How did the love for GPK start? How old were you then (and how old are you now)?
Were you early or late compared to friends?
My infatuation with Garbage Pail Kids started
at the beginning of junior high school (högstadiet), during seventh
grade, in the Autumn of 1985 - I must've been around 12yo. Most GPK
collectors I know now were in grade school (mellanstadiet) at the
time, but I was a bit older. One day, heading home from school I noticed
two kids really into some trading cards in the seat in front of me
on the bus, I leaned forward to get a better look and I was blown
away by what I saw; they turned out to be 2nd Series GPK cards. I
was instantly wowed and won over; that obsession has lasted 35 years!
At the time, I was living in Colona, IL,
a small town outside of the Quad Cities where I grew up - where my
wonder years occurred during the '80s - my brother, Jason, and I begged
our mom to take us to the closest Toys"R"Us to locate the
cards. We both spent our saved allowance to purchase $10 worth of
packs and I remember still needing the 'MATT Ratt' character to complete
my set, even after trading with my brother. I currently reside in
Denver, CO and have been out here for more than 20 years, but looking
to relocate back to my home state in 2020.
I grew up with an older brother having Wacky Packages stuck to his bed board, step siblings that collected MAD magazine, and friends (along with myself) that listened to 'Weird Al' Yankovic, so the idea of parody and satire was firmly embedded into my head already by the time GPK were released - therefore, there was this instant connection with these sticker images that were poking fun at the very popular Cabbage Patch Kids dolls at the time; I'm sure it was very similar for other kids. Plus, they became a hot commodity the moment parental figures were against them and the more news reports and articles mentioned the cards being banned from schools.
It was that perfect period between prepubescence
and adolescence, where you didn't know the meaning of counterculture,
but enjoyed the idea of coolness (GPK) up against, and at odds with,
cuteness (CPK), and your parents and teachers not liking the material.
The cards were everywhere; on the bus, on the schoolyard playground,
in piles on lunch tables for trading or inspection - every kid wanted
the cards, even if only collecting them briefly; for a name, character,
card back, etc.
Unlike most grown ups, the cards really
didn't speak down to children. Even as a youngster, you could tell
the quality of the artwork was topnotch. As a youngster, you didn't
know major underground comix artists had a hand in creating these
masterpieces, but you knew the $.25 cent pack and 5 sticker cards
in your hand was well worth the money and value. The subject matter
on the cards really did expand your knowledge, made you want to draw
and create, broadened your imagination. Every form of entertainment,
be it artwork media, music, video, etc., questions peoples' morals
and values - which is a good thing. However, as a kid, there is a
level of innocence and the cards felt like a language only you and
your friends could understand. The artwork spoke to you; like a secret
from adults. I was lucky, even after my brothers had turned to collecting
baseball cards my mom was very supportive in my collecting of GPK
even though my step father wasn't, she was a firm believer of individuality.
There were some wonderful GPK websites on the internet at the time I started my own pages, but they mainly just displayed information on the actual set releases (card numbers, character names, card images) where I wanted to know who created and painted the artwork, I wanted to dive deeper into the creation and production of the trading cards. Even after publishing my website, it took a year or so to find contacts for the creators and artists and compile the artist information.
I wish I could have been a fly-on-the-wall during the artwork thumbnail discussions, when the ideas were still at a conceptual stage, before the tight pencil and color rough stages. A lot of this earlier material by Pound, Warhola, and the art directors (Newgarden and Spiegleman) still remains unseen and undocumented. I also wish I could've been around to eavesdrop in on the 'naming panel' meetings, when the cards received their final nomenclature.
If you were god for one day. What would you have changed in the story about GPK (except the movie)?
It's hard for me to let go of obsessions
and possessions, so when the 16th Series GPK set wasn't released in
early 1989, it took a while to grasp that GPK was no longer going
to be hitting store shelves, or rather, store counters. If I could
change anything during the history of GPK, minus the movie (UGH!),
it would be to have seen the official release of the 16th Series GPK
set that was shelved and still remains unreleased in it's original
format. I remember writing to Topps in 1989 asking whether the set
would be released
no response. I was well into high school
at the time and most of the collectors around me had stopped collecting
GPK during the 4th and 5th series sets. Even though the card artwork
was eventually released in different ways (All-New Series 1, bonus
cards, etc.), I still feel unsettled as a collector knowing that the
old reverse card material was never printed and that the original
set was never released.
Absolutely. Trading cards always felt a
bit different from toys, per se, without such strict age guidelines
labeled on the packaging. I remember turning 13 and feeling I wasn't
supposed to be playing with toys any longer and a year or so later
I did put down my LEGO, Transformers, G.I. Joe, etc. But as a 'true
collector', after a spell, you definitely go back and start to recollect
this material again as an adult in some form or another. That 'dark
period' for GPK lasted a good decade, right up to the point of publishing
the website. I had to start hopping on the internet for college homework
and one of the first things I searched for was 'Garbage Pail Kids'
which led me to some great sites and discovering eBay around 1998.
I never owned the 1st Series GPK set (only 25 singles in random condition),
so I began recollecting GPK around that time and going full throttle
back to into collecting and discovering more about the cards.
I have a very addictive personality. I
believe one realizes that they're a 'true collector' when one becomes
a completist within their field of hobby or hobbies - and they can't
stop collecting. With music, I always collected every song single,
and this goes for trading cards and their variations
(however, I can no longer keep up with today's pricey chase card material
and parallels), for Harry Potter LEGO (special poly bags), for The
Dark Crystal Funko POP!s (sticker variations), comic covers, etc.
