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A Chat With Mark Newgarden - August 2002
Mark Newgarden worked on the 1985 and 1991 series Wacky Packages. In 1991 he pretty much ran the whole show. He was interviewed in August 2002 by Matt Stock at his home in Brooklyn, New York. WACKY PACKAGES: A CHAT WITH MARK NEWGARDEN )2002 Mark Newgarden & Matthew Stock
MS: The first thing I want to ask you is what artists and what kind of humor influenced you when you were growing up?
NEWGARDEN: Oh, well, that's a big question (laughter).
MS: Briefly, some of the main people.
NEWGARDEN: Well, in terms of the Topps products, I certainly bought Wacky Packages as a kid. That very first series.
MS: The 1973 series?
MS: '67? You bought the die-cuts?
NEWGARDEN: I bought the die-cuts. Pre sticker stock. You had to lick them but they never really stuck very well. I was probably buying any of the Topps humor novelties that I saw at that time. Mad Magazine of course. National Lampoon a little later. All the usual suspects as far as humor material for wise-ass kids in the mid-60's and early 70's.
MS: How did you get started as a cartoonist?
NEWGARDEN: Like all kids I drew and I kept drawing. It's pretty much what I always wanted to do. I went to The School of Visual Arts in 1979 and graduated as a cartooning major.
MS: What were your first jobs in the field?
NEWGARDEN: I think my very first job was writing "funny" fortune cookies when I was still in high school.
MS: Real fortune cookies?
NEWGARDEN: Yeah, I answered an ad in the New York Times. I think that was the creative first task I was ever paid for.
MS: So you were just right out of college and you got a job for Topps?
NEWGARDEN: Yes, Art Spiegelman was one of my teachers. Art was a major creative contributor for Topps for many many years. I believe he'd been working there since he was 15 years old, since the early or mid-60s I guess. He created,or was one of the creators of the original Wacky Packages. Art told me Topps was looking for some younger blood and brought me in. Everybody there in the New Product Development dept. at Topps was decades older than the age of the actual consumers for they were creating for at that point. My very first assignment was on Jaws 3-D. When was that?
MS: 1977? No, that would have been the first Jaws..
NEWGARDEN: This would have been more like 1982 or so. I remember Art called me up and told me they needed an series of 44 card backs over the weekend, first thing Monday morning, because they can't get studio approval on the story line captions, or something like that. They needed a backup "plan B" quick. So I wrote a series of "Funny Facts about Fish", just generic information about deep sea fish, which basically just involved going to the library and doing simple research. That was the first job I did for Topps. They never got used, I guess Topps ironed out whatever the temporary issue was with the studio. Some time later I was asked to come in on some of the various creative projects that were brewing there.
MS: While you were still in school?
NEWGARDEN: Probably a year or so after I graduated.
MS: Was Visual Arts still at 23rd street?
MS: I actually do work for them.
NEWGARDEN: Oh yeah? What do you do for them?
MS: Well, I do asbestos work.
NEWGARDEN: (laughing) I bet there's plenty in there!
MS: Yeah, there is. So whenever they do construction they call us up, I know those buildings well. So those are the same buildings you went to?
NEWGARDEN: Absolutely, SVA has been there since the 1940's I guess. And before that it was a dental school .
MS: Were you living in Brooklyn at the time?
NEWGARDEN: Staten Island.
MS: So you were commuting in.
NEWGARDEN: Yeah. I was born in Brooklyn, grew up on Staten Island. I later moved to Brooklyn because it was convenient for my job at Topps.
MS: Topps was in Brooklyn at the time right?
NEWGARDEN: Absolutely, in Brooklyn, Bush Terminal, 234 36th Street near 2nd Ave. I think Topps was right there from it's very beginnings. A very funky area by the way. I have never been to their plush new Wall Street area digs.
MS: While we're talking about Topps, have you seen on eBay their toppsvault auctions? What do you think of this?
