The original images for the wackys were hand painted by a team of artists at Topps (see the "who's who"), with the foremost artist being Norm Saunders. Usually staff artists painted the backgrounds, cans, lettering, etc... while Saunders painted the characters and the more complicated parts. They are painted very small, the original of Chock Full o' Nuts and Bolts is only five inches high and four inches wide. This adds to their beauty, because the detail is spectacular. According to Norm's daughter Zina, they painted small becuase they could achieve the impression of extreme detail, with relatively few brush strokes, and therefore could finish the images faster.1 The originals always have a lot of detail that is lost in the sticker. Some stickers which you might not think twice about, have an original which is amazing (the original to Duck and Hide for example).
Saunders did not paint all the characters, a few other artists chimed in, series 6 seems to have a bunch of pieces with non-Saunders type characters (Joe Gatelli maybe?), but Saunders painted most of the characters we associate with wacky packs. It was the characters and the manner in which they were painted that made wackys so great, even when the joke of the piece would not stand on its own. Neither Norm nor any other artist was allowed to sign the pieces. Topps was afraid competitors might try to steal the artists away. Norm did manage to sneak his signature into at least one wacky however, by signing one of the checks on Bum Chex, Ray Hammond's signature appears on another check, as well as on the side of the box on Hungry Jerk (series 3) (Hammond was involved in the lettering). His style of character is typified by the characters on Gadzooka,  Chock Full o' Nuts and Bolts, or Hungry Jerk, among others. An example of a piece he is known not to have done is Jerkens (series 6). The subject of which pieces he has or has not done has been debated at length by the experts. The conclusions were generally that he had something to do with most of them. Many pieces are tough to call because they have no characters.
Most of the originals remained at Topps in New York in the infamous "Topps vault"!! It is certain that from 1976 to 1989, an uncertain number of pieces found their way out of Topps. In 1989 Topps held an auction, known as the Guernsey Auction, where they sold 360 pieces of original wacky pack art. This included 21 pieces from the 1985 series, as well as a four from 1979/1982 and five unpublished pieces.
  1. She made this statement in a panel discussion at the 1999 Philadelphia non-sports show. available on video tape.