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April 30, 2010

From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays: Wacky Packages and Stingray

Can I get a “Woot-woot!” and welcome to this week’s From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays! This week we look at a true blue piece of American cartoon art and love with Wacky Packages, and the comic and TV adventures of Gerry Anderson’s Stingray!

Cartoon Bliss: Wacky Packages New New New

Wacky Packages New New New is the second collected version of the classic Topps trading card series. It collects all 206 cards from the series produced between 1974-1975, which features work from famous cartoonists like Art Spiegelman, Jay Lynch, Norm Saunders, and Kim Deitch. Like Mars Attacks or the Garbage Pail Kids, these cards are comedic brilliance at their best, still have never been topped, and a blast to look at.

Originally the series started in 1967 and became a huge hit (a previous collection was published collecting the first chunk of Wacky Package cards in a book, which has been out in stores for some time now). The cards, for those who are uninitiated to their majesty, are a parody of product packages and the items themselves; for example, Hostess “Twinkies” become “Thinkies,” these bloody brains stuffed in a bag.

The artwork in itself is priceless to look at, so if you buy the card sets or this collection (which reproduces the art beautifully in a larger size) it is well worth your time and money. Just the thought (or brilliant lack of in some, which made them work) that went into each one of these parodies is impressive, creative, and as their title says: wacky.

I friggin’ love Wacky Packages! Many a dark day in hell has been brightened by the irreplaceable heaven sent laughter of Wacky Package mayhem laid upon by these eyes, and I cannot encourage you enough to get out there and pick up this collection and a few packs of Wacky Packages.

If you are interested in other cartoonist trading cards, also check out The Garbage Pail Kids and Crumb’s Heroes Of Blues, Folk and Jazz cards.

Can You Dig It Out Of The Back Bins: Stingray

Stingray: Battle Stations and Stingray: Stand By For Action collects the strips originally published in TV-21. In 1965, Gerry Anderson had a huge hit with marionette TV show Stingray (which would then lead to him doing the famous Thunderbirds, and more) and decided to help promote the show by creating a new comic magazine called TV-21. TV-21 would feature comic strip versions of Stingray, and previous marionette shows Fireball XL-5 and Supercar (later the magazine would also feature comic versions of other Anderson shows, like Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, and Joe-90).

These full color adventures were absolutely gorgeous visually, and the stories would be either adaptations of episodes or original pieces. The artwork would scroll across the page, similar to a Flash Gordon strip. Kudos to the artists (who I apologize for not being able to dig up much on them, it’s been a dead end, probably because I’m writing this here from the States, but if anyone in Europe reading this has some info please e-mail it to me) for doing these amazing layouts. Stylistically some of the boxes even looked like filmstrips in certain stories, giving it a fun design and feeling (and reminding us it was an adaptation of the show, hence plugging the show to be watched).

I’m not sure how their availability is elsewhere in the world, but here in the States you can find these highly recommended marvels in either your back bins at a local comic shop, like I had the miracle of coming upon, or online through e-Bay and other sites.

Something To Watch: Stingray

I thought that for this week’s Something To Watch section, since I talked about the comics, I would also talk about the TV show it was based off of.  Stingray ran on British and American airwaves from 1964-1965, and was syndicated thereafter. It was created by the brilliant mind of Gerry Anderson, who did it in his Supermarination format (which most of you here stateside will remember from Thunderbirds), and was the first show of his in full color.

Stingray tells the tale of Captain Troy Tempest, who is a member of the World Aquanaut Security Patrol (WASP), and protects the world from the weird invaders of undersea kingdoms with the world’s most advanced submarine, Stingray. Aided by the help of friends Phones, Marina, Atlanta, and Commander Shore, in every episode we stand by for adventure and watch with anticipation as WASP saves the day.

The episodes are well written for their time, and are just as good in quality as anything else, they do not feel dated in the least. Of course the style of the show is really what gets my heart here, being told through miniatures and marionettes, it is just so much fun to watch! Check out Stingray tonight for a great time, available on DVD here.

That’s it for this time, see you in two weeks folks!

Drew McCabe



  1. Billy

    “Swiss Mess” and “Alpoo” LOL!!!

  2. DecapitatedDan


  3. How the heck do you know this stuff exists!? It’s great!!

  4. […] To me the characters look like drawings of heads that were sculpted, like in the Thunderbirds or Stingray TV shows or something, however, it is a unique style (at least from an American p.o.v.) and grew on […]

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