Trash Talkin’ With Former GPK Art Director Mark Newgarden

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

?????? ? ???? ?????, ? ??????? ???? ???? ? ???’? ????? ?? ???????????? ???? ????? ???????? ??????? ?? ??????????, ??????? ?? ?????????, ??????? ?? ?????????? ?? ???? ???????????? ?? ??????, ????????? ??? ????????????? ?? ??? ?????????? ?? ???? ?????????.

??????? ???? ????? ????? ????? ?? ?? ?????????. ??????? ???? ????????? ????? ????? ?? ?? ???????. ??????? ??????, ????? ????? ?? ?? ???????????. ??? ??????? ???? ????? ????? ??????’ ???????????, ????? ????? ?? ?? ??????? ???? ????!


Will Marston – ??? ??????, ??? ????? ????????, ????????? ? ?????? ?? ??? ??????? ??????? ????? ???? ????? ??? ????????, ?????? ??? ????? ??? ?? ?????? ?????? ?? ?????, ??? ??? ?????? ??? ??? ??????? ????? ????? ????? ???. ???? ??? ?????’? ??????? ???????…?? ?? ?? ???????? ?????? ?? ????????? ???? ?????????! 

Mark Newgarden – Thanks Will, my pleasure. 

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

WM – ??????? ????! ??? ???? ????? ???? ? ?????? ???? ????? ?? ?????…???? ?? ????? ???? ??? ???????? ??????? (????? ???? ???? ??? ??? ??? ???? ?? ??? ???? ??? ??? ????????? ???? ?? ??????????!!!)

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

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

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

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

Len looked over my sketches next, as did Art Speigelman who would typically give notes. I don’t recall any specific reaction to that one at all, there were no notes or revisions. It was just another gag, it worked, next. It was filed in the series “OK” pile and ultimately sent off to John Pound (who was just starting at Topps) to use as a basis for a finished rendering. How that Wacky Package was spun off into a series of it’s own is a story that has also been told before…

WM – ???? ?????? ???? ???? ??? ????? ?????? ???? ??? ??? ??? ??? ?? ??? ????. ??? ?????? ???? ? ??? ?? ?????????! ??? ??? ?? ??? ????? ?? ????? ???? ??? “????? ??? ????” ?? ??? ?? ????????? ???? “?? ???? ??????? ?????? ???? ?? ???? ?????”

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

WM – ?? ??? ???????? ??? ??? ???? ???? ??? ?????????? ??????? ??? ?? ?? ???????? ?????????? ?? ?????? ??? ??? ??? ???? ??? ???? ?? ?????

MN – I had been a student of Art’s at SVA and then working with him as Raw magazine was getting underway. I was tossed a few random Topps assignments starting around 1982 or so while I was still at Raw. The first one was to research and write a series of backs for the upcoming Jaws 3D gum card series. They wanted 44 “Fun Facts About Fish” over a weekend. Universal wasn’t releasing the script for some reason & Topps needed a plan B in their back pocket, ASAP. I had written some funny fortune cookie messages prior so maybe that was credentials enough. 

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

WM – ? ???? ???? ???? ??? ???? ??? ?? ??? ?????? ???? ???????? ?????????… ???? ????? ??? ??? ?? ???? ???? ????????? ????? ?? ??? ??????? ???? ??? ??? ??? ????

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

WM – ??? ????? ???? ?? ??? 1980? ??????? ?? ?????? ????? ?????? ?? ???. ??? ??? ????? ? ?????? ????? ???? ???????? ???????? ??? ??? ???? ?????? ???????? ?????, ?? ???? ?? ?????? ???????? ?????? ??? ?????é?

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

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

WM – ???? ?? ??? ????? ?? ??? ???? ????? ?? ??? ???? ?? ??? 80?? ??? ??? ??????? ?? ??? ????? ???? ?? ?????????? ????? ??????? ??? ?????

MN – Night and day. The original GPK was a mass-market product aimed at all kids – not fans, and something they could buy themselves with their own pocket money. Today it’s a pre-sold niche market “property” and “branding opportunity” aimed at rapidly aging ex-kids (with far deeper pockets.)

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

WM – ??? ???? ???? ?????? ?????? ????????? ???? ?? ??? ????? ?? ???? ???????? ??? ?????? ?????. ??? ???? ?? ???? ??? ???? ?? ???? ???? ??? ???? ??? ???? “????????”, ??? ???’?? ???????? ??????????

MN –  I’m not sure what role “inspiration” ever plays, but if the original GPK series was great it was great because of the talents involved and because we all worked our butts off on it. There was a true serious of purpose behind all that snot and puke.

WM – ??? ???????? ????

MN – Cole Porter once said “My sole inspiration is a telephone call from a director”. I tend to share that sentiment, if not the particulars. In other words you need to be pre-inspired, self-inspired and ready for the call.

WM – ??? ??? ???? ?? ???? ??????? ???????????

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

WM – ?? ????? ???????? ??? ?????? ??? ????? ???? ??????? ???? ??? ?? ??? 80??

MN – I’m a perfectionist and never satisfied with anything I work on—so sure, a million things. But that’s just the nature of the beast, especially when the work is deadline-driven and collaborative. After a certain point things are out of your hands. Letting go, moving on to the next project and incorporating lessons learned is part of the drill too. I’m still working on it.

WM – ??? ??? ??????? ????? ????? ??????? ?????? ?????? ??? ?? ??? ???? ?? ????? ?? ???????? ?????????? ?? ???????, ?? ??? ?? ???? ??? ???????? ??????, ??? ???? ??? ???

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

The lawsuit and settlement shook things up a bit and afterwards we had to rethink certain aspects all over again, to one degree or another anyway. In the meantime there were many proposals floated for similar, but completely different series and various other directions we might pivot to. They mostly came to nothing, but it was good exercise to flex our GPK brain cells in new ways. The original GPK really didn’t last all that much longer after the settlement anyway, and then we were on to new adventures.

WM – ?? ??? ????? ???? ??? ?? ??? 21?? ??????? ?? ????? ?????? ?? ????? ????????, ???? ??? ?????? ??????? ?? ??? ??????? ?? ???? ???? ???? ????? ???? ??? ?????? ????e? ???? ??? ???????? ???? ????????? ???????????  ????? ??? ??? ???? ?????? ??? ???? ????????? ??????? ???? ?? ?????????? ??? ??. ???? ?? ?????????? ?????????

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

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

WM – ??? ??? ??????? ???????? ??????????? ??? ?? ?????? ??? ??? ??? ?????????? ???? ???? ? ?????? ?? ? ???? ???? ??? ?????? ???? ????? ??? ??? ?? ???? ??????????? ??????? ??? ????

MN – Topps was located in a Brooklyn waterfront neighborhood that was considered kind of dodgy in those days, so they maintained a company cafeteria to keep employees from wandering into trouble. I recall casual lunchtime intermixing with a couple of sports guys there, but to no great extent, on my part anyway. I don’t think most of the folks in the sports department had a clue what we even did- or cared, for that matter. (And vice versa.) I did learn years later that the negative publicity around GPK created some moments of tension in renewing certain player contracts for the sports execs, which is sort of amusing. For years they kept telling these morally indignant ball players “No, no, we don’t make those things anymore.”

WM – ????? ????????  ??? ?? ??? ???? ????? ??? ??? ?? ???? ??????????? ?? ????? ???????? ??? ???? ???? ??’? ??????? ?? ????????

MN – It’s pretty depressing. Too much of what I have seen is frankly incompetent, so I try not to look. 

WM – ?????, ????? ????????: ???? ?? ? ??? ?????? ???? ??? ????? ??? ?? ??????? ???.

MN – It’s a little late for trouble but here’s a secret: the late great Jay Lynch was a NPD creative workhorse for decades but he didn’t really have anything to do with GPK until pretty late in the game. Why? Well for one reason Jay was working on licensed Cabbage Patch Kids products for a toy company in Chicago at the time and had to recuse himself to avoid the suspicion of engaging in corporate espionage.  

