by Art Chantry:
good ol’ bazooka joe. this guy was probably my very first comic hero. i was certainly chewing topp’s “bazooka” bubble gum long before i ever bought a comic book, or even read a funny pages.
the idea of comics in bubble gum originally started up when the topps company (which began in the 40′s after the war, thus “bazooka” bubble gum) decided they needed to include a premium in their penny gum (they also pioneered modern baseball cards). originally, the comics were larger and featured a b&w character called “bazooka, the atomic bubble boy.” this didn’t work out very well, so they sacked the atomic bubble boy and created the legendary “bazooka joe and his gang” (about 1953). also, they made the comic panel smaller, so it would fit better into the bubble gum. to compensate for the smaller size, they dropped the extra budget into a little bit of color. the rest is history.
this particular comic panel i show you also featues aquaman and wonder woman (a cameo from DC comics) and joe’s dorky buddy ‘mort’ (a sort of precursor to ‘kenny’ on south park?) they also have little advert selling a novelty toy version of the magic dialer machine from the short-lived DC comic book “dial H, for H-E-R-O” re-imagined as “dial B for B-L-O-G.” there’s also a special tie-in for ‘smallville’ where there sued to be a magic fortune or amazing factoid printed.
the coolest thing about bazooka joe, that all american boy, was that back in the very beginning, the character and the strip was created and conceived and otherwise developed by a fella named “wesley morse”. morse is more notorioulsy known for being the major artist responsible for all those infamous “tijuana bible” dirty comics from back in the 30′s and 40′s. go figger, eh?
…this particular “issue” of the comic seems to simply re-used an older comic (they re-designed bazooka joe in the mid 90′s into a more contemporary hipster type). if you look at the style of the drawing in the bazooka joe characters and then look at the aqua man and WW drawing, you’ll see they’re totally different. so, i think they simply dropped-in the new stuff and re-printed the old comic. cheaper on the bottom line, ya know? those corporate guys are so clever!!!…