Bazooka Joe

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A Bazooka Joe comic

Bazooka Joe is a comic strip character featured on small comics included inside individually wrapped pieces of Bazooka bubblegum. He wears a black eyepatch, lending him a distinctive appearance. He is one of the more recognizable American advertising characters of the 20th century, due to worldwide distribution, and one of the few identifiable ones associated with a candy.

With sales of Bazooka bubble gum down, Bazooka Candy Brands announced in November 2012 that they will no longer include the comic strip in their packaging. The new wrapper will include brain teasers, instructions, and codes that can be used to unlock videos and video games. The company stated that Bazooka Joe and other characters will occasionally appear on the new packaging.[1]

Characters and story[edit]

Bazooka Joe is joined in his various misadventures by a motley crew of characters, who came from the tradition of syndicated kid gang comic strips such as Gene Byrnes' Reg'lar Fellers and Ad Carter's Just Kids. The group includes:

  • Pesty (formerly Orville), who may be Joe's younger brother, with a 1950s cowboy sombrero
  • Mort, a gangly boy who always wears his red turtleneck sweater pulled up over his mouth
  • Hungry Herman, Joe's tubby pal
  • Jane, Joe's girlfriend
  • Toughie, a streetwise type who wears a sailor hat
  • Metaldude, a blond mulleted fan of heavy metal music
  • Walkie Talkie, a neighborhood mutt

The comics generally consist of soft, child-friendly jokes, as well as small advertisements for kitschy merchandise one could obtain in exchange for comics and a few cents or dollars. From the very beginning in 1954, the bottom of the comics included "fortunes" similar to those one would find in a fortune cookie but with a comedic bent.


Sometime between 1952 and 1954, Woody Gelman, the head of Product Development at Topps,[2] approached cartoonist Wesley Morse to create Bazooka Joe and his Gang. The character was named after a contest was held asking for suggestions.[3] Morse was the original artist on Bazooka Joe, and was also the artist for many of the pornographic drawings collected into so-called "Tijuana bibles" or "eight-pagers", popular in the pre-war period, which are considered a precursor to the underground comix of the 1960s and 1970s.

The style of the Bazooka Joe comics changed with the times, as with almost all advertising characters of the 20th century who had any sort of longevity. Joe eventually adopted a more contemporary look by the 1990s, complete with low-slung, baggy jeans.

From 1967 to 1990, the main writer was cartoonist Jay Lynch.[4]

Bazooka Joe comics were localized or translated for sale in other countries. For example, the Canadian version featured bilingual (simultaneous English and French) text balloons.

In popular culture[edit]

Bazooka Joe was a British pub rock band in the 1970s. It featured Stuart Goddard, who would later change his name to Adam Ant.

At one point in the Seinfeld episode "The Cafe," Jerry pulls his turtleneck over his mouth, to Elaine's annoyance, and says, "Bazooka Joe".

"Bazooka Joe" is a song on the first Big Black album, Atomizer.

In The Simpsons episode, "The Otto Show", Milhouse says he bought a leather jacket with 50,000 Bazooka Joe comics.

In "The Pretender" episode "Bazooka Joe", Jarod has an entire collection of comics.

In Family Guy Series 2 episode 5 "Bazooka Joe" is referred to in a line with famous artists.


  1. ^ Newman, Andrew Adam (November 29, 2012). "Change Comes to Playground Funny Papers". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2012-11-30. 
  2. ^ Mint Condition: How Baseball Cards Became an American Obsession, p.117, Dave Jamieson, 2010, Atlantic Monthly Press, imprint of Grove/Atlantic Inc., New York, NY, ISBN 978-0-8021-1939-1
  3. ^ "LILEKS". 
  4. ^ Gene Weingarten (November 20, 2012). "Chewish humor". Washington Post Magazine. Retrieved December 3, 2012. 

External links[edit]