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From Cabbage Patch To Garbage Pail

February 8, 2013

Ask me to describe my most memorable 2012 assignment, and I might choose this one: a client asked me to turn someone into a Garbage Pail Kid so they could put him on the front of a t-shirt. Here’s the final:Β illustration that mimics the Garbage Pail Kids bubble gum cards that were a craze and very popular back in the 1980s shows a half-and-half kid one half a normal guy with khaki pants and loafers and button-down shirt, the other half a geek with loud ugly clothes, high-water pants pocket-protector, calculator, toolkit, iPhone, and untidy appearance

What’s a Garbage Pail Kid, you ask? They were trading cards originally released in 1985. Each card featured a kid doing something disgusting, or as the serene victim of some horrible fate.

They were die-cut sticker cards, so you could peel off each kid and paste it somewhere else– where it would be sure to cause further disgust. I had a niece and two nephews who couldn’t get enough of them. Here are some typical examples:three Garbage Pail Kids trading cards from mid-1980s, Haley's Vomit as astronaut puking in space capsule, U.S. Arnie in Uncle Sam outfit picking his nose, Hy Gene shaving skin off his face and bleedingthree Garbage Pail Kids trading cards from mid-1980s, Leaky Lindsay holding huge mass of snot that has dripped from her nose, Slobby Robbie an enormous fat obese baby, Oozy Suzy who has a burning wick in her skull and is melting like candle wax

In researching this post, I finally understood something that had always puzzled me: each of the original cards is numbered, and the number is always followed by either an ‘a’ or a ‘b’– why the suffix?

Turns out they always came up with two different names for each kid, and used the same art for both. A pretty sneaky way to get extra mileage– and money!– from a drawing… illustrators, take note!! Here’s an example:two Garbage Pail Kids trading cards, both with identical art showing alien invader carrying earth woman with flying saucers, example of cards with duplicate art only difference being kid names and card ID numbers

Garbage Pail Kids were a parody of an enormously successful line of dolls known as Cabbage Patch Kids. Here’s what they look like. Sweet, adorable, and crying out for parody– you can almost hear them! That kid at the lower right is sure to become an illustrator someday– there’s no mistaking that dazed and vacant look… Β : )Β three Cabbage Patch Dolls from the early 1980s, one with cabbage leaf and certificate information card, a baby, and a black African American little girl wearing bib and sucking pacifiertwo Cabbage Patch Kids dolls, a girl and a boy with their distinctive bright eyes, fat chubby faces, tiny puckered mouths, and goofy expressions

Here’s how my half-and-half kid compares to an actual half-and-half Garbage Pail Kid. The AS20 had some special meaning for the client, but I don’t know what it was.

It would have been fun to try to mimic the trading card style exactly, but a t-shirt design works best with bold lines and flat colors.

compare between tee shirt art Garbage Pail Kid design half-geek, half-human and original Garbage Pail Kid trading card Glandular Angela showing kid who is half-girl, half-boy

Here’s a close-up:detail image for illustration that mimics the Garbage Pail Kids bubble gum cards that were a craze and very popular back in the 1980s shows a half-and-half kid one half a normal guy with khaki pants and loafers and button-down shirt, the other half a geek with loud ugly clothes, high-water pants pocket-protector, calculator, toolkit, iPhone, and untidy appearance

As previously mentioned, my kid was based on an actual person. Here he is– clearly a good-humored guy.illustration that mimics the Garbage Pail Kids bubble gum cards that were a craze and very popular back in the 1980s shows cartoon kid and real person he was based on, half-and-half kid one half a normal guy with khaki pants and loafers and button-down shirt, the other half a geek with loud ugly clothes, high-water pants pocket-protector, calculator, toolkit, iPhone, and untidy appearance

What do you think? Were you familiar with either set of kids? Ever collected any trading cards? Do you ever get the feeling that parody has become a mindset these days– that we feel compelled to make fun of everything?Β Hope you’ll leave a comment.