WM – ?????, ?????, ????? ????????: ?’? ????? ?? ?????? ???? ??? ???? ?? ????????, ???????, ??????????? ?????????, ??? ??? ???? ??? ?? ??? ????? ?????????? (??’? ??, ?? ??????? ???). ??? ?? ??? ???’? ???? ???? ?? ???? ? ??????????? “?????? ????????” ???? ?? ??? ??? ??? ??????? ?? ????? ??…??? ?? ???? ????… ???? ?? ??????

MN – It all depends on the gag! 

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

Trash Talkin’ With GPK Artist Tom Bunk

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

This is the interview that EVERYONE wanted to happen but no one believed was possible. An interview so momentous that you’ll need to pinch yourself in the eye ball to know for sure you’re not dreaming…and then even THEN, you might not believe it. Well BELIEVE IT BUSTER! In years to come they’ll ask, “Where were you when Tomas Bunk joined the Misfits for a chin wag?” And you can say, “Right here, in my happy place, with my Misfits.”

Roddy Francisco Fell – Tom, firstly, thank you so much for agreeing to be a part of our artist interview series. We call you the Godfather of the Misfits, so it feels so right to be able to discuss your career.

RFF – Your art often captures the atmosphere of the 1970s New York slums. Can you explain why this is so prevalent in your art?

Tom Bunk – I came to NY in 1983, and was very impressed by the leftover 70ies, especially Harlem. A very desolate city display, pleasantly anarchic…

RFF – Can you tell us about some of your most memorable fan experience? Maybe a fan letter, photo, or in-person moment.

TB – I am getting many letters over the years, from fans who grew up with collecting the GPK, and it was a very crucial time in their lives, and they write to me stories of how much it meant to them buying and collecting and trading the cards. Some write that my work has started their artistic career. I also get to hear great stories when I meet the fans at conventions, not only here in the USA but also in Europe, Italy and Holland. It makes me feel good to know how much my work meant to them growing up.

RFF – What is your favourite art utensil? Is there a certain brand piece you swear by?

TB – I don’t work on the computer, so I have tons of brushes, water- and acrylic colors, pens, scissors, knives, coffee, etc… I love the chaos around me when I work.

RFF – Which piece of art equipment has served you the longest?

TB – My brain, so far. Especially my sense of humor, dark, bizarre, mad, bloody, cute or brute.

RFF – GPK aside, your work as a ‘Mad’ magazine cartoonist is legendary, you’ve created some of the best large scale “busy” pieces that the magazine has ever seen, whats your favourite and why?

TB – They are all different and I like them all. Some are more my own characters (the Beach), some are more quotations (Disney), some are more gruesome (Halloween) and some more innocent (PS Lunchroom).

RFF – On the “busy” theme, I have a friend that says it was really YOU that invented Where’s Waldo? and should be due all of the royalties – what do you say to that?

TB – The crowded scenes go back for centuries. One can find crowded pictures from the 14th &15th century. There is also Bosh and Breughel, Hogarth and his conteporaries etc….its an old tradition to fill up a pages with silly mortal fools. I am just continuing the Wimmel tradition…

RFF – Do you maintain contact with Mr John Pound and do you have any interesting/funny stories about your time when you two were the main artists for GPK during OS3?

TB – John Pound lived in California and I lived in New York, (actually I had a studio in Brooklyn, not far from Topps) and we didnt meet until 15 years later at the Comicon in San Diego, together with Jay Lynch.

RFF – You were involved with the artwork on the backs of OS1 and 2 but not the fronts, is there a story behind this?

TB – At the time when I was working on the backs I was also working on a whole other series- The Gross Bears & Big Bad Buttons. When the GPKs started to take off, John could not work fast enough, so they hired me. I think John didn’t like it because I would paint more stuff around the GPKs characters, and also tried to create some atmosphere. He felt he had to keep up and work more on details. Next to the GPKs I was working on many other series like Wacky Packs, etc… Topps kept me busy around the clock. I was something like a House artist until 1990 when I switched to MAD. This was creativitywise more interesting for me.

RFF – Outside of art… What’s your guilty pleasures? What is some of favorite music and favorite films?

TB – No guilt here, I went through many stages of favorite music, from French chansons to Frank Zappa in the 60ies, post punk stuff, new wave British bands (Joy Division, New Order, etc). Then in NY, I was listening a lot to WFMU, a great university station (they still exist), a wide ranging mix of crazy stuff, European progressive rock, gong, and soft machine. For a while electronic stuff (Thievery Corporation, Air, etc) then back to French Ye-Ye retro music, and now mostly easy Jazz…and everything else…

RFF – Seeing first hand GPK start from its humbled beginnings and knowing where it is at today, did you ever imagine that it would have the cult status it has?

TB – When I did the GPK I was not aware that it was such a worldwide phenomenon. I was so busy working, day in day out, only when I started to see everywhere the thrown away wrappers and the stickers on walls, I kind of figured it out. I am still surprised of the worldwide influence they had on innocent kids. They were for little kids who grew up in the 80ies what MAD was for the previous generation. They were a Wake-Up Call….it was like saying: dont believe what society is telling you!! Grown ups are lying.

RFF – What was the first GPK final you handed over to Topps and what was their reaction?

TB – My first job was a design for a Funny Farm Box, Bubble Gum Eggs, a big chicken blowing a bubble and sitting on colorful eggs…they must have liked it because they used it.

RFF – You and AJ Boot of the legendary GPK reference site are very close buddies… can you tell us a little on how this friendship came about?

TB – Aaron wrote to me many years ago for some information and we became good friends. I had at that time somebody else selling my GPK sketches, but that didn’t work out and Aaron was nice enough to offer me a place on his great website. And thats wonderful, because I have so much sketches and finals to show and sell.

RFF – With all the bootleg sets and fan sets doing the rounds, have you ever thought that you should get the “old band” back together for one final gig? To sit down with Pound, Newgarden and just create something new, fun, edgy and dangerous again? Go on!!!! I dare you!

TB – You cant repeat something like the GPK craziness, and in the meantime we all moved forward, doing other things.

RFF – Only one last thing to say here and that’s cheerio from bunk and cheerio from me! But before you go – Cheerio is such an old fashioned British saying and is now almost your catchphrase! Is there a story there? Where did it come from and when did you start using it?

TB – I stayed once in a hostel in Portland Oregon and in the Bathroom was a sign,
“Please keep the toilet clean, Cheerio!” I just loved the uplifting sound of it. CHEERIO! I still dont know what it means.

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

Trash Talkin’ With Former GPK Art Director & Artist Jeff Zapata

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

This week’s victim for Trash Talkin’ was once the Artist and Editor for comic book companies; Valiant, Acclaim and Crusade Comics. He was Art Director, Editor and Artist at Topps for Wacky Packages, Mars Attacks, Hollywood Zombies and our beloved Garbage Pail Kids. And he continues to contribute sketch cards for Topps, Fleer, and Upper Deck Trading Cards. In 2017, He co-directed and co-produced 30 Years of Garbage: The Garbage Pail Kids Story. Yes, it is of course, the man with the greatest signature EVER, the one and only, Jeff Zapata!

Let’s get to it!

Sybil Ferro – Is working on GPK as fun as you make it look?

Jeff Zapata – GPK’s are fun to draw. My main ambition and concern is keeping true to the style, however very nerve racking when trying to make a new aesthetic. in the style (which is always my main ambition and concern.). The guys who draw the main cards are like big league football players. I find it amazing they can still do dozens at a time and still make it smooth. If given the same opportunities and encouragement as the pros did when starting I think anyone with heart, technique, and commitment can do the same. Once an artist has encouragement and feels confident the art becomes fun.

SF – 30 years of Garbage has got to be something you’re very proud of. We’re now at 35 years and for sure GPK is hotter than ever… how much do you think that documentary has helped shape new fans and reignite old fans’ passion in GPK?