NEWGARDEN: Well, I'm personally extremely unhappy, but I try to be philosophical. Topps assured us they would not sell the Garbage Pail Kid originals. I suppose that was basically to placate us at the time. It must be harder on John Pound and Tom Bunk who really put in the labor of executing all those illustrations. It's their originals that are being sold off. I think John has mixed feelings about it. It's rough.
MS: That was another question. The cartoon and comic book industry is notorious for violating artist's rights. Did you see any improvements in this area when you were working for Topps in the 80's and 90's.
NEWGARDEN: Slightly. When I started there were NO artist's rights. They made some slight gestures to improving things, but not very much .
MS: So they were like the comic book industry.
NEWGARDEN: Oh totally, but like the comic book industry of 1939, " Bend over" . At a certain point we were at least able to get our names on the items. That was one concession they made, which was certainly after Garbage Pail Kids. Maybe on the later series of Wacky Packages.
MS: The 90's series?
NEWGARDEN: Probably. Another problem I had there toward the end of my run was that I was being paid to create a lot work that was just never released. I really feel a lot of it was the best stuff I ever did there. We produced 2 or 3 series of Wacky Packages that never saw the light of day.
MS: I heard rumor that there was a second series of the 90's series.
NEWGARDEN: Yes, I kept copies of all that art.
MS: So there was a second and a third series?
NEWGARDEN: Yes we were basically instructed to just keep going, to stockpile the work. But very little was making it to market.
MS: What happened? It wasn't successful?
NEWGARDEN: No, they never even released them. They never even tested them. I was told they were having major distribution problems. Perhaps the legal atmosphere was a little too dicey for them to keep doing the Wackys. But I think it was mostly distribution. And Wacky Packages was just one series out of many other projects I was spearheading. Topps was spending a lot of money going to full finish on very elaborate, beautifully crafted series that just never saw the light of day. It was disheartening for me as well as other creative people and artists involved.
MS: So there were unpublished Garbage Pail Kids series as well?
NEWGARDEN: There was an unpublished 16th series from a somewhat earlier period -was that finally released recently? We did some neat series reviving and updating the old 60's Topps staples like Wanted Posters and Ugly Stickers. That stuff was never ever published, and is probably still sitting there somewhere.. unless it's all been sold on eBay already..
MS: So they still have the original art to that stuff?
NEWGARDEN: Yeah. At some point they had an agreement with the artists that after publication the artist would get the original back after a grace period. I hope neither side is letting that promise be forgotten.
MS: John Pound did a majority of the 90's series, did he also do the 2nd and 3rd series?
NEWGARDEN: Yes. John pretty much worked on all the Topps humor stuff straight through the period I was there. Most of the Garbage Pail Kids were his. He certainly defined the look of the series. We did a series called "Toxic High" which was finally released in a sort of aborted version. John did a lot of work on that. Scores of other projects as well.
MS: So you had a good working relationship with John?
NEWGARDEN: Oh John's great. I loved working with John Pound.
MS: Keep in touch with him?
NEWGARDEN: Yeah, he did a poster for an animation project I did recently. We mostly keep in touch via e-mail. If ever anybody heard our working phone conversations back in the Topps days it would have sounded pretty surreal. "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." John's a consummate craftsman, whatever kind of nutty request we came up with would be executed perfectly and then he'd up the ante! He really was devoted to improving the work. I was very lucky to work with talented artists like Tomas Bunk, Patrick Piggot and John Pound.
MS: And he was fast?
NEWGARDEN: John's fast. At the peak of Garbage Pail Kids fever he was turning out nearly one a day, and those paintings were pretty darn detailed.
MS: That's amazing, one painting a day? So he was constantly in the process of doing the roughs, and you'd review the roughs and he'd do the paintings?
MS: Did he work the same way with the Wacky Packs?
