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Bazooka Joe Comics... Your Thoughts?

May 3 2008 at 1:47 PM
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  (Login jeffshep77)

Hello, I thought I'd toss this at the collectors on this board. I've been an avid collector of all things Bazooka Joe and Bazooka/Topps Gum over the past 20 or so years. One of my main interests has been the Bazooka Joe bubble gum comics issued with Bazooka Gum. I'm writing because I'm curious as to how non-sport collectors like yourselves view these comics.

In my eyes, the only real factor separating gum comics from gum cards is the material they're printed on - wax paper as opposed to cardboard. Everything else lines up:

-Bubble gum as a vehicle of distribution.
-Each is individually numbered by year and set.
-Similar size to cards - some 50's series are even larger.
-A healthy history dating back to 1947 (some brands pre-date this).
-Bright full-color art from an intriguing artist (Wesley Morse up to early 60's).
-Universal nostalgic appeal.
-Drastically more affordable than many other card sets - larger lots can be found on Ebay at a given time.
-A wealth of related cross-over collectibles - Topps sport and non-sport items, premiums, advertising etc.

So let's hear it! Does it take a professional grader encapsulating Bazooka Joe comics to give them the respect they deserve? Or are they fine where they are, a sideline collectible to their cardboard kings?

(Oh yeah, as you know, there were several cardboard Bazooka Joe sets issued in the 1970's)

Thank you for your time - Jeff



 
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(Login TheNewtonian)

wax on , wax off

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May 3 2008, 4:03 PM 

Hello to All ,

Hi Jeff ,

I remember them well Jeff , i'd fork out 1d for my Bazooka Joe gum , rip the wrapper off and pop the gum into the salivating mouth whilst unfolding the comic enclosed within .

It was a double delight , big bubbles & big laughs . With the added bonus , that if i chewed enough i could save the comics up and send off for the latest Bazooka Joe gift .

Liked the gum , loved the comics .

Many Thanks for sharing your scans .

 
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(Login ChiefHunChuck)

Bazooka Joe

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May 3 2008, 4:38 PM 

You can add me to the list of fans of Bazooka Joe.

I love the idea of the colorful, short snappy comic interchanges.

Mort and Joe and Pesty rock !

I also think that if you are going to grade candy lids, tickets, coins and wrappers - these gum inserts are certainly worthy.

In fact, i think its a great way to read them over and over while still preserving them.

cheers

edit: does anyone have some sort of timeline / checklist for these by year / size/ issue ?

 
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don
(Login donhayes)

Bazooka Joe the Pirate

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May 3 2008, 4:47 PM 

Mark & Jeff---agree with liking the gum & enjoying the comics. Now let me tell you about the gifts. It was the summer of 1958---me & Tommy found a listing of the gifts & needed 125 wrappers to get our hearts delight---genuine walkie-talkies (just like the Army used)---we envisioned some type of primitive electromagnetic pulse generated by these giant W-T's sufficient to stun our teachers next term & enable us to hi jack the school Public Address system so we could cancel classes for the day. It took us half the summer scrounging in alleys, sewer grates & dirty gutters, but we finally got 125 intact wrappers & send them in (along with 10 cents). We agreed that when these monsters were delivered (obviously by freight train) I would call Tommy immediately & he would bring hammer & crow bars to help open the huge crates.
We waited & waited --it took 9 weeks of constant daily anxiety, but eventually the package arrived. It consisted of 2 empty (thank God for small favors) cream corn cans with about 20 feet of cheap string between them.
BJ's eye patch is not that of a benign eye injury---he is a thieving pirate of first degree that deserves hanging---(Mark---do they still have His Majesty's Yard Arm to hang these villains from?)
Well, I feel a lot better now.

 
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(Login dsh46)

Re: Bazooka Joe Comics... Your Thoughts?

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May 3 2008, 5:00 PM 

I consider the wrappers on par with things like tattoos and gum trays: package design "cards" made by Topps. As far as I am concerned, my type list of Topps issues includes comics.

