GPK Monster Madness: Day 4

By Shawn Robare

It’s day four of the 2013 Countdown to Halloween and I’m back with my next set of monster GPK stickers. I decided to sort of group the stickers by themes, and today starts a series of creature/mutant/freaks.  For the first in this bit I decided to share my copies of these series 2 stickers printed back in 1985, stickers 71a&b, Odd Todd and Bent Ben!

4 - Bent Ben

This painting was done by my all-time favorite GPK artist, John Pound. One of the things that I love about these earlier GPK stickers is that the concepts were simple.  Later in the series, and on into the modern era so many of the stickers are a cluster of annoying and repetitive imagery (cracked heads, poop, vomit, etc.), which is fine and all, but there’s something to be said for a simple concept execute well.  The purpose of these stickers was to be a parody of Cabbage Patch Kids, and the idea of a hunchback adorable doll is hilarious in and of it’s own right.  He doesn’t need to be crapping his pants while simultaneously vomiting up five week’s worth of fish lunches.

Once again, I’m also helping to organize the annual Countdown to Halloween alongside the tireless and super cool monster kid John Rozum. So if you like what I’m doing over here, you might want to head on over to the Countdown site and check out the huge list of other sites participating in this year’s spooky festivities. There’s also a like-minded sister collective called Blog-O-Ween being put together by my pal Cody, the Crooked Ninja Turtle Sensi. Be sure to check them out as well.

2013 Fruit Brute 200

  • That is how my back has been all week!

    • Tell me about it, sometimes I wish Ringo Starr or Dennis Quaid would come straighten my back like in that flick Caveman… ;)

  • YES!!! What I genuinely love about you and your online presence Shawn, is that you have this really articulate and accessible approach to explaining what you love about pop culture. Your summation of what was so great about those first great waves of GPK is apt. It’s the absurdity of the concepts rather than the sheer offensiveness that makes them so great. That’s a detail that was sorely over-looked when they tried to re-boot the series back in 2003. They couldn’t pack ENOUGH disgusting references into each card. The newer series they’ve come out with in the past year seem to be trying to really recapture the old magic with simpler set-ups, a return to the old “house style” and more clever gag characters vs. more JUST disgusting ones.

    I’ve often told folks that I found some of the GPK paintings legitimately beautiful. People look at me oddly because they can’t see past the potty humor… but looking at the sheer art and skill put into a John Pound GPK painting when they could have so EASILY just phoned it in… some of those classic pieces just take my breath away!

    • Thanks Derek, that really means a lot, sincerely. Yeah, as much as I love the 2003 relaunch because it gave me a chance as an adult to relive the GPK craze with actual spending cash to back it up, so many of the cards were, well, rough to say the least. I’m glad there was a John Pound painting or two in each of those ear sets, usually the more beautifully painted imho, but yeah.

      What kills me is that Topps and company are just now starting to come around to the idea of celebrating those original sets in a proper manner (what with the GPK art book and the new reprinting of Series 1 as chrome cards.) I really am surprised they didn’t do that before.

      I also, obviously, totally agree about Pound’s work being pure art. He totally elevated the whole GPK concept with the execution of his paintings and made them as memorable as they still are today…

      • I wonder what happened with the whole Coleco lawsuit where the GPK had to look less like Cabbage Patch Kids. I had always assumed that would be why we wouldn’t see “classic” GPK ever again, and why the 2003 series didn’t really look or feel like GPK for the most part. Rereleasing all of the old series GPKs in Flash-back series or Chrome (and even the designs of the newest series that have come out) seems like it would violate whatever agreement they would have had. I wonder if there was some statute of limitations on it where they can finally get back to putting them out.

        • So, there was a settlement in that case where the style of the GPK had to change. You see it in the later GPK sets, like 9 and after or so where the GPK logo changes from the arched CPK style logo to a banner, and the depiction of the kids went from soft, stuffed cloth to hard plastic (thus the introduction of cracks to illustrate the material change.) They also had to augment the eyes and the fingers and toes I believe. You see that carried through to the modern sets for sure. I believe Topps kept the right to utilize the existing artwork and characters they created, so they’ve been able to re-issue those paintings, but like the logo change, the new Chrome set has the updated banner logo. In recent years, you can see a concerted push from the modern artists to drag in the classic style appearance little by little, so I think Topps is probably pushing the boundaries a bit and relying on the fact that they’re now an established brand. Heck, the agreement might not exist anymore considering the property has changed hands so many times in the last 20 years!