Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Say, Wiseman

Monday Cartoon day.

A couple of weeks ago, I showed some cartoons by Al Wiseman from a late forties cartoon digest called Zest. Wiseman is best known for being Hank Ketcham's ghost on the Dennis the Menace Sundays and comic books. What many see as Ketcham's style, is in fact the work of Wiseman. The story goes that Ketcham and Wiseman made a deal while golfing one day. Both were trying to sell a newspaper strip and each promised to be the other's assistant if he sold his strip first. That this story is told by the family of Wiseman doesn't surprise me, because seeing the succes of Ketcham as a cartoonist and the relative anonimity of Wiseman (who sold his cartoons unsigned to a much less respected type of magzines) it seems unlikely to me that Ketcham would ever think he might be the last to sell a strip and having read Ketcham's biography I'd say he would never be anyone's assistant. Nice story, but it doesn't hold water.

Having found one signed Wiseman gag, I was finally able to see what his personal style looked like and I soon found more of it, this time in a coverless magazine fro the late fortis. I don't even know by what publisher it is, but it may be the same as the one who did Zest. Having come across one typical Wiseman cartoon, it wasn't difficult to pick out his other ones. Fortunately, it was the type of magazine where if you sold one cartoon, you sold a couple.

So why do I bother with these cartoons? Well, I think there are so many untold aspects to the history of comics and cartoons and I like to shin emy light on them. In this case, it's the history of Dennis the Menace. These cartoons (and the ones bfore this) will be up here for a long time. I hope that everyone who is doing books on thse subjects will have a look here to see what kind of odd knick-knacks I have found and use them in their article or book. Most of the cartoons and images are small versions of larger scans I have at home. If you are writing an article and want a better resolution, please contact me. I aim to become the number one resource for first line research.

In fact, I have said this before, but I could really use your help in getting the word out. I have a steady flow of visitors, but I still see books and articles with outdated information or without the wealth of illustrations I could offer. The best way to do this would be to have more of my stuff mentioned on Wikipedia. Unfortunately, I can't use myself as a source, so I can't do these myself. Recently, I have been looking into the jack Cole strip Betsy and Me again. I have more color scans of the post Cole Dwight Parks Sundays, as well as a nearly complete run of Parks' dailies (not included in the Fantaraphics book). Wikipedia still quotes the fantagraphcs book saying that after Cole the strip was continued by a number of artist, who all failed to mae it a succes and the strip ended in December of 1958. The truth (which I have mentioned here and in my article in Hogans' Alley #17) is that the syndicate advertised for a replacement after Cole's suidice, chose local artist Dwight Parks out of a few applicants and pre-arranged for him to fill out their contractual obligations for the year. After Parks took over the strips, a few papers even joined, but the end was predetermined.

End of rant. Tomorrow more by Wiseman.


ttw said...

Al Wiseman was my father-in-law. His son, Jim, was sometimes the model for the comic books and, at one time, was being prepared to act as Dennis in an earlier TV show than the one that actually aired. We have some great publicity shots with Jim and Hank as well as some very early photos of Al and his wife, Vadis with Hank and his first wife when she was pregnant with Dennis. We spend 3 - 4 months each year in Eindhoven and are always on the look-out for international versions of the Dennis comic books.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

Hi, please let's get in touch. You could try befriending me on Facebook. If you are in Eindhoven during one of the comic festivals it might be a good time to meet up.