JZ – The documentary was an odyssey for me, Joe Simko and his wife June Gonzalez as GPK fans. Working at Topps for over 13 years in the main office I heard stories that I always wanted to track down and clear up for history sake. The documentary clears the air of the history I always heard and wanted others to hear. Joe had his questions about the GPK movie, fans and overall impact as well. I was originally just one of the interviews. After Joe and our then partner/director Sean Tiedeman (the guy with all the camera equipment and Hollywood connections who actually filmed the movie) heard my stories, I became part of it. We never made a cent. Joe and June are in charge of it really. They put their heart and soul to make it happen . We had some copies that we were able to sell. But that’s about it (for me) after we sold the rights to the distributor . Did it teach some about non-sport cards and the “real” history of Topps? I hope so. That was my intention. I had fun interviewing and helping direct the other stuff too. Joe and June are really in charge of it , deal with the sales etc. and nurse it. I don’t think we’ll ever forget the experience. I hope people get the first 30-45 minutes. It’s what I was very interested in getting out to the public. It can be seen on Amazon Prime, iTunes , Vudu and other streaming websites. Plus, I think copies are still available from Joe and June.

SF – What can you tell us about the new RL Stine book? (Or I heard a rumour…books plural?!?) How did that come about? Who approached who there?

JZ – The RL Stine book. First, I’m at a loss why they picked me. I was in the deep woods collecting antique glass when I received a call. I was asked to do a favor. Concepts which was my specialty at Topps (when I was art director) was asked. I drew concept drawings thinking it would go to another artist. Later I heard they wanted “me” to draw it. Why me?!!! I haven’t talked or asked for a job at Topps for years. Except helping them out with a legal problem a year or so before. So I said yes to the job as if it was a joke. I saw advertising about the book but wasn’t really updated about scheduling. Finally, 14 days before the book needs to be at the printer I’m asked to draw 75 detailed images. I even called several sketch artists to see if they wanted to do it. But they were too busy and successful with sketch cards and not ready to jump in at this point in the schedule as I saw it. And the pressure, timing and pay wouldn’t make it worth their time. So I said, “Damn it, I’m the closest ship to a distress signal to a ship I used to command. I have to do it. I’m the only one close enough to the ship (GPK’s) at that time. I called my friend who knew my inking and drawing style, Fred Wheaton, to assist and help embellish some of my inks. He was a life saver. And we did it! The outrageous deadline dictated the style but I tried to make it like we had weeks to do it . I have no idea what people may think of the art or story. But we did it within 20 days (counting the time with meetings etc). In the end, I think we did a great job considering the delays and last minute rewrites. Some of you may have heard a bit of my record. This was not my first crisis. It was one of many. During it (based on the distress timeline), I did what my training and experience taught me to do. I took the proper steps at the proper time. I did what had to be done , when it needed to be done overnight. Given the same circumstances, I would do exactly the same. Because the steps that I took and the order they took these were absolutely necessary to save the ship. more important than my ship. Nevertheless, it’s a great book and different and made by people trying to reach a different audience. It’ll be a blast to see what the reactions might be. But the next book is even better and we should have more time to do the art.

SF – You are a GPK legend and have worked with all the other big names in the scene. What would you say is your most memorable experience…a moment where you had to pinch yourself to make sure you weren’t dreaming?

JZ – Legend? I’m not sure about that. I’m more like Forest Gump. That guy in the corner of an old picture. Just in the right place at the right time. But I pinched myself every time I worked with Tomas Bunk and John Pound. Jay Lynch and I became close friends. He was at my apartment all the time. Thus, I became friends with Art Spiegelman and others. So I’d say my friendship with Jay Lynch and really get to draw and hang out with him is a big highlight . The Stine book is sort of an homage on what he taught me to do (quickly).

SF – You have been sharing some GPK art in epic comic book scenes…. Will we be seeing the next GPK comic series coming out anytime soon? If not, any other big releases you are excited about?

JZ – Don’t get me started on a real GPK comic book. I thought of origins, the dynasty and locations. What I have in mind for my GPK universe is maybe too deep. I recently pitched a comic but haven’t heard back. I decided to make a website doing the comics I always wanted to do. You’ll see Adam Bomb being made in WWII, you see who Dead Ted really is, you’ll see how GPKs connect through history and how they evolve. Each card will make sense. After working with these guys for years, they kinda whisper who they are, where they came from and who their family is. It’s pretty deep. Dead Ted was born in WWII same time as Adam Bomb. But back then he was G.I. Blow Joe. It’s a long story. GPK’s are more than what you see in the cards. It all has meaning. My first story explains all of this. It has to be done for my sanity.

SF – Do you have a “go to” process to get your creative juices flowing for a job? To get your brain pumping and your fingers twitching?

JZ – What gets me excited and gives me courage when I see a blank piece of paper is Max Fleischer’s Superman cartoon intro. The music speaks of possibilities and amazement. My wife thinks I’m crazy when I play it in a loop. I suggest anyone hear it to kick ass. Also hiking and reading about history gets me going.

SF – What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you, or you can give, to any fellow creative who is suffering from writers/illustrators block?

JZ – I think watching an old movie or listening to a movie soundtrack helps me. This advice I’ve gotten from Marvel Artists. But sometimes I’d go hiking or play an old video game, do yard work, fix an engine, something completely different to get my mind off drawing so I can feel refreshed. But artist block does happen and can be depressing so doing something adventurous helps.

SF – We’ve seen you draw, sing, strum the guitar, feed raccoons and we know you have a mean vintage glass collection – the world of Jeff seems like one giant ball of fun. Is that the secret ingredient for creativity?

JZ – Like I said for the last question, it helps refresh my imagination to do other things that may seem silly, odd, scientific or adventurous. I also like to cook and fix things around the house to loosen up or keep my mind off stressful stuff, I like to keep my hands busy to deal with stress or boredom. I end up taking up hobbies that keep me moving in some way. It helps me fall in love with my stress. I’d like to study magic and look for meteorites as my next hobbies to explore.

SF – Tell us a GPK secret that you could get in trouble for.

JZ – I try not to tell any company secrets (if any), but I think I did already during this interview.

SF – The GPK licensing scene has never been more vibrant and more varied. From GPK Monopoly and Challenge coins to Adam Bomb fizzy drinks and car sunscreens… tell us some of your product ideas that never made the cut? Surely there must be one that we can bring to life now?

JZ – Those are still top-secret. But there was always a pudding dispenser idea being submitted by me or someone. Seems like that was always a cliche idea by every fan and inventor. But I have ideas that I’m still trying to bring forth. Mostly interactive novelty items.

SF – What’s the weirdest/hardest commission you’ve had to do?

JZ – I say this R.L. Stine book because of the last minute timing, weird-funny-story and pressure was way up there. Brought me back to my comic experience. So I used those old comic tricks to get it done in time.

SF – Tell us about your experiences with the GPK super fans at Gross Card con? And are you missing the convention scene?

JZ – The last Gross Con was full of great memorable times with great fans during and after convention hours. I got to know a bunch of the fans better than the last actual Gross Con a couple of years ago and we became a club. Thanks to them I really got an idea of all the type fans that love GPK and how we all can hang out together no matter our occupations, color, gender, etc. We had a ball and still talk about certain hilarious moments. Including when some of them had a whole restaurant sing me Happy Birthday with a cake and all. The joke was it wasn’t my birthday and I just got through explaining how much I hate when that ever happened to me. People were wishing me Happy birthday the rest of the weekend who had no clue it was a joke and we cracked up every time. I miss that show and the gang that goes to it.

SF – We always ask, “who would win in a battle between two GPK characters, but this time we want to ask you, if you had to put a band together what GPK characters would be in there and what would they be playing?

JZ – That’s tough. Adam Bomb lead singer, Evil Eddie Bass, Dead Ted lead guitar, Ray Gun on drums? That’s just top of my head and probably would have a different answer if asked again.

SF – And finally, bonus question! Are you scared that one day you will open an old bottle and release an ancient fart?

JZ – I think I’ve came close. Some of those bottles that still have the caps on after centuries must let out something. I hope i dont discover any diseases. Thanks so much for asking such great questions and keeping GPK alive.

