Sunday, May 11, 2008

Ketcham, Fox.

As I said in the past post, Gill Fox used Hank Ketcham's style for Bumper to Bumper, adding his own touch to it (usually that meant more pretty women). Recently, we have been able to have a look at the development of Ketcham's style through the Fantagraphics reprints of his Dennis the Menace series. These are only reprinting the dailies, though. Several artists, including Love and Rockets' Jaime Hernandez, have said how much they were influenced by the Dennis the Menace Sunday strips and comics. Most of those were not drawn by Ketcham, though, but by Al Wiseman in Ketcham's style. If one can believe the recent article in Hogan's Alley about the type of detailed advice Ketcham gave his successor before letting him draw on his own and the amount of control he exercised over the cartoon when he left it, I guess Wiseman didn't do it all on his own. But still, there's only so much one man can do.

Anyway, I don't know when the Sunday was taken over by Wiseman. My guess is that the early years were done by Ketcham himself. Here's a Sunday sample from Jan 20 1952, which looks like Ketcham's own work. In fact, it looks like a sequence of panel gags rather than a Sunday story. I hope Fantagraphics will either do a ,line of sunday reprints (hoping there are enough Wiseman fans to sell them) or at least a book showcasing Ketcham's own early years.

I just received an e-mail from dutch cartoonist Gerben Valkema, who alerted me to the fact that there is a blog dedicated to Al Wiseman. I have added the link to my links on the right hand side. And as long as we are talking about artists who can mimic an other's styles... Gerben does a mean Walt Kelly impression, which I hope to coax out of him for this blog one of these days. Gerben is still quite young, but has already made his mark as one of the artists who worked on the dutch weekly gag strip Jan, Jans en de kinderen, when it's original creator Jan Kruis stop drawing the series himself. A new style was created (using some of Bus Blake's surface characteristics, which probably is what lured Gerben here. This new style was developed by another dutch artist and maybe the best stylistic chameleon around, Daan Jippes (who coincidentally now shares a studio with Gerben). Daan is internationally know as the only artist who is capable if recreating Carl Bark's style in such a way that it lives and breathes. The latest Carl Barks project he has been working on is drawing all stories that Carl Barks scripted at the end of his career for other artists again, but this time in Barks own style, using his own lay-outs. Daan's work is available in English in a new paperback from Gladstone (which was advertised in the Previews catalogue only recently). It is called Donald Duck Family - The Daan Jippes Collection and will come out on June 11, 2008.

Anyway, I am digressing from my digression, I think. Gerben is now drawing his own daily newspaper strip, called Elsje, about the decidedly adult thoughts of a young girl. I had already made a link to her site last week.

The Al Wiseman blog has some good cartoons, but I am sad to note that it hasn't been renewed for a year now. I think I have a couple of Wiseman cartoons myself and will come back to those at some later point. At least it gave me the information that Wiseman worked on Dennis the menace from 1953, confirming my idea that Ketcham was still drawing it himself in 1952.


Steven Rowe said...

I've talked with Marcus Hamilton many times over the years- there is no reason to not believe him about his experience working with Ketcham. On the other hand, he took over the daily panel - I have no idea what the sunday folks did. I am led to understand that when he moved to Europe circa the late 1950s, he had nothing to do with the Sunday (Which was produced by Toole and Wiseman).
the sunday and the comic books were produced by the Ketcham studios in california. Wiseman himself used various assistants, one of which used to cause me confusion when he was doing funny animals for Dell in the late 1950s - Lynn Karp - because with certain inkers, he looked just like Wiseman.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

Great information, Steve. It was the interview with Hamilton in Hogan's Alley that made me suggest that Ketcham would have controlled everything.