Garbage Pail Kids was the brainchild of cartoonist Art Spiegelman – yes, the man behind the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel Maus – who was an underground comix author/artist working as a consultant for the Topps trading card company in their non-sportscard division.
Spiegelman had previously co-created Wacky Packages, gross parodies of popular brands’ labels and logos, and drew up a Wacky Package poking fun at the Cabbage Patch Kid phenomenon. However, when the editors at Topps saw his Garbage Pail Kid, they thought this one might be something more than just a one-off idea.
Series 1 of GPK were released on the world in 1985. The artist John Pound produced 41 unique paintings for the front artwork, while Tom Bunk created art for the parody awards certificates on the back. The cards came in pairs with a number and a letter (i.e., 17a & 17b), using the same artwork, but different names, for a total of 82 cards.
Obviously the creators of Cabbage Patch Kids sued, but there was an out-of-court settlement that allowed the cards to continue. And continue they have well after the Cabbage Patch Kids have come and gone. There were 15 series of original GPK cards from 1985 – 1988, with a 16th planned for 1989 that was never released. But they started up again in 2003 and have basically never really gone away with new cards, reprints, and variants ever since.
I have a bunch of GPK cards from the first four series that I’ll be sharing over time, in series order (but not necessarily card order), with a special surprise at the end!
So let’s kick it off with what the handful of cards I have from Series 1…