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

Trash Talkin’ With GPK Sketch Artist Kelly Greider

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

Wait…what was that sound? Shhhh can you hear it? It’s the sound of anticipation, expectation, delectation and exhilaration – oh yes… it’s time! More important than water, tastier than taste buds and juicier than a freshly squeezed puss bubble… it’s Trash Talk!

And this week it is our absolute pleasure to welcome Kelly Greider!!!!!!!

Slippa Chervascus – Kelly, what was the defining moment that made you want to be part of GPK/Topps?

Kelly Greider – Probably when they offered me a job, haha. What got me back into collecting GPK and focusing more on sketch card work was a perfect storm of dating a woman who was a big GPK collector, peer pressure from friends, and the release of the Calvin America/Steve Rotters sticker in BNS1.

SC – Tell us about your earliest experience with garbage pail kids? Do you remember your first pack? Where you were…who you were with?

KG – My first pack was an OS4 pack from the Osco in Mishawaka, Indiana bought after my kindergarten teacher banned them from class, thus ensuring every kid HAD to show up the next day with some.

SC – What are your hobbies outside of GPK??

KG – Now that I think about it, I have generally the same hobbies as I did when I was 10. Art is always going to be #1. As far as trading cards, I’m also a big collector of Mars Attacks, Marvel and Carolina Panthers cards. I have a massive collection of Lego, every so often I like to freeform build just to see what comes together. I’m also pretty big into tabletop gaming, primarily D&D because it’s such a great creative outlet.

SC – What/who has inspired you to be an artist?

KG – I’ll do this one in a Top 3 format:
1. My mom. It’s almost like artistic ability is inherited genetically and passed down from the first born in each generation, it’s weird. Check out @dawns_wood_earrings and @dawns_sweet_treats on Instagram.
2. Aaron Warner has been a huge influence on my work and sort of mentor when I was younger. Used to collect the Friday Magazine insert from the Kalamazoo Gazette to save his Adventures Of Aaron strips. Check out his work at
3. Spite. I can do all things through spite, which strengthens me.

SC – What’s your art corner like? Would you dare to share a photo of it? Do you have a ritual before/while sketching?

KG – Oh jeez it’s a disaster area with the loosest sense of organized chaos, so no photos. Like Lenny from The Simpsons, please don’t tell anyone how I live. I don’t have any drawing rituals necessarily but every so often I’ll make a Spotify playlist specifically as a soundtrack to a piece I’m working on.

SC – Ok, imagine the scene. You are the Casting Director for the new GPK remake movie. Spielberg and Nolan are looking to you for advice. Which 3 Garbage Pail Kids should be in it and which 3 actors/actresses should portray them?

KG – I’m gonna run with the assumption it’d be an animated film and just cast voice actors:
-Tara Strong as Messy Tessy, because she’s the voice of every female lead for a reason.
-Peter Dinklage as Brainy Brian, honestly he’s a holdover from attempting to cast this as a live action movie.
-Will Ferrell as Adam Bomb…do you know Will Ferrell?

SC – You have done sketches for multiple sets now, what was it like the first time someone pulled and posted one of your sketches?

KG – I honestly don’t recall the first, it was probably on eBay, I’m kinda shameless about searching the auctions for my name to see what’s been pulled and jow the Kelly Greider market is doing haha.

SC – If you could do a tripitch piece along with two other artists (doesn’t have to be GPK) who would it be and why?

KG – I’ll go with a GPK artist and a non-GPK artist. Chad Scheres for sure, love his work and we always seemed to get paired up when Topps still did the dual artist pano cards. And of course the aforementioned Aaron Warner, working on a piece with him would be a dream come true.

SC – Kelly, you’re about to be stranded on a deserted island, you can bring one item and one Garbage Pail Kid with you… tell us what what and who you’re taking?

KG – A boat and a ragged old Adam Bomb card to act as my Wilson, maybe scream the “Hark, Triton!” bit from The Lighthouse at it.

SC – What is GPK missing right now?

KG – I’d like to see the comics and flipbooks return to the card backs, also the gimmicky lower level chase cards especially Loco-Motion.

SC – What is some advice you can offer new artists wanting to draw GPK or who have just started drawing GPK?

KG – Get an old Cabbage Patch Doll to use for a visual reference. Keep sharing to the groups and hitting up Topps with your work.

SC – Imagine yourself doing art in 2030.. how far do you see yourself going?

KG – I see myself going til the day I die like a lot of the old Marvel greats, which given current events may well be before 2030.

SC – And now the big one! The battle to end all battles. The fight to end all fights! The skirmish to end all skirmish-ish-es?!? Sorry… Jelly Kelly Vs Smelly Kelly?

KG – Jelly Kelly, the fact they made Smelly Kelly a fleshy color instead of red has always given that one a creepy dong vibe about it.

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

Trash Talkin’ With GPK Sketch Artist Jeff Cox

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

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for…let’s get ready to Traaaaaaassssshhhhh Talk!!!!!!

You know the score by now, we ask 13 lucky questions, to your favourite GPK artists, so you can get down and dirty, under the skin, and up the nose of one of the living legends in this sick world of ours.

And this weeks very welcome addition comes in the form of, true misfit Jeff Cox!

Sybil Ferro – Almost immediately after you attended Gross Card Con 2020 Vegas shut down… first of all, congratulations, and second of all, what was your Vegas Adventure experience like?

Jeff Cox – Well, thank you, but technically, I wasn’t invited. Ha! At the time of the announcements regarding who would be there, I still wasn’t an official GPK artist. I had done some work for Topps on Star Wars, but didn’t get my first Garbage Pail Kids invitation until January this year, to work on the Mr. & Mrs. Valentine’s Day set. “Toofless” Jay O’Leary, another GPK artist who lives a few hours north of me, had purchased a table in artist alley, so we kind of crashed Gross Card Con, and they set us up right next to all the other GPK artists. The entire drive to Vegas we were listening to the radio, and even as we approached town, they announced all the conventions that were getting cancelled that weekend. We really weren’t sure if it was going to happen or not, but it did, and it was a great turnout. They shut the city down immediately after we left! Rubbing elbows with all the other amazingly talented artists was definitely one of the highlights of being there: meeting and talking art with Pat Chaimuang and his 11 year old son, Jenye; hearing war stories from Smokin’ Joe McWilliams, Mark Pingatore, and Chad Scheres; hanging out after hours and making more art with David Acevedo, Toofless, and other Team Trash alum Floydman Sumner and “Kid Grimm” Shane Garvey. It was a blast. One night, Toofy and I were on our way back to the hotel, and he tells me about a drawing that Jeff Zapata did the previous year with a sharpie on the wall of the Nerd Bar, a nearby watering hole. So, we walk down Freemont Street to go check it out, and just as we enter, we see Noah Hathaway, the actor who played Atreyu in “The Neverending Story”. It was total luck running into him, and he remembered us from the convention which was being held on the other side of town. We even name-dropped another amazing artist, Bekki Sharp, and he remembered her, too, since he was just in England a week prior and had signed some of her art. It was surreal, the entire experience. The weekend went too fast, but the experience is one that I’ll look forward to for many years to come.

SF – Tell us about your earliest GPK memory?

JC – Going to the mom and pop store just across from my grade school when I was a kid. My best friend, Mike, and I would cross the road at lunch or after school and buy 25 cent wax packs, Icee’s, and whatever candy we could afford with the leftover change in our pockets. We’d flip through those cards on the playground, the back of the classroom, the bus ride home, and at each other’s house during sleep-overs, studying them almost. It’s ingrained as part of my childhood. I had a pretty good stash of OS cards back then, wrapped up safe and secure in rubber bands and tossed in an old shoebox. If you had told the ten-year-old me that one day I’d draw these pee and fecal stained, snot-nosed booger cards for Topps, I would never have believed you.

SF – Who were your artistic influences growing up/who are they now?

