty Nick. Its the funnest thing with the Barbie doll. Its like Alien Ian has the same thing going on, grabbing the girl and being amor. I think that’s my favorite one. All the return cards I get from artists are all Nasty Nick, they know I want the Vampire guy. There’s no C name for that one, but if there was a C name it would be Vampire Vinnie!

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10 Questions With…Garbage Pail Kids Artist David Gross

Along with Joe Simko and Brent Engstrom, David Gross is one of the main artists behind the current Garbage Pail Kids sets. He’s done dozens of GPKs to date, with his biggest contribution set to happen in the 2018S2 set. David is popular on Facebook with collectors for sharing not only the final paintings once release, but also the rejected concepts Topps doesn’t use. I sat down with David at Gross Card Con in Las Vegas. We talked about the lifecycle of a GPK, his thoughts on digital vs. traditional painting, and some changes to GPK he’s lobbied Topps for.

GPKNews – I think more than ever in 2017 GPK collectors have really gravitated to your work. I know you are a Wacky Packages guy, but how much fun are you having working on the GPK brand?

David Gross – I love working on the Garbage Pail Kids, I’m actually enjoying working on them little more than the Wacky’s lately. I’ve been doing probably 2 to 1 Garbage Pail Kids at this point.

GPKNews – You continue to post your rejected concepts on Facebook with each release. GPK collectors continue to get a kick out of the ones Topps decides not to use. What’s more fun for you, coming up with the concepts and the rough, or the final paining of the card and seeing your concept in its final form?

DG – I like both of them. I’d probably say painting them. I stay up all night and talk to Brent, we just paint all night.

GPKNews – How much time on average does it take for a GPK to come to life? From the initial concept, to the pencil rough, color rough, back and forth with the Art Director, and then the final painting? How much time do you spend on each retail card?

DG – I start with a thumbnail sketch. I just start drawing out a general idea until I get the right pose. Then I probably spend about an hour sketching it out in pencil. Then another hour or so on the final pencil. Then paintings can run anywhere from 4 hours for the rushed to get it done overnight online ones, to if I have time, I’ll spend two days on some. The halloween set we recently did I spent almost 3 days on every painting, because I had time on that one. It was a lot of fun to be able to do that again.

GPKNews – I know you are a big music guy, so you had a lot of fun working on Battle of the Bands. I think the work you did on the Halloween set might have been your best last year? What set did you enjoy most working on in the last year?

DG – Easily the Halloween set. Having the time and the subject matter was my favorite.

GPKNews – I know you work a lot behind the scenes with the people at Topps to give the GPK collector a voice. Is it hard to get Topps to understand what the longtime collector wants?

DG – They will listen but they also have the bottom line, so its been difficult to get them to do what collectors feel they should be doing . With Colin for example, he has a tough job because he has to answer to people above him. So he has to make their demands work, collectors demands work, and artists demands work. Its a stressful job. We try our best to do what we can. I think there will be some more changes coming up. I’ve been pushing a lot of stuff and hopefully they will come through.

GPKNews – In the second half of last year I think there’s been some progress towards what collectors are looking for. Especially in the concepts and art, and a little in set structure. Its baby steps, but steps nonetheless. Do you sense some of the things GPK collectors ask for are starting to become a reality?

DG – First thing I’m hoping we get backs, back. I think thats the number one thing, if I’m reading what collectors want the most. I think the Classic set was a good idea that they dropped the ball on a couple things on that by not having backs on there and the arrow and everything else on there that everyone wanted. I think they did learn a lesson on there from the Wacky Packages Old School set. That one sold out in three days. I think if they do another Classic set, they will look at that and try to fix some of the problems.

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?

DG – When I first started doing it, the first things I sent to Topps were digital. That was way back in 2003 or 2004. First thing they said to me was can you paint them, I said yeah of course. So I sent in samples of them painted, and that’s how I got the job doing Wacky’s. I’ve always painted everything, except occasionally on the Wacky’s I do some of the lettering digitally. For the most part I even paint all the lettering on those. I don’t really have an interest in the digital artwork, and never do it myself.