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27 Comments leave one →
  1. February 8, 2013 11:16 AM

    I once bought a Cabbage Patch Kids… way back 1996 in NY the one that can chew food (battery operated) but later that kind of doll -eating-food designed were banned because it accidentally chewed a girl’s hair according to the news…anyways I was able to bring it home to Philippines for my daughters to play with it… πŸ™‚

    And what a good looking kid you have Mark :)… but I don’t see any resemblance at all? hehehe πŸ˜›

    Thanks for this post and as always, it is very interesting and entertaining too πŸ™‚ mmwahhhh!


    • February 14, 2013 11:01 AM

      I used to have one of those dolls that chewed hair. It saved me a lot of money on haircuts… : P

      What? You didn’t see any resemblance between the guy and the GP Kid?? I suspect you were wearing your big Dentist Goggles. Please take them off and look again… : P

      Always a pleasure, my dear Dolly! : )


  2. February 8, 2013 1:05 PM

    I remember the Cabbage Patch Kids. They were a massive phenomenon. I still don’t get it. πŸ˜‰ My kids were too young for the garbage pail kids, so we missed that. We were in the first big wave of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Great T-shirt design, Mark. I think we all have at least two sides. Wonder what the grown up Cabbage Patch Kids look like now?


    • February 15, 2013 11:42 AM

      What would a grownup Cabbage Patch Kid look like?– whoa! I tried to visualize it, but had to stop– my mind didn’t want to go there!! And whatever happened to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?? They must be Creaky Middle-Aged Turtles by now… : )

      Thanks for your very good-humored comment, Jayne!


  3. February 9, 2013 6:15 AM

    Oh wow, Mark, that takes me back, it really does.

    I remember the Cabbage Patch craze. A female cousin close to my age got one.
    Of course, being a young teenaged boy in the mid-’80s, Garbage Pail Kids was more to my interest. I was never much of a collector, and never really bought any of my own, but it was amusing. I remember there was a feature-length movie that was a critical disaster! Maybe a new film will do better, especially if it’s animated… the rubber suits of the 1987 film DID look rather creepy.


    • February 15, 2013 11:47 AM

      Ha! Thanks, Jak. Yes, there’s a wonderful grossness about the GP Kids that would strongly appeal to a teenage boy… : )

      I hadn’t heard about the GP Kids movie until I researched the post. Sounded pretty awful. Guess there are some transitions that just aren’t meant to be…

      Thanks as always for your kind support!


  4. February 9, 2013 1:39 PM

    Your Garbage Pail Kid reminds me of Mad Magazine cartoons. Hysterical. My favorite card from Mad Magazine was a guy who looked like he was so in love and floating above flowers. The front said … “You’ve given me something to live for.” On the back, the same guy had a machine gun and was grinning wildly. The saying: “Revenge.”

    I do remember Cabbage Patch dolls and our frustrating 2-year search to find some for our daughters before we finally forked over a random payment, the equivalent of financing a vacation to Bermuda. (We still have two of them.)


    • February 22, 2013 3:51 PM

      Ah!!– MAD Magazine! I’m with ya, Judy!! I was an avid reader growing up, as you no doubt suspected. You’re absolutely right: GP Kids seem like vintage MAD, the same anarchic sensibility. I know MAD readership has declined in recent years. It’s sad but not surprising. When I was a kid, they used to be virtually the only game in town when it came to parody. Nowadays, “everybody’s doing it,” and not half as well IMHO…

      You’d probably be a millionaire today if you hadn’t bought those Cabbage Patch Dolls for your daughters. See, that’s what comes of having a sweet, kind, giving nature. You and I are a lot alike that way… : P

      Thanks as ever for your delightful support!


  5. robpixaday permalink
    February 9, 2013 1:46 PM

    BWAHAHAHAH!!!!!! this is so GREAT!!!!! He’s adorable and nerdy and cute and funny and memorable!!

