Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Dennis the Menace, 1956

The child in this picture is actually Jim Wiseman, son of Al Wiseman who illustrated the original Dennis the Menace comic books which were authored by Fred Toole. While Dennis inspired the original character, Jim was the inspiration for many of the comic books. He had the enviable position of seeing the creation of the comic books from initial sketches through the finished book - and got to preview each before it was published.

The inspiration for the comic strip came from Dennis Ketcham, the real life son of Hank Ketcham, who was only four years old when he refused to take a nap and somehow messed up his whole room. Hank tried many possible names for the character, and translated them into rough pencil sketches. But when his studio door flew open and his then-wife Alice, in utter exasperation, exclaimed, "Your son is a menace!", the "Dennis the Menace" name stuck. The character of Henry Mitchell bore a striking resemblance to Ketcham. The Mitchell family of Dennis, Hank/Henry and Alice were all named after the Ketchams.

The comic strip that was inspired by Dennis, was carried by 16 newspapers within five months. By May 1953, 193 newspapers in the United States and 52 abroad were carrying the strip to 30 million readers.. It is now written and drawn by Ketcham's former assistants, Marcus Hamilton and Ron Ferdinand, and distributed to more than at least 10,000 newspapers in 48 countries and 19 languages.

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