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Wacky Packages (Topps) Hardcover – June 1, 2008
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About the Author
Art Spiegelman is an American comics artist and editor, best known for his Pulitzer Prizewinning comics memoir, Maus.
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Top Customer Reviews
The beautiful thing about this book is the high-quality production (printed and bound in China). The dust jacket effectively replicates an original wax wrapper. The indicia states "Most of the images in this book were reproduced from transparencies made off the original art," and it really shows: Not only is the artwork 150-200% larger than the actual stickers, the four-color printing is very fine -- looks to be 400-line resolution. Super pretty -- even if not bubblegum scented!
There's an interesting foreword and afterword here, too, by original Wacky illustrators Art Speigelman and Jay Lynch respectively. A concise image index completes the 240-page book.
Topps would go on to produce nine more of these "original" series of Wacky Packages; not covered here are Series 8 through 16, ending in 1976. But Wacky Packages stickers never truly went away, having appeared and re-appeared sporadically as sets during 35 years ever since. In fact, they're currently enjoying a bit of a renaissance in the form of the 2008 'Flashback' series -- a 'new' collection of 72 Wacky Packages stickers that, in fact, reproduce quite a few of the original old Wackies as shown in this book.
But besides tickling the nostalgia of anyone who was around back then, who appreciated the nutty gross-out humor of these parodies, it's these remarkably skilled illustrations that still prove worthy. The years saw many knock-offs and outright rip-offs of Wacky Packages, but none of them touched the really well-done artwork showcased here. It's great to see them reproduced here so clearly. Serious eye-candy for art and illustration fans.
Icing on the cake? This first edition has four "Lost" Wacky Packages stickers inserted in a little cellophane envelope stuck to the back inside cover (Slopps Boozeball, Muller Low Life, Granny Hairs, and Sea Honkies). Nicely priced, and highly recommended.
Art Spiegelman in his intro gives a little background to the origins of the idea and I was interested to learn that artist Norm Saunders painted some of the packs, I had always associated him with the over-the-top lurid covers for the pulp men's adventure magazine market of the fifties and sixties. Spiegelman also mentions his affection for Mad magazine and long before he actually worked at Topps Mad had a stab at their own color product parodies. In their 1959 More Trash reprint a handsome sheet of life-size labels printed on gummed paper was the bonus item (have a look at 'customer images' where you'll see the sheet). Produced to a slightly different criteria than the Topps packs who, after all, had to produce a regular flow of artwork over a short period, the 223 illustrations in the book were issued from 1973 and '74.
Looking through the pages it's amazing to think that they are all well-known national brands firmly fixed in everybody's mind because of advertising. I wonder if any brand ever complained to Topps, probably not but we're hardly likely to find out. Missing from the book, I thought, is some trivia about the series: what was the average print run, are there any rarities and why, were any products turned down for whatever reason or stickers printed but junked.
The book's production is rather impressive, from the jacket printed on gum-wrapper paper, the addition of a drop shadow on each pack to lift it off the page to the printing in two hundred screen (usually reserved for expensive art books) to the four bonus stickers inside the back cover. This all makes Wacky Packages a delight to look at.
Strangely there is virtually no reference to the actual gum in the book. Sidewalks everywhere can relax!
***FOR AN INSIDE LOOK click 'customer images' under the cover.