NEWGARDEN: Wacky Packages were more involved because usually we would supply a much tighter rough to the painter. With Garbage Pail Kids, after a while, we all kind of knew what to go for- it was almost telepathic. At some point John got interested in early computer programming of some sort and so he wrote a program to actually create Garbage Pail Kids gags (laughter).
MS: On one of the early computers?
NEWGARDEN: Yeah, pretty early on. It generated infinite lists of GPK concepts, all totally surreal. And maybe one out of every like 50 would actually have the germ of something usable. With Garbage Pail Kids there was such a feeding frenzy that Topps just wanted more and more and more, that we didn't have quite as much time to revise and refine them as much as later series I worked on. Wacky Packages usually had to be more art directed, a fine balance in terms of looking like the package it parodied, but with all the additional craziness.
MS: Were you involved with the creative part of that?
NEWGARDEN: Yeah, that was my job.
MS: What was the creative process like, when you were in charge of the Wacky Packages? And I assume you were in charge of the '85 series?
NEWGARDEN: No I worked the '85 series, but I was not in charge of those. But I did a lot of the writing and a lot of the roughs. Art Spiegelman & Len Brown were my bosses. It was pretty much the same process. Basically Len Brown, Art Spiegelman and myself, would go to the grocery store and go to Toys R Us and start looking at products and making our choices. There was all ready a huge list of products we couldn't parody because of former lawsuits and complaints - I still have it somewhere.
MS: I'd love to see that.
NEWGARDEN: I have boxes of my old Topps work files, I'm sure I could dig that up. We'd basically make a list, buy all the products, and later write the basic gags - everybody would be throwing in ideas.
MS: So Art was still working hands on with this stuff even in '85?
NEWGARDEN: Yeah, Art was working hands on at Topps right up until the time of Guernsey auction, he left shortly after that. He would basically come in one day a week, be creative and just troubleshoot whatever was put in front of him. He was hands on with Wackys, but there'd be many other things he'd be working on there as well. I'd be coming in maybe two or three days a week and doing a lot of the follow-up.
MS: So you were writing a lot of the gags yourself?
NEWGARDEN: Absolutely.
MS: Was Jay Lynch involved any more at that point?
NEWGARDEN: He might have been, but I can't ...
MS: Or Bill Griffith?
NEWGARDEN: No, Griffith definitely wasn't. I remember when that series started, I was given a file of old stuff to go through , it had a lot of unused gag roughs including Bill Griffith's & some old unused Saunders' paintings in it. (searching for something...) Here, these are older ones, these are from the 1970's - I think these are Griffith's gags.
MS: Those are Griffith's. You know how I know?
NEWGARDEN: Oh, you've got one (laughter)?
MS: I was going to show you, I brought a Griffith rough with me. Here.
NEWGARDEN: Yeah, that's Griffith. Ok, he actually signed it too!
MS: He signed it for me.
NEWGARDEN: Oh, good!
MS: So I know, his are on the little pieces of paper.
NEWGARDEN: Little pieces of paper, very tight compact roughs, drawn with a rapidograph and colored ink.
MS: He's great. I talked to Bill, he's great.
NEWGARDEN: (looking through more stuff) That's a rough by Jay Lynch. Jay was always doing gags about feet.This is a 1980's Spiegelman gag. Here's another one.
MS: Wow, this is great stuff.
NEWGARDEN: Isn't that a nice page?
MS: This must be a Griffith, this must be a Lynch... that's a Jay.
NEWGARDEN: That's Jay... there's Art writing notes on top of Jay. This one's me writing notes on top of Jay (laughter).
MS: So this must have been for the '85 series.
NEWGARDEN: It was created earlier, I was asked to assess old gags we could update. Like this: Nabisco -no good, we couldn't use it, "Nabisco sues". So this old gag file was what started off the 80's series.
MS: So this was leftover from the 70's.
