If memory serves, this was one of the possibilities floated out by me and my buddies back in the summer of '77. (courtesy The Onion): "Burned Lower Half Of Mort's Face Revealed In 'Bazooka Joe' Stunner""
"Bazooka Joe has always been about mankind's search for meaning in a world marked by pain," said staff artist Martin Shore, who claimed that the idea for Mort first came to Gelman after he watched entire villages burn to the ground in the Philippines. "Sure, the sight of Mort's charred and blackened jaw may shock some of our readers, but maybe they should be shocked. Maybe it's time they woke up and realized the true, unrelenting nightmare that is our very existence."
Added Shore, "If they don't like it, they can buy another fruit-flavored gum."