In fact, if anyone is interested in my non-sport type card list, just shoot me an e-mail. It is a spreadsheet with a list of all Topps issues 1949-1980 and I am looking for feedback, corrections, etc.

Dave

 
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(Login TheNewtonian)

the yard arm is full

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May 3 2008, 5:02 PM 

Hello to All ,

Hi Don ,

I'm smiling like a loon at your many weeks of boyhood anticipation and the adventures of looking for strips .
A great re-call , i often looked down those alleys , drain covers etc for a few BJ comics .

Often wondered why he wore that eye patch .

Captain Joe of the good ship Baazooka , hoist the skull & bones !!

 
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(Login jeffshep77)

Hey Don

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May 3 2008, 5:22 PM 

Great memory - here's a shot of a few of those premiums. In the back you can see two of the "Space Phones". Yeah, no freight train required. I do believe one set has some other food brand's label printed on the reverse of the tin - probably printing errors that were repurposed to make the phone premiums. Could have been creamed corn... The mailman version looks as if it was stamped from a tin football game.


 
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(Login jeffshep77)

Re: Bazooka Joe Comics... Your Thoughts?

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May 3 2008, 5:46 PM 

Regarding a checklist, I have a fairly thorough listing of Bazooka Joe comics (and pre-Joe) going back to 1947. A collecting friend of mine, Bob Conway, has done more extensive work in this field. He specializes more solely on the comics, whereas I cover the gamut of all that is Bazooka and early Topps confectionery items. Check out his page here if you have a moment:

http://www.bubblegum-comics.com

Here's a few more pics of various comics:

These are larger "Bazooka The Atom Bubble Boy" comics issued around 1947-48, a precursor to Bazooka Joe. They're the exterior wrapper from 5-cent rolls of gum, and measure roughly 7" across. Wax inner paper on a foil exterior. They rarely turn up, so if anyone has any I'm interested.



The following are mainly early 1950's to 1954 - a few pre-Joe's, one from the first series (1-54), and a larger foil comic of Joe. The smaller wax comics in the photo measure about 3" x 4"



Lastly, an uncut roll from roughly 1961. Comics began to shrink slightly in size around this era, still probably 2" x 3" though.




 
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(Login bmeyers)

Re: Bazooka Joe Comics... Your Thoughts?

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May 3 2008, 6:47 PM 

Jeff, I'm an avid mail-away premium collector including Bazooka gum. I have the microphone premium, chem magic kit and a telegraph set. Could you identify the boxed premiums in the right portion of your picture. Great stuff by the way!!

 
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(Login jeffshep77)

Hi Bill -

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May 3 2008, 7:24 PM 

The telegraph set pops up from time to time, but that's the only microphone I've ever seen - still wrapped from the factory. Congrats on finding one! The camera is probably the most common, with many varieties and color schemes. Most premiums tend to be on the generic side, lacking a Bazooka designation or label, so I try to collect them with the original mailing box or envelope.

As for the premiums on the photo above - furthest to the right is the telegraph set and box, behind that is an early 50's window decal. Next to the telegraph set is a pre-Bazooka Joe premium I believe called Official Air Combat Goggles, with original box in the front. I believe these were left over from WWII, although maybe not for soldiers - the wrapper they came in is dated 1944.

Below is a shot of some of the various cameras available throughout the years, and a retailer ad for the Bazooka Joe introductory year of 1954.




 
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don
(Login donhayes)

BJ prizes

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May 3 2008, 7:56 PM 

Jeff---even though I can never forget the villainy of BJ I have to say those are really awesome displays of the premiums! Thanks for showing them---

 
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(Premier Login autograf)
Forum Owner

Agree completely Jeff.......

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May 3 2008, 9:03 PM 

fantastic pictures.......keep 'em coming.

 
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(Login bmeyers)

Re: Bazooka Joe Comics... Your Thoughts?

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May 3 2008, 11:29 PM 

Jeff,
Thanks a lot for the info! Really liked the picture of the cameras. I like the one with Bazooka around the lens. It seems the toughest to find. Almost forgot. I have the Exploding Battleship too. That has to be a "must" for every Bazooka premium collector. Thanks again!

