Thursday, August 1, 2013
Here's a simply delightful offering from Abrams Comicarts. Bazooka Joe and his Gang takes a detailed and colorful look at the history of one of the most ubiquitous comic stars of the last half century. Bazooka Joe comics come "free" with any piece of Bazooka gum, colorfully arranged on the classic waxy paper which encases the pink scrumptiousness of class bubble gum. Alongside a fortune and a hokey ad for some useless crap, the customer can always count on a goofy joke with their chewy sweetness. That's a bargain my friends.
I was totally won over by this book when I saw the dustjacket was fabricated in a similar paper to what encased the original product and that the book itself is made to look like a large piece of delicious bubble gum. These kinds of delightful details make for a completely absorbing package which is chock full of info on the history and development of the Bazooka Joe crew.
The most time is spent discussing Wesley Morse, a hugely talented catoonist who worked diligently through the decades before landing the Bazooka Joe contract. He is now almost equally famous for his contributions to what are called the Tijuana Bibles, brisk and lively bits of pornography. These eight-page booklets have been documented, but little is actually known about these little precursors to the Underground comics of a later day.
Morse produced a number of these, many having to do with in some way or other the 1939 World's Fair. Here is a glimpse, but be careful as this is not at all workplace safe. Many years later Morse brought his lively cartooning style to the Bazooka Joe gang, basing the look of Joe himself on his own son Talley (who contributes a very detailed article to this book).
Below are a couple of my favorite Bazooka Joe comics. These are not by Morse, but come from a later series.