If the 35th anniversary of Pac-Man this week doesn’t make you feel old, then perhaps the realization that Garbage Pail Kids, another iconic ’80s merchandising machine, turns 30 this year will. Yes, those lovable yet disgusting cartoon children depicted on Topps trading card stickers have reached their third decade, but are far from a forgotten bit of nostalgia. If the upcoming documentary 30 Years of Garbage isn’t enough to satisfy that retro gross-out itch, perhaps a new Garbage Pail Kids photo set is. [Note: you’ll probably want to preview these before showing your kids.]
Using real-life models based on classic characters, photographer Brandon Voges imagines what those quirky kids would be up to these days in a “Where Are They Now” series of images showcased on Bruton Stroube Studios website. Iconic characters “Adam Bomb,” “Clogged Duane,” and “Barfin’ Barbara” all make appearances in modern-day settings along with several others. Just like in real life, some characters seem to have become productive members of society (I’m looking at you, “Noah Body”), while others look particularly worse for the wear.
I took some time to check in with the photographer, Brandon Voges, to learn just a little bit more behind the creation of this hilariously creative concept.
GeekDad: After 30 years, was there a single thing or event that made you reminisce about the card series to eventually create this photo series?
Brandon Voges: Jake Houvenagle was the brain behind the concept. We were at lunch and I guess we were talking about Garbage Pail Kids and he told me about the idea, what if we shot them 30 years later as real people. I was hooked!
GD: You mention in your article about picking cards that made good candidates. Can you explain more behind the selection process?
BV: We generally stuck to the earlier cards, figuring those were the most recognizable. From there, we just looked and talked about cards that felt like they could carry a story and would end in a place that would be fun to shoot.
GD: I loved the production photos. How long did each photo shoot take on average? How much time was spent on post-production?
BV: The shoots were all accomplished in one day each … well, the shooting portion anyway. We spent a fair amount of time in pre-production for each one, finding props, locations, figuring out the story, adding those little extra Easter eggs to make them fun. I feel like that’s where most of work went into. As for post, Jordan, our retouching genius, said he probably averaged 8-12 hours per image.
GD: Any plans for another GPK shoot? How about other shoots featuring ’80s nostalgia?
BV: Right now, I think we’re just enjoying that these are finally finished and we get to share them. I really enjoyed these and hope to do another set when time allows … it was just too much fun. As for reimagining other ’80s nostalgia … hmmm … I’ve always wanted Burple to come back. We’ll see…
I’d like to thank Brandon Voges and Beau Hillebrandt of Bruton Stroube Studios for allowing me to share this geeky trip down memory lane. Be sure to check out the full set of Garbage Pail Kids “Adult Variant Series” on Bruton Stroube’s website–note that these are not all appropriate for kids. There you will also find backstage production shots and video showing the detailed retouching process that makes these photos so perfectly disgusting!