Thursday, July 9, 2015

A Brief History of the Garbage Pail Kids.

A few days ago, I mentioned the most nefarious trading cards series of the 1980's -- the Garbage Pail Kids. I can't tell you enough how much I loved these blasted things in my youth. As fellow children of the '80s, some of you may already be familiar with the GPK (as they're abbreviated) cards. This article will be a fun refresher for you. Perhaps you're a Millennial just getting into '80s nostalgia and want to learn more. Congratulations -- welcome to one of the nuttiest hobbies that sprung from the Decade of Excess!

The Garbage Pail Kids got their start in 1985. Aimed squarely at the insanely popular Cabbage Patch Kids craze, they were a grotesque and absurd parody. Each trading card featured some zany kid with an odd name. Often times, the kid was weird looking or performing an outrageous activity. Other cards featured kids in various states of death or decay. Even still, many more cards featured a kid with some disgusting bodily function. The horror was endless... and very funny. The GPK concept was the idea of Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Art Spiegelman, whom had previously developed the Wacky Packages brand. Spiegelman is also noted for writing Maus, which uses animal depictions to intricately detail life for Jews in Nazi Germany. Along with artist Mark Newgarden, Len Brown (co-creator of Mars Attacks!) and illustrator John Pound, the first series of GPK cards were massively successful. Fifteen series were produced between 1985 and 1988, before they were discontinued.

In their initial run, Garbage Pail Kids cards were largely the subject of criticism from parenting groups and those with the supposed moral majority. The tawdry, gross-out humor featured on the cards got them banned from many schools. Many parents objected to GPK's use of dark comedy as an affront to God! Obviously, these parents were wrong. I mean, look at me... I turned out just fine!

Topps, the company which owns the GPK brand, began releasing a new series of cards in 2003. They have been in production since then, with a new 2015 set just seeing release. By any measure, the Garbage Pail Kids brand is a qualified success. Also be on the lookout for the very special Garbage Pail Kids 30th Anniversary Series, dropping this summer!

The next time you're digging through your parents' basement or attic, check and see if you had some of the cards from your youth. Marvel at their hilarious illustrations and low class jokes -- you won't regret the feeling of '80s-related goodness that'll rush back into you.

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