 
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(Login TheNewtonian)

Wax and Wix ...

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May 4 2008, 9:08 AM 

At last i've seen some of the top quality goods that i missed out on as a youngster . Those walkie talkies look good

Many Thanks for posting the pictures , appreciated .

I was looking at the old wax strips from the early 1950's and noticed a very familiar figure ( i don't recall him from my gum chewing youth in the 60's) , it was Henry , created i believe by Carl Anderson .
I've always had a soft spot for Henry & his antics , i'm more familiar with him from the Wix issue cigarette cards from the mid 1930's .

It was so good to see that he made his mark with Bazooka Joe & his gang .



 
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(Login jeffshep77)

Henry...

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May 4 2008, 11:46 AM 

After Bazooka the Atom Bubble Boy ceased to inspire the post WWII youth of America (maybe they were Atom'd out?), Topps began experimenting with various comic characters before settling on Bazooka Joe and his gang. Henry was one of those, with I believe two sets of comics issued over the 1953-54 period (one of which can be found in either a larger or smaller version). Topps used quite a few syndicated strips for gum comics during this adjustment era.

Here's a photo of a comic book ad and knife premium, along with some unopened circa 1949-50 1-cent Bazooka Atom pieces.


 
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(Login TheNewtonian)

Knife

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May 4 2008, 12:40 PM 

Hello To All ,

Hi Jeff ,

I'm sure i masticated my jaw into submission trying to get a knife like that !

If i remember correctly , i always had the suspision that the company widthdrew/changed the offers on the comics so that the comics i had saved would have to be put towards the ' new ' gift on the wrapper that they were trying to shift , i'm not sure if this is right or if it was my parents way of easing my dissapointment/their guilt for not buying me enough gum !!


 
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Ralph P
(Login 30s_non-sport_gum)

Re: Bazooka Joe Comics... Your Thoughts?

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May 4 2008, 6:20 PM 

Am enjoying the heck out of this thread, especially the pictures of the mail-in premiums!  Jeff, thanks for sharing and please keep the images coming!!  (I think the only premium I ever mailed away for was a Chicago Cubs felt team logo. Looked cool and required minimal number of comic wrappers or work.  I guess didn't really trust the Bazooka people to come through, if I'd worked to accumulate hundreds of these things!.)

Question:  that ad's comic artwork with the knife shows unwrapped slabs of Bazooka gum, but they each look like an unsegmented piece.  What I remember was an indentation down the middle, lengthwise, tempting you to tear the pink slab in half.  (But for the life of me, I don't know why they went to the trouble, as I can't recall anyone ever having done so. Usually the problem was how to use up 3, 4, 5 of these things, not find a way to prolong their lives! 

But was the segmenting of the bubble gum a later improvement?  I would have been chewing the stuff in the late 1950s thru early 1960s -- about the time Don was trying to figure out how to sweep through every vacant lot in his home town, in search of old comic wrappers -- and don't recall the gum without the divider..


 
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(Premier Login autograf)
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Ralph.......

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May 4 2008, 7:32 PM 

I bet some over-protective parent was the reason that they had to put the little dividing line down the middle. Or it was some horrific government agency that got ahold of them like the FDA or OSHA or some other splinter faction. I agree with you completely, it was that people figured out just how many was too many. 5, 6, 7? Hmm.......let's shoot for 8. Only near-gagging would be the signal too much had been gobbled down.....same thing with the little flat pieces from baseball packs. Those proved to be a great challenge. I have to honestly say that even in the last 4-5 years after buying a box of Topps Heritage Baseball, I gobbled down 4 or 5 of those suckers.

I remember in 1981 when Fleer and Donruss came out. Their gum SUCKED. One....I think Donruss was the one that had some type of chalk dust on it. Might have been confectioner's sugar but it sure seemed like some sort of mildly sweet chalky crap. By then, though, the cards were more important than the gum.

