Tag Archives: 80s Magazines

I think it’s safe to say that this is my favorite book ever!

Yesterday I opened the mailbox to see a package from Amazon and my heart skipped a beat. For well over 15 years I’ve been dreaming about the idea of my perfect coffee table book, and in that little brown box I knew it was about to become a reality.  For anyone who’s been reading the site for any length of time probably already knows, I’m a huge Garbage Pail Kids nut.  Collecting and trading those stickers was a very big part of my youth, and though my original collection was lost decades ago I still cherished my memories of those gross and funny sticker cards.  By hook and by crook I’ve managed to rebuild a pretty decent collection of the vintage GPKs, including a near complete series one set that I never thought I’d manage.  All the while though I keep hoping that one day Topps would step up and release a nice photo book that reprinted all the awesome artwork from the original 15 series.  Heck, at least the first three series would have been awesome.

A few years ago my hopes got a big boost when Abrams and Topps released the first two volumes of their Wacky Packages retrospective (Volume 1 and Volume 2); I mean a nice GPK book would surely have to follow.  Well, one of the wonderful editors at Abrams assured me that something was in the works, and for the past six months I’ve been dying to see the final product.  Well, the wait was finally over…

Needless to say I ripped through the Amazon packaging so that I could finally put my hands on this coveted Garbage Pail Kids  tome and it’s pretty much everything I could ever want in a coffee table book.  This volume reprints the first five GPK series (206 separate paintings in all) which covers the initial boom of the phenomena.  There’s a forward by series mastermind Art Spiegelman that gives a nice overview of how the original series came about, and a short but sweet afterword by the original GPK artist John Pound which has some fun insights into his participation as well.  This book isn’t about the history of the stickers though, it’s all about a gorgeous presentation of the cards themselves.  In that department I think the book is amazing with only a few caveats in the missed-opportunity department.


First and foremost, the volume is beautifully designed in the same fashion as the Wacky Packages books, including a wax paper dust cover (which is still a very clever detail) and various bits of GPK collecting imagery (empty sticker backs, empty card boxes, stale sticks of chewing gum, and examples of the first five wax packages.) T he artwork of the cards themselves is presented pretty close to the actual size of the original paintings if I’m not mistaken, which is a very nice touch as well.  There was also a lot of care in how the “sister/brother – A& B” naming of the cards was represented, as well as working in imagery from the checklist design, and a handful of the series one Nutty Awards cardbacks.  There are even 4 included stickers that never made it press in any of the original series (for various reasons, but mostly due to overly violent imagery is my guess.)

There are a couple details that I think would have been nice to see though.  Since part of the deal with Topps was that the artists didn’t sign their work, it would have been nice if the various artists had some sort of attribution by each piece in the book.  Granted, John Pound did all the sticker artwork for the first two series, but Tom Bunk joined in on series three, and for those not versed in telling the two artists apart it would have been a nice touch.  The other thing that I would have wanted to see would have been a better representation of the cardbacks for each series.  As I mentioned above, there are a handful of the series one Nutty Award backs on the inside front cover of the book, but there aren’t any from the remaining 4 series in this volume at all.  Even if there were only a couple sampled at a smaller size in each chapter it would have gone a long way to completing the experience of collecting these sticker cards in the book.  Again, not a huge complaint, just a missed opportunity.


All in all though, I am so excited that this Garbage Pail Kids book finally exists and is sitting here right in front of me as I type this.  I’ve already flipped though this book 10 times and I still kind of can’t believe it’s actually real.  I know that may sound like hyperbole, but it’s true.  The only thing that could top this would be seeing two more volumes collecting the remaining ten vintage sets in the near future. Abrams, are you listening?

The vacation is almost over, but there’s still more Muppet Magazine!

It’s day five and I think we should be lounging around our resort today.  While I’m away looking for the arcade that was advertises to be at the place we’re staying, why don’t you take a gander at one of the meatier bits from the Fall 1984 issue of Muppet Magazine.  This time we’re taking a look at the cover story, which has reader questions answered by the man, Mr. T!

By the by, Mr. T plus the Muppets equals bliss.

Hopefully I didn’t get lost in Disney and will be back next week to catch up on some of the League Assignments as well as some other things I have on the back burner.  See you then!

Day 4 = Mini Halloween fun!

It’s day four.  If everything is going according to schedule I’ll be headed to the Magic Kingdom today and spending the better part of that time trying to convinve my wife that we should ride the Haunted Mansion at least ten times.  We’ll see if I win that argument.  In the meantime, while I’m out, here’s some more fun from the Fall 1984 issue of Muppet Magazine.  Today it’s all about Janice from the Electric Mayhem showing kids how easy it is to transform into your favorite rock superstar for Halloween!

The Michael Jackson and Boy George redos are fun…


…but my heart will always belong to Cyndi Lauper!

