Tuesday, October 21, 2014
News of Yore: A "Prescription" for Writing Comics
October 4, 1957
New Medical Strip to Start
A doctor’s approach to medical problems—written by a doctor in collaboration with a doctor—that’s the story of the new medical strip, Dr. Guy Bennett.
It will appear daily in the Traveler starting Monday.
Brockton Native Author of Strip
The author is Dr. Michael Petti, a Brockton native now practicing in Cleveland. For his newspaper work he uses the pen name “Dr. B.C. Douglas.”
His collaborator, also a doctor, is his wife. He met her while they interned together at Lakeside Hospital in Cleveland in 1941.
They have three boys: Michael, 10; Richard, 8, and Robert, 6.
Dr. Petti grew up in Brockton with two ambitions, to be a doctor and to be a writer. He has combined the two.
He was graduated cum laude in 1937 from Dartmouth, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and served in the Navy as a lieutenant commander from 1942 to 1946.
He is a senior clinical instructor in internal medicine at Western Reserve University and is a lecturer at the university’s dental school. He is affiliated with several hospitals and has a private practice in Cleveland.
His strip is devoted to medical subjects. He has treated cancer quacks, allergies, epilepsy and alcoholic problems. In Australia, his strips dealing with diabetes symptoms uncovered a large number of cases.
Those who know Dr. Petti and his intimates can pinpoint the characters in the strip. They are modeled on his medical associates, friends and members of his family.
Each panel in the strip is laid out on paper by the doctor and his wife. It then goes to an artist for drawing. The completed work is returned to the doctor for a final check for accuracy.
The first strip Monday will introduce some of the principal characters in Dr. Guy Bennett. The sequence that follows involves Br. Bennett’s own family in a medical problem that completely disrupts his home life.
September 15, 1959
Doctor Satisfies Desire to Write with Comic Strip
“I always wanted to be a writer….A couple of years ago I got the idea for a comic strip with a medical theme. I thought about developing a story line to revolve around a particular medical problem, the problem to be portrayed with unfailing accuracy.
“I did a pilot story without pictures—I’m not an artist—and took it to Lafave Features in Cleveland. They liked the idea, so I hired an artist and we were in business.”
“Here’s how I work. I usually block out an entire story at a time. Each story covers two months worth of strips.
“I get my ideas from my work, reading, colleagues’s suggestions. And each story is built around a definite medical problem.
“Actually, what I do is to select the problem—that’s educational—then weave a dramatic tale around it.”
“I write a one page story outline. Then I work it out the way it will appear in the paper, a day at a time. I do all this without drawings. I write directions for the artist, however. He’s Frank Thorne of Westfield, N.J.
“Now, my training is all in internal medicine. For that reason I don’t feel qualified in dealing with story ideas outside my specialty.
“Thus, when I do stories with psychiatric, say, or surgical themes—anything specialized—in each case I consult with a specialist in that field….
“After the story is checked for accuracy I give it to the syndicate. After I get the syndicate’s OK, I mail the whole thing to Thorne in New Jersey.”
Dr. Petti said Thorne let’s him know when the newspaper deadlines fall. Thorne works up the drawings in pencil and sends them back to Petti.
“I check them for accuracy.” Dr. Petti said. “It’s surprising the way readers and colleagues search for the slightest deviation from actual medical practice. The angle of a hypodermic needle during an injection, for instance.
“When I've gone over Throne’s drawings, maybe suggesting changes, I mail them back to him. He does them again in ink. That’s the finished product. He sends them to me, I check them, then turn them over to the syndicate for distribution.”
“I give the syndicate a week’s work at a time.”
(Michael Anthony Petti passed away September 4, 2008. His death was reported in the Enterprise, September 19.)
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