I remember in 1987 or 1988 when I opened a FULL CASE of Topps putting together sets (for some ODD reason) to resell at shows. Let's see......20 boxes, 36 packs, 720 sticks of gum. Can't remember exactly what I did with that but must have donated it to some kids in the neighborhood.

I love those 1950's Bazooka cards that were inserts to the normal baseball sets. Very cool. Nice tangent collectibles..........




 
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don
(Login donhayes)

evil Bazooka Joe

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May 4 2008, 8:35 PM 

Ralph/Tom---I remember as kids we thought the dividing line on the sides was to make the gum look like a double barrel army bazooka---???

 
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(Login jeffshep77)

Re: Bazooka Joe Comics... Your Thoughts?

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May 4 2008, 9:18 PM 

The dividing line you're talking about was found on the 5-cent rolls of Bazooka Gum. Basically a large Tootsie Roll of pink bubble gum with light perforations for six pieces. "6 Big Chews For a Nickel", was a common tag line during that era, late 40's mostly. Definitely a choker if you consumed all. The smaller foil pieces in the photo with the jack knife are the 1-cent variety of Bazooka, which at that time had two thinner rectangles of gum per 1-cent pack. In the mid-50's they moved to a single rectangular cube of gum, with a wax comic folded and wrapped around the gum, and then an exterior wax wrapper. You'll be quizzed on all this later

Also like to add that Topps, being the maker of Bazooka, also inserted that gum into all of its wax packs throughout the years. Although you can argue the quality suffered greatly with shelf life. The white powder was probably powdered sugar to keep it from sticking to the cards.

A few more pics. First is a box of unopened "Nickel Roles" from the 1960's. 1954 and below had foil wrappers, as seen in one of the photos above.



Below is a box of 1-cent Bazooka from 1958. Don't ask me how this stuff exists but I'm nuts over the unopened boxes.



This may have been the box that introduced the flavors of Grape and Cherry (a personal favorite). Comics from this box date to 1965. Color variations exist in the comics because of the tri-flavor printing.


 
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BobbyB
(Login BobbyBHockey)

Great Post

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May 5 2008, 1:30 PM 

Thanks for posting Jeff, great to see the tributaries of the main-steam collectibles.

Here are some puzzle back bazooka joe comics from O-Pee-Chee which are
pretty tough to come by. Unfortunately they are glued to cardboard but
I sometimes you have to take what you can get.


 
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(Premier Login autograf)
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Hungry Herman

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May 5 2008, 1:43 PM 

a la Yellow Kid kind of huh?

 
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BobbyBHockey
(Login BobbyBHockey)

Bazooka Joe

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May 5 2008, 3:30 PM 

So Jeff,

Tell us why Bazooka Joe has a patch over his eye!?

 
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(Login jeffshep77)

Re: Bazooka Joe Comics... Your Thoughts?

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May 5 2008, 6:21 PM 


 
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don
(Login donhayes)

Bazooka Joe the Pirate

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May 5 2008, 8:34 PM 

Jeff---I cannot argue with your well researched presentation, but I know in my heart BJ wears the eyepatch of a PIRATE!! (Wikiped. has great discussion on origins of the pirate patch, by the way). If I had gotten that great Bazooka knife you showed I wouldn't have felt cheated at all---that baby looks like it could do real damage in the hands of a 10 year old---

 
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keith lentz
(Login keithlentz)

Fleer

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May 6 2008, 12:23 AM 

Fleer also made comic inserts in their "Dubble Bubble" one-cent gum. Same format as Topps. I liked the big hunk of gum. Wish I would have saved all those inserts. They were called Fleer Funnies, and featured a guy named Pud.

 
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(Login ChiefHunChuck)

more bazooka

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May 6 2008, 2:41 PM 

Here are some scans of bazooka I found in my drawer. Most are from 1973 and 1975. Year / number in top left corners indicate later runs.


bottom of the this lat one are my duplicates in case anyone want to trade.


cheers

 
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(Login non-sport.com)

Re: Bazooka Joe Comics... Your Thoughts?

