This summer Dynamite announced their upcoming Garbage Pail Kids Origins series featuring a top-notch creative team of writers Adam F. Goldberg and Hans Rodionoff and artist Jeff Zapata, who has been working on the franchise for Topps for years and has garnered a fanbase for his contributions to the unique, beloved, and sometimes gross characters in the GPK universe.
The trio chatted with The Beat about the upcoming series and how they came up with the book’s concept.
Deanna Destito: How did you come up with the origins of the Garbage Pail Kids?
Jeff Zapata: It started as drawings I would post of dramatic scenes of famous Garbage Pail Kids seen like never before. They would explain in one visual how they became who they are. Fans loved it. The first one was Adam Bomb having an actual Atom bomb inserted into his skull. My old friend Adam F. Goldberg and his pal Hans Rodionoff heard I was pitching a comic book called Garbage Pail Kids Origins. They loved the concept and style and wanted to write it. So they used that Atom Bomb implant scene as the basis of the story we eventually laid out. We just all had fun with it from there.
Hans Rodionoff: The inception of the idea was really all Jeff and Adam. I came in and just approached it from the perspective of doing it as a superhero comic, and so I worked on creating interesting team-ups and title bouts.
Adam F. Goldberg: Most people don’t know this, but there’s a die-hard Garbage Pail Kids community online. It’s a big family of geeks who trade/buy cards, host Facebook Live card breaks, and commission Topps artists to do sketch cards. I’m currently in 63 different GPK Facebook groups and I’ve bought some holy grail items from amazing collectors. This is how I first discovered Jeff Zapata’s WWII-style Garbage Pail Kids artwork which he began posting several years ago on the Facebook groups. I messaged Jeff to commission an Adam Bomb piece in his vintage style…. and this piece actually became the cover of our first issue as Adam Bomb gets a nuke put into his head! Jeff always wanted to do a gritty GPK origin story so I fully credit him with coming up with this concept and assembling the brilliant team of artists. I was so inspired by Jeff’s art that we began brainstorming just for fun over email. I took all of our crazy, rambling ideas and formed them into a story with my frequent collaborator Hans Rodionoff. But the hero here is Jeff Zapata who made his longtime dream a reality with this series.
Destito: What can old and new fans of these unique characters expect?
Goldberg: We didn’t want to do the typical Garbage Pail Kids comic strip that was wall-to-wall gross-out poop jokes and silly puns. As crazy as it sounds, we took these iconic characters and put them in a story that is Saving Private Ryan meets Justice League… with the obligatory fart joke added in for good measure. It’s an epic, sprawling action story… truly unlike anything that’s been done before with this IP.
Zapata: Fans of the original series will see some of the most popular GPK characters battling it out in WWII. It is our hope both old and new fans will like this new drama/comedy approach to a usually just funny/gross brand. We want the readers to care about the characters in a way besides just funny.
Rodionoff: Old fans can expect to learn a little more about some of their favorite characters. That was really my favorite part about working on this book. The original cards were mostly punchlines. They were mostly just a single image with a name that worked on wordplay. I think the backstory for these characters was mostly non-existent… until now. This series is all about how these fan-favorite characters became Garbage Pail Kids. New fans of the GPK universe will get to explore the original characters in a deeper way that makes them all, I think, a little more relatable.
Destito: At the risk of aging myself, I remember collecting the cards as a kid in the ’80s and some may not be so PC nowadays. How much did you push the envelope?
Goldberg: I am of the same age! One of my most vivid childhood memories is everyone gathered around my friend’s desk in third grade as he flipped through his OS1 Garbage Pail Kids binder. And you have to remember, back then GPK wasn’t PC either! These cards were banned from schools — and that’s why I was so obsessed with these cards from moment one. That said, 35 years have passed and my true love is writing family-friendly fare like The Muppets. I don’t have much interest in giving the world an R-rated, edgy Garbage Pail Kids comic. There are better writers than me to do something like that. My goal is to always come up with a funny, engaging story that parents like me can share with their kids. That was the intention with Garbage Pail Kids Origins.
