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Can Reading the Daily Comics Promote Good Prostate Health?

24 Nov

November 24, 2010

On October 8th, The L.A. Times dropped Rex Morgan, M.D., from its comics page. Reader response was swift and furious.

The departure of “Rex Morgan, M.D.” from The Times’ Comics pages this week has brought in more than 80 e-mails and 50 calls.

“How dare you take away my Dr. Rex Morgan? I look forward to it every day, and now you’ve removed it for a stupid math game. This is crazy,” wrote Helen Crisp of Glendora.

“There are a number of unfunny, inartistic strips that, for reasons known to you, remain on the comic page, while ‘Rex Morgan’ is eliminated? Very sad,” added Stephen Snow of Los Angeles.

“The day ‘Mary Worth’ disappeared from the Calendar section, I started holding my breath for ‘Rex Morgan.’ But to my relief, he got spruced up, married and had a child. It looked like Mary had been the sacrificial lamb and Rex was going to hold the space reserved for basic down-to-earth good advice in health and family matters. Wrong again!” said Dorien Grunbaum of Los Angeles.

Many of you may not be familiar with Dr. Morgan.

Created in 1948 by the late Dr. Nicholas P. Dallis, a psychiatrist from Scottsdale, Arizona, Rex Morgan M.D. continues to be the quintessential family practice physician.

Dr. Dallis created Rex Morgan not only as an exciting and entertaining comic strip, but also as an educational tool: a comic strip that would heighten the awareness of readers about the importance of modern medicine.

Over the years we have seen Rex deal with the compelling medical and social issues of our times — drug abuse, domestic violence, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, diabetes, organ transplants, adoption and sexual harassment, just to name a few. There have been more than a few documented cases in which readers were actually able to identify illnesses in themselves from information presented in Rex Morgan M.D.

Oh, wow, just the thing to read on a Sunday morning, nestled between Beetle Bailey and Popeye. Sure, Hagar the Horrible may give you a chuckle, and you might laugh at Blondie, but only Rex Morgan can get you to think about having your prostate examined.

Here are the final strips seen by L.A. Times readers, which was ironically the start of a bold new storyline:

This is something totally new, a prostate-based comic strip. You may recall that Brenda Starr died of breast cancer in 1962, and that as far back as 1956 Prince Valiant was concerned with some strange genital warts, but never had the subject of prostate cancer been broached in an American comic strip. (In Japan, Picachu had already taken a prostate exam in a memorable 2008 storyline.) Previous Rex Morgan strips focused on acne, toe fungus, and thinning hair. This was by far the most controversial plot.

Readers of the L.A.Times missed some startling developments. On October 25th, news of the Mayor’s prostate broke on Twitter:

On October 28th, the prostate had gone viral across the internet.

Gotta hand it to  , that strip stays up to date. And before you ask, no, I did not alter those strips in any way.

I’d like to tell you how this exciting story ended, but as of today, the story still has not come to a conclusion.

I do, however, have a few suggestions.
A- Having become a viral sensation, the Mayor’s prostate becomes the host of a weekly webcast featuring Jackass-style stunts.
B- Rex Morgan, sick of all the attention, tells the Mayor to “jump in a lake and your stupid prostate too.”  The Mayor dies of prostate cancer.
C- Rex Morgan assists in Mary Worth’s suicide, leaves town.

I just have to wonder how a strip like this stays popular. Bit of a downer, I think. The last time I read such a depressing strip was when the chemotherapy made Charlie Brown’s hair fall out. (What, you never wondered why he was bald?)

Remember kids: Prostate cancer, like Rex Morgan, M.D., is no laughing matter.

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