There's so much going on in this comic that pretty much only a Freemaniac like myself would even pick up on, I can only hope that the actual overt joke is worth it for everyone else. Yes, Walter's mother's mother, Dr. Keen's "darling Tinnie," was born Emma Corinna Borden and was second cousin to Lizzie, who like Tinnie and her family lived in Fall River, Massachusetts.
Also yes, one of Keen's pet causes was vaccination. If he did visit me for a chat I think he'd be delighted with the enormous progress medicine has made since his death nearly eighty years ago, but I think he'd also be appalled to learn that there are still people opposed to vaccination. I'm curious about this because I don't know what the grounds for the objection was back then. No, Doctor, honest, I've never gotten measles or mumps or typhoid or pertussis and I wasn't even vaccinated against smallpox because it's just gone but in 1938 this guy named Hans Asperger came up with this term autistic psychopath and that's when things started getting weird...
I like Keen's (mostly) gentle humor. I think he might actually have made the crack about his height in panel one. Here's a bit from his memoirs:
...I noticed an ad in the Weekly Roster of Medical Meetings in Philadelphia in which the publisher was making a plea for "Our Advertisers: Their Products and Services."
The first "service" was in commendation of cremation, supported by "some of those in the [medical] profession who have expressed their preference for cremations and whose desires to be cremated have been fulfilled at the crematory." Among those who had been declared officially to have been cremated I found my own name.
I pinched myself to find out whether I consisted wholly of ambulant ashes. I seemed to be real flesh and blood, but there it stood: My desire to be cremated had been fulfilled. However, printed statements (such as many of those of my friends the antivivisectionists) are not always to be taken at their face value, and I concluded that I will continue to eat and drink, and at some suitable time in the future, I will be cremated again.
Ha! I see that being totally catty about those who oppose your methods runs in the family, just like being brilliant and beardy.