Monday, January 01, 2018

The Pest That Lasted

Monday Cartoon Day.

All comic strip collectors know that the Dennis the Menace comic series was not drawn or written by Hank Ketcham. The first issue was done by his friend Al Wiseman and written by Fred Toole. Later, both men would be followed by other assistants, but together they shaped the look of Dennis in the minds of many younger readers. They also were the first to get the tyke involved in longer stories and developed the side characters, like neighbour Mr. Wilson. He also figures a lot in the Sunday version, but those were not made by Ketcham either. Or at least, the ones we know best. I have always had my doubts about the first year of Sundays. Some Dennis fans assure me that Wiseman was reponsible for those as well, from the start. But other sources say he did not quit his day job in advertising before the comic book became an overnight hit in 1953. Anyway, the first year of Sundays do not feature Mr. Wilson as prominently and focus mainly on Dennis and his parents. Furthermore they do not read as well developed stories or gags, but as a series as cartoons. Because I did not grow up in the US and have no sentimental attachment to any version, I think this first year is the best. It has all of the stylistic mastery of the daily panel and just focusses on the same subject as the panel, the terrible things that rotten kid does. In fact, it's just like reading more of the daily cartoon.


Mark Mayerson said...

You meant Fred Toole as the writer of the comic books,
not Fred Moore the Disney animator.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

Of course. The name was right in front of me but my fingers decided they knew better.