Dr. Atomic and his robot. Artist: Larry Todd.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Last Gasp Eco-Funnies
First Appeared: 1972
Creator: Larry Todd
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Whacky inventors in cartoons, like Professor Potter and Doc Static, are more often supporting characters (to Superman and Mickey Mouse, respectively) than protagonists. But there is …

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… the occasional O.G. Wotasnozzle (who had his own stories in the back pages of Popeye's comic book) or Clyde Crashcup (who starred in a back segment on Alvin's show. Dr. Atomic, a 1970s character from "underground" comic books, is one of those protagonists.

Dr. Atomic (first name Otto) was created by cartoonist Larry Todd, whose other work in comix includes Tales of the Armorkins. He first appeared in some of the transient underground newspapers of the early 1970s, where his first task was to build his robot assistant. Dr. Atomic #1, published in 1972 by Last Gasp Eco-Funnies (Mickey Rat, Cherry Poptart), reprinted those newspaper episodes, and added a couple of new adventures.

The character's back-story included having been a lieutenant in the Luftwaffe in 1941, which would make him a good deal older than most of his 20-something readers. (Another clue was his bald head and thick, white beard.) Still, he had more in common with Billy Kropotkin, the dope-smoking hippie next door, than with Hank the heavily armed redneck, next door on the other side. Billy and Dr. Atomic had one drug-addled sci-fi adventure after another, for six issues. The last came out in 1981.

There were also T-shirts and suchlike — no lunch boxes or Underoos, of course, but one spun-off product was absolutely unique. Dr. Atomic's Marijuana Multiplier, which was published in 1974, provided instructions for a chemical process that allegedly enhanced cheap, low-quality pot. The chemicals are said by others to have been fairly dangerous if handled by non-professionals. Nonetheless, people bought a great many copies, and it's still in print.

These days, Dr. Atomic's Marijuana Multiplier is printed on much better paper than the newsprint of the first edition. Also, it's sold with a disclaimer that it's merely an historic artifact, and it is not recommended that anyone actually follow the directions, and anyway, today's pot doesn't need it. But it's still available, and the old comic books aren't.


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Text ©2005-08 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Larry Todd.