Anyone who's ever been a kid should be familiar with Bazooka Joe, the eye-patch wearing mascot of Bazooka bubble gum from Topps. After several years of producing chewing gum, Topps entered the bubble gum market in the late 1940s. As with Fleer, Topps thought it was a good idea to include comics with their gum. Initially, the comics came from outside sources, in either a trade agreement or licensed, until they created their own character, "Bazooka, the Atom Bubble Boy". This was not the same character we know today and he was scrapped after a relatively short time.
After the "Atom Bubble Boy" bombed, Topps turned again to licensing their comics from other sources until they struck paydirt in 1954 with an original concept, "Bazooka Joe and his Gang". The rest is history.
Joe must have been popular because he recently celebrated his 50th anniversary. As an aside: Topps celebrated the aniversary in 2003 which would obviously indicate Bazooka Joe started in 1953. However, other evidence suggests he actually first appeared in 1954. Either way, Joe and his gang have appeared on a lot of comics over the years.
Around 1983, he was redesigned and new characters were introduced and most old ones were retired. Joe and the gang have been revamped a couple times since then and are in the process of another overhaul.
While most of the Bazooka Joe comics are easy to obtain, there is a real challenge in completing the set because so many different series were made. Not including variations, you're looking at over 1,535 comics! With variations ... uh ... it boggles the mind. Happy collecting!