NEWGARDEN: Pretty much. And there were a couple of old Saunders paintings in there which had never been used I guess. I think there was Beastball the Topps baseball cards parody with the monkey on it. That finally got used in the '85 series, there a few Saunders in the '85 set.
MS: Oh look, there's Bananacin, that was in the '85.
MS: This is great. I'm in like Wacky Pack heaven here.
NEWGARDEN: Just drink it in. (laughter) This is an older one ..
MS: That was originally 13th series.
NEWGARDEN: Right, and we updated it to '85.
MS: Were you involved at all in the Irish or UK Wackys.
NEWGARDEN: No, that was long before my time. I remember seeing a few of them around, but I didn't even know what they were.
MS: Because I always wondered if Saunders was involved in that.
NEWGARDEN: I can usually tell right off the bat if it's Saunders' artwork.
MS: (looking through the Gallery) This book is like the Bible, they did a really good job with it.
NEWGARDEN: The backgrounds bugged me. I just wish they would have put them against a white or a black page and let us focus on the art.
MS: This is definitely Saunders (looking at "Kill"), my friend owns that one.
NEWGARDEN: Uh huh, that's a good one.
MS: It definitely looks like Saunders to me.
NEWGARDEN: Len Brown phoned Saunders about working on the '85 series. From '82 to '85 doesn't sound like a huge jump in life, but I guess it for him was at that point.
MS: Really? That was one of my questions. So you reached out to him?
NEWGARDEN: Oh yeah, absolutely. He couldn't paint, he basically said his vision was shot.
MS: Yeah, he did so many.
NEWGARDEN: Saunders was all ready getting on in years when he was turning this stuff out in the 70's. By the 80's I think he was well into retirement age. (searching for something) Here, this is one of my roughs.
MS: Oh that's great.( a KIT KAT parody called KID KUT-with a razor blade hidden in the candy bar)
NEWGARDEN: Yeah, that was one that we definitely knew could never be used (laughter). Had to be done anyway.
MS: A little violent...
NEWGARDEN: This one is by a John Mariano, who's a friend I went to SVA with, he did a bunch of gags too. An actor and a talented cartoonist.
MS: There it is! There's the rough to Dr. Pooper.
NEWGARDEN: That fat guy is actually a caricature of another friend of ours from college. A lot of that kind of in-joke stuff went into these... So these would be my notes on his rough here (looking at something), I guess John probably did his first pass on this..
MS: Did you guys have a lot of fun with this?
NEWGARDEN: Oh hell yeah, it was great, it was a lot of fun. That's John's work (looking at something) and I guess that's Spiegelman drawing on top of it.
MS: So Spiegelman was still involved.
NEWGARDEN: Sure. He'd look over what's doing, and if he saw anything to add to it he would.
MS: (looking at something) There it is, '85.
NEWGARDEN: Yeah, this is all '85 stuff.
MS: '85
MS: That's a great one! This is my favorite one from '85, Reaganettes.
NEWGARDEN: That was John Mariano's gag. There was some cynicism about that one. I remember Art saying "don't even bother, they'll never let that one get through." Arthur (Shorin) was a Republican.
MS: So in this note Art is saying "Reagan faces"? Is that his handwriting?
NEWGARDEN: Yeah, instead of bombs.
MS: Yeah, that's so great, it's so classic because it's such a period piece.
NEWGARDEN: (big laughter) Yeah, definitely! And that one really did get through! Shorin thought it was funny. We were all shocked and surprised.
MS: So you would come up with the roughs, and would they get presented to management for final decision, or was it the final art that would get presented?
NEWGARDEN: The final art. And really management would just be Arthur Shorin, who ran the company, and then ultimately the lawyers would have to review everything from a legal standpoint, after Arthur OK'ed it. As for Arthur, I'll give him one thing, for a guy who was running a multi-million dollar company he had a pretty good sense of humor and he was willing to take chances based on his own gut reaction. You really do not see that very often.
