Character designers, animators and illustrators throughout the ages have all shared the wisdom of one simple truth; that adding an eye-patch to a character provides an instant coolness upgrade. From ‘the man in the Hathaway shirt’ to countless cowboys and Kurt Russell’s portrayal of Snake Plisskin, the eye-patch fits the bill whether you’re looking to promote an air of sophistication or become the ultimate badass. Thus proving that the eye-patch is the most flexible and trend-setting of handicaps. Bubble-gum manufactures Topps and pin-up artist Wesley Morse clearly recognised this fact and by doing so turned an otherwise plain, dark-haired little boy into the pop-culture phenomenon Bazooka Joe.
Continuing the format established by Abrams ComicArts in their earlier titles such as The Garbage Pail Kids and Mars Attacks!, Bazooka Joe and his Gang is a 60th anniversary celebration of these vintage trading cards and mini comics, collecting the entire first series along with essays from Talley Morse, Nancy Morse, Kirk Taylor, Len Brown, R. Sikoryak, Bhob Stewart, and Jay Lynch, as well numerous concept drawings and examples of the curious toys one could buy or earn after chewing enough bubble-gum.
The progression of Bazooka Joe is shown throughout the decades, with his appearance changing with the talents of new artists who helped to keep the character up to date with contemporary styles. Which makes for an interesting look at the lifespan of a simple product and marketing force behind it, and worthy reference for pop-culture connoisseurs. Fans of classic illustration will also appreciate the introduction to the work of Wesley Moorse whose portfolio outside of Bazooka Joe appears to be eclectic and equally interesting.