Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Wacky Packages!

A few days ago my beloved wife ("She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed") had a few medical appointments all inside the local hospital. That left me with several hours on my hands to wander the streets, which almost always means I end up in a bookstore. I thought the store which would do me and my wallet the least harm was Half-Price Books (my new favorite bookstore) and I spent a few hours in there plumbing the depths of the collections.

Among what I found were two volumes from Abrams showcasing the Topps 70's card phenomenon called "Wacky Packages". These are exceedingly well-crafted spoofs of then-current products. The gags were designed by the likes of Art Spiegleman (yep, that Art Spiegleman) and Jay Lynch among others. In the spirit of the heights of MAD magazine, these send-ups were clever and crude and almost always funny. The art is supplied by longtime Topps artist Norm Saunders (yep, that Norm Saunders) who gives these garish little cards their convincing oomph.

When I stumbled across this image, a send up of Warren's Vampirella magazine I knew I had to have these two handsome little volumes. There's something so inside-baseball about this selection which speaks to the interests of the creators. I don't know anyone in the broader pop culture sufficiently aware of Vampirella to imagine a spoof.

More normally, the jokes are built around household products. But the one above would certainly light a candle under the right-wing constitution-spewing numbskulls who'd find some attempt to subvert the youth to devilish non-Christian ways. They'd blame Obama most likely.

Similarly the myopic goblins of the left would pounce on this ad gag, which not only promotes violence but even a kind of reverse bullying where the kid kicks the crap out of the adult. It's empowering in one way and threatening in another, at least that's what a Pinko might say. He or she also might just blame Obama.

And one and all might blanch at this one given the gun-mad microverse we Americans inhabit. With school shootings making the news every day, a Left-winger might say such a spoof was insensitive and might negatively impact a child's fragile psyche and a Right-winger might say the ad makes light of the a citizen's god-given and constitutionally-protected right to wander the civilized world armed like a gangster.

Thanks Obama!

But I also say these mildly transgressive little parodies are funny, evoking a smile if not a laugh each and every time. To get a look at many many more see this outstanding link dedicated to the Wacky Packages phenomenon.

Rip Off


  1. They had something like this in the 90s and I bought them until i had all of them. :)

    1. I never much did collectible cards, but I love the concept. The chase is never ending.

      Rip Off


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