For some of us of a certain vintage, it seems like only yesterday that the Garbage Pail Kids were the talk of the town, the buzz on the playground, and the thing that those high moral-championing sorts were deeming completely inappropriate and throwing the ‘bad taste’ label at. Sadly, that yesterday is now three decades ago, but fear not, for 30 Years of Garbage is here to reopen all of those memories and look back at just why this phenomenon was so special.
When watching a documentary, one of the key elements is that the topic involved is looked at extensively from every angle – and that’s exactly what 30 Years of Garbage does. No snotty stone is left unturned, no trashy trading card tin is left unopened, and no lawsuit is left unaddressed. To put it simply, this is as comprehensive as comprehensive can be, with Joe Simko and Jeff Zapata lovingly delving right to the origins of the Garbage Pail Kids. While many naysayers of the time proclaimed the initial batch of trading cards – not to mention their subsequent follow-ups – as immoral, uncomfortable and indecent, there was a whole lot more to the Garbage Pail Kids than these “will somebody please think of the children” sorts failed to see.
Despite some seeing the property as nothing more than a knock-off Cabbage Patch Kids created purely as a cash-in and done in purely bad taste, what those people were missing was the political commentary, lashings of satire and a sense of genuine humour and smarts to what the likes of Art Spiegelman, Mark Newgarden and John Pound did with Garbage Pail Kids. Of course, to many of us around during the ‘80s and in to the ‘90s, we weren’t aware of any of that stuff; we were just there for the gross and twisted trading cards that seemed a little naughty. And 30 Years of Garbage equally explores that side of things, looking back at why the phenomena was so popular to young children in addition to showcasing the intentions of the creators.
30 Years of Garbage is a marvellous celebration of something that was truly unique and special to so many of us, and this documentary most certainly does justice to such a brilliantly disgusting yet fascinatingly relevant slice of pop culture. For anyone even semi-familiar with the Garbage Pail Kids, this is a must-see documentary that is entertaining, informative and a whole lot of fun that will throw up all kinds of memories from yesteryear.
30 YEARS OF GARBAGE: THE GARBAGE PAIL KIDS STORY / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: JOE SIMKO, JEFF ZAPATA / WRITER: JOE SIMKO / STARRING: ART SPIEGELMAN, JOHN POUND TOM BUNK, JAMES WARHOLA, ADAM F. GOLDBERG / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (US), TBC (UK)