It’s Like The First Day of Surgery, All Over Again

cover, Journey Into Mystery #9

Monday PSA: Friends Across the Seas

Friends Across the Seas. Click for the full pageOne of the more common themes you can find in the old DC comics public service ads is support for the United Nations. I suspect it is probably the most common theme, with nearly a dozen different PSAs dealing with the United Nations. (I think “stay in school” is the second most common theme, with “libraries” a distant third.) Admittedly, these were published in an era when the United Nations was solidly pro-United States, and likewise, the US was solidly behind the UN.

Click on the image for the full ad

It's Fun to Help Others!I sure hope those weren’t beef “hot-dogs” he was writing about.

Flushing RemonstranceSorry Canada, Mexico, and Central and South America, but apparently you can’t be our friends.

Flushing RemonstranceSo 1965, how’d that International Cooperation Year work out? Let’s see: the first American combat troops arrived in Viet Nam; US troops were also sent to the Dominican Republic. Pakistan and India went to war, dragging China along for the ride. China and Taiwan had a skirmish or two. And Rhodesia couldn’t get along with anyone. On the bright side, A Charlie Brown Christmas debuted.

This PSA can be found in DC comics from March 1965. It was never reprinted. The script was by Jack Schiff, with the art by Sheldon Moldoff.

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Batman #163: The Joker! Bad Doctors! Fumigation! Head Mirror Theater!

In the midst of a charity ball, a bunch of doctors barge in, claiming everyone has been exposed to a contagious disease and needs to be quarantined.

scene from Batman #163

Even when this was reprinted in 1964 (let alone when it was originally published) — before the common advent of hazmat suits — these “doctors” had to look suspicious. The head mirrors are a dead giveaway, if nothing else. Remember that head mirrors are used for looking in dark tight spaces (throats, ears, etc) so why would these doctors be wearing them — and incorrectly, at that.

scene from Batman #163

The green hair probably should have been a clue.

Batman and Robin swoop in to intervene, but then discover the real reason for the head mirrors. (And what exactly are they reflecting?)

scene from Batman #163

So, Batman and Robin are shot and the Joker gets the money. Not really, though that would change things up. Actually, through clever use of his utility belt and nearby props for the charity auction, Batman and Robin escape and capture Joker and his goons. Again.

Monday PSA: Buzzy Asks ‘Do You Know Your Neighbors?’

Buzzy Asks 'Do You Know Your Neighbors?'. Click for the full pageAnother comic book public service ad starring DC’s answer to Archie, Buzzy (not to be confused with DC’s other answer to Archie, Binky). This is a two for one PSA in that it tackles two common themes: neighbors, and different cultures. In this case, the featured cultures are Puerto Rican, Irish, Japanese, and Vermontian.

Click on the image for the full ad

Vermont!“And after I dance that Irish Jig, you boys can demonstrate this new-fangled CPR!”

VermontSugaring off“…I’ll bet, Mrs. Marshall. Oh wait, that’s a real term and not just innuendo. Drat.

This PSA can be found in DC comics from November 1955 as well as April 1962. As always, the script was by Jack Schiff, with the art by the usual artist of the Buzzy PSAs, Win Mortimer.

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Drug Quiz

Which of these drugs are medications you can find in the real world, and which are just comic book drugs?

1. Celebrex 9. Cortexin
2. Cerebrax 10. Hypercortisone
3. Timelozar 11. Profem
4. Tamsulosin 12. Celexa
5. Losartan 13. Narcopropaline
6. Acetovaxidol 14. Prosan
7. Proscar 15. Serafem
8. Dridroxin 16. Somnabutol
ANSWERS: The real drugs are 1, 4, 5, 7, 12, and 15.
The comic book drugs are 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, and 16.

For slightly more in-depth answers, including sources, click here.

Friday Nurse Day #12: Saving The Dragon

cover, Tom Brent, Young Intern #3It’s been too long since I’ve highlighted a nurse-centic comic story, so I think it’s time to resume Friday Nurse Day. To start things off, today’s story is found in Charlton’s Doctor Tom Brent, Young Intern #3, as the romance filler sandwiched between two doctor stories.

