Rex Morgan, M.D.

Rex Morgan, M.D. is an American soap opera comic strip, created May 10, 1948 by psychiatrist Dr. Nicholas P. Dallis under the pseudonym Dal Curtis.[1] It maintained a readership well over a half-century, and in 2006 it was published in more than 300 U.S. newspapers and 14 foreign countries, according to King Features Syndicate. In 2013, Rex Morgan, M.D. celebrated its 65th year in print.

Rex Morgan, M.D.
Marvin Bradley and Frank Edgington's Rex Morgan, M.D. (April 19, 1953)
Author(s)Nicholas P. Dallis (1948–1990)
Woody Wilson (1990-2016)
Terry Beatty (2016–present)
Illustrator(s)Marvin Bradley (1948–1978) & John Frank Edgington (1948–1976)
Frank Springer (1979–1981)
Fernando Da Silva (1982)
Tony DiPreta (1983–2000)
Graham Nolan (2000–2013)
Terry Beatty (2013–present)
Current status/scheduleRunning daily & Sunday
Launch dateMay 10, 1948
Syndicate(s)(current) King Features Syndicate
(formerly) Publishers Syndicate (1948–1967)
Publishers-Hall Syndicate / Field Newspaper Syndicate / News America Syndicate / North America Syndicate (1967–1988)
Genre(s)Soap opera

History

The name for the strip was inspired by the real life Rex S. Morgan, Sr., the U.S. Army's "chief mortician" and a popular Philadelphia TV personality in the 1960s.[2] The strip's look and content was influenced by the work of Allen Saunders and Ken Ernst on Mary Worth.[3]

Initially syndicated by Publishers Syndicate and then by Field Newspaper Syndicate, Rex Morgan, M.D. is now at King Features Syndicate. A 1952 attempt to create a TV series starring Louis Heyward was unsuccessful, with the pilot never shown.

Story and characters

The story centers on Dr. Rex Morgan, who in 1948 moves to the fictional small town of Glenwood to take over a late friend's practice. Helping him grapple with a dizzying array of medical problems is his old friend's office manager and nurse, June Gale. Morgan and Gale collaborated in resolving the medical and emotional problems of patients and friends over the years. Among their patients was feisty elder Melissa Clairidge, introduced in 1951. Rex's former classmate Keith Cavell was introduced in 1957 and starred in occasional story lines over the next four decades. Young Dr. Brice Adam sometimes had a story to himself from 1970 to 1978, most memorably in a situation which saw him taken hostage by two felons who had meningitis.

Rex and June finally married in 1995, and had their first child, a daughter they named Sarah June Morgan, several years later.[4] Their second child, Michael Dallis Morgan, was introduced on 29 November 2015, and an adopted child, Johnny, joined the family in 2018. Rex and June now operate their own free clinic. They have a dog named Abbey.

The strip has long been praised for its blunt tackling of social issues and taboo subjects, such as drug abuse, domestic violence, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, diabetes, organ transplants, adoption and sexual harassment. The story's constant realism about these issues has led groups such as the Leahy Foundation to use Rex Morgan as a teaching tool. In the case of the Leahy Foundation, the strip has been used to teach their students about epilepsy at Harvard University. Some issues, particularly in the strip's early years, proved too controversial. In 1950, the Newark News refused to run one series in which a nurse tried to euthanize her sick father. The paper wrote that the sequences "dealt with an attempted mercy killing and had no place on this comic page."[5]

Dallis claimed he created the strip to inform the general public about medical issues in an entertaining manner. For instance, one continuity from 1970 depicted the plight of an attractive young woman who frequently experienced gaps of "missing time": Morgan swiftly diagnosed her as suffering from petit mal, an obscure but genuine form of epilepsy. In later years, the story plots moved away from medical themes as Rex and June alternated in stories, confronting threats and danger from a variety of malfeasants. A popular story took place in 2006, in which longtime character Dr. Troy Gainer was revealed to be a fraud. Beginning in 2016, artist-writer Terry Beatty often put Rex back in medical settings, either at his clinic or in the hospital. Beatty also had Morgan tackle pseudoscience in the form of a medical scam perpetrated by a recurring con artist character, as discussed in a 2019 interview in Skeptical Inquirer.[6]

In 2019, the strip introduced Marti, a friend of Sarah's with Down syndrome.[7]

Artists and writers

Dallis died in July 1991. Woody Wilson became the writer. His name appeared in September 1991. From 1948 to 1978, the strip was drawn by Marvin Bradley, with backgrounds by John Frank Edgington. Edgington retired in 1976. Their team was succeeded from 1979 to 1981 by former Terry and the Pirates assistant Frank Springer. Fernando Da Silva briefly took over the strip in 1982, then in 1983 Tony DiPreta became the main artist. In 2000, long-time DC Comics artist Graham Nolan began a 13-year stint. On 30 December 2013, Terry Beatty made his debut as the strip's artist. In spring 2016 Wilson left and Beatty became the writer.

Uncredited assistants during the 1970s included Fran Matera, Alex Kotzky and André LeBlanc. With the changes in artists, the character have been known to change appearance. With Nolan's art first appearing in 2000, a complete overhaul of the characters' physical appearances was seen.

Quotes

"Parents are strange animals, Jeffrey! They keep loving us when they should be thrashing us!" —20 November 1988.

"No, Mr. Roberts, things are not all right!" —24 April 2014.

"June, you never mentioned your husband was so devastatingly handsome!" —3 September 2014.

"You just got a car and driver, Sarah…don't push it!" —28 December 2014.

Bugsy the bodyguard: "Do you carry a piece?" Wade the lawyer: "Only a smartphone ... loaded with apps!" — 6 June 2015.

Pop culture references

In The Simpsons episode "Krusty Gets Kancelled", Homer Simpson is reading the funny pages and comments, "Ah, Rex Morgan, M.D., you have the prescription for the daily blues."

Cartoonist Bill Watterson occasionally drew his syndicated newspaper comic strip Calvin and Hobbes in the realistic style of Rex Morgan, M.D., when depicting six-year-olds Calvin and Susie playing "house."[8][9]

See also

References

  1. Holtz, Allan (2012). American Newspaper Comics: An Encyclopedic Reference Guide. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press. p. 330. ISBN 9780472117567.
  2. St. George, Donna "Rex Morgan, 67, Tv Personality During The '60s," Philly.com (Feb. 24. 1989).
  3. Goulart, Ron. St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture
  4. "Rex Morgan to Announce His Intentions to June Gale". Morning Edition. National Public Radio. March 3, 1995. Retrieved February 9, 2010.
  5. "Operation on the Doctor," Time (Dec. 26, 1950).
  6. Susan Gerbic (September 24, 2019). "An Interview With Rex Morgan, M.D. Writer/Artist Terry Beatty". Skeptical Inquirer. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
  7. "Rex Morgan strip". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. May 7, 2019. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
  8. "25 Great Calvin and Hobbes Strips". Progressive Boink. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
  9. Jones, Malcolm (November 16, 2013). "'Dear Mr. Watterson' Celebrates the Glory of Calvin and Hobbes on Film". The Daily Beast. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
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