Zapata: Well it’s In WWII, that’s already pushing an envelope. That was always the plan in the original pitch. However, Adam and Hans came up with some crazy scenes and gadgets I would never have come up with. By issue #3 they have a contraption I dubbed the “That’s Not Right Machine.” So it does go there. And nuttier each issue. We really wanted to build the story to a super battle of good and evil with funny gags getting zanier as the story progresses. It’s pretty much The Wizard of Oz. By the end of issue #1, you’re not in Kanas anymore.
Rodionoff: Because the original card series was all sight gags and punchlines, they kind of had to be controversial and edgy to get attention. With a comic series, we have more space and time, so we don’t have to rely on sight gags, so the jokes are a little more situational. The humor comes from the characters and the way they interact. That said, we wanted to keep the Garbage Pail Kids tone of irreverence, so there’s plenty of edginess in the series, but it’s not the main comedic engine.
Destito: How has it been working with this creative team?
Rodionoff: For me, it’s been a fantastic experience. I came into the situation not knowing very much about the GPK universe, and I got to learn the mythology and the characters from a bunch of well-versed longtime GPK artists and fans. Whenever I had questions about what a certain character’s backstory or origin might be, I’d get really detailed answers from Jeff and Adam. The art team is phenomenal. The pencils, inks, and colors are the best that I’ve seen in any GPK comic. My goal from the beginning was to make a GPK book for people that weren’t necessarily GPK fans, and the art supports that.
Zapata: It’s been just an honor to work with Adam and Hans. Plus, inker Chris Meeks, who is a fabulous artist. His detailed inks just make the pages even more heart-stopping. Everyone working on this project including the colorists did it for the love of the concept. They all took a break from their busy schedules to do it. Especially Adam and Hans. These are veteran writers with lots under their belt, so I basically just tried to learn from them in story meetings while adding my two cents. Adam and I came up with the basic story outline. Later, Adam and Hans would write each issue by adding some of my notes of things I wanted to draw or see in that issue. Yet they always surprised me in the final script with scenes that were just funny and just fun to draw. It was a complete teamwork project where everyone was able to express themselves. I truly love working with everyone connected to this project.
Goldberg: Honestly, the highlight of this series won’t be a single word I wrote with Hans. The true achievement here is the brilliant artwork by Jeff, Chris, and Dustin Graham, not to mention the covers by legend Tom Bunk. Chris and Dustin are also current superstars in the Garbage Pail Kids community and I’ve commissioned them both to do work for me over the years. Their work with Jeff on this comic is truly breathtaking and our silly jokes just get in the way of their brilliance. I want to frame every page on my wall. It’s that good.
Destito: Who is your favorite Garbage Pail Kid?
Zapata: I get to draw my favorite characters in Origins. I call them the Trinity. Adam Bomb, Dead Ted, and Nasty Nick. Can’t go wrong with those guys ever.
Rodionoff: Personally, I love anything that’s horror-related, so I like all the GPK characters that are parodies of monsters and creatures. Nasty Nick, Fryin’ Ryan, Dead Ted, and the more recent characters from the “Oh the Horror-ible” line.
Goldberg: I could write volumes on this! My favorite original series character is Adam Bomb for obvious reasons. I believe at this point, I may have the largest Adam Bomb sketch/art collection in the world. I have a few friends in the hobby that rival me for sure, but I’m up there. Although, I don’t have the true A Bomb holy grail which is the original John Pound artwork. My friend Dov (the mastermind behind DKE Toys) owns the original Adam Bomb art and at this point, it may be worth $500,000. So yeah, I don’t think I’ll ever own that grail. But over the years, there’s been tons of new Adam Bomb variations and I try to nab them when possible. My other favorite OS cards are Ruben Cube and Sizzlin’ Sid. I always love it when GPK referenced something in pop culture. But my favorite GPK card of all time is also my greatest achievement — AV Adam! There’s an actual GPK card of my dumb self holding my ’80s video camera painted by Joe Simko. Amazingly, Topps included all of the Goldbergs characters into their 2018 “We Hate the ’80s” Garbage Pail Kids release and I got my own card. Truly, the highlight of my entire life!
Garbage Pail Kids Origins is available for preorder now and will be in comic shops in October. Check out some pages from the upcoming series below!