1. What Topps projects
are you currently working on?
2. How many pieces
of art, per project, do you hope to have completed for the release(s)?
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.
4. How does working on Garbage
Pail Kids now differ from twenty years ago?
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?
6. Do you have a favorite
Garbage Pail Kids for the All-New Series releases?
7. With the Care Bears
being popular again, any hopes that Topps will come out with a card
release for the Gross Bears buttons you worked on in the 80's?
8. How was it working on the Gross Bears set?
When I got the job in June of
1985 to create a complete Barf Bears series (that's what they were called
then), I thought, "Oh, my - that's going to be a major headache!".
It was the same time that John Pound was already working on the Garbage
Pail Kids, and Topps, Art Spiegelman, and Mark Newgarden had me already
drawing the cartoons for the reverse side of the complete 1st and 2nd
GPK sticker sets. And, on top of it all, my first child was just
about to be born. My wife and I lived in a one room apartment in Manhattan,
and I had to do the airbrushing (it's kind of toxic) in our tiny, windowless
bathroom! Also, I didn't know anything about airbrushing and had to
teach it to myself the nerve-wrecking way! So I had to find a studio
somewhere else where I would have the space, the peace, and the light
for the work... which happened to be in Brooklyn at my inlaws house
not far from Topps. There I completed in September, the whole Gross
Bears Buttons series, including the box artwork, "wrappers",
and lettering... warts and all!
9. Where else can we find
Bunk art? And what other personal projects have you recently been working
10. What other Topps projects,
other then Garbage Pail Kids and Gross Bears, have you
This interview is republished by permission from Sybil Ferro and the Garbage Pail Kids Misfits Facebook group, © 2020. Interview was conducted by longtime GPK collectors Sybil Ferro, Will Marston, Slippa Chervascus, Roddy Francisco Fell, and Alicia Forrest in Sept. 2020.
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 What is your favourite art utensil? Is there a certain brand piece you swear by?
TB I dont 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, youve created some of the best large scale busy pieces that the magazine has ever seen, what's 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 Wheres 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 contemporaries etc .it's an old tradition to fill up 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 didn't 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 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.