JC – Growing up? MC Escher was definitely one of the biggest influences on me. His calculated, mathematically-constructed, black and white drawings are so clean, and his linework impeccable. The impossible imagery fascinated me. I tried several times to emulate his shifting of one image into another without much success. I even had a tee shirt with Relativity printed on it. It was honestly one of my favorite shirts, and I literally wore holes in it. I’d also have to say Shel Silverstein was a big influence on me as a kid. His books were always the most coveted from the library, and you rarely found them on the shelf. He made me appreciate poetry by using potty humor; I mean, the dude spoke straight to my prepubescent soul. My mom also had a coffee table book of Norman Rockwell and the Saturday Evening Post covers that I used to flip through all the time. I’d stare at the pages for hours, and imagine the scenes about to be played out and what each person was thinking and feeling. The detail in them is incredible, too. I have to give a shout out to Bill Waterson, Berkeley Breathed, Gary Larson, Charles Schultz, and Jim Davis for making some of the best comic strips on the planet. I’m also a huge fan of Salvador Dalí. I visited Tampa, Florida many years ago and I still regret not popping into the Dalí Museum. I’m also loving what Lowell Isaac is doing, both with GPK and other projects. I guess because I have such a clean, polished design, that I appreciate the loose, flowing style that he brings to the table. Pat Chaimuang is another GPK artists that’s on a whole other level. The guy does absolute legendary work, a fusion between cartoon and photorealism. I’d love to become a fraction as talented at the brush as he is already. It was an honor to have my table directly across from his at Gross Card Con in March, since I caught a couple endearing moments between him and his son, Jenye, being instructed on color blending and lighting. Truly the master teaching the student.

SF – What was the initiation process with getting through to Topps to become an official Topps Sketch Artist? Describe for us how you felt when you found out you were in.

JC – Oh, fuck. Can I say that? “Oh, fuck”? Lol. The process of getting on with Topps was challenging, to say the least. But I used to remind myself that things happen for a reason, and when the time is right, everything will fall into place. So, you could say it was also a test of patience for me. I would submit a sample of my portfolio every month with a warm, brief introduction about how I’d love to become a card artist and work on projects like Star Wars and Garbage Pail Kids. Lather, rinse, repeat. It took me nearly 11 months to finally get my first invitation, a Star Wars set, “Rise of the Skywalker”. I was absolutely elated! I felt like I had finally reached a milestone I had been pursing seriously for nearly two years straight. You see, in my mid-twenties, I dated a girl who told me my art sucked, and to stop doing it. And I listened and believed her. Because of it, I didn’t do any art at all for many, many years. That is, until March 1, 2018, when I picked up a pencil again and drew my first sketch card. I had heard about sketch cards and thought it was an interesting novelty, drawing a miniature work of art on a tiny, tradeable piece of paper. That first card was Wicket the Ewok, but with the words “Thug Life” tattooed across his belly, Tupac style. It surprised me that I still had some artistic chops even after years of dormancy. So, I drew, and drew, and drew some more. I remember some of those first cards took me about four hours to draw and color. But eventually, I became faster and more proficient. Brent Scotchmer and I used to chat and was an incredible mentor to me in those early days, constantly giving me advice on improving my speed and consistency. One of the challenges of working on big sets, especially with Topps, is that you have anywhere from 40 to 100 cards that need to be drawn up according to minimum standards per contract, and you only have three to four weeks to do them all and get them returned back to New York City. So, it becomes a test of endurance, being able to do at least 4 or 5 cards a day, every day, for weeks without break. Easier said than done. But eventually, my persistency won, and after months of submitting portfolio samples, I finally got a response back from the powers that be in the Topps HQs. Be careful what you wish for, because you just may get it.

SF – How many sketches did you have to do for the 35th anniversary set and what was the process like dealing with knocking out the sketches?

JC I did 99 sketches (all the artists that worked on it got the same number of blanks) for the 35th anniversary set, which I literally just wrapped up less than a day or two ago. We all had to do 6 four-card loaded puzzles, 14 die cut shapes (7 trashcan, 7 poop), 3 panos, 3 tryptics, and 46 regular shaped card. Most artists, myself included, did full color. I mean, this is a big set! 35 years of GPK is pretty amazing, and I think we all wanted to push ourselves and really give collectors something special. I’ve seen a ton of artwork from the other artists, and it’s really mind-blowing (I was going to put in an Adam Bomb pun here, but decided to pass, so use your imagination, kids). It was exhausting, an artistic marathon, getting to the finish line, especially considering we had just slightly more than three weeks to meet the deadline, but it was rewarding knowing that our art would wind up in someone’s loving collection. Unless you’re a flipper. Then you can eat a bag of dicks. It’s one thing to sell at fair market value because you’ve got bills to pay, and it’s another to buy low and sell high with the sole intention of profit with zero love for the hobby. But, alas, I’ll step off my soapbox…

SF – What was your best Saturday morning cereal and cartoon combination growing up?

JC – Lucky Charms with Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. Even with all the toy-based cartoons that came out in the 80’s, I always preferred the classic cartoons, where all the characters were voiced by Mel Blanc. Sugar cereal as a kid was also key to Saturdays, and Lucky Charms was like crack cocaine to my young mind. By 1pm I’d be bouncing off the walls, all jacked up on sucrose methamphetamine, getting kicked out of the house to go ride my bike with my friends and play in the woods, only to come back at dusk, covered in dirt, bruises, and bug bites.

SF – Describe your art/sketch corner, where all the magic happens.

JC I have a nice little drafting table in the corner of the basement, which I’ve entirely taken over with my ever-growing vintage toy collection and assorted curios (no, not sex toys, unfortunately). I collect vinyl records and my storage rack of music and the turntable is down there, though I usually put on my noise-cancelling headphones which charge right next to my station where I work. For me, having very few distractions is important to staying focused and remaining productive. I’m too easily distracted by…what were we talking about again? I’ve got everything I need within arms-length: my pencil and eraser, a small army of fine-liners and markers, colored pencils, acrylic paint, watercolors, brushes, and all the necessary accoutrements to get the job done, and more than a few unnecessary ones, too. Proper lighting is also key. I’ve got a nice engineers light that I can position directly over my drafting table and get the right angle of lighting no matter what degree I tilt the table. I keep my laptop and cellphone nearby for reference pics. And then after the work is done, and it’s time for a little r & r, I’ve also got a cushy lounge chair, big screen tv, and several assorted game consoles from the original NES, to first the first and second gen PlayStation, and my Xbox One X. I can watch a little Netflix or Hulu down there if I’d rather just zone out on a television show or movie, or even go old school and pop a VHS cassette in the VCR or pull out a DVD from my classic movie collection. And then, of course, all my GPK are there, too. I can pull out a binder and flip through different series of cards or admire the sketches that I’ve collected (in case anyone needs to know, I have two GPK sketch card focuses: Junky Jeff, and Beastie Boyd. Feel free—emphasis on free—to send me any and all art cards from your personal collections pertaining to these two characters).

SF – What music is guaranteed to get you in the mood to draw?

JC – Wow, that’s a tough question, because I have really eclectic tastes in music. Everything from classical to the heaviest of metal. But no country (with the exception of Johnny Cash, the man in black) or new age crap. One day, the sounds I need might be 90’s hip hop or grunge, the next it might be EDM. Everyone knows I’m a huge Slipknot fan. They’re like Wu Tang Clan, but scary. I’ve seen them a half dozen times in concert, even caught one of Chris Fehn’s drumsticks at a show in Atlanta, Georgia, and they just. Keep. Getting. Better, so they do get me hyped when I’m in need of motivation. But it’s like saying a single grain of sand on the beach is your favorite above all others. There’s so much great music out there, especially the stuff they don’t play on the radio. If you’re only listening to one genre of music, you’re doing it wrong. Lately, I’ve been tossing my iTunes on random for my entire library, just letting it ping pong from artist to artist. It’s actually quite refreshing to rediscover a really great song that you haven’t listened to in the longest time.

SF – What’s in the garbage can closest to where you sketch right now?

JC – An empty box of condoms, a used roll of duct tape, empty cans of energy drinks, a disposable camera, and Velcro gloves with sheep hair caught in the hooks. I don’t want to even begin to tell you what kind of crazy shit went down last Tuesday.

