Gross things fascinate kids. I'm still kind of fascinated by gross things although I shouldn't admit it but I think I can say that Garbage Pail Kids had a hand in that. I still remember my brother's huge collection of them (still much coveted but apparently he gave me lots of swaps years ago which I then lost - I have no memory of this) and he refuses still to part with the 60 or so cards he keeps with his Micro Machines and M.U.S.C.L.E Men (I'm nearly 32, he'll be 30 this year). Every now and then I will try my luck with him and ask if he wants to give them to his loving sister - along with an original Skeletor figure which he insists is his but was bought for a birthday gift for a friend and never given, therefore is NOT his -but he remains unshakable. So imagine my immense delight when I found this book the other day:
This amazing book collects all of the artwork for the first 5 original Garbage Pail Kids trading cards. What's so great about these? They were gross and brilliant. I can still remember looking at certain cards for ages, thrilled at the grossness of the pictures. It's no wonder parents wanted them banned - they really pushed it in terms of decency! I mean, look at Ned Head (below) - he was one I always remembered and still think is pretty bad taste. But these things left a lasting impression on me as a youngster; they were pretty popular at school which I guess would have been about 1988 even though the cards came out in 1985. I can't be totally sure, but I think teachers started to boycott them in our school. I know they were definitely frowned upon.
As an adult (I use this word in the loosest possible way) I still love these things; to me the artwork is gorgeous; I love the painted style that artist John Pound used and it wasn't totally lost on me as a kid that they were a parody of Cabbage Patch Kids. I also love that they hark back to the days when stuff for kids was a bit less "contains mild peril" and a lot more risky. They certainly made an impression on me and I can still remember the taste of the horrible hard stick of bubblegum that would come with every pack. The designers of the book have made a nice nod to this, not only by putting an image of a bubblegum stick on the hardcovers but also by making the dust cover from the same weird greaseproof paper the cards came in. Genius.
They're disgusting and immature, sure, but children still love stuff like this, no matter how much their parents wished they didn't. I still revel in the books I loved growing up and several of them feature potty humour and even now, working in the children's book field, it's still pretty popular; one book I nearly drew but which sadly got cancelled would have been an activity book about gross stuff for kids. My art director excitedly said in an email "We get to draw poo and snot!" which made me wonder if she liked these as a kid too.