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May 6 2008, 3:16 PM 

(still waiting for my ride)

Great thread!

I really enjoyed seeing the premiums. I started collecting the strips a few years ago when I picked up 350+ of the early ones in trade including what I believe is the very first appearance.



Here are some of the pre-Joe strips:



A few other items:


 
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(Login jeffshep77)

Early Joe and Fleer...

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May 6 2008, 4:43 PM 

That is the first appearance of Bazooka Joe from the first series of comics. Several of the characters had similar intro comics in that series - see the image below. I've also included some pics of various Fleer's Dubble Bubble items - some original art, display boxes etc. The early Dubble Bubble comics are quite beautiful - larger full-color pieces with more elaborate art compared to their contemporaries.


 
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(Login Bob_Conway)

Inspiring!

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May 6 2008, 10:19 PM 

Hi Jeff!,

Very inspiring seeing all your premiums and other items displayed like that. What's the deal with all the unopened gum? You can't see the comics that way! Just kidding of course.

 
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(Login jeffshep77)

Re: Bazooka Joe Comics... Your Thoughts?

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May 7 2008, 1:21 AM 

Hi Bob! The gum's worth more unopened because there's a chance at finding a Bazooka Joe rookie. Oh wait...

 
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(Login jeffshep77)

Re: Bazooka Joe Comics... Your Thoughts?

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May 7 2008, 1:32 AM 

I had a conversation with Jay Lynch once where he stated that Wesley Morse was the most prolific cartoonist ever because of the millions of Bazooka Joe comic strips printed over the years bearing his artwork. In actuality Lynch may be the most prolific because of his series of Bazooka comics that spanned the years 1991-1997 or so. Possibly billions of tiny comics being distributed throughout the world. Pretty cool

 
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(Login Kirk66)

Long lost Wesley Morse art!

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May 10 2008, 8:59 PM 

Hi Jeff - Great post, I've been following it for a few days now and couldn't resist dropping in.

The first thing which came to mind is the recent book Abrams\Topps put together documenting
the Wacky Packages phenomena , all your fantastic images of authentic stuff made me imagine what
a knock out book Bazooka Joe will make! It's only a matter of time before they move on it.
You're going to have to contribute in some way, I'm sure.

What needs to happen is that the Morses are permitted to contribute in some way as well, though to
my knowledge the bubblegum company hasn't acknowledged Wesley Morse as the creator of Bazooka Joe
in any formal sense. They do acknowledge Wesley Morse internally, in fact celebrate him, I know this from
visiting Topps headquarters in May of '07. Wesley Morse's son, Jay Lynch and myself stopped in for a tour!
But that's another story...

The artists who came after the likes of Norm "Mars Attacks" Saunders and Wesley Morse have benefited from
their creations in ways their mostly anonymous predecessors did not. Do you think Wesley could have
imagined the iconic stature his creation would attain? He passed away before he could take sufficient
pride in, or benefit from, the fandom which has developed around Bazooka Joe.
Thanks to all of you and guys like Jeff, or Bob Conway...Wesley is finally getting his due!

I don't think Jay will mind, but he posted this link to my website over at the Wacky message board...So I'm quoting it here.

"For truly erudite scholars of the bubblegum humor biz, go here for some astounding archeological finds"
http://www.taylormorsecollection.com/

 
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(Login Bob_Conway)

Hi, Kirk

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May 11 2008, 1:54 PM 

Nice to see you here, Kirk! I think Wesley Morse will be getting his due much sooner rather than later, even though it has taken decades.

I didn't know Abrams/Topps did a recent book on Wacky Packages. I'll have to look into that. Maybe that's why an Abrams editor contacted me but didn't specify why he wanted what he did. Curious.

 
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(Login Bob_Conway)

Re: Bazooka Joe Comics... Your Thoughts?

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December 2 2012, 4:52 PM 

How sad ... no more Bazooka Joe comics. Something is just not right about that. sad.gif

http://www.bubblegum-comics.com

 
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