Dr. Dud was my first original cartoon character and his origin goes far back into the mists of time –to when I was in 6th grade. Actually, he wasn’t all that “original.” Another kid, whose drawings skills were more advanced than mine, and who, like most 11- or 12-year olds, was oblivious to copyright law, used a character in a cartoon series produced by animator Gene Deitch. The series name was “Tom Terrific,” and was specifically made for the “Captain Kangaroo” TV show. The cartoons were black-and-white, only 5 minutes per episode, and probably relatively low-budget. But they had great goofy characters and showed some imagination. Jules Feiffer, the brilliant cartoonist and writer of Village Voice fame, got one of his earliest jobs on the writing team for the TT series. Tom Terrific had a magical “thinking cap” that looked like an ordinary kitchen funnel. Not only did it give Tom great ideas, but it gave him shapeshifter powers!
My friend didn’t mimic Tom Terrific, but lifted a villain with the wonderful name of “Isotope Feeney.” Take a look at a YouTube episode of Tom Terrific called “Isotope Feeney’s Foolish Fog.” Isotope was a mad scientist who lived in an “ivory tower.” His body as you can see, was entirely obscured by his beard and he had a distinctive, wheezing laugh.
So my friend made up stories using Isotope Feeney and I created a sort of Isotope Feeney clone I called “Inventis Egghead.” During the 70’s I changed his name to “Professor I.Q.” That’s when he picked up SuperFrog as an assistant. SuperFrog was a strange amphibian from another galaxy who had the power to leap across space and time. By this time, I.Q.’s character and look had diverged from Isotope Feeney’s. No bad guy, I.Q. was more of an eccentric genius, although there are indications that his past was a bit shady. A Frankenstein-like monster he created, for instance, became the C.E.O. of a greedy multinational corporation! I did a number of short comic stories featuring I.Q. and SuperFrog in the mid-70’s that I was hoped to publish in “underground comix,” but my timing was unfortunate. The underground comix scene was falling apart by 1975, the time of my submissions!
When I self-published “Asteroid Stu and the Mind-Duel,” back in 2001, I.Q.’s name had morphed again to Dr. Dud. Dr. Dud lived in a simulated ivory tower (it might be made from petroleum-derived plastic, but at least no ivory-poaching was involved). The tower floated in Stu’s turf, the asteroid belt. In Multiverse Comics and Stories, Dr. Dud and his simulated ivory tower return in “The Case of the Renegade Refrigerator.” Who knows where they’ll pop up next?