Vacation, Day 2! More Muppet Magazine!

It’s day two of my day job vacation, and I’m diving back into the Fall 1984 Issue of Muppet Magazine to share a couple more advertisements…

First up is this Advertisement for Unico.  I’ve never heard of this series, but tiny flying Japanese unicorns look pretty darn fun to me.  I love that this ad wasn’t geared towards girls, but instead features a boy and a girl.  Everyone loves unicorns, right?

Next up is this ad for Hallmark stickers.  What I thought was pretty cool about this is that beyond the odd issue of Stickers Magazine, I never tend to see ads for stickers, let alone the more generic Hallmark stickers.  It’s something I love about back issues of Muppet Mag!

Vacation = Muppet Magazine!

I think I’m officially off my yearly hiatus now, but this week I’ll be on vacation from the day job and hopefully hidden deep away from the outside world somewhere on Walt Disney World property.  But I didn’t want to leave the site with no updates for a week.  Therefore, I dug into my magazine archive to pull out one of my favorite issues of Muppet Magazine (the Fall 1984 issue with Mr. T as the main guest) so that I could share it with you all over the coming week or so.  So without further ado, and very slim commentary, I present Mr. T (with an awesome Animal T as well!)

The first thing I wanted to share today was an interior advertisement for the Go Bots that I thought was pretty darn cool.  So many of the Go Bots ads I’ve seen feature photos of the toys, but this one is covered in some very nostalgic artwork…

Last up is another advertisement, this time featuring the bulk (if not all) of the Ideal Alvin and the Chipmunks line of toys…


I’d love to have some of those minifigures now.  I wonder how much they’re fetching on ebay…

Secret Mail Order Mysteries Fun!

Coming back off of a hiatus always feels a little herky-jerky, what with trying to dig up some inspiration and cleaning off the cobwebs of my practically non-existent HTML skills.  This year was a little different in that over the last few months I’ve been bombarded with all sorts of cool things to write about.  One thing that I’ve been meaning to write about for awhile is the new book by Kirk Demarais, Mail Order Mysteries: Real Stuff from Old Comic Book Ads!  For those who don’t know, Kirk runs the Secret Fun Spot (as well as its weblog the Secret fun Blog) and is a freelance artist and designer who has been doing some amazing colored pencil portraits of some very familiar families of late.  He’s a regular contributor to the Gallery 88 shows and an all around swell guy.  Though I’ve never gotten the chance to meet him, he’s had a pretty big impact on Branded from the get-go, so when I saw that he was having his second book published I was pretty excited.

Mail Order Mysteries is the logical progression of nostalgic blogs, talking a niche topic and really digging into all the nitty gritty (sometimes literally into the Grit of gritty.)  Do you remember all those tempting ads in the backs of comics and magazines like Famous Monsters?  You know, the ones for the $2 Topstone rubber monster masks, the life-size Frankenstein’s Monster, or the footlocker full of 100 toy soldiers for only $1.25.  Well Kirk sure does, and he’s spent years tracking all of this stuff down, finding out what all this stuff was really like and cataloging his findings in this beautifully written and designed tome.

The book is divided up into 8 sections including superhero related stuff, war junk, monster merchandise, monkey making schemes, mail-order miscellanea, secret stuff, jokes & gags, and all kinds of oddities.  From the facts behind the fabled X-Ray Spex to what that $7 Polaris Nuclear Sub was really like, every single page of this volume is filled with the highs and lows of the mail-order products of the 50s through to the 80s.  Kirk lovingly photographed over a hundred pieces (most from his own collection), as well as including scans of the original advertisements so you can judge for yourself whether or not that allowance was or would have been well spent.  The icing on the cake is Kirk’s keen eye for design, both modern and retro, which can be felt all over the book, from the yellowing, newsprint color-scheme of the pages, to the hidden glow-in-the-dark embellishments on the covers and spine.

For those of us who never got a chance to be lucky enough to order our own cardboard Polaris Sub (or to feel swindled by said sub), to join one of those intoxicating selling for prizes clubs like the Olympic Sales Club, or for those who just want to know how those darn X-Ray Spex work, Mail Order Mysteries is the perfect book.  You can see some more preview pages at Kirk’s site.

This book will give you a sugary nostalgic high!

