|Rex Morgan, M.D.|
|Author(s)||Nicholas P. Dallis|
|Current status / schedule||Running|
|Syndicate(s)||King Features Syndicate|
Rex Morgan, M.D. is an American soap-opera comic strip, created in 1948 by psychiatrist Dr. Nicholas P. Dallis under the pseudonym Dal Curtis. 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. The strip's look and content was influenced by the work of Allen Saunders and Ken Ernst on Mary Worth. In 2008, Rex Morgan, M.D. celebrated its 60th year in print.
The story centers on Dr. Rex Morgan, who moved in 1948 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. They finally married in 1995, and had their first child, a daughter they named Sarah June Morgan, several years later. The two now operate their own free clinic. The Morgans 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.
In recent years, the story plots have moved away from strictly medical themes, as Rex and June alternate 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.
Dallis claimed he created the strip to inform the general public about medical issues in an entertaining manner. For instance, one continuity from the early 1970s 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.
Reportedly, some readers accurately diagnosed themselves with illnesses after reading about those same illnesses in the strip. Dallis went on to create the equally long-running strips Apartment 3-G and Judge Parker.
Artists and writers
Dallis retired in 1990, and died the following year. His assistant, Woody Wilson, took over the writing. From 1948 to 1978, the strip was drawn by Marvin Bradley, with backgrounds by Frank Edgington. 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 comic book artist Tony DiPreta ran it from 1983 until 2000. In 2000, long-time DC Comics artist Graham Nolan took over the strip, a title that he still holds. On 23 December 2013, Nolan announced on Facebook that he was working on his last week for the strip. On December 30, Terry Beatty made his debut as the strip's artist.
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.
Pop culture references
A panel of Calvin & Hobbes dated 9 July 1989, had been modeled after the drawing style of Rex Morgan, M.D., with Calvin and Susie playing "house." When Calvin refuses to cooperate as Susie asks him to pretend Mr. Bun, her stuffed rabbit, is their "baby," she ponders: "I don't see why you'll play pretend with your dumb ol' tiger, but not with Mr. Bun!"
- Goulart, Ron. St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture
- "Rex Morgan to Announce His Intentions to June Gale". Morning Edition (National Public Radio). March 3, 1995. http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=NR&d_origin=transcripts&z=NR&p_theme=nr&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0F574CB022ADFCBA&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM. Retrieved February 9, 2010.