Saturday, December 1, 2012

Bye, bye to this American I -- con

A typical "Bazooka Joe" offering.
Bazooka Joe, one the most iconic of American comic characters, is getting the ax, to some degree.

"Bazooka Joe and His Gang" was created in the early 1950s as a leading item in small-frame comics contained in Bazooka bubble gum. Most of the strips were innocuous things with the mildest of humor, accompanied by offers for toys.

Joe quickly became an international star, and the mini-comics were translated into numerous languages. He was known for his cast of oddball friends and for his black eyepatch (nothing was wrong with his eye; it was just that the artist thought it made him look dashing).

Now, however, Bazooka Candy Brands has announced that effective in December, Bazooka Joe no longer will be regularly used on the icky pink gum, ending more than a half-century of using him to peddle sugary, rubbery treats.

However, the company says Joe and other characters from his gang may occasionally appear on the new gum packaging that will include brain teasers, codes and other activity-based items.

Fun Fact: The original artist for Bazooka Joe was the cartoonist Wesley Morse, who had been the original artist for many of the pornographic drawings collected into what were known as "Tijuana bibles" or "eight-pagers." They were popular in the pre-World War II period and considered a precursor to the underground "comix" of the 1960s and 1970s.

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