Tuesday, November 25, 2008

No More Lazy Sundays.

Tuesday Comic Strip Day.

Dennis the Menace was an overnight succes. Of course Hank Ketcham, it's creator has toiled for a decade in cartoon magazines after a short period as a story artist at Disney, but when he hit upon the idea to create a panel about s different kind of boy than was usually seen in the newspapers,it took of immediately. Starting with only twelve papers in 1951, he already had enough papers to start a sunday version in a year. The Sunday would turn out to be just a big succes as the daily panel and very important to the 'franchise' because it gave the characters of the strip room to grow and express themselves.Much of what we now see as wuintessential Dennis, was started in the Sunday version. As most comic collectors know, most of these sundays were not drawn or written by Hank Ketcham himself. Although he kept a tight control over all aspects of the production, he relied on gag writers for his panels and the Sundays and employed a string of artists for the Sunday. At a certain point in the late fifties, the Sunday was even produced without his interference. How much control he had over it after that, isn't quite clear, although I get the impression it was less then he sometimes gets credit for and more than is usually made out in the fan press. At least the amount of control he kept when the daily panel was first taken over by a ghost, suggests he was not a man who could let go easily. So there must have been a period when the Sunday was starting when he was still doing it all by himself or at least keeping tight control over his assistants. Although I have a few Sundays from 1953, I have never seen any of the earlier ones. We kno that at least from 1954 cartoonist Al Wiseman was heavily involved. There is a blog devoted to the work of Wiseman at http://alwiseman.com which I can heartily recommend. But I had never seen any of the earliest Sunday samples until I came across a whole slew of them at newspaperarchive.com. These copies are from microfiche, so thye aren't bookworthy, but they are good enough for my humble blog. I hope Fantagraphic will find agood source to bring out a book from those early years to accompany the excellent two year daily book series they are publishing. Until then these willhave to do. Note that a Mr. and Mrs. Wilson appear here quite early on. I'd have to check, but I get the impression they are shown here as neighbours before they appear in the daily panel.

The Sunday seems to have started in March or even earlier. Here is what I could retrieve.

May 251952:

July 13 1952:

Aug 17 1952:

Aug 24 1952:

Sept 14 1952:

Sept 21 1952:

Sept 28 1952:

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