GPKNews – Do you think we will see the day where the main way of creating GPKs or the like are done digitally?

DG – I hope painting continues to rule the day. I don’t think people will want all digital paintings. If you don’t get the textures right they look weird. I’ve seen some stuff where the figures look like the backgrounds. You need to be able to differentiate all the textures. I just think the hand painted quality is much nicer.

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

DG – Great, this has been much better than the first one. The layout of the room is much easier to talk to people. I get to talk to the other artists, which I didn’t get to do last time all lined up in one long row. I have people on both sides of me in front and back, its been great. Last year I brought the rejected books, I started drawing them and I never looked up in two days This time I took some orders, draw them at night, bring them back the next morning so I’ve been able to have a lot more interaction this time around.

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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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10 Questions With…Garbage Pail Kids Artist Neil Camera

Garbage Pail Kids collectors have just started to get to know Neil Camera even though he’s been working on GPKs for years. Starting with Topps in 2002, Neil has mainly focused on the Wacky Packages brand, painting hundreds of Wacky’s over the years. What GPK collectors might not know is Neil has also had a hand in GPKs going back to the ANS sets. Neil has worked on insert cards, card backs, and been one of the primary sketch card artists for years. Finally in the 2016 Series 2 GPK Prime Slime set, Neil had his first main set base GPK card. He’s now a regular with cards in 2017 Series 1, online releases, and the soon to release 2017 Series 2 Battle of the Bands. Neil was kind enough to grant me this e-mail interview. We discuss his history with GPKs, his future GPK work, and the the fact that he might not be the best artist in his own house!

GPKNews – Thanks for taking the time to do the interview Neil! It was great meeting you and your daughter last year in Vegas at GPK-Con 1. GPK fans might not be as familiar with your work unless they are Wacky Packages collectors as well. How did you get your start with Topps and working on Wackys?

Neil Camera – The GPK Con was certainly a lot of fun, wasn’t it?! So, I started working for Topps in 2002. I had just finished a self-published set called “Pranky Products”, which were in a similar vein to Wacky Packages. Coincidentally, Topps was in the process of reviving Wacky Packages and on the recommendation of John Pound, I submitted some of my samples to Topps for consideration in the All New Series. Luckily, they liked what they saw!

GPKNews – Were you a Wacky Packages collector growing up? How about Garbage Pail Kids, what are your memories of those first GPK series in the mid-80’s?

NC – Oh yeah! Wacky Packages were the king of collectibles back in the 70’s! I had almost every sticker. I even took a bunch and ran them through my typewriter and added gags I thought would be funny. Not so funny now that I know what they’re worth! I was a bit older when GPK came out and not as avid a collector, although I found them pretty amusing! In fact, I remember buying an entire series 1-15 collection at a flea market. The funny part is that I could see the seller was having second thoughts and I later went back and told him to keep them. He obviously needed them more than me.

GPKNews – Your first involvement with Garbage Pail Kids wasn’t until ANS 7, when you worked on card backs. What led to the initial work on GPK with Topps?

NC – Jay Lynch. We had previously worked on a lot of Wacky Packages projects so the GPK thing was a good fit. My favorite was the GPK Activity cards. In one instance, we literally spent an entire weekend figuring out how to make one of the cards work correctly (the #10 Rainbow card). The other 9 were almost as crazy.

GPKNews – You continued to work on card backs, some insert sets, and even sketch cards through the next generation of GPK sets; Flashback, BNS, Yearly series. Finally, with 2016 Series 2 GPK Trashy TV we got your first base set card fronts. (The MASH one is one of my favorites from that set!) You did two for the Trashy TV set, and five I believe for the 2017 Series 1 GPK Adam-Geddon set. Do you enjoy painting GPKs? How is it similar or different from painting Wackys?

NC – I typically try to emulate the style of the original creators in my Topps work. It’s the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. So, in the case of Wacky Packages, Norm Saunders used very loose, but subtle brushstrokes (in gouache) and combined it with dramatic color and lighting, whereas with GPK, Pound’s style was equally dynamic but a bit more choreographed with a considerable amount of airbrush. Two very different styles, but both equally impressive and challenging.

