Saving the world from genre fatigue one Stupid Hero at a time!


By Shawn Robare

There are a lot of really cool small independent companies making some really awesome toys, stickers and clothes these days that cater to the pop culture nostalgia addict like myself.  At times I find it hard to keep up with all of the kickstarters, announcements and product releases, but there are a handful of folks who I make a point to follow closely and always eagerly await what they’re coming out with next.  One such company is Wax Eye, headed up by Joe Simko and June Gonzales, which has been creating and releasing some seriously awesome trading cards, stickers and mobile games based on their Cereal Killers brand.  When I heard that their next project was going to branch out from their horror cereal concept into the world of super hero trading cards I was ecstatic.

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For one, I really dig Joe’s paintings and really wanted to see him (and the other great artists he recruited to assist on this new project) tackle a genre that is ripe for satire and parody.  But I was also excited because the new Stupid Heroes cards reminded me of one of my favorite 80s sticker card sets, Zero Heroes by Donruss.  I’m not sure how many folks remember those as they were pretty obscure and only had one set back in 1983…

zero heroes

I loved those goofy, silly super hero parody stickers so I was really hoping that Wax Eye was going to do something similar.  Boy did they ever, and this new set of Stupid Heroes trading cards really knocked my socks off!

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The set consists of 55 character cards painted by Simko, Brent Engstrom, Neil Camera and Jeff Zapata, with bios and gags written by the four artists and June Gonzales, as well as a series of chase sketch and x-ray sketch cards.  Much like the Garbage Pails Kids (a brand all four artists have also worked on in recent years) each character has an A & B card which feature different card backs (each character gets a bio card back as well as puzzle backs) so there are 110 cards in the base set.

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I really dug the way the artists took the time to design logos for each character, and I like the addition of rough sketches, concept drawings, or alternate art on the bio backs as well.  Being based on the super hero genre there are a lot of great character parodies from DC and Marvel comics (X-Men, Superman, and Wonder Woman are some of my favorites), but the set isn’t limited to just that as there are a lot of original concepts and characters mixed in as well.  And the art is pretty damn superb across the board…

stupid heroes

With each pack I opened I felt like it was 1983 and I was six years old all over again.

You can order single packs or hobby boxes from the Wax Eye site.  I was able to put together a full base set with a single hobby box, but if you’re looking for something neat to put up on your wall they also have really cool uncut sheets of the complete set available as well!  If you dig Garbage Pail Kids, Wacky Packages, or Mad Magazine, I think you’ll really enjoy Wax Eye’s Stupid Heroes.  I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll see a second series that works in more comic book parodies and even more original characters!

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Also, speaking of Joe Simko, June Gonzales, and Jeff Zapata, all three are also producers on Sean Tiedeman’s new documentary centering on the phenomenon of the Garbage Pail Kids called 30 Years of Garbage!

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Though the project stalled out in its initial kickstarter campaign, the crew has been working hard behind the scenes and after launching a very successful Indiegogo campaign have finally received enough backing to make this film a reality!  You still have a few days to back it and get a copy of the film!

Brent Engstrom and Joe Simko on the set of 30 Years of Garbage

Brent Engstrom and Joe Simko

  • Christopher Bacon

    Nice. Really wanting to get a set of these guys. Also , I see the assassin’s haven’t got you and those Monster Squad cards for me.

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  • Ben Rollier

    Beat me to it :)

    Nice write up! These things are pretty cool

    • Yeah, I’m betting kids would dig the crap out of them too…

      • Ben Rollier

        Furio’s already been asking for my duplicates :)

  • Manny Galan

    I’ve got a complete set of ZERO HEROES in my studio. And another set based on Big Daddy Roth type cars. Can’t remember the name of those. Also have a bunch of PAC MAN and DRAGON’S LAIR cards and stickers. I could never bring myself to use any of those stickers as a kid so now there are all pristine.

    • Awesome! Yeah, I ended up peeling and applying my sticker cards as a kid up until I started collecting Garbage Pail Kids. Then is was verboten. I think that other set you had may be Weird Wheels: http://brandedinthe80s.com/6760/peel-here-49-my-car-is-not-nearly-as-cool-as-these

      • Manny Galan

        YES! Weird Wheels! That’s it. LOVED both of these sets to pieces. I would obsess over details in the paintings and try to recreate the illustrations for hours on end. I even went so far as to creating an entire comic book based off of one of the Zero Heroes characters; MEAN MAN. I know I have that in storage somewhere.