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Imisstheoldschool.com

6 Twisted Kids' Trading Card Sets

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Imisstheoldschool.com

Just about every recent generation had some kind of trading card set in their youth that ate up their allowances and turned ordinary pieces of glossy card stock into sought-after collectibles. They also went far beyond traditional baseball cards that served as delivery systems for sticks of gum hard enough to cut diamonds. Some brands told twisted tales about gruesome disembowelments and hideous creatures that could make a set of autopsy photos look like a collection of Hawaiian vacation stills.

1. Garbage Pail Kids

The most famous and popular of these offbeat card series—Garbage Pail Kids cards, a parody of the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls—landed on store shelves in the 1980s.

The Topps Company actually tried to get a license to print a series of Cabbage Patch Kids trading cards after the dolls became a phenomenon, but it was too expensive—so their team of artists, including a young Art Spiegelman of "Maus" fame, decided instead to just spoof it. According to a Slate essay written by Spiegelman, the series actually started as a parody product in Topps' Wacky Packages card series, originally drawn by artist Mark Newgarden. The first character they created for the new series was "Adam Bomb," a cherub-like doll pushing a nuclear launch button that caused a mushroom cloud to explode from its own head. The series took off from there as the artists tried to determine the lines they could and couldn't cross with their jokes and depictions of Cabbage-Patch-esque dolls stabbing themselves in the head (Mick Dagger), crawling out of toilets (Potty Scotty) and using their own snot as a sandwich spread (Hedda Spreader).

The cards were an instant hit. A federal judge also ordered Topps to stop making the cards after the company that made the Cabbage Patch dolls sued Topps for copyright infringement before the two settled the matter out of court. It also sparked an infamous movie spinoff that tanked at the box office. Former Disney chairman Michael Eisner actually commissioned another feature film about the gruesome kids after his company purchased Topps and put filmmaker PES of "Fresh Guacamole" fame in the director's chair.

2. Toxic High School

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Parents who objected to the Garbage Pail Kids cards wouldn't truly know the meaning of the word "controversy" until they saw this serious series of attacks on high school education. Topps commissioned some of the same names who created the Wacky Packs and Garbage Pail Kids cards to work on this story-driven series that showed scenes of America's most violent, poorly supervised, and structurally deficient high school.

A fictional student named Warren Lugnut Cropsey took kids through his twisted high school, which had a school bus driver "always gets us to class on time" by literally driving the bus through the wall of his kids' classroom; a school cafeteria chef "who puts a little bit of himself in every meal" and the kitchen staff vomiting their guts into cooking pots; and an art class in which all of the students try to emulate master painter Vincent Van Gogh by cutting off their own ears. These were pretty tame compared to some cards that didn't make the cut, according to artist Jay Lynch.

3. Mars Attacks!

Trading Cards.org

In the beginning, Topps' primary focus was as a bubble gum company, so they avoided controversy with their trading cards. That changed with the popular and quite gruesome American Civil War series, which prompted them to push the envelope a bit further and focus more on the cards and a series that could have more original stories with more gruesome details. 

The Mars Attacks! cards of the 1960s became Topps' most infamous series as it featured hideous Martians unleashing Hell on Earth against defending soldiers, innocent civilians, and even kids' pets in all sorts of gory and gruesome ways. In one card, a soldier is burned alive by a Martian's ray gun; in another, giant insects bite into people's throats. The series never got national distribution, but the cards got under the skin of many parents, and led to a backlash against Topps that forced them to cease production on the series after just six months on sale, according to Len Brown, who wrote the story for the card set.

Director Tim Burton discovered the series after playwright and screenwriter Jonathan Gems showed him two trading cards sets he found in a Hollywood gift shop, including the Mars Attacks! series. Burton said they both would make great movies but he decided instead to do one based on the Mars Attacks! series; that film bombed at the box office. Since then, the cards have been turned into a series of comic books; Topps recently announced they would release a brand new set of Mars Attacks! cards next October.

4. Dinosaurs Attack!

Bob Heffner

The other pack of trading cards Gems showed Burton came from another short-lived Topps series that featured dinosaurs instead of Martians wreaking bloody havoc on the modern Earth and its inhabitants. 

The Dinosaurs Attack! series was released in the late 1980s. Just like its predecessor, Mars Attacks!, the cards told a story, this time of a time travel experiment that accidentally brings the extinct creatures into the modern era. The scenes also left little to the imagination as dinosaurs gobbled up classrooms and school buses full of kids and gored a groom and bride on their wedding day. The series didn't sell very well and instead became a cult collectible. IDW Publishing, the group behind the Mars Attacks! comics, recently announced they would also revive the cards as a series of comic books.

5. Bathroom Buddies

StrangeKidsClub

One of Topps' failed attempts to capitalize on the toilet humor of the Garbage Pail Kids focused solely on mining humor from the bathroom.