MS: What was the climate - you know in the 70's there was always apprehension for offending ethnic groups, lawsuits from companies, was there that same atmosphere in the 80's and 90's.
NEWGARDEN: There was some of that and I guess we had our own barometers of just plain common sense. But the bottom line was if it made Arthur laugh he would just say "Sure!" -or "No!".
MS: So let the lawsuits come.
NEWGARDEN: Well I guess he had his own criteria too. I remember once there was some gag with the word "idiot" in it. Len told me you can't use the word "idiot" at Topps. And I asked "Why not? Every issue of Mad Magazine uses the word idiot". Well, it's actually a medical classification and evidently one Arthur Shorin was sensitive about. (laughter) But overall Arthur Shorin took chances. But even then Wacky Packages were sort of an anomaly in terms of the changing legal climate.Today I don't think you could do Wackys so easily, I really don't know if Topps will do it again. Corporations are just way too protective of their trademarks.
MS: Topps has sort of become the corporation they were making fun of.
NEWGARDEN: It always was. Topps was in business to make money like any other company but companies now are so much more involved in the protection of their trademarks now as a legal necessity, than they ever were in the past. Trademark dilution is a major legal specialty.
MS: So you think it was less in the 80's and 90's than it was in the 60's and 70's.
MS: Less worried about offending companies.
NEWGARDEN: I don't think they were so worried about offending any specific company. If a company complained Topps gladly withdrew the offending sticker. We already had a list of companies we couldn't parody, who had complained in the past and that was just about all the major food companies. Which is why the later Wacky Packs would tend to go to magazines and toys and other stuff for subject matter. General Foods owns practically every major food product in the world. I don't know if you've done any research on the legal end, but Topps has been involved in a few textbook trademark & copyright cases. And on the other hand there were evidently companies that would supposedly write in and say here are our new products, please parody them. (laughter) It was free advertising.
MS: Did you ever do it?
NEWGARDEN: Nobody ever asked me to. As creative people we were pretty shielded from a lot of this of information. They kept us away from any feedback. I guess I saw some feedback on Garbage Pail Kids - but in general they discouraged showing us letters that came in from fans. There were lawyers & staff that would handle this stuff and Topps didn't want to involve the creative people in any way. If a fan writes in with innocent suggestions or whatever they would not want any of their creative people exposed to that for purely self protective legal reasons. So they put us in a protected box and kept us there as best they could .
MS: But that seems to me like a good thing.
NEWGARDEN: Maybe for creativity, but in terms of getting an inkling about how many millions they were making from our work it wasn't a good thing. There was so much media & public uproar over GPK they tossed us a few bones, they practically had to. Topps really had that sort of 19th century mindset- we own everything, we own you, we own your soul. (laughter)
MS: So it started to sink in with you guys during Garbage Pail Kids? John Pound felt it too?
NEWGARDEN: I don't know what he felt. John was never really on premises, he was working in his California studio. But I'm sure he knew he was integral to a genuine fad that was getting bigger and bigger. He was certainly earning a decent illustration rate for his work, but comparative to the big windfall none of us were being treated very well.
MS: Did he get to keep any of the art?
NEWGARDEN: I believe he kept all of his roughs. I doubt any GPK originals were returned to him.
MS: Getting back to the toppsvault auctions, they're selling this stuff. The Garbage Pail Kids, and they've also got some Wacky Pack art out there.
MS: Is he supposed to be getting money for this? Or do they own full rights to it?
NEWGARDEN: They own full rights to it. They told us Garbage Pail Kids art would not be sold, but
MS: They said it but it was not in writing, so I guess that's it. When did Len Brown leave Topps?
NEWGARDEN: In the past year or so.
MS: So recently.
NEWGARDEN: Very recently. He'd literally been at Topps since the year I was born, His entire life, right out of high school till retirement age. Len Brown is literally is the living history of Topps.
MS: So could you give me a typical day in the creative team, on the Wacky Packs - I'm sure it was different for the Garbage Pails.
