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Sex, Drugs, and Rex Morgan

John Wells recent posting of an intriguing 1954 Judge Parker Sunday …

… got me thinking of a Rex Morgan, M.D. story by the same author of few years earlier.

Nick Dallis tells of the dangers of drugs on America’s youth. A couple months later the comic strip would be reproduced in a comic book with a luridly sensational cover and vivid editorial captioning.

Dr. Fredric Wertham, who apparently based his judgement only on the cover, included the comic book in his infamous book Seduction of the Innocent:

When adolescent drug addiction had finally come to public attention, it led to the publication of lurid new comic books devoted entirely to the subject, like the one with the title, Teen-Age Dope Slaves. This is nothing but another variety of crime comic of a particularly deplorable character.

ShadowWing Tronix actually read the comic:

So I have to ask: did Fredric Wertham actually read this comic instead of skimming the pages? This is actually a pretty good anti-drug PSA. There are exposition parts but they’re kind of necessary and done organically. Bruce’s problems aren’t exaggerated and (this is rare for one of these stories) we actually get to see him going through detox and coming out clean. We can only hope he stays there but with Louise’s love and Bill not telling him to jump the kid might make it. It’s actually a good story and I would hope would keep kids off drugs or seek help. But all Wertham seemed to see is a story about drug use and assume it would drive all the kiddies to needle up. This comic was intended to warn people away.

Because of the Wertham mention the comic book commands prices ranging from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars depending on condition

The comic book begins with the September 23, 1951 Sunday page (above) and runs, Sunday and daily, to the December 29, 1951 Saturday newspaper strip (below).
Lucky for us Comic Book Plus has put the Teen-Age Dope Slaves comic up on their site.

Spoiler!
The last couple Rex Morgan, M.D. strips in the comic:

The December 30, 1951 Sunday page was epilogue:


Rex Morgan and Judge Parker © North America Syndicate

Oh, and the sex part in the title? ShadowWing Tronix again:

A week later the drugs are finally washed out of Bruce’s system (after a beautiful for the time montage of Bruce imagining June, Rex, and Louise are there on his case but trying to help him) and he can go home to his sweet adorable landlady. But rather than suffer that torture (which would have Bruce back on drugs before the night was over), Bill offers to let him live with them, and I’m actually convinced it’s not so he can kill the boy himself quietly in his sleep. Think about it. Even today in 2017 bringing your daughter’s boyfriend to live with under your roof with her unmarried is a rare event, especially with drugs involved. Imagine in 1952 (the story probably written a few months prior, in 1951), where that would be considered {gasp} scandalous!!!!!!!!

(The first page splash signed by Bradley and Edgington (doubling as the cover) may have been drawn for the comic book or for an undiscovered promotion; the panel is not part of the newspaper comic strip.)

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