Hallowe’en Countdown V, Day 8

« So, you see the little snot on the right side, move it two inches to the left and add a little bit of green gleam to it. » — Mark Newgarden, doing some art direction

I can’t help it, Wacky Packages are such a Hallowe’en-friendly endeavour that I keep returning to their fertile soil. First, during our initial edition and again in the second. Just consider some of the who’s who talent embroiled in dreaming up these humble stickers: Art Spiegelman, Norm Saunders, Bill Griffith, Jay Lynch, Mark Newgarden, John Pound, Drew Friedman, Tomas Bunk, Tom Sutton

A Norman Saunders beauty from Series 12 (1975, Topps). And just what is wrong with spinach, pray tell? 😉
If this one looks sharper than you’d expect, it’s because it’s shot from a larger version of the Wacky card that Norman Saunders (re)painted for Topps’ Wacky Posters series, circa 1973.
Ladies and gentlemen, Drew Friedman! « In 1991, I was creating many concept sketches and pencil drawings for the TOPPS company, including for their latest set of the hugely popular sticker series “Wacky Packages”. Mark Newgarden was the editor and art director for the 1991 series, and the writers for the card fronts included Newgarden, Jay Lynch, Jordan Bochanis, John Mariano and myself. I drew about 22 tight pencil images which would (with one exception) be painted by the illustrator Patrick Pigott. » If you enjoy being privy to an artist’s creative process, by all means do yourself a favour and feast your peepers on this gallery of Friedman’s roughs, finishes, used and unused pieces. In this (mummy) case, it’s Friedman pencils, finished art by Tomas Bunk.
From the 6th Series (1974, Topps). Most likely painted by Norm Saunders.
From the 8th Series (1974, Topps)… though mine’s a 1980’s reprint. Painted by Norm Saunders.
From the lucky 13th Series (1975, Topps). Another fine Saunders vintage. Topps would find Mr. Saunders most difficult to replace.
From the 1985 Series. Artist unknown.
From the 1991 Series. Painted by Patrick Pigott.


Hallowe’en Countdown, Day 9

« Who would have thought, in 1974, as I cruised the aisle of the San Francisco Safeway with Art Spiegelman, hunting for likely targets, that our little barbs sent at consumerism and package design would have such staying power? » — Bill Griffith, creator of Zippy the Pinhead

Topps’ legendary Wacky Packages, the bane of school authorities at their peak in the 1970s, have been opening kids’ eyes in the art of tipping over sacred cows for generations. Since everyone’s presumably  well-versed in the classics (essentially the initial 1967 and 1973-75 burst of creativity), it wouldn’t be a bad idea to showcase some newer fare. In the wake of an internet-fuelled wave of nostalgic popularity, the Wackies rose again with their All-New Series (2004-), and their quality is every bit as impressive as it ever was… thanks in part to a plethora of new products to lampoon, greater creative latitude for the perpetrators, a motley crew of grizzled veterans and homely new faces.

For your contemplation, here’s a trio of Hallowe’en-appropriate cards from new series 7 (2010).

Painted by Jason Edmiston from a concept by Mark Parisi

Painted by Tom Bunk from a concept by Mark Parisi

Painted by Brent Engstrom from a concept by Mark Parisi

Brent Engstrom, who painted nineteen cards for the 2010 series, shares some valuable insights (and preliminary sketches): http://monkeyboycomic.blogspot.ca/2010/08/wacky-packages-all-new-series-7-2010.html

And here’s the great Jay Lynch’s (1945-2017) account of how a set of Wacky Packages was created, from idea farm to market: http://wackypackages.org/history/production.html

– RG