NEWGARDEN: Sure. When I was doing the 1990s series Len was not so hands on involved, we would go over the basic item list to be parodied, I'd show Len everything that was done at as it came in and then he'd say "great", or " Mark what on earth are you thinking? " (laughter)
MS: And Art would come in one day a week.
NEWGARDEN: That was earlier. The Wacky Packages series I worked on were the '85 series and then the '90's ones. Each was very a different working experience for me. For the 1990's ones I was pretty much running the series, assigning the work out, hiring the artists & other writers to come in and concept with me and do roughs and stuff. Art had left by time of the 1990 series. In '85 Art was certainly involved. I was doing more of the actual gags and rough drawings myself. John Mariano did a lot of 1985 roughs as well. (looking through his stuff) Yeah, this is Gary Hallgren, he painted that one, he did several of the '85 Wacky finishes. So in terms of the actual creative end of it, I would write out the concepts & gags, either in a notebook or whatever, go over it with Art, and then work on tight roughs, like this one. Art and Len would have the ones been assigning the finishes to the various painters in 1985.
MS: Was Pound working on the art at this time?
NEWGARDEN: The first assignments Pound ever did for Topps was working on this stuff. And this series was where Garbage Pail Kids came from.
MS: Was that an offshoot of Wacky Packs?
NEWGARDEN: Yeah, it was an '85 Wacky Package idea that got pulled out.
MS: Was that your idea, or was that management?
NEWGARDEN: It was my gag concept and my sketch for Wacky Packages, but it was Arthur Shorin's idea to make it a parody series. The Cabbage Patch Kids dolls were a hot item , they turned down Topps' offer to license a card series. So the reaction was "let's do a real F-You". I still have that sketch in my Garbage Pail Kids file.
MS: (looking at something) Oh, this one never got used.
NEWGARDEN: Didn't it? No I guess it didn't. That was a good one.
MS: No. That's nice! "Flopps Wacky Packages" (laughter) You know there was that early one, Wormy Packages. There was an effort always to include themselves in the parodies.
NEWGARDEN: Topps always did that, every series.
MS: Making fun of ourselves.
MS: There's Go-Bums.
NEWGARDEN: Right. (looking at another) Did that ever get released?
MS: This was not, and I have the Griffith rough to Waffle Ball.
NEWGARDEN: Oh, we did another version. (looking at another) The first painting Pound ever did for Topps was the finish for this one, Burger Thing. Everybody was pretty impressed. (looking for more). This one was part of this series but it never made it in. That's a xerox of the finish, Leslie Cabarga did that, he painted a handful of these 1985 Wackys as well.
MS: That's in the book, Hawaiian Punks.
MS: That's a good one, Grave is a good one.
NEWGARDEN: That's a good one. So that's all my '85 rough files.
MS: Did your ideas of parody differ from management while you were at Topps? Or was there usually agreement on stuff?
NEWGARDEN: I think being younger I was probably more prone to doing wilder, grosser stuff, at first I think there was some concern about that, but then Arthur would just shrug it off saying "that's funny, it makes me laugh". So then, especially once Garbage Pail Kids became financially successful, it was almost ridiculous, Arthur would come in with demands for all kinds of gross stuff. Funny underwear ideas was the big one with him. "Underwear is funny!" (laughter) and we'd look at each other thinking "No it's not! What's funny about underwear? Explain it to us!" (more laughter) For years Arthur would request funny underwear product ideas and everybody would have to cope with that.
MS: We keep telling you, underwear is not funny! (laughing)
NEWGARDEN: Yeah, how do you make a card series out of underwear?
MS: Would you ever be butting heads? Did you ever have to fight for what you wanted?
