skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
skjam ([personal profile] skjam) wrote in [community profile] scans_daily2010-01-15 02:09 pm

Man. Woman. Birth. Death. Infinity.

Whilst I was visiting my folks in upstate Minnesota this holiday season, we visited a thrift store, where I stumbled across a couple of doctor comics from the early 1960s. Naturally, I thought of you folks.

The first up is "Ben Casey" #2, the October 1962 issue. The "Ben Casey" show ran from 1961 through 1966, produced by Bing Crosby Productions and airing on ABC. The title character, an intense and idealistic young neurosurgeon, was portrayed by Vincent Edwards. His wise mentor was Dr. David Zorba, played by Sam Jaffe. Each episode opened with Dr. Zorba intoning the words up there in my post title, while a hand wrote the symbol for each on a chalkboard.

Dell comics were known for their photo covers, many now quite rare. If you look in the upper right corner, you should be just able to make out the symbols I mentioned earlier.

But notice what you're not seeing--a Comics Code sticker. Dell was one of the few comics publishers able to get away with not joining the CCA, thanks to their reputation for clean, wholesome family fare.

And now, our feature presentation, 8 1/3 pages of 25:

Both "intern" and "interne" are acceptable spellings. Dell Publishing's style guide prefers the latter.

We are introduced to young Dr. Scott's older brother, Sam, who calls the interne "Jocko", and has a very firm handshake. Seems that Sam plans to give his brother a present for completeing his interneship, a new car. It needs to be test driven before Sam actually buys it, of course. But what has any of this to do with Dr. Casey?

No, Dr. Scott hasn't forgotten his little black bag; it's in the car already. Sam offers to shake Dr. Casey's hand farewell, but Ben's not falling for that--he needs his hand for surgery.

Soon Dr. Scott and student nurse Anne Kirk are out test driving the car, and looking forward to a picnic...and perhaps a little bit more? But their plans are cut short when a man suddenly stumbles into the street right in front of them. Expert steering by Jack misses the man without wrecking the car, but--

Working quickly, Dr. Scott injects the stimulant directly into Mr. Taggart's heart. After tense moments, the patient comes around. The nurse has the crowd hold Mrs. Taggart back until Dr. Scott is able to perform a quick examination. Once he does, the doctor tells the wife that the patient shows signs of sympathetic nerve damage, and his eyes are off.

The other driver is distraught at having hit a person, and wants to help. (He has a thin mustache to go with his beret.) The doctor wants someone to call an ambulance, and the driver volunteers. But a young man in a loud jacket stops him. It's Clint Taggart, the victim's son, who accuses the driver of trying to run off. Clint's first call was to the family lawyer, who wants the young man to ask some pointed questions as to Dr. Scott's treatment of his father.

Dr. Scott thinks it would be best to get the elder Taggart to a hospital for a full examination instead of standing around quibbling. Young Clint is having none of that. He wants a definitive rundown on his father's condition, and when Dr. Scott equivocates, accuses the medico of acting in ignorance.

Jack's still worried as the ambulance pulls away, but Anne reminds him they have their own agenda for the afternoon.

The next day, Drs. Casey and Scott are called to Dr. Zorba's office. Visiting are Clint Taggart and Mr. Herbert Loomis, his attorney. Dr. Scott wants to know how the patient is, but Mr. Loomis wants to talk about the circumstances of the accident first. Nurse Kirk has also been called in; both she and Dr. Scott say that they'll certainly testify in court, but they'll tell the truth, that Mr. Taggart stumbled out in the street on his own.

Clint believes this to be a lie, and when Dr. Casey tells him to simmer down, loses his temper. Dr. Casey applies a sedative--with his fist! Dr. Zorba calls for the burly orderly Nick Kanavaras and Dr. Hoffman to remove the visitors. Mr. Loomis threatens dire consequences.

Dr. Scott and Nurse Kirk fill the others in on what happened, and Dr. Casey is intrigued by the symptoms...but Taggart isn't their patient, so back to work.

The next afternoon, Mr. Loomis reappears to lay a charge of medical malpractice against Dr. Scott. He could make things hot for the interne, given Mr. Taggart is now paralyzed, but if Jack and Anne were to change their testimony so that a suit could be filed against the other driver, well...Dr. Scott doesn't take well to what he sees as suborning perjury. Dr. Casey holds the interne back, while Dr. Zorba asks Mr. Loomis to come to his office. The elder doctor would like to examine the patient personally and asks where he's hospitalized. But Mr. Loomis is having none of that--the next time the medicos see Mr. Taggart will be when he's wheeled into court.