Anything that I collect I'm not satisfied unless I have it all and
until I have it all. And then you turn to the next thing to collect.
I spend 40hrs a week looking at a computer
for work, so I try to limit evening and weekend hours updating the
website and social media pages to 10 or so hours per week; this often
fluctuates during larger retail releases when updating becomes a bit
more time consuming. This past year was very busy with newly licensed
GPK product, and 2020 looks to be just as engaging for the 35th anniversary,
if not even more! It's been hard to find the time to revisit older
pages and revamp and expand on them. Items are always coming in the
mail for my many hobbies, so collecting is never put on standstill!
I first published the GPK website in 1998 (as 'Barren AARON's Garbage Pail Kids Reference Guide') and celebrated 20 years in 2018, which is unbelievable to me - to be plugging away at something for that long. There was a time after 15 years that I thought I'd stop updating the website, I was feeling burned out, but in late 2014 I became an executive producer for the 30 Years of Garbage documentary, that was eventually released on video in 2016, which really rejuvenated my passion for GPK.
I don't sell myself well, I'm a very non-proactive and passive webmaster, so I don't keep track of the number of visitors and page requests; perhaps because it's a very 'nonprofit' project and a pastime I perform as a passion for the hobby, where I remain humble, but the site and visitors definitely continue to grow. I recently placed the website on some social media channels so have witnessed just how diverse visitors are, from an international and even gender level. The visitors in general range from die-hard collectors to easy-going perusers who remember and are fond of the nostalgic characters.
There is definitely a large GPK community
that runs a plethora of different websites and social media pages
for all aspects of the cards, be it for international releases, Cheap
Toys figures, sketch cards, sell & trade, et cetera. Some gather
for the 'GPK' conventions and trading card shows throughout the year.
The website and community has led to some amazing friendships, some
I know will be lifelong - with many collectors and also several artists,
from the original series and from the new releases.
I tend to receive quite a few emails and
messages asking where's the best place to sell GPK childhood collections
- or a parent's collection (I'm still very loyal to eBay), contact
information for the artists (usually direct them to their personal
websites), to verify if a card or uncut sheet might be a bootleg,
for hi-res images of the original artwork (I usually don't have large
images to begin with, and don't have permissions to circulate if I
did, that's why it's usually watermarked), and of course, pricing
(even with the caveat).
Naturally, the 1st Series GPK cards are
most sought after and their respective packs and boxes reach a very
high price. Next would be certain productions of the 2nd Series
and then releases that had smaller production runs, and where releases
weren't as widespread or in demand, such as the the last few releases
like the 14th and 15th Series sets that are harder to locate. Most
Topps releases in the '80s, much like their sport card lines, were
mass-produced so most of the middle releases are still relatively
easy to obtain. Other sought after cards for die-hards and/or completists
would be card variations and/or errors cards such as the ever-popular
9th Series 'no number' 355b card (where the ink has faded and went
missing during the printing stage) that is found in a specific production
run. And naturally, anything with the ADAM Bomb character sells, Sells.
I feel my Original Series collection is as complete as I'm going to get it and I stopped collecting international releases some time ago to focus on other hobbies; aghast! But, I still collect some newer GPK releases, pick-and-choose online material, the GPK Funko POP!s and Mystery Minis were a favourite, and have been more focused recently on some of the newer licensed product such as the Geeki Tikis, Greenlight die-cast cars, and Creepy Co. product.
My most unique item is a green-ink sketch
card by John Pound from the All-New Series 4 release that never found
its way into the boxes but was purchased directly from the artist
(the first iteration of a 'Return' sketch card); only three known
to exist. But, from the Original Series, my favourite items would
have to be the original tight pencil and color rough artwork, also
by artist John Pound, for the 3rd Series #104 character which is the
mascot for my website and the first 'Aaron' card within the GPK realm.
From the middle releases, my buddy Tom Bunk has placed my name within
the artwork for several pieces, so those cards and some of the final
artwork are my most prized possessions. For some later releases, Brent
Engstrom and Joe Simko have also given myself and website some shout-outs
on card. It's wonderful to be recognized and acknowledged by these
My dream was always to find an Indiana Jones-like hidden tomb of 1st Series GPK boxes since I never owned the complete 1st Series set as a kid, but that dreamed was answered via eBay in 1998 when I was able to hold a 1st Series box, open 1st Series packs, and collate a 1st Series set! When I was collecting international releases I always wanted to find a horde of Bukimi Kun boxes from Japan. I have definitely slowed down on collecting 'everything' GPK due to space and quite a few other interests, but I will always search for new information for the website.
Every artist brings something different,
unique and interesting to GPK, even if it means putting their own
twist on the brand. Pound artwork is probably the most nostalgic,
profound and prolific for me, since that was the only artwork found
on the card fronts for the first two releases and the characters I
have stared at for the longest period of time since 1985. His paint
strokes are quite effortless and masterful. I grew up with MAD magazine,
so I was also attracted to the reverse card artwork by Bunk and the
introduction of his artwork style to the front of the cards for the
3rd Series set and Warhola's for the 6th Series set.
GPK Collecting feels very generational
now; some 'kids' started with Original Series, some started with All-New
Series, and others with later releases. Collectors tend to enjoy what
they find aesthetically pleasing, so start with releases by artists
that you're drawn to. Most people want to collect the Original Series,
which started the phenomenon, but this isn't always feasible. I know
some collectors that only like the Brand-New Series releases. Some
'piecemeal' their collections by only collecting certain cards from
various new releases. It's very hard to be a completist in this day-and-age,
especially with the amount of chase and online material.