BUNK AND MARK NEWGARDEN; CIRCA 1987
FALL 2005SPRING 2006
PLUS 'SEPT' 2020 BY THE FACEBOOK MISFITS GROUP
1. What Topps projects are you currently working on?
Right now, I am working on... or at least, I should be working on the Garbage Pail Kids All-New Series 5. These days, I am a bit slow due to the chemotherapy and its unpleasant side effects. For the last Wacky Package series I didn't get to do any work for the same reasons. I was slow and weak, and when I could have started, the whole thing was already over and done with.
2. How many pieces of art, per project, do you hope to have completed for the release(s)?
I hope to paint at least 4-5 pieces, depending on the deadline. As usual, I have many different jobs and things going on at the same time, though Topps is one of my priorities. Jeff Zapata (art director at Topps) is very understanding of my situation and gives me a lot of leeway... but deadlines are deadlines. I hope I can do more paintings than mentioned above.
ANS5 - B14 PETE HEAT
3. What did you think of the Sketch cards commemorating the 20th GPK anniversary for the All-New Series 4 set? That's twenty sets in twenty years you've worked on for Topps.
The sketch cards were a nice idea for the fans, so they could get their greedy, collector fingers on some original art. It was also good for Topps to sell more boxes, but for me, it was additional work (for minimal compensation), and because it was shortly after my surgery, radiation, and chemo, I had a really hard time even climbing up the stairs to my studio and holding a pencil. That's why I did only some cards, I don't even know how many I did. The remaining blank sketch cards I had to send back for somebody else to do their sketches. The 20 years commemorating part didn't really enter my mind very much at the time, but now I do think more about time flying away rapidly, and my mind with it!
4. How does working on Garbage Pail Kids now differ from twenty years ago?
Twenty years ago, it was much more exciting to work on the GPK. I had a studio in Brooklyn, not far from Topps. They were in an industrial part of Brooklyn, near the port, a very romantic area... it looked like some great background for Mafia movies, where they get rid of their victims by putting them into cement blocks and dumping them into the water. Well, I went there once or twice a week to meet Art Spiegelman and Mark Newgarden (and other nice people who were involved, like Len Brown and Stan Hart). With the 3rd Series GPK, I started to work on the fronts, but I also did a lot of work on the backs... partly complete series and partly with other artists. I was actually so busy and stressed-out that I didn't realize that the GPK had become a phenomenal rage all over the globe. I remember Art asking me whether I knew that I was involved in something really big... I didn't, but then I started to see all of the newspaper articles about the GPKs crazy fame, and everywhere I went I saw GPK wrappers on the floor, on the streets, and in the subways. I was excited... thrilled... and amazed!
Today, things are just different - calmer, and more professional. In the beginning, I was still learning how to render the work realistically with Acrylic and airbrush. Though it's not as exciting and nerve-wrecking because I am technically more experienced and I feel more experienced, and I feel more confident. But now I do enjoy it very much in another way, for example, I am now getting recognition for the work I do and did for the GPK (and many of the other Topps projects I did). The collectors are now more knowledgeable about the artists behind the stickers, thanks to the fabulous people like you Aaron, who kept the GPK flame on the front burner all of these years - I wasn't even aware of it until Jay Lynch told me about two years ago to check the internet in this regard. Well, in the 80's, the fans were little kids, there was no internet and typically, kids don't really care very much who does what, as long as it's really disgusting - and the most important thing was that their parents and teachers and other grown-ups hated them nasty, naughty stickers.
The other very nice side of the development now-a-days is that because of the increased interest in the art itself, I am starting to sell my sketches and roughs to collectors and fans. Fortunately, I have kept all of my sketches (not because I thought I would sell them one day, but because I can't throw anything out!). Now I'm glad I stuffed every piece of paper into my drawer and left it there all of these years.
5. What is/were your favorite Garbage Pail Kids that you drew in the Eighties?
My favorites are still the first ones: #89 (Hurt CURT/PAT Splat), #91 (BLAKE Flake/Hippie SKIPPY), #95 (Grim JIM/BETH Death), #115 (Warmin' NORMAN/Well Done SHELDON), especially #178 (EARL Painting/Blue Boy GEORGE), #263 (VINCENT Van Gone/Modern ART) and many others. Because they are all somehow like my children, it's hard to choose just one favorite - actually, I wouldn't like to have the GPK as my own children, they would totally destroy my already unstable state of mind! - but I still love them.
#1 FLARE BEAR
8. How was it working on the Gross Bears set?
10. What other Topps projects, other then Garbage Pail Kids and Gross Bears, have you worked on?
There were jobs to do all of the time besides GPK that Topps wanted me to do. I worked on complete projects (with wrapper and box art, etc.) like Stupid Smiles Stickers or Pick'N Chews Bubble Gum. I illustrated two, very funny, little books called The Nursery Crimes (parody of Nursery Rhymes) and My Pal the Pit Bull, both have been finished but they never made it to the stores. I also created art for a whole bunch of boxes: Dino (toys with candy eggs), Wacky Packages (1985), Mutant Eggs, Funny Farm (my first job in 1984), Cheap Toys (GPK toy figurines), T-Shirt Factory, Thumb Sucker, et cetera.
I also worked on various projects like Toxic High, Gruesome Greeting Cards, Iron-Ons, Wacky Packs, Trash Can Trolls, Bathroom Buddies, and there were projects that were created, worked on, but never finished or published - like the Loco Motion cards, with crazy images of x-treme sports, like skating, snow boarding, dirtbiking, surfing, etc. There were also projects that were started, and I don't even remember what they were about! I did practically all the odds and ends stuff that needed to be done at Topps, and I was always around. It seems I was Topps' multi-talented, all-around, resident artist... and when I look back, I wonder how I even had the time to take a breath, let alone live!
This is the interview that EVERYONE wanted to happen but no one believed was possible. An interview so momentous that youll need to pinch yourself in the eyeball to know for sure youre not dreaming and then even THEN, you might not believe it. Well BELIEVE IT BUSTER! In years to come theyll 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 (RFF) 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. 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 (TB) 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 experiences? 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 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 didnt 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 Whats your guilty pleasures? What are some of your favorite music genres 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 humble 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 by 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: don't 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 gpkworld.com, 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 didnt work out and Aaron was nice enough to offer me a place on his great website. And that's wonderful, because I have so many 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 thats 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 don't know what it means.