Dr. Zorba calls the others to his office, and when Dr. Scott protests that he's done nothing wrong--

Ben Casey gives one of his impassioned speeches about "even if sometimes people foolishly blame you for helping others, you shouldn't let that embitter you." But they still need a look at Taggart to determine what's really going on. At that point, Anne remembers the license number of the ambulance. With that info, they find out that Mr. Taggart was removed to the private facility of one Dr. Elmer Brack. Dr. Brack has been connected with several very dubious accident cases, on the side of the plaintiffs, and will almost certainly refuse permission to see the patient.

So they'll need someone to help infiltrate the private hospital, someone who could pass for greedy enough to go for a shady lawsuit. At this point Sam Scott shows up. Filled in on the situation, Sam agrees to bamboozle Dr. Brack to smuggle a doctor into the facility. Dr. Zorba volunteers to be that doctor, but Dr. Casey overrules him.

Dr. Casey examines the patient, and concludes that Mr. Taggart is suffering from cervical sympathetic nerve paralysis. Out in the hall, Loomis, Clint and Dr. Brack are wondering why the light is out. Clint is beginning to wonder if Dr. Brack is doing a very good job of treating his father, since the man only seems to be getting worse. They then surprise Dr. Casey.

The accident had nothing to do with Mr. Taggart's condition. Syringomyelia, in layman's terms, is a cavity in the spinal cord. If deep x-ray treatment had been started several years ago, it wouldn't have deteriorated this badly. Clint turns on Dr. Brack, who is now confirmed as a quack. Sam Scott reveals that he is in fact a private eye, and was officially hired by 59 West to help clear up the case after he dropped Dr. Casey off.

Clint pleads with the good doctors to save his father. A laminectomy and drainage, followed by deep x-ray treatment, might halt the deterioration, but at this late stage there's no cure. Thanks to brilliant work by the 59 West staff, led by Dr. Casey, and a bit of luck, Mr. Taggart recovers as much as he ever will.

Clint apologizes to Dr. Scott, whose on-the-spot diagnosis was correct enough to point in the right direction.

A few days later, Dr. Scott is able to finish his interneship and become a resident, which means that now that car is permanently his. Clint, visiting his father, notes that something's wrong with the car, and uses his auto mechanic skills to perform an emergency repair. Clint is reminded that he too could be sued for malpractice, a last dig at his hotheadedness.

Sam offers to give Ben one last handshake, but the doctor reflects whether it's worse to have your hand bitten, or crushed.

And now a short feature, 1 1/3 pages of four.

I have to admit that "Doctor Dazzler" is a pretty cool name.

Sid thinks that perhaps that seven letter word for stupid is "traffic."

The parents of the boy harrass the police officers, who are glad to see Dan arrive. They're pretty sure the boy is wedged in too tight to move with his broken arm. Dan is lowered into the hole, slowly, slowly.

Sure enough, the arm's busted. Dr. Dazzler gives the boy a sedative, moves his arm carefully enough not to injure it further, and starts the slow process of getting them both back to the surface. Once there, Dan resets the arms and puts it into a sling. But before he can get the boy to the hospital for a full patch job, the parents run up. They notice that Dan's kind of young for a doctor, and he admits that he's an interne. They are not impressed, and insist on rushing the boy off to their private physician, a "real doctor."

And to round off this post, a vintage ad.

Next time, Dr. Kildare!

Your thoughts, comments, medical nitpicks?

suggested tags:
publisher: Dell Publishing
theme: doctors and nurses
title: Ben Casey
proteus_lives: (Default)

[personal profile] proteus_lives 2010-01-15 08:40 pm (UTC)(link)
I love the old school stuff. It's like a window in time.
wabbitseason: art by cliff chiang (darwyn cooke canary)

[personal profile] wabbitseason 2010-01-15 09:09 pm (UTC)(link)
Nice scans.

There was also a Ben Casey comic strip that ran from 1962 to 1966 with artwork by Neal Adams. I seem to remember IDW is reprinting them as a two volume set as part of their "Library of American Comics".

[personal profile] psychopathicus_rex 2010-01-16 07:27 am (UTC)(link)
Heroic doctors! A force for law and order!

[identity profile] 2010-12-13 12:21 pm (UTC)(link)
This basically sounds like "What if House wasn't an emotionally broken dick". That is to say, good.

[identity profile] 2010-12-14 03:15 pm (UTC)(link)
I grew up with that sort of show (the Iron Curtain had just lifted and we gained access to several decades of Western programming at once, so there was bound to be some cultural lag) so I can appreciate that attitude. Even if it's not quite realistic, I think it's healthier than the one many people have now.