Bazooka Joe returns nationwide to Bazooka’s comic strip bubble gum wrappers in a new nostalgic “Throwback” pack. Chewing bubble gum and reading the antics in the comic strip sound fun but there’s a deeper meaning. The eye-patched boy Bazooka Joe and his gang originally appeared on Bazooka comic strip gum wrappers in 1953. The longest member of Joe’s gang was his gangly wisecracking friend Mort created by World War II veterans Woody Gelman and Wesley Morse. For 50 years Mort wore a red turtleneck which covered the lower half of his face. The most enthralling and contentious installment of the Bazooka Joe comics was in 2008 when the rest of Mort’s face was finally uncovered. Much to everyone’s surprise, intense third-degree burn scars were revealed. Such a dark outlook in comic literature had never been seen before.
Topps comic artists felt it was time to mix comedy with reality. It was a shocking reminder that life can be painful. A hard fact that fellow artists Gelman and Morse experienced during the war. That’s how they came up with the name “Bazooka Joe”. It was in honor of Private Joseph Weinek who was blinded in his right eye by a surprise bazooka attack shortly before U.S. forces were overrun in the Battle of Mindanao.
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