3.04.2008

Blast from the past # 1 - Something that was cool when we were kids.

I asked my friend Train to suggest a topic for the first longer article, and I have to admit, I never would have guessed what he chose - Garbage Pail Kids. I feel compelled to also mention here that this article is not designed to plug Wikipedia, in spite of the multiple mentions - in fact, this article wasn't really designed to do anything other than drop some knowledge on you about Garbage Pail Kids - possibly the most random blog starting topic ever.

Train posed the idea to me as something we thought was cool when we were kids, but when we look back on it, they're pretty weird. Now, let's recognize Garbage Pail Kids for what they are - one of the first true, great, spoofs. But also one of the most disgusting children's "collectibles" ever conceived.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garbage_pail_kids

That's a link to the wikipedia page on Garbage Pail Kids. Some random facts, from Wikipedia, about GPK (as they're known today) I wasn't aware of.

- GPK were released by Topps - yes, Topps that made all of the baseball (and other sports) cards.

- There was a live action movie produced in 1987...naturally, it flopped. There was apparently a cartoon series, too, that didn't air in the US.

- There was a trademark infringement lawsuit (big surprise) by Coleco, the makers of the Cabbage Patch Kids. There was an out of court settlement, and Topps agreed to alter the characters to make them look less like Cabbage Patch Kids.

- There was actually a re-release of GPK in 2003 - all new, better quality cards. I feel forced to ask here - what were they thinking? And even more disturbingly, there is a link on the bottom of the Wiki page to this - http://www.garbagepailkids.com/ - again, what were they thinking? Let me say this - the designers have at least kept up with the disturbing trend - this stuff looks even more messed up than I remember it. There are GPK e-cards, a GPK message board, and the two things I find most disturbing - (1) "Raise your own virtual GPK" and (2) "Build Your Own GPK"

Now, let's take a moment to reflect on the origins of GPK. When Train first mentioned this idea to me and we were thinking about it, I remarked that I thought they were designed by two guys smoking weed in somebody's basement who saw a Cabbage Patch Kid in the garbage and BOOM! Light bulb!

But no, GPK were the brainchild of Art Spiegelman...don't recognize that name? Oh, no biggie, he only won a Pulitzer for his graphic novel memoir "Maus" which recalls the struggles of Spiegelman's father to survive during the Holocaust (he was a Polish Jew). Again, check Wikipedia for more info.

So, having seen that, I had to ask myself how he went from Maus to GPK....Now, I could launch into a diatribe here about how Spiegelman is a huge non-conformist, is a very vocal critic of President Bush, and perhaps back in the day he used GPK as a way to show how he thought the world was turning to crap.....Instead of that, though, I'm simply going to speculate he was one of the guys in the aforementioned basement.

Ultimately, Spiegelman got screwed by Topps - when he was negotiating his initial deal, he did not negotiate for any percentage of the profits (apparently this was nothing new if you worked for Topps). He fought with Topps for 20 years, and ultimately left when they refused to deal.

However, after some other critical acclaim, Time Magazine named Spiegelman one of their "Top 100 Most Influential People" in 2005.

(And this guy came up with GPK?)

Time's recognition of Spiegelman makes me seriously question what some of these "influential people" have done to get on the list.

Bottom line - When we were kids, we thought Garbage Pail Kids were cool...looking back on them, we thought they were pretty weird - and seeing this info solidifies the weird label for me.

I hope you all can see that there was really no point to this - Train asked for GPK, and that's what he got, because I can write about whatever I want :)

So, until next time.

-PreView

Other things that will likely appear in the "Blast From the Past" series:

- Transformers
- He-Man
- M.A.S.K.
- Knight Rider
- MacGyver
- A-Team
- Legos
- Tang (Oh yes, Tang)

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