SF – Which GPK sketch artist do you admire most and why?

JC – Pat Chaimuang. I mean, just look at his work! LOOK AT IT!!!

SF – What is GPK missing, what would you change and what do you want to see more of?

JC I love the family relation we have with all the members of the community from collectors to artists and everyone in between. Sure, there’s the occasional douche that comes along and pisses in everyone’s oatmeal, but 99% of the time, we all get along and joke with each other. And I love that. I do have several items on my list that I wish Topps would consider bringing into fruition: priority would be a second and third volume of the OS card books; you know, the one wrapped with a wax paper dust cover that we artists use for card reference? It would be nice to be able to have a hard-bound book with detailed photos of the cards from all 15 (or 16?) OS series, not just the first through fifth series. And, I don’t want to bite the hand that feeds me, because Topps is the company for which we all want to work, since they have the best properties, GPK included. However, it’s usually the smaller Kickstarter card companies that have a more hands-on approach between artist and art director. Those smaller sets usually have high quality sketch card stock, very forgiving and realistic deadlines, and larger compensation per card as well as more returns. I’d love to see Topps become more competitive with the same treatment offered by these other parties.

SF – If you could bump into your younger self, doodling sketches, what advice what you give him?

JC Don’t give up. Don’t stop. Keep pushing yourself and trying new things and new mediums. Constantly be a student. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes; they’re inevitable and it’s how we learn how to better ourselves. Keep a sketchbook with you at all times. Not everything has to be a perfect work of art, and a doodle can be just a doodle.

SF – And finally, heavyweight championship against Deaf Geoff and Junky Jeff. No holds barred, who wins and why?

JC – Dammit! You had to pit your dude against mine, didn’t you, Slippa. First of all, Junky Jeff literally has trash for brains, and Deaf Geoff just blew his brains out of his head with loud music, so both don’t have too much going on upstairs. Not too much strategy, just balls-out grappling. However, Geoff has a boombox, which could be used as a blunt-force object or a sonic weapon. Likewise, the other Jeff could grab one of the trashcan lids in defense. I’ve seen enough heavyweight fights that have gone the distance and came down to the scorecards, I think this would play out the same, it’s pretty fairly matched up. But I think Deaf Geoff would pull out some dirty street fighting move, like a sleeper hold or knee to the crotch, and tap Jeff out. So, it pains me to say it, but decision in favor of Deaf Geoff.

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

Trash Talkin’ With GPK Sketch Artist GPK Nik

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

“Who is going to step into the hot seat this week?” I hear you scream! Well…we thought long and hard, searched far and wide, looked high and low, worked day and night, sailed the seven seas, weighed up all the possibilities and then messaged GPK Nik…and guess what… he said YES!

Sybil Ferro – How long did it take for you to decide on your name?

GPK Nik Castaneda – Y’know I’m not sure actually! I remember setting up a separate Instagram page for my GPK stuff when I was starting out. The engagement was super low in comparison to my other art I was posting at the time, so I thought to create an entirely separate page for this stuff and I’m certain I just thought of “GPKNIK/Garbage Pail Nik” on the spot hahh

SF – Do you have any aspirations to draw sketch cards for any other franchises? And if so would you be TMNT Nik? Etc…or have you not thought that far?

NC – I’d be happy to jump into most any franchise that does sketch cards! I think I saw Fright Rags doing wax packs recently and I think that’d be AWESOME to have sketch inserts in there. Considering there’s alot of crossover between GPK fans and horror fans, I think there’s alotta potential there, of course counting Mark Pingitore’s Horrorible-Kids, which I had the GREAT pleasure of doing 100 inserts for!!

As for having an adaptive name, I think I’d credit myself as just “Nik Castaneda” outside of GPK stuff hahahh. Or maybe just Nik!! I’ve actually considered on dropping my last name. Not for any dramatic family reasons but just because I think it’d be funny to be simply known as “Nik”

SF – You’re easily one of the most creative artists on the scene, and it seems to come so naturally to you – to try new things, experiment and set new trends. Have you tried any ideas that you’ve bailed on with GPK where you’ve thought you’ve gone too far?

NC – Bawwww, I’m fluttering my eyelashes at this one, I really appreciate you saying that, thank you!!

I LOVE toying around with new ideas and stuff. I love that element of surprise where someone may pull something and it just kinda catches them off-guard and that’s like my M.O. To just kinda give long-time collectors something they aren’t used to seeing (or smelling).

As for ‘going too far,’ I’d probably chalk that more up to ‘ideas that didn’t work out so well.’ There’s alot of trial and error with experimenting with different styles. I’ve got HEAPS of pages in my sketchbooks that are like chicken scratch for new ideas hahahh. So there’s definitely stuff that I haven’t managed to pull off or maybe it’s too much effort for too sloppy of a result.

But I’m always playing around with new stuff!

SF – When did you stumble across GPK and what got you in the deep end?

NC – Back when All New Series was starting up, my mom got me a pack while we were out shopping, saying “Ohhhh your aunt and I used to collect these nasty fuckin’ things” So that was when I first heard of them.

But it actually wasn’t until Fall of 2018 that I REALLY fell in hahahh. Some friends and I watch alotta movies together and we once watched the infamously bad Garbage Pail Kids Movie. And I’m naturally a really nitpicky kinda guy and I was SO mad that the movie went in the direction it did hahahh.

The whole time we were watching it, I was like “dude this does NOT have to suck like this” and in the following months, I was almost devising a plan to pitch an animated GPK film to Topps. And when I got a hold of them, they thought I was wanting a position as a sketch artist. So when I looked into what that was exactly, I was like “WAIT, THIS IS A JOB YOU CAN GET!!??”

So then I started practicing drawing the characters and got invited into these groups and started doing commissions, caught the attention of the sketch artists and collectors, who all started rooting for me to get an official position, which I’m SO thankful for, and now I’m blowin snot rockets on official Topps cardstock!!

SF – Life is rough and the struggle is real… What is some advice you can offer to other artists or aspiring artists when times are rough?

NC – Yeah, I feel that bigtime. Uhm, there’s this single panel comic strip done by one of my favorite artists (I can share the image for the comments section) and it usually pulls me up for air when my lungs are full of shitty energy or my batteries need recharging. I’ve got it nailed to my corkboard above my computer, actually.

The artist drew himself sitting with a monk, basically asking “My life is challenging and confusing, what should I do?”

And the monk responds, “I hear you are an artist.”

He attempt to respond, “Yes, but…”

The monk cuts him off and says “Please, make art.”

And that shit just FUELS me. And I wish that kind of positive energy just could infect everyone I know that is sad and depressed about whatever is going on in their lives or their loved ones’ lives, even their enemies’ lives. Like real talk, everyone’s tryin their best, whether you consider yourself a creative person or not. And I think everyone’s got a creative bone in their body.

This is kinda silly but whenever I show family members the stuff that I’m working on, they usually respond with stuff like “shit, I can only draw stick figures!” And I usually tell them that I actually WANT to see what that stick figure would look like.

An artist I admire had recently said something about how emotional and creative expression is far more valuable than technical skill and I couldn’t agree more.

So if you’re struggling, I’d honestly say, please make art. Art can be anything you give meaning to. You can draw, you can write, you can dance, audio mix, interior decorate, party plan, scrapbook, it doesn’t matter who you are or when you started. You’re creative. So create.

If it’s something you REALLY want, it’s impossible to let go of.

Also, TAKE A BREAAAAAAK. Like for real, TAKE. A. BREAK. So many of my friends and family members, peers, myself, we all overvalue “hard-work” and “dedication.” Take naps! Drink water! Watch something! Rest and relaxation are CRIMINALLY undervalued!! Recharge those batteries and don’t feel bad for needing to power down every once in a while!! Seriously. SERIOUSLY. TAKE. A. BREAK.

SF – You’ve crashed into the GPK scene at high speed with refreshing takes.. How would you explain your style?

