Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The New Bazooka Joe

In the new issue of the New Yorker, there is an article about the "New Bazooka Joe." It seems that the Bazooka brand "had lost its cache." So Topps went to their consumer base and asked focus groups of gum chewing kids what Joe should be like. The kids wanted him to be fun & free spirited but goofy like Ashton Kutcher. Well the artists at Topps went right to work and voila the New Bazooka Joe was born. The new Joe has tousled hair, his cap is turned backwards (the sign of rebellion) and torn jeans and sneakers. His gang was updated with Pesty and Butch gone and in were Cindy Lewis (environmentalist), DJ Chang (I think you can guess his interest) and Wolfgang Spreckles (foreign exchange student and lover of McDonald's ?!?!?!).

This whole thing reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Poochie was created to revitialize the languishing Itchy and Scratchy Show. The kids of Springfield are brought in to tell the animation studio what they wanted to see. Thus was created Poochie, a dog with tousled hair, turned back hat and attitude (are you beginning to see the parallels). Poochie of course turns out to be the worst character ever and has to be be given the axe when kids realize how lame and boring he is.

With all the great talent at Topps, past and present, it makes you wonder why this very boring and predictable tact was taken. Topps has given kids some of the most memorable gum related items from Mars Attacks to the Garbage Pail Kids. These card issues were made by real artists with original ideas. So why not give Joe some real attitude and visual character. That is the only way he will ever stand out again and be popular.

So in honor of the old Joe, I have assembled a few items showing the classic Joe in all his glory. The first item may be the first comic appearance of Joe from 1953. Enjoy.

21 comments:

Gabriel said...

I can't decide what's more pathetic about this new version. For now I'll pick the rip on the pants.

Matt Brown said...

The rip on the pants is so 10 years ago.

Dustin Crops Boy said...

Look exactly like the atrocity that they did to the playdoh boy a few years back (best pic I could find of it online at the moment... New PlayDoh boy )... oddly enough - after the major change - they dropped him like a fly a short while after and now have NO playdoh boy whatsoever anymore.

Savage said...

I esp. like your reference to the Simpsons Poochie - it's spot on. I recall the days of getting my 3 or 5 cent Bazooka Joe gum and those where glorious days.

Tom Dougherty said...

The new Bazooka Joe blows Bubbles.

JimTex said...

"Who are the ad wizards that came up with this one?"

Charmless, gormless, PC meddling.

I gagged when the 'kids' wanted him to be free spirited like (ack) Ashton Kutcher. Does Joe now have a hot "MILF" that he's chasing after?

Bazooka Bob said...

I'm looking forward to the new Joe but only because I collect the comics. Some of my collection can be seen here: Bubble Gum Comics.

Dan Goodsell said...

bob - is it true that the comics are going to be single color?

Bazooka Bob said...

Unfortunately, it's true, as far as I know. Part of their long standing appeal will be gone. Sad.

Anonymous said...

We covered this a little while back on Candy Addict.

It's sad to see the old go, but maybe they'll do something great with thr new look.

Brian

Major Pepperidge said...

As they used to say in Mad Magazine.....yecchh! Is this really going to increase sales? Let's hope that this version of Bazooka Joe returns to his home planet the way Poochie did!

philip said...

"He's hip! He's edgy-cute! He lost his eye in a bar fight!"

The fact that he's been redesigned without addressing the eye-patch just makes the eye-patch all the more creepy. How did he lose that eye?

Anonymous said...

I hated the new Bazooka Joe immediately. It's one of those faces I want to punch, like Tom Cruise in "Risky Business."

Wetterschneider said...

gun fingahs!

Wil Alambre said...

That picture posted makes me shake my head. Backwards hat, rip in the jeans, pointed fingers for attitude. All I can picture is a marketing exec who wears a thousand dollar suit. He's standing in front of a board of equally dress men, and explaining to them about focus groups and using words like "hip" and "edgy".

BL said...

Forgive my language, but the new Bazooka Joe looks like a total p*ssy. His initials are somewhat apropos now.

bgrauman said...

I've seen the round plastic Bazooka container where Topps gives you a thumbnail history of Bazooka Joe and his Gang over the past 50 years, listing all the major changes in the gang's "line-up". And now, THIS "Bazooka Joe"? I have a feeling we'll be seeing a "revival" of the original one in every chunk of Bazooka very soon!!!!

LOVED the original comics!! Too bad you can't send more than 100 Bazooka comics to get those free goodies anymore!!!

Nancy Morse said...

Just thought you'd like to know my husband's father, Wesley Morse, created and drew the original Bazooka Joe and his gang for Topps back in the 50's. We have a lot of his original artwork and story boards. The new strip looks awful. It just goes to show that some things don't change for the better.

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Morse,
What a wonderful thing to see your post here, It would seem that word about your husband's Dad is getting out. I was just looking over a discussion of his more "racey" work in the ComicsPriceGuide forum, someone over there claims to have some of his original work as well.
Is your husband aware of Wesley's friendship or relationship with an Avonne Taylor during his time in New York, this would have been 1922-25 or so? She was my Great Aunt and was a follies girl for Ziegfeld. He apparently did some art duties for them, and was friends with her as well. I've not been able to trace any information about all this for some time...things seem to be clearing up a bit.
All the best,
Kirk Taylor
kirk_taylor66@yahoo.com

Nancy Morse said...

Kirk, we just found out about Avonne and Wesley last night from Jay Lynch. Wesley did work for Flo Zigfield which I'm sure is how he met your aunt. He also was commissioned to do a portrait of Billie Burke, Flo's wife. I will e-mail you privately about all this.

Yes, Jeff, Wesley is an elusive character. All of my husband's Morse relatives are. I'd be pleased to tell you what I know. You can e-mail us at ntmorse@aol.com

Anonymous said...

Not only did they change the characters, Bazooka Joe gum is now made in Mexico and it does not taste as good, IMO. Once i tried the "new" gum, I went out and horded up as much of the old stock I could get my hands on.