Nurse Week

Friday Nurse Day #12:
Doctor Tom Brent, Young Intern #3 “Saving The Dragon”

The proudest moment of my life was when I earned my nurse’s cap — but other great moments awaited me in the career I’d wanted since I was big enough to toddle! The first time I assisted in the operating room, for instance — I was nervous but I’d expected that — and I thought the doctor would make allowances! But he didn’t — Dr. Max Lassiter, the most feared and hated man at Clark Medical Center, excused no one.

So begins the story of Anne Blanchard, a young, new nurse. Afterbring kicked out of the operating room by Dr. Lassiter, she runs crying down the hospital hallway, where she is found by the head nurse.

scene from Saving the Dragon

Not exactly the most encouraging words from a supervisor. “Sure he’s a jerk, but it’s okay because he’s young and brilliant.” The other nurses in the hospital agree that he’s the best surgeon, but also agree that he’s a first class jerk.

A short time later Dr. Lassiter approaches Anne and tells her that though he tried, it’s too late to change the schedule, so they’re stuck working together for the next two weeks. He informs her that she needs to learn proper surgical skills if she’ll be working with him. At the end of her shift, he takes her into the O.R. and spends the next several hours drilling her on what he considers good surgical technique.

scene from Saving the Dragon

Finally, she’s had enough and tells him off:

I’ve respected you because of your skill, Sr. Lassiter, but I’m beginning to doubt your competence to practice medicine! Anyone so indifferent to human suffering as you seem to be, will never truly be a doctor where it counts — in the heart!

Anne storms out of the O.R.

A little while later, Dr. Lassiter catches up with her at a nearby diner and apologizes. They both admit to being overworked and overtired and agree to spend their next day off together at the beach, trying to relax.

scene from Saving the Dragon

When she thinks he’s napping in the sun, she sneaks a kiss.

That was our first kiss — but it wasn’t our last! We were married three months later — and he still has the same foul disposition but he’s more brilliant that ever! And I wouldn’t want him any other way!

Nurse Week


Published: June 1963 by Charlton Comics

Cover price: 12¢

Time Capsule: While training Nurse Blanchard, Dr. Lassiter is chain smoking cigarettes — in the O.R.

Most progressive moment: Nothing terribly progressive in this story — in fact, the head nurse, lectures Anne on maintaining the status quo — except maybe for the fact that Anne is quite forward — and that Dr. Lassiter seems to like it that way.

Inexplicable: Anne wants her husband to be foul? And she wouldn’t want it any other way? How about — for starters — a brilliant husband with a pleasant disposition. (And what’s with all the short engagements in these medical romance comics? From loathing to marriage in three months. How long ’til the inevitable divorce?)

Nurse Week

Previous Friday Nurse Days post

Monday PSA: Binky Says “Welcome Amigo!”

Binky Says 'Welcome Amigo!'. Click for the full pageLast week, I featured a public service ad starring Buzzy; this week, I feature a PSA featuring the other one of DC’s teen leading men from the ’50s and ’60s: Binky. This ad is another of the “Be nice to your neighbors, even if they’re immigrants” ads (see also the September 1957 “Prejudice at Work” PSA and the August 1960 “Superman Says ‘Lend A Friendly Hand!’” PSA).

Click on the image for the full ad

Amigo!I can’t speak for the comics themselves, but Binky’s PSAs are always so much more serious in tone than Buzzy’s.

AmigoThough calling this a “Binky” ad is fairly misleading — He only appears in the final panel. If anything, it’s an Allergy ad — he of the giant bow tie.

AmigoClearly this ad predated Alaska and Hawaii becoming our 49th and 50th states.

AmigoI wonder if Vermont was one of the states Pablo lived in? Does he know about “sugaring off?”

This PSA can be found in DC comics from November 1955 as well as April 1962. The script was by Jack Schiff, with the art by Win Mortimer.

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Clinic Vignettes

Nurse: Mr. P- is upset. He says he called to make an appointment a few weeks ago and the triage nurse told him to go the ER.
Me: It’s a good thing she did. He was having a heart attack that needed an emergency cardiac cath and stenting.
Nurse: He just wants us to know that he’s very upset that we didn’t see him here first.
Me: We’re a family Practice clinic, not an ER.
Nurse rolls eyes at me.
Me: I know, I know: preaching to the choir. Better a live grumpy patient than a dead one. I think.

keep it separated

Patient: All our kids had this bug and then my husband and me. They all got better, but I’m still sick. Why am I the only one?
Me: Are you still smoking?
Patient: Yeah. Why?

keep it separated

Reviewing the patient’s labs with him. Two of the liver results are a tad bit high, nothing alarming, possibly due to his weight or even his cholesterol medication.
Me: A couple of your liver enyzmes are a little high.
Patient: It’s the alcohol, isn’t it?
Me: Is there something you’d like to talk about?