    “there’s no mistaking that dazed and vacant look” LOLOL!!!!!!!!!!!!


    • February 14, 2013 10:53 AM

      I knew you were gonna pick up on that “dazed and vacant look” quip! As my dear mother used to say: the truth is often spoken in jest… : )

      Thank you, dear Robin, for your inimitable cheerful support! : )


  6. February 10, 2013 2:27 PM

    First of all, seeing your friend next to your drawing makes me want to go up to your friend and squeeze his cute cheeks! He just looks lovable!

    I’m familiar with both Cabbage Patch and Garbage Pail, but I was too old for Cabbage Patch dolls, and our son was too young for Garbage Pail Kids, so I never had the opportunity to play with either.

    Really fantastic drawing of your friend. Half-Geek, Half Human indeed. πŸ™‚


    • February 11, 2013 11:43 AM

      That reminds me of a book I read: Chubby Cheek Hunter. It was excellent… : )

      Too old for the cabbage, too young for the pail… I think there’s a song title in there somewhere, tryna get out… : P

      I’m glad this post helped compensate for a couple of essential, missed life experiences! Thank you, dear Maddie, for your kind comment and much appreciated support!! : )


  7. February 13, 2013 8:47 AM

    Oh my God Mark! that was ingenuity! I simply love it! You’re so talented!!! I’m just getting the hang on photoshop and Illustrator, it’s complex (at least to a novice designer like me) but its scope are limitless! God bless you indeed!


    • February 14, 2013 10:50 AM

      Ah, a comment like that certainly makes my day, Seyi– thank you! And I predict that someday soon, you will master Photoshop and Illustrator and be designing the covers for your books! : )


      • February 15, 2013 11:58 AM

        Yay! Amen to that, though the training is keeping me off writing which is my original calling! Enjoy the rest of your day Mark!


  8. February 13, 2013 6:27 PM

    I’m wondering what the ‘AS20′ stands for, Mark… I know, I know: Curiosity killed that cute little kitten… πŸ˜‰
    What a nice looking fellow is your client, Mark; and what a great sense of humour he must have…!
    No, I haven’t heard of those cards however, that’s probably ’cause of where I live; you know, that big chunk of ground down-under that line that runs around the middle of our planet. But I know of some kids who have collected ‘trading cards’. What a great deal of fun they had, and the learning experiences from such activities was/is a valuable life tool; so I see no harm and probably a lot of good coming from those activities… (That sounds too serious… πŸ˜‰ )
    What do you mean ‘make fun’ of everything, Mark? Isn’t that the norm…!?! Isn’t that what this seriously minded blog is about….!?! Ummmmmmm…….


    • February 18, 2013 9:46 AM

      AS20… I never did find out what that meant. Oh, well– just another loose end… : P

      I used to collect trading cards when I was a young lad. Back then, they came with bubble gum– which explains why I always had so many cavities… : (

      Always a pleasure to see you, dear Carolyn– thank you for lightening up my seriously-minded blog!! : )


  9. March 16, 2013 2:23 PM

    Oh my gosh! I remember these! Awesome job. It must have been really fun to do!


    • March 22, 2013 8:32 AM

      Thanks so much for that lovely comment! I wish I had a pack of GP Kids I could send you to download, but it’s been awhile since I’ve seen any– they’re worth their weight in gold, of course– or maybe even tin… : )

      Yes, I had a good time with that assignment– a chance to reconnect with my wayward youth! Glad you enjoyed the post, and thanks so much for stopping by! : )


  10. February 11, 2013 11:39 AM

    Super genius illustrator?? I love it when someone includes a full description of me– thank you, Dear Dolly!!!! : P


  11. February 11, 2013 2:48 PM

    You’re very welcome my dear πŸ™‚ Enjoy your gift! xoxo


  12. March 9, 2013 7:11 PM

    Thanks for the pingback– I sincerely appreciate your support! : )


  13. June 26, 2014 5:50 PM

    Very glad you enjoyed the post! : )



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