NC – Thank you thank you very much!! I always like to practice with different styles, so lately, I’d say it’s a combination of newspaper comics, 70’s cartoons, and western-influenced 2000’s anime! I’m big on character design, so I kinda pull my influences from hundreds and hundreds of different places!

The way I’ve approached my artstyles for GPK is to essentially ghostwrite for some of my favorite artists and styles, like “how would my favorite director draw this character” or “if there were GPK greeting cards in that hallmark style,” stuff like that! And it’s always kinda changing with whatever I’m influenced by that week.

SF – Who would you say have been your biggest influences in the world of illustration?

NC – Ooooooh that is SO tough to narrow down!!

Someone that jumps to mind is Rodney Greenblat. He did that comic I mentioned and also created Parappa the Rapper! Love his character designs so much. So simple, eyecatching, cute, and funny!

Another that I’ve been OBSESSED WITH is Masaaki Yuasa. He’s done several films and series and it’s just so hard to explain just how magical this guy’s stuff is. After i grabbed some of his artbooks in maybe 2018, it practically showed me a whole new way to care about art and animation.

Like there’s so much I could say about that guy and the things he makes AND I’m making a recommendation RIGHT now.

He did this film called Mind Game. It’s this incredible BATSHIT animated movie that’s all about this young guy who’s let his life coast by. He meets up with his highschool fling and they both get into some trouble and have to find a way out. And if you look at the way it moves, it’s very well animated but the drawings themselves are really crummy, if that makes sense? I don’t think he’d be offended in me saying that by the way! He’s said “even though we had a big budget for it, we wanted it to look like we didn’t try very hard making it even though we did” Plus it hits you in the face with a new artstyle every couple of minutes. Right up my alley hahahh.

I did it no justice explaining it, his films are basically really sweet and positive life philosophies. The Night is Short, Walk On Girl is another one he did, I recommend that one as well. Walk on Girl and Mind Game are kind of more adult, I know there’s alot of parents in these groups so fair warning in case you check these out! BUT he did another called Lu Over The Wall, which is more family friendly. A really sweet one too!

And lastly, there’s this dude who I feel like alot of people in here would like, JJ Villard. His style is PUTRID and ugly and violent and I love it hahahh. The shit he’s been posting on his instagram is great. It’s like that facebook mom ‘live laugh love’ stuff but if it was done by some shitty kid drawing skeletons all over his in-class notes hahahh. It’s really aggressive self-help and I can safely say it’s given me tons of different perspectives on things I’m going through.

He’s also made 2 shows for adult swim! King Star King and JJ Villard’s Fairy Tales. Fairy Tales is cool because he got alot of horror icons to do the voices. He’s got Elvira in there, Robert Englund, Linda Blair, Finn Wolfhard, lots of horror stars, both new and old!!

SF – We saw your Nintendo World Theme Park concept work, (fucking beautiful!!!), did you ever submit that to them? What’s your favourite video game of all time?

NC – Hahh, thank you!! i did actually submit those in an attempt to get a job doing merchandising concepts but was rejected hahahh. I’d love doin stuff like that. Those get passed around some so i’m glad people think they’d be cool ideas!

My favorite game of all time is Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage!! Really nostalgic for that one. I run through it several times out of the year hahahh

Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze gets an honorable mention!! Playing that games feels amazing.

SF – I can see you as an award winning Creative Director at an Ad Agency, but what would be your dream job?

NC – Damn you with all these compliments! My eyelashes are getting worn out hahh!!

To be honest, GPK is kind of all-encompassing right now, it’s like the BIGGEST thing I care about. Doing sketches has been so much fun.

But I did notice Adam Goldberg saying that he was funding some GPK shorts with Joe Simko and I gotta say, I’d go crazy if I got to contribute to those in SOME kind of way. Like if I could contribute a character design, a joke, a plot idea, voice even the most minor of roles, just ANYTHING. I’ve always wanted to get into the animation world somehow.

I’ve been going crazy lately thinking of a full fledged GPK cartoon and have about a million and one ideas for it. But if I could just be some small part of the production process, I’d wet my metaphorical pants.

SF – You get abducted by aliens. They pass you coloring pens and paper… What would you draw for them?

NC – I’d probably draw them! Whenever I’m with friends or family, I usually doodle them a few times to warm up. Hopefully they’d laugh! And if I’m in a situation where I can understand them and they could understand me, I’d probably ask them what they’d want me to draw!

SF – You’ve mentioned in the past that you have a ton of ideas for a new GPK animation series. Pitch it to us in 50 words, you never know who’s listening!!!! Or if you can’t share that yet, tell us an obscure character you’d definitely bring back!

NC – SHIT OKAY!!!! Starting now!!

“A Garbage Pail Kids animated series that feels as though you’re ripping open a dirty pack and shuffling through the cards themselves, with each containing a 2 minute story or 5 second gag, with TONS of familiar faces in unique off-the-wall artstyles hitting you upside the head every minute!!”

If I had a few more words in there, I’d harken back to the MAD Magazine cartoon they made a few years ago. The transitions between cartoons were super cool in that show. It was like you were flipping through the magazine and tearing out pages and throwing them away.

A PERFECT way to do that with GPK would be throwing a card away after the short is over, or accidentally ripping a sticker while trying to peel it off. Maybe you tear the wax pack slightly and there’s a little character underneath doing something weird,

like Potty Scotty is bathing in the toilet before he notices the viewer and peels the wrapper back over hahah. Or maybe TV Stevie is in a trance and he eerily looks at the viewer. Neat little stuff like that! And you could have reverse card art characters get the animation treatment!

As for the story and gag ideas, I do have a couple in mind but I’ll keep those on hold for now!

SF – What is your favorite and least favorite thing about GPK? Tell us what you think GPK is missing.

NC – Well, my personal favorite thing is seeing so many different kinds of folks enjoying collecting these things for their own different reasons! I’ve spoken to so many different artists and collectors that have each explained to me why they collect or draw it in the first place and have been asked to draw so many characters and tributes for so many reasons that I’m so thankful for and touched by!

I think everyone can agree that we all miss card backs! And it’s great to see them making a return!! More certificates! More report cards! Bring back those little word scrambler games! Bring back the comics! Let me help, I’ve got time! Hahh!

SF – And finally the now our usual fight question to wrap things up…Nasty Nick Vs Lovesick Nick? Or what we really want to know is Markers Vs Colouring pencils?

NC – Hrmmm that’s a tough one! If the sun is shining, all Nasty Nick can do is delivery quippy insults. But if Lovesick Nick is TRULY lovesick (as we’ve all been), his admiration for his one true love would transcend his now withered, bloodless physical form. (as it always does). So, I’d say Lovesick Nick!

I like using both markers and colored pencils but I can say I’ve used markers much more often!

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

Trash Talkin’ With GPK Sketch Artist Bekki Jayne Sharp

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

It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for…the third instalment of Trash Talkin’. We caught up with Bekki Jayne Sharp and asked her 13 questions to find out what makes her tick.

Sybil Ferro – We’re just gonna barge right in and start with the big one. The most important question for anyone who doesn’t know you…Whats so good about the 80s?

Bekki Jayne Sharp – Well what isn’t? How much time do you have? Is there a limited amount of characters for this response?

Haha well to be honest with you for me it was the era of freedom . I was a carefree kid, with no responsibilities. The only thing that matterd to me was trying to save enough of my spending money to buy some Santa Cruz wheels for my skateboard.

There were things I’d never or even the world had never seen or read before that lit my brain up like a Christmas tree.

Like the weird and wonderful worlds of Roald Dahl..Jim Henson..Spielberg I could go on. The imagination and talent of the time was so fresh and innovative like nothing ever before it … which is probably why 80s movies get remade often these days and referenced. The music was great games were so awesome even though we all know they were basic. It was the last decade before the internet came along and ruined everything. Don’t get me wrong I love social media its helped me get where I am today, but if I could eradicate it tomorrow I would.. sadly it’s the only way I can really show the world my work!

I had a rather traumatic childhood and the movies, games and music of the time allowed me to escape.
The 80s holds a special place in my heart and always will.

SF – What is your earliest memory of GPK?