Medicine of the Future: The Plasto-Body Cast

scene from Action Comics #386
scene from Action Comics #386

I’m not sure which would be worse: a few days of total immobility and claustrophobia in a plasto-body cast, or much longer — several weeks at least — in a couple of regular casts. I’m leaning toward the latter.

Friday Nurse Day #13: The Last Man to Love

cover, Tom Brent, Young Intern #2Sadly, there is nothing terribly remarkable about this nurse-themed romance story found sandwiched in between the main stories in Tom Brent, Young Intern #2. The story is incredibly clichéd, and I guarantee every one of you knows exactly how the story will end after reading just the first panel. Sure, clichés are common in romance comics — and comics in general — but usually the writers try to change things up a bit. Not so in this case — the story plods along like a kid’s connect the dots picture, only less charming.

Nurse Day

Friday Nurse Day #13:
Doctor Tom Brent, Young Intern #2 “The Last Man To Love”

This – my patient, was surely a man who would’ve welcomed death instead of what the fates had dealt him – thick bandage covered his eyes – his arms and legs, shattered by the terrible force of the exploding dynamite, were in traction splints – he could hear me – and he could talk! But the things he said tore at my heart!

Ed Barker was an engineer who got caught in an explosion at a construction site, breaking “all of the bones” in his body, as well as seriously injuring his eyes. Doris Willey is the night-shift nurse who takes care of him – and apparently works the same shift every night, has no days off, and only has one patient.

scene from Tom Brent, Young Intern #2scene from Tom Brent, Young Intern #2

Ed alternates between whiny neediness and brusque stubbornness. Doris vacillates between Pollyannaism and weeping. Together they make quite the pair.

scene from Tom Brent, Young Intern #2

Through the weeks and months of his against-the-odds-but-what-did-you-expect-in-a-romance-comic recovery, they – shock of shocks – fall in love.

And, so, Ed Barker fought his way through – to make me the happiest girl in the world!

scene from Tom Brent, Young Intern #2

I know this recap is shorter than my usual nurse day posts, but there is nothing else to the story. It’s not that it’s any shorter than any of the other stories, it’s just that nothing at all terribly remarkable happens. (Well, other than a severely wounded man regaining his eyesight and ability to walk, but you know what I mean.)

Nurse Day


Published: April 1963 by Charlton Comics

Cover price: 12¢

Time Capsule: The entire traction and heavy bandage set up is positively antiquated.

Most progressive moment: Nothing. Not a one.

Inexplicable:As I mentioned above, it seems that Doris works every single night and only has Ed as a patient.

Nurse Day

Previous Friday Nurse Days post

Monday PSA: Wanted: A Teen-Age Code

Wanted: A Teen-Age Code. Click for the full pageA strange comic book public service ad this week, about a kid who crashes a party, and the girl whose party he crashes. In the end they decide the best solution to their problem is to create a guide to the correct way to behave, a.k.a. a “teen-age code.”

Here, I’ve got a code for you: Use common courtesy, and if that fails, common sense.
In other words:
codedon’t crash parties
codedon’t start fights

(Sure, you could argue that teen-agers may lack common sense, but those teen-agers are the same ones who would never follow any sort of code).

Click on the image for the full ad

codeDave growing a spine would also help.

codeThough Dave and his friends may have precipitated the problem, Sally’s guests elevated it by going immediately to a physical response rather than giving Sally time to solve the problem herself. Damn vigilante party guests.

codeIt sure looks like Dave and Sally are wearing the same clothes the next day.

This PSA can be found in DC comics from January 1958. It was written by Jack Schiff and the art looks to be by Ruben Moreira.

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Again With The Syringes

In the olden days (i.e. the Golden and Silver Ages), when you wanted a medical motif on your comic book cover you went with an x-ray. Or a head mirror. Or a thermometer. Nowadays, it’s all syringes, all the time. This week brings two more syringe covers:

cover, Batman Inc. #2cover, Mind the Gap #2