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Remember Wacky Packages? They were a fixture for anyone who grew up in the early 1970s -- bubble-gum card stickers satirizing basic household goods that were delightfully subversive, elegantly disrespectful and laugh-out-loud funny, a skewering of the consumer culture's discontents.
It's been decades since I've even thought about those stickers, but now the Topps Co. has gathered images of the entire run of 223 in "Wacky Packages" (Abrams: 240 pp., $19.95), a nifty little volume featuring an introduction by Art Spiegelman, who was the brains behind the operation in the years before "Maus."
Spiegelman has described Topps as his Medicis; the money he made there helped support his more serious pursuits. But revisiting "Wacky Packages," you can't help but notice his edge. "Moobelline Cow Mascara" offers "udderly beautiful eyes," while "Light n' Dizzy Meditating Yoga" (a parody of Light n' Lively Yogurt) promises to "stand you on your head."
Kids' stuff? Perhaps. But in using a popular medium to take on the absurdity of mass marketing, Spiegelman gave an entire generation a new way of looking at the world. As he notes in his introduction: "Anything that happens when you're eight years old can mark you for life."
firstname.lastname@example.org David L. Ulin is book editor of The Times.