One aspect of the American pop culture experience that I find endlessly intriguing is how certain portions of it so completely subvert class, race, religion, and creed.  It’s hard these days to pin down someone’s race or religious beliefs based solely on the music they listen to, or the video games they play. We’re becoming more and more eclectic as a nation, but the foundations of this cultural oneness has been steadily built over the last century with some unlikely materials.  If I had to point to one thing that ties most Americans together it would have to involve food as it’s something we all need.  Through the lens of pop culture, it’s the brands that stand out, the merchandising, packaging, and promotion that we are attracted to and hold dear.  One product over all else really shines through this lens, and is not only an important part of our shared pop culture experience, but also a very important part of one’s daily breakfast, Cereal!  It’s sugary, sweet, fruity, colorful, corny, wheaty, full of rice, oats, and the occasional marshmallow marbits.  It provides fiber, iron, whole grains, and most importantly for those seeking to break through the walls of the time-space continuum, high levels of riboflavin.  Through over a century of ad campaigns, commercials, and cool prizes we’ve all been influenced by breakfast cereal, and now writers Marty Gitlin & Topher Ellis have taken a shot at condensing this shared snap, crackle, and pop culture experience into The Great American Cereal Book.

Published by Abrams (for a February 1st release), this beautiful volume chronicles America’s favorite breakfast food with a semi-chronological listing of ready-to-eat cereals from seven of the largest manufacturers of the last century including General Mills, Kellogg’s, Nabisco, Nestle, Post, the Quaker Oats Company, and Ralston.  Each product listed features some vital statistics including a description, when it was introduced and/or discontinued, the various popular slogans, characters and endorsements associated with it, as well as various tidbits and trivia.  The book is also heavily illustrated with beautiful color photos of many of the more popular and eclectic varieties.  Breaking up the timeline of sweet crunchy nostalgia are a bevy of lists, essays and mascot profiles including a glimpse into the development of characters such as Cap’n Crunch and the Trix rabbit.

What really struck me when I first cracked the cover on this massive tome was the high level of thought and care put into the presentation.  The design of the book is absolutely gorgeous and has a perfect tongue-in-cheek humor imbedded into every page.  The book resembles a box of cereal, from the hilariously placed nutritional chart and ingredients list on the spine, to the rainbow variety of cereals adorning the inside front and back covers.  This book was envisioned and designed with those that are truly a kid at heart.  I also love that the photos lean more towards the kid’s section of the cereal aisle, including so many of the sadly extinct varieties like Smurf-Berry Crunch, Pac-Man, Batman, C3PO’s, and the dearly missed Croonchy Stars (the Sweddish Chef’s Muppet-themed cereal from the late 80s.)

Abrams really has their finger on the pulse of nostalgia when it comes to their line of books aimed at pop culture fans, whether it’s their inventive layout and design of their “vault” editions (like the World of the Smurfs and the Transformers Vault), or their stunning art books (like Wacky Packages, More Wacky Packages, and the upcoming Garbage Pail Kids book.)  The Great American Cereal Book is a fine addition to their lineup and would fit nicely on anyone’s shelf or coffee table who grew up glued to the television on Saturday mornings watching cartoons and slurping up a huge bowl of Cap’n Crunch or Fruit Loops.

Santa has entered the Grid!

Just wanted to take a quick break from my annual holiday hiatus to share this awesome magazine cover that I’ve been sitting on for far too long.  This was pointed to and provided by the awesome allhallowSteve over at Halloween Addict.  What more needs to be said other than Santa on a lightcycle!?!

This is just carrying on the new tradition here at Branded of showcasing Santa riding some kickass vehicles, like last year’s BMX ad…

It has been a crazy and fun year here at Branded (my sixth), and I hope that everyone out there in internetland is having a wonderful holiday season.  Merry Christmas or whatever you celebrate and see you guys in 2012!

Halloween Mask Madness, Day 31: Happy Halloween!

Alright Boils and Ghouls!  We’re finally here, Halloween is upon us and tonight lucky kids all over the country will be knocking on doors and stuffing pails, sacks, pillow cases, and bags with all sort of sugary goodness.  Tomorrow is set aside for a million tummy aches, but tonight there will be chocolate!  And fake blood.

For this last post of the season I’ve decided to share the longest single ad in my collection.  It comes from issue #117 of Fangoria which was printed in 1992.  Featuring witch boobies, corpses, devils, skeletons, silly masks, licensed masks, Aliens, Critters, demons, vampires, Frankenstein’s Monsters, gore, and 5, count ’em, 5 different Jack-o-Lantern masks!  This is a crazy blowout sale ad from the folks at Distortions Unlimited, and I love it!

All told, I’ve shared in the neighborhood of 370 different masks from all sorts of companies, and that’s just a fraction of what was available between the late 70s through the early 90s.  I’ve been wanting to showcase these mask ads for awhile and it feels good to finally have them up on the site.  Now it’s time carve my 7th pumpkin of the season, watch a few more horror films, and kick back and wait for some trick-or-treaters to come by begging for candy.  Hope you all dug the countdown this year, and as always…

…if you’re looking for a ton of Halloween content all through the month of October, make sure to stop on by the official Countdown to Halloween site and check out the list of participating blogs for 2011.  You’ll be glad you did! Have a happy Halloween, and maybe tonight will be the night that the Great Pumpkin finally does show up…