Sunday, April 29, 2007


In a wonderful book about this cartoonist, Hank has given us a name that readers of his most famous creation now know, so the book got the title THE MERCHANT OF DENNIS, and that book goes into great detail about Hank's strip, DENNIS THE MENACE.
I've been a fan of "Dennis" for about 45 years, a fan of both the syndicated panel and the Sunday strip in the newspapers, and the old live-action television series of "Dennis", starring Jay North.
Hank once referred to that program as "that tv thing", but I loved it, particularly I loved THE DENNIS THE MENACE STORYBOOK, which adapted episodes of the tv series into short story form with beautiful color illustrations. My childhood friend, David B., had a copy, and I did not, but I managed to finally find one at a comic book convention in the late 1980's!!!
Oh, I love the "Dennis" paperback books, from the 1960's, also, and I have a big stack of the DENNIS THE MENACE comic books put out by FAWCETT, these go from the early 1950's into the late 1970's, and there are some later "Dennis" comic books put out by MARVEL.
Just now inserting here that I recently purchased a real DENNIS bargain, a fourth printing, from the early 1960's, of DENNIS THE MENACE: HOUSEHOLD HURRICANE.
It is interesting to note that this paperback book has 62 cartoons that were _not_ in the original hardcover printing!!!
An absolute JOY to read!!!
Hank Ketcham did not produce all of the DENNIS material, a pair of gentlemen named Al Wiseman and Fred Toole, and several others, including Owen Fitzgerald, who had been with DC COMICS humor titles, produced a lot of the (long) comic book stories. But the thing about the Dennis character and his family, friends, and even that grouchy neighbor, Mr. Wilson, all have one thing in common: the superb draughtsmanship of Ketcham and his "ghosts".
Ketcham left his mark on the animation industry also, having worked for WALT DISNEY at one time, plus "Dennis" also made it to television, in an animated special called "Mayday For Mother", this was followed by a later series of cartoons, that were made in Japan, but broadcast in English.
Ketcham also produced another syndicated feature, HALF HOTCH, about a US Navy man, this series was also beautifully drawn. Even though Ketcham's work is not done in a realistic manner, all objects are so carefully delineated it is easy to tell what everything is, and the people and places look like the people in your own town!!!

--additions and edits and more will follow!!!

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