Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sensational Strips: Ben Casey

With the popularity ABC TV show Ben Casey, the NEA Syndicate decided to to adapt the idea into a daily strip that debuted on November 26, 1962, with a Sunday feature added later on September 20, 1964. At the young age of twenty one, Neal Adams had the experience and look that NEA wanted, so he was chosen to draw the feature in his slick photorealistic style. Illustrated in the likeness of TV star Vince Edwards, Ben Casey was the resident surgeon of County General Hospital dealing with the most extreme and rare medical cases, with the help of an elderly chief surgeon and mentor, Dr. Zorbe. Rounding out the cast was the beautiful Dr. Maggie Graham, who became the romantic interest for Casey in his extremely sparse leisure time away from the hospital. For the early 1960s, the storylines were quite ahead of their time, dealing with controversial subjects including drug addition, attempted suicide, and unwanted pregnancy, all done in a straightforward direct style that stressed the realism of the strip. When the television show had finally run its course, ending on the fifth season, the newspapers strip soon followed with the last Ben Casey episode appearing on the Sunday page, July 31, 1966.

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