NEWGARDEN: Later on with Toxic High I did have to argue for what I thought was right, and a some stuff that I wanted had to be pretty substantially toned down. This was right around the time when examples of extreme violence were breaking out in high schools. Our whole concept was about the horrors of High School and included some pretty surreal scenes. We had to back off . Any hint of realistic violence was eliminated, no matter how absurd. So that was one where there was a certain amount of butting heads. I was never very happy with the final product. But with the Wacky Packages there was never much struggle, it was pretty much a formula product. Everybody understood the rules and you could pretty much figure out in about 10 minutes how to turn a product into a Wacky Package gag. So it was a matter of following the proven formula and making it as good as possible. Within that formula I 'd always try to push for more offbeat surreal concepts, wilder visuals & more subsidiary gags; I guess that was my personal style within the Wacky equasion. Occasionally Arthur would have off days and you'd show him something and he's say " I don't think that's so funny, redo that". And then we couldn't figure out what the problem was, so we'd just show it to him again the next week with nothing changed and he'd say "Great! Much better!" (laughter)
MS: Talking about the Wacky Packs from the 60's, we got into the 70's, the 80's, the 90's. Now it's resurfaced again with eBay and crazy people like myself collecting. What do you attribute the appeal for five decades of Wacky Packs? What do you think the lasting power of it is?
NEWGARDEN: Well, it's basically a satire on the staples of our consumer lives. It probably has to do with our dependency relationship on these household icons. But mostly because they are cheap & funny little items. You know Topps didn't really create Wacky Packages per se, the concept had been around for years. Mad Magazine had certainly done it well before Topps. All the 1930's humor magazines, like Ballyhoo and Bunk and Hooey featured parody ads with very Wacky Package- like product shots. But Topps really perfected the form.
MS: Obviously Mad Magazine, Cracked. It was just taking it to a different level.
NEWGARDEN: It 's all in making it into a product, a small personal product for a kid that you could buy with your own quarter and hold in your hand, put in your pocket, or stick on your notebook or locker. I think a big part of the success of this medium is taking fun stuff and making it cheap and easy enough for a kid to own.
MS: And make it a collectible.
NEWGARDEN: Well, the kids make it a collectible.
MS: And now the adults make it a collectible.
NEWGARDEN: Woody Gelman who started Topps' New Product Dept and personally created a lot of Topps's staples including Baseball cards and Bazooka Joe was a big collector. He was one of the first serious pop culture collectors, going back in to the 1940s. I think he really he thought like a kid and put out the kind of stuff that he thought he would want to see if he were a kid. Sounds pretty obvious today, but back then maybe it wasn't.
MS: What do you see as the future for children's satire?
NEWGARDEN: I don't see a big future for corporate satire products like Wacky Packages. I think companies are way more litigious now. I 'm guessing this type of parody will stay in the humor magazines and as online material. I've seen that lines of clothing and accessories which feature Wacky-like trademark parodies have become sort of hot in the last couple of years, but they're done by very small boutiques. The minute Coca-Cola sniffs them out, they're probably goners. Most major companies have at least one lawyer on staff whose job it is just to protect their trademarks.
MS: So the future doesn't look great?
NEWGARDEN: Well not for these kind of collectible parody products. If Wacky Packages came out as a book or a magazine I believe the parody is more defensible under the first amendment as free speech. Once it becomes a marketed product in and of itself that's where the problems seem to come in. So I'd look to other media, online, or whatever. But it's not really the same. There's something really special about being able to hold that object of desire in your grubby little hands.
MS: Right, if it's on the internet you can't collect it.
NEWGARDEN: You can't collect it, to download it is meaningless. I doubt kids are going to be collecting jpegs the way they once collected baseball cards.
MS: Lastly, what kind of projects are you doing with your company Laffpix.
NEWGARDEN: I'm doing a project now for Cartoon Network. And I'm working on a series of kids books and on a collection of my comics work as well.
MS: Enough to keep you busy.
NEWGARDEN: Enough to keep me pretty busy.


* Copyright Mark Newgarden & Matthew Stock © 2000-2005, all rights reserved.