Garbage Pail Kids

The Wing's Art Friday Book Review - Garbage Pail Kids

The Wing’s Art Friday Book Review – Garbage Pail Kids

Garbage Pail Kids – Collected Series 1 – 5 (1985 – 1986)

1965 saw the release of Ugly Stickers. A series of grotesque creature creations from Topps, illustrated by the great American Artists Basil Wolverton, Wally Wood and Norman Saunders. Each popular for their work in venues such as Mad Magazine, Marvel Comics, Pulp Paperbacks and the Mars Attacks! series of trading cards. Later came Slob Stickers by Jack Davis and another Saunders creation, Nutty Initials, a series that allowed collectors to spell their names using odd-ball characters bent into letterforms.

Ugly Stickers by Basil Wolverton and Wally Wood. Nutty Initials by Norman Saunders

Ugly Stickers by Basil Wolverton and Wally Wood. Nutty Initials by Norman Saunders

Art Spiegelman credits all of the above as inspiration when, in 1985 he was part of the creative team behind the development of a new range of stickers titled the Garbage Pail Kids. A mischievous parody on the popular and sickly sweet Cabbage Patch Kids range of toys, mixing an underground comic-book aesthetic with dark satire and gross-out humor. What emerged was a pop-culture phenomenon that dominated the typical 1980’s school playground, with adolescent economies thriving on a currency of bogie, fart, zit and puke gags. To well-meaning parents these cards appeared illogical and shocking and school Headmasters across the land hated them, claiming them to be so much of a distraction in class they should be banned! A sure sign of their street cred if ever there was one.

Up Chuck and Fryin' Brian

Up Chuck and Fryin’ Brian

A movie followed (and probably best forgotten, seriously, don’t bother, it’s terrible) and an animated TV series cashed-in on its success. But the most enduring aspect of this series will always be the artwork by illustrators Art Spiegelman, Mark Newgarden, John Pound, Tom Bunk and Jay Lynch, along with the hilarious wordplay employed in creating the character names. So it was via my inner teenager that I sniggered my way through the new Garbage Pail Kids book from Abram Comic Arts. A superb and long-awaited compilation of the complete cards from Series 1 to 5 with text from Spielgelman and Pound. Each card is brilliantly reproduced from transparencies of the original artwork with the characters ‘a’ name taking prominence with the ‘b’ name shown underneath. To further explain; each card was released in two versions, ‘a’ and ‘b’ each with a different character name. Occasionally a third card shared one of the letters as seen in the Holly Wood picture below.

Intro to Series 4 and Holly Wood

Intro to Series 4 and Holly Wood

There are welcome details throughout such as the waxy book jacket, made from a similar paper as the original wrappers and end papers that show some of the joke awards, permits and licenses from the back of the cards. Each series is introduced with a shot of its relevant wrapper and at the very back you’ll find the ‘lost’ stickers. Possibly the biggest draw for die-hard collectors, these are a set of 4 previously unreleased and limited edition bonus stickers.

I was admittedly left wanting to see some more development drawings and sketches as there’s surely plenty available given the 206 cards in the book, but maybe this can come in a later deluxe edition? Here’s hoping. As it stands, this is an absolute must, delivering on the promise to fans and collectors and serves as the perfect introduction to these purveyors of the best possible kind of bad taste.


Garbage Pail Kids – Collected Series 1 – 5 (1985 – 1986)
Abrams Comic Arts
Hardback 224 pages
18.8 x 14.7 x 2 cm
ISBN: 1-4197-0270-X
EAN: 9781419702709


Review by Christopher King (aka Wing’s Art & Design Studio) a Freelance Illustrator & Graphic Designer creating hand-drawn & digital artwork for posters, flyers, books & advertising clients. Also something of a movie buff.

Warrin' Warren and Larry Lips

Warrin’ Warren and Larry Lips

The limited edition 'lost' bonus stickers

The limited edition ‘lost’ bonus stickers

The Topps Company, Inc., founded in 1938, is the preeminent creator and brand marketer of sports cards, entertainment products and distinctive confectionery. Art Spiegelman is an American comics writer, artist and editor best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel memoir, Maus.


10 thoughts on “Garbage Pail Kids

  1. SO excited about this book coming out. I’m glad to hear that the waxy book cover made the transition from the Wacky Packages books Topps has earlier as well. Its just such a crime we have to wait until April!! 🙂

  2. Pingback: Christopher King – Garbage Pail Kids – The Friday Book Review | Illustration and Art News for Illustrators and Artists

  3. Wish they had the original artwork instead of a picture of the card. And then put the A and B names on the bottom along with the artist to give some credit to them.
    Oh well.

    • An artist credit with the card would have been nice, but they are all credited in the intro. The artwork itself is actually reproduced from the original artwork and not a literal scan of the card, so they’re looking better than ever.

  4. Pingback: Charles R. Knight – The Friday Book Review « Wing's Art & Design Blog

  5. I had no idea these gems were collected into a book. I’m not sure what this says about me (nothing I probably want the public to know), but I have a framed Garbage Pail Kid in my office.

  6. This looks pretty cool.Looking forward to getting mine. Really hope they make a few more. I love the HD quality of the art. Wish the name plates werent intact though. I wish it had more of an art look, instead of the cards just bigger. A full review will be a must on the radio show.

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