GPKNews – You also have done numerous GPKs and Wackys for the on demand online exclusive sets. I know there are tight deadlines and turn around times for these cards. How has working on those been the past few months? How is it different working on those compared to the retail release cards?

NC – Aside from the crazy deadlines, there are certain aspects of the digital program that I really enjoy: Since we often only get one take on the finished art, I’ve learned to paint faster and looser. So, it keeps me on my toes and as long as I don’t stop and think about it too much, it usually works out well. Just don’t second guess the details.

GPKNews – You’ve also done GPK sketches going all the way back to the Flashback series. You have a lot of fans of your sketch card work. Your sketches, especially the returns, you do are gorgeous. Is this something you enjoy doing each release?

NC – Apart from the brand itself, I really enjoy the format. Having painted wall murals in my early career, I got tired of running up and down a ladder to check my work, and learned to appreciate the convenience of a small canvas! Nearly everything I paint these days is no larger than 8” x 10”.

GPKNews – Recently Topps announced the next retail GPK set, 2017 Series 2 GPK Battle of the Bands, do you know yet if you will be doing any card fronts for the next series? Are you still on board for sketches?

NC – Yes on both counts.

GPKNews – With WP 50th just being launched, what else is in store for the artwork of Neil Camera? Anything else you are working on?

NC – I’m always working on something. In fact, my biggest challenge these days is to learn to say “No” to a project and take some time off occasionally. Easier said than done, as most freelance artists can attest. With that said, there’s one project in particular that I’m especially eager about. It involves music and art, and should be released this Fall. But that’s all I can say about it now.

GPKNews – We had a chance to visit last year in Las Vegas at GPK-Con 1. From a collector’s perspective it was a great experience! I hear GPK-Con 2 is in the early planning stages for next Feb. What was the experience like for you? Do you attend a lot of cons around the country? Did you enjoy meeting the artists and GPK fans?

NC – Because of my work schedule, I actually attend very few shows, so going to Vegas and finally meeting some of the GPK fans was a real hoot! And of course, having so many of the GPK artists at one venue was probably a once-in-a-lifetime event, so I’d imagine the fans that attended were equally thrilled! Definitely keeping GPK-Con 2 on my radar.

GPKNews – Did you get a chance to see the 30 Years of Garbage documentary that Jeff Zapata and Joe Simko directed? If so, what are your thoughts? What are your thoughts about being a part of the long history of GPK?

NC – Great documentary! Fantastic content and very well crafted. Worthy of putting in a capsule and firing it into deep space for aliens to find someday and learn about our culture. Interestingly, I’ve had some discussions with Joe about the idea of doing a Wacky Packages 50th video, but I think we all realize, for better or worse, there isn’t nearly as much drama to that story!

GPKNews – You shared a great story with us when Jay Lynch passed a few weeks ago. He was so important to Topps especially in the early years. Do you have any other Jay Lynch stories you can share?

NC – Jay may qualify as the “World’s Most Interesting Man”, but most stories I have about him would take many pages to do proper justice, so I won’t try here. Someday, I hope to gather all of my recollections in a book and release it as a tribute.

GPKNews – You aren’t the only artist in the Camera family! Your daughter, Halsey, is a fine artist in her own right. We need Dual Artist Camera/Camera sketch cards in the next series! What are the chances we get to see the first 2nd generation GPK artist?

NC – Yeah, it’s getting pretty competitive in the Camera household! If she keeps it up, I may be out of a job! Seriously, she brings so much depth and character to her art, that I find myself constantly looking over her shoulder and learning from her. She’s already started an animation gig with a Silicon Valley software firm. I couldn’t be prouder.

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

NC – This may be your toughest question yet. I guess from an aesthetic standpoint, I’d have to say it’s tough to beat “Adam”, but I really enjoy titles like “Drippy Dan” and “Meltin’ Milton” and “Bony Tony” for their really simple gags and big punchlines.

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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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