B-A-Z-O-O-K-(A) M-O-U-S-E

This story is generating a ton of buzz online, and I can barely even wrap my brain around it, but I’ll try to do it justice.

The main story is here:

Don’t choke on your bubble gum when you hear what former Walt Disney CEO Michael Eisner has in mind for Topps, the 69-year-old trading card and candy company just bought for $385 million by a consortium he led.

He wants Topps to create a movie, TV, Internet and publishing franchise around Bazooka Joe, the eye-patch-wearing kid introduced in 1953 on the waxy comics that wrap Topps’ Bazooka bubble gum.

“Bazooka Joe could be the next big hero,” Eisner, 65, says. “I’m not saying it’s going to be Raiders of the Lost Ark,” which he oversaw as CEO of Paramount Pictures. “But that would be the goal. Bazooka Joe is my new Mickey Mouse.”

That bears repeating, I think. “Bazooka Joe is my new Mickey Mouse.” Because… seriously?

The article goes on, of course (boy, does it ever), to take you in the WayBack Machine and remember those Topps trading cards and that horrible gum that would nearly break your jaw. Do you know what I remember most about Bazooka gum? Eagerly tearing into the wrapper to get to the comic strip, only to read it once, twice, maybe even three times before confessing to the nearest adult, “I don’t get it. Why is this funny?”

Ah, memories.

There’s a fabulous reaction over at Mayerson on Animation, much more astute and interesting than some crusty old mom admitting that she was bested by chewing gum comics:

I love this because it perfectly crystallizes the different viewpoints of business people and creative people. I would have to think long and hard to come up with a cartoon character who has less personality than Bazooka Joe. Except for the name (reminiscent of a war weapon) and the eye patch, what could anyone possibly say about the character? Creatively, he’s practically a blank slate.

From a business perspective, though, Bazooka Joe has name recognition. Everybody has sampled that awful bubble gum and read those mediocre comic strips. When business people sit down to make deals, that name recognition makes Joe a better financial bet than an original property that nobody’s ever heard of. The fact that Joe is a cipher is besides the point.

Really interesting stuff, whether you believe Bazooka Joe has star potential or not. Personally, I am just highly amused by the graphic of good ol’ Joe wearing the mouse ears.

[Hat tip: Cartoon Brew]

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