Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, December 3, 2016


The long-lasting comic strip Rex Morgan, M.D. first saw the light of day in 1948, the brainchild of Dr.  Nicholas P. Dallis using the pseudonym of "Dal Curtis."  Dallis also went on to create the popular Apartment 3-G and Judge Parker newspaper strips.

Rex Morgan came to Glenwood to take over the practice of a friend who had died.  Aided by his nurse/office manager June Gale (later -- much later -- to become Mrs.Morgan and to bless the doctor with two little Morgans), Rex tackled the many and varied health problems of the community.  Dallis saw the strip as a means to convey medical information in an easy and palliative manner, often tackling controversial medical and social issues.  The readers didn't mind:  the strip has appeared in over 300 U.S. newspapers and in 14 foreign countries.

The Rex Morgan, M.D. comic book reprinted the newspaper strips and did not attempt any original stories.  The publisher, Argo, issued only collections of newspaper strips, including Alley Oop and Boots and Her Buddies.

There was a time when cancer was not discussed in much of America and was referred to as "the dread disease."  This conflicted with the general post World War II medical opinion that cancer education among laypersons was vital in fighting the disease.  (This was a 180 degree turn from the approach of Britain's cancer "elite" which held that cancer education was not important.)  Nonetheless, cancer was a rare topic for American newspaper comic strips.  But not for Rex Morgan, M.D.

In this issue, Rex has a patient whom he has diagnosed with cancer.  The good news is that it is in its early stages and can be cured with surgery.  (Okay, so Rex is a little bit cocky and says that the patient will be totally cured with the surgery.  Today's litigation-avoiding medico would never issue such a blanket decree.)  When June calls to schedule the surgery, the patient's husband said that she instead will be seeing another doctor -- a doctor that Morgan knows is a cancer quack interested only in milking his patients and offering no real hope or treatment.

Morgan's efforts to expose the quack go nowhere, as does his efforts to convince his patient to undergo proper treatment.  Determined to get rid of this pesky Dr. Morgan, the quack devises a plan to eliminate him.  (This is where the plot gets a little iffy.)  The quack rewires a piece of electrical equipment he uses in his phony "cures," so that the "patient" will suffer a fatal heart attack.  Of course the quack does this when he is drunk so he shambles off to take a nap.  Then who should show up but Morgan's former patient.  The quack's assistant/stooge/fellow con artist hooks the woman to the machine and inadvertently gives her a fatal heart attack.

Can Rex Morgan bring the scheming phonies to justice?

Is the Pope Catholic?

A well-drawn, fast moving story line hampered somewhat by printing a daily strip as a comic book story without editing the day-to-day continuity.


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