Whaam! is based on an image by Irv Novick (1916–2004) from a story called Star Jockey appearing in All-American Men of War #89 (DC Comics, 1962). Throughout the 1960s Lichtenstein frequently drew on commercial art sources such as comic images or advertisements, presenting powerful, emotionally charged scenes in an impersonal manner, frequently depicting aerial combat between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Pop art’s visual aesthetic is still frequently utilised in modern advertising and editorial imagery, and was also originally intended – but overruled and abandoned before being employed – as the overall cover style for 2000 AD itself by creator Pat Mills, as a tongue-in-cheek statement about the paper quality used for the comic; and was subsequently employed on the cover of Mills’ autobiography Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave! 2000 AD and Judge Dredd: The Secret History (Millsverse, 2017).