Dr. Bobbs in a rare moment having to do with medicine. Artist: Jim McArdle.


Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: King Features Syndicate
First Appeared: 1940
Creators: Elliot Caplin (writer) and Jim McArdle (artist)
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Like Newspaper Enterprise Association's Myra North, Special Nurse, or Marvel Comics' Night Nurse, King Features Syndicate's Dr. Bobbs was a medical professional who flitted briefly across the comics scene and had little or no long-term impact. Also like them, his adventures …

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… were a bit more exciting than sore throats, tummy aches and even appendectomies. In his life, the practice of medicine took a back seat to criminal conspiracies, daring rescues, and incipient political scandals.

Dr. Stephen Bobbs starred in the second comic strip created by Elliot Caplin, younger brother of cartoonist Al Capp. Following Capp's huge success with Li'l Abner, Caplin carved out his own career in comics, starting with Hippo & Hookey, which was drawn by magazine illustrator John Pierotti and distributed by King Features. It flopped almost immediately, but King was still impressed enough with Caplin's writing ability to go for the Dr. Bobbs feature. It started syndicating Bobbs in 1940. Among Caplin's many later successes were Long Sam, Big Ben Bolt and The Heart of Juliet Jones. He also took over scripting Capp's second successful comic, Abbie & Slats, when Capp was no longer able to write it.

For the artwork, King assigned Jim McArdle, a considerably less stellar creator, who drew Bobbs in a less cartoony style than Pierotti had used for Caplin's first strip. McArdle's later credits in comic books include work for DC, Quality and Dell. He also drew features for the restaurant promotion comic, Adventures of the Big Boy.

Dr. Bobbs wasn't an outstanding media phenomenon — no movies, novelizations or even Big Little Books. But it did manage a comic book reprint. Dell's Four Color Comics, where everything from Little Joe to Calvin & the Colonel appeared at one time or another, devoted its 212th issue, which came out in 1948, to reprinting a Dr. Bobbs story from the newspapers.

But the following year, King Features cancelled the feature. After 1949, Dr. Bobbs was seen no more. Caplin and McArdle had handled it the whole time.


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