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A Look Back At The (Pretty Awful) ‘Bazooka Joe’ Chewing Gum Comics

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for snacks with vague connections to the world of comics. Hot on the heels of Hostess shutting down and denying us any further crime-fighting through fruit pies, Bazooka Gum has rebranded, going with a new design that “takes visual cues from comic books and skateboard culture and graffiti,” but ditches the actual comic strips that have been part of the wrappers since 1953.

I have to admit that I’m a little conflicted. On the one hand, it’s always a shame when we lose easily accessible comics that spread the art form to a public that might not see it otherwise, but on the other, Bazooka Joe is pretty universally terrible. Either way, we’re marking Joe’s passing into retirement with a look back at ten of the most notable strips from the Golden Age of Bazooka Joe: The ’90s.Despite the strip’s usual focus on quick, short gags, there were occasional hints that Joe & Co. lived in some kind of nightmarish hellscape populated by the monsters from Troll 2:

Joe’s genuine concern in Panel 3 might give us a hint as to how he lost his eye, a topic that was only discussed in hushed tones at the Bazooka Gum offices:

Probably best to just get right into this one: In addition to being a one-eyed juvenile delinquent, Joe is also The Mystic Master of Space & Time, which mainly means that he uses unfathomable powers to go be a dick to historical figures and encourage them to destroy the greatest works of English literature.

And how did he accomplish this feat? Time Travel Skateboards! Why was this not the subject of every strip?

Instead, we got a bunch of well-used Vaudeville gags:

And the occasional sub-Vaudeville gag:

I do like this one, though, if only because of the fortune’s subtle implication that if you’re not laughing at these comic strips, it’s just because you’re not up to the “challenge.”

Well. This is pretty disturbing.

In this one, Zena is a straight up prostitute.

And for our final selection, things get surprisingly dark.

For more, check out a gallery of 50 of the ’90s strips, accompanied by academic criticism on a page so old that it felt the need to warn readers that the images they were about to see are jpegs. Goodbye, Bazooka Joe. Your time on this world was as fleeting as the flavor of the gum you wrapped.

[Via Ryan North]

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