BJS – The Garbage Pail Kids movie was the first time I really found GPK. I’d have been 7 years old..I just remember laughing my head off at these funny little gross characters..soon after I started buying the little packs of stickers . I’ll be honest though it wasn’t until last year that I really got back into it.

SF – Who’s been the toughest character to draw and why?

BJS – FRYIN RYAN !!! I just can’t seem to get his scaly skin right ..if I ever have to paint him again it’ll be extremely close up infact just painting his eyes will be fine.

SF – What’s the wackiest custom commision you’ve had to draw? (Or had to turn down for being too weird?)

BJS I never turn work down unless I’m just really booked up with commissions but I haven’t had a weird custom commission as yet. I’m sure I will in time ..who knows!

SF – You can turn your hand to so many different art styles, was that a deliberate move on your part – to not pigeonhole yourself in one particular genre?

BJS – You know it wasn’t deliberate actually. I’ve just always been able to. I distinctly remember in college having it drummed into me that I NEEDED to have a style or I wouldn’t get anywhere. I could never understand this. Wouldn’t that mean you turning away work or being turned away for work because it doesn’t fit? It made no sense to me. I can knock out some weird creepy sketches from my imagination or paint Adam Bomb with tinsel on his butt doesn’t matter ..I just love art in all forms and the more forms I’m familiar with the better!!

SF – Who would you say are your biggest art influences? Who’s your favourite artist outside of GPK right NOW?

BJS – A couple of oldies..Van Gogh and Dali ..adore their work! Quentin Blake was a master . Drew Struzan brought to life some of my most treasured movies with his poster art. Brian Froud – His work blows me away and of course the late great GIGER! My favourite artist outside of GPK would have to be Christopher Lovell. His vivid imagination and attention to detail is insane!

SF – Do you remember the first piece of art you sold? If so, what was it and did it make you feel any different about yourself as an artist?

BJS – Haha it was my take on an old Lichtenstein painting and it sold on Ebay for £50…how did it make me feel? Filled me with joy that someone was willing to part with their hard earned cash just to buy something I made. I still feel like that today when people buy my work. I am ever so grateful for it! Yeah.. that feeling has never gone away.

SF – The massive amount of sketches you have had to create for your first GPK series…. can you tell us what this experience has been like for you?

BJS – Man..all I can say is ..MY EYEEEESSSSSS !!!
Haha nah it is such an amazing franchise to work on and it’s by far the most fun I’ve ever had painting.

It’s tough though. This job isn’t for the faint hearted. You have to be fast ..accurate and reliable ..deadlines are tight too.But the community has welcomed me with open arms. I’m still quite new to the GPK world..there are some seriously amazing people I’ve had the pleasure to connect with I really hope this is the start of something amazing.

SF – What are your GPK aspirations?

BJS I genuinely don’t know ..I’ve so many ideas I wanna execute it’s just finding the time I guess. Ask me in a year!!

SF – If you made an 80s themed set, who would be your figure head (Adam bomb)?

BJS – Captain Chunk from Goonies of course!!!!!!!

SF – Are there any other franchises you would love to work on, outside of GPK?


SF – If you were a GPK character who would you be?

BJS – Is there a GPK character that’s annoying, short and has a penchant for Guinness?

SF – Who would win in a fight between Drunk Ken and you after a night on the Guinness?

BJS I tend to pass out after 8 pints so probably Ken ..unless I plied him with tequila chasers at the beginning of the night!
Instagram @truffleshuffledesigns

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

Trash Talkin’ With GPK Sketch Artist Barry Nygma

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

In the first instalment of our soon to be regular feature – “Trash Talkin”, we caught up with Misfit favourite, Barry Nygma and asked him 13 lucky questions, so we all get to know him a little better!

Sybil Ferro – Did you collect Garbage Pail Kids when you were younger and what is your earliest memory of GPK?

Barry Nygma – I absolutely was obsessed with them… My Mom would take me shopping about once a week or so and I would always talk her into letting me buy a pack or two of trading cards. I started out with Baseball cards (in ’85, the Royals, my hometown team, won the World Series), but in addition, I also loved comics and cartoon images so Baseball Grossouts and Garbage Pail kids were right up my alley. After a while, it was mostly GPK and I would sit on the floor of the grocery store (GPK and non-sports cards wer bottom-shelf items) and try to use the Force (yes, I was also a Star Wars nerd) to figure out which pack or two to buy…

SF – Who’s your favourite character to draw?

BN – It changes from day to day… I always try to slide a few of my favorites into every set; Janet Planet, Heavin Steven, etc… But really I’m trying to draw more characters that I HAVEN’T drawn repeatedly. Or that get ignored in sketches. Working with quite a few more ANS Kids this round.

SF – Are there any scenes or characters from GPK that you won’t draw?

BN – I don’t care much for a lot of the more sexualized characters. And characters that are playing with poo. Adult GPK aren’t much fun. And after having recieved my only rejected card on a Trump piece, I’m avoiding a lot of political stuff, as well.

SF – Other than in its hay day, GPK has always been quite niche and on the fringes – what do you think that says about us Collectors?

BN – I think that most collectors are fringe people who’s tastes aren’t dictated by any particular cultural trends. It’s a weird hobby for adults to have and most of us still clutch onto that childish side for nostalgia… It takes us back to a wistful time when we we’re young, innocent, the whole future was ahead of us still and we didn’t have herpes yet.

SF – What are your GPK aspirations?

BN – I’d like to do a base card or two someday… But I’m pretty solid with where I am now with it. There’s politics involved with getting to the top in any field and I don’t know that I’m willing to contend with that side of the Art world.

SF – GPK is definitely riding the crest of a wave right now. Why do you think that is and how long do you think it will last?

BN – I think most people who remember them fondly from their childhood are now working and have the money to buy things from their childhood that make them happy… Or they didn’t have them as a kid and never stopped thinking about them.
I think it will last as long as there are crazy collectors willing to splash out the kind of money that things like tiny statues and superfractors demand… Having said that, I still have a hard time wrapping my head around what people are willing to pay for manufactured rarity.

SF – What’s the weirdest reaction you’ve had when you’ve told someone that you draw GPK for a job?

BN – Blank looks, mostly. Then I have to explain what a sketchcard is… Or what a Garbage Children is. Then it’s mostly polite smiles and nods.

SF – Have you missed the convention scene whilst we’ve been in lockdown?

BN – Yes and no… I was looking forward to GrossCon, but couldn’t risk it with my wife being high-risk. I love talking to other fans about what we do and the history of our hobby. Local Cons, not as much. There have been a few that were great and a few that were pretty meh. But for all the preparation and having prints/stickers/pre-sketched cards/comic covers/etc. is pretty time-consuming and takes away from time spent creating.

SF – Are there any other franchises you would love to work on, outside of GPK?

BN – Honestly, I’ve done the Big 3 that I really wanted to do. GPK is always nearest and dearest, but Mars Attacks and Wacky Packages were also on my list. And I did them both, and even got to draw some Ninja Turtles, as well!

SF – What GPK character are you most like? (If you were a GPK character who would you be?)

BN – Probably that Smokin’ Joe character from Late to School that’s covered in a rainbow of paint… I’m always finding ink smudges or acrylic paint smears on my arms and clothes.

SF – What is GPK missing?

BN – I still miss the old fashioned Bazooka Joe style comics on the back, along with the mail-away items. I also miss file folder backs… They both held my attention even more than the front of the cards. Clever writing, great gags, a new bit of art for beloved characters… It was all there.

SF – Who’s your favourite artist outside of GPK right NOW?

BN – Probably Ron English, Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes, Ernie Bushmiller, or Banksy.

Though, not to be sneezed at is the work of many of our fine GPK Artists outside of GPK. John Pound and Jay Lynch’s work on various underground comix blew my mind when I first stumbled across them in my Uncle’s basement, and Tom Bunk’s MAD work is outstanding, as is Denis St. John’s and Lowell Isaac’s comics.

SF – Who would win in a fight between Ray Decay and Toothie Ruthie?

A Dentist.

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