The late '90s saw the release of the short-lived Bathroom Buddies, which depicted cartoonish scenes of bathroom humor with odd but appropriately named characters like "Urine AL," "Constipa-TED," and "Tootin' TINA." The series featured artwork by some of Topps' regulars such as Tom Bunk and John Pound depicting characters doing almost everything in bathrooms but using them correctly and safely. A second series was commissioned but was never released due to poor sales.

6. Meanie Babies

ABS-Cards

The Meanie Babies series from Comic Images and Dark Horse Comics, released in the late '90s, tried to do to Beanie Babies what the Garbage Pail Kids did to Cabbage Patch Dolls. They also tried to revive the gross-out collectible card market that had fallen by the wayside by skewering the insanely popular toy series' long line of collectible animals—both figuratively and literally. Some of the characters included a vomiting duck named "Upchuck," a farting Sphinx-like sculpture named "Sphinxter," and "E. Coli the Baby Bacteria," according to a COLLECT! magazine preview of the card series.

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Noriyuki Saitoh
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Art
Japanese Artist Crafts Intricate Insects Using Bamboo
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Noriyuki Saitoh

Not everyone finds insects beautiful. Some people think of them as scary, disturbing, or downright disgusting. But when Japanese artist Noriyuki Saitoh looks at a discarded cicada shell or a feeding praying mantis, he sees inspiration for his next creation.

Saitoh’s sculptures, spotted over at Colossal, are crafted by hand from bamboo. He uses the natural material to make some incredibly lifelike pieces. In one example, three wasps perch on a piece of honeycomb. In another, two mating dragonflies create a heart shape with their abdomens.

The figures he creates aren’t meant to be exact replicas of real insects. Rather, Saitoh starts his process with a list of dimensions and allows room for creativity when fine-tuning the appearances. The sense of movement and level of detail he puts into each sculpture is what makes them look so convincing.

You can browse the artist’s work on his website or follow him on social media for more stunning samples from his portfolio.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

[h/t Colossal]

All images courtesy of Noriyuki Saitoh.

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History
P.G. Wodehouse's Exile from England
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You don’t get more British than Jeeves and Wooster. The P.G. Wodehouse characters are practically synonymous with elevenses and Pimm’s. But in 1947, their creator left England for the U.S. and never looked back.

Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, better known as P.G., was living in northern France and working on his latest Jeeves and Wooster novel, Joy in the Morning, when the Nazis came knocking. They occupied his estate for a period of time before shipping him off to an internment camp in Germany, which he later said he found pretty pleasant:

“Everybody seems to think a German internment camp must be a sort of torture chamber. It was really perfectly normal and ordinary. The camp had an extraordinarily nice commander, and we did all sorts of things, you know. We played cricket, that sort of thing. Of course, I was writing all the time.”

Wodehouse was there for 11 months before being suddenly released to a hotel in Berlin where a man from the German foreign office named Werner Plack was waiting to meet him. Wodehouse was somewhat acquainted with Plack from a stint in Hollywood, so finding him waiting didn't seem out of the ordinary. Plack advised Wodehouse to use his time in the internment camp to his advantage, and suggested writing a radio series about his experiences to be broadcast in America.

As Plack probably suspected, Wodehouse’s natural writing style meant that his broadcasts were light-hearted affairs about playing cricket and writing novels, This didn’t sit too well with the British, who believed Wodehouse was trying to downplay the horrors of the war. The writer was shocked when MI5 subjected him to questioning about the “propaganda” he wrote for the Germans. "I thought that people, hearing the talks, would admire me for having kept cheerful under difficult conditions," he told them in 1944. "I would like to conclude by saying that I never had any intention of assisting the enemy and that I have suffered a great deal of mental pain as the result of my action."

Wodehouse's contemporary George Orwell came to his aid, penning a 1945 an essay called “In Defense of P.G. Wodehouse." Sadly, it didn’t do much to sway public opinion. Though MI5 ultimately decided not to prosecute, it seemed that British citizens had already made up their minds, with some bookstores and libraries even removing all Wodehouse material from their shelves. Seeing the writing on the wall, the author and his wife packed up all of their belongings and moved to New York in 1947. They never went back to England.

But that’s not to say Wodehouse didn’t want to. In 1973, at the age of 91, he expressed interest in returning. “I’d certainly like to, but at my age it’s awfully difficult to get a move on. But I’d like to go back for a visit in the spring. They all seem to want me to go back. The trouble is that I’ve never flown. I suppose that would solve everything."

Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack before he could make the trip. But the author bore no ill will toward his native country. When The Paris Review interviewed Wodehouse in 1973, they asked if he resented the way he was treated by the English. “Oh, no, no, no. Nothing of that sort. The whole thing seems to have blown over now,” he said.  He was right—the Queen bestowed Wodehouse with a knighthood two months before his death, showing that all was forgiven.

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