Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dennis the Menace #1 - April 1982

sgMarvel's first real foray into digests didn't star Spider-Man, Hulk, the X-Men, or any other staple of the House of Ideas, but Dennis the Menace!

Dennis had just received his own monthly title from Marvel a few month earlier, and I guess the initial sales were strong enough for them to give the little tyke a second title. Unfortunately, neither Dennis title lasted too long--the monthly regular book ended with #13, and this digest only ran three issues.

As a kid, I never gave a second thought to Dennis the Menace as a comic strip--I didn't think it was funny and the art did nothing for me. But as I've gotten older, I've come to really appreciate Hank Ketchum's beautiful linework and sense of design. And while I still don't think Dennis is funny, looking at the strips themselves is a joy to behold.

These Dennis stories though are not strip reprints--they're long-form comic book stories that are(as far as I know) original, either done by Ketchum or(more likely) a stable of assistants and ghost artists. The stories included are: "Tag-Along Trouble", "Dennis the Golfer", "The Kitty Catchers", "All Gummed Up", "The Amazement Park", "The Compact Car Caper", "Always a Lady", "Cake Walk", "The Dog Snatchers", "A Case of School-itis", "Dennis the Salesman", and "Dennis Vs. The Zoo."

This first issue even has a one-page Margaret strip and a "How to Draw Dennis' Dad" feature page, making for a fun package.

Update: As DigestFan Craig Wichman pointed out in the comments section, what the heck is a DC plug doing on the UPC code of a Marvel comic? I can't believe I missed that!


megomuseum said...

Wow, I think I owned this, I agree that US Dennis was never funny. Quite unlike the UK version of the character of which I was born and raised.

wich2 said...

Wow - no props here for the Den-Man!

I only now a smidge about the Brit one (any good sites out there?); but as for the Yank:

Yes, in later years the Ketcham Empire conglomerated- and blanded- out, like the Schulz Empire.

But the '50's newspaper panels, where the real zest of kid-hood where matched with true devil that's in a kid, was a big influence on Waterson's Calvin.

And some of the comics' ghosts outdid their master! Fred Toole & Al Wiseman's stuff, esp. the Christmas stories, is legend.
See Fred Hembeck:

("...among the very best comic books ever produced, bar none!...)

-Craig W.

__Neal said...

When I was in England many years ago, I picked up a copy of Beano and was amazed to see that Dennis the Menace was a completely different character. He had slicked-down black hair and seemed much more mean spirited than the US version, whose mischief seemed largely benign. I thought the UK version was much funnier!

rob! said...

Matt Groening has said in a number of Simpsons DVD commentaries that as a kid he was so excited at the idea of the Dennis the Menace TV show--a show about a real bad seed little boy. then he was sooo disappointed over its overall lameness that it helped inspire him to create a real bad boy, Bart Simpson!

Wich2 said...

(By the way - is that a DC plug on a Marvel book?)

rob! said...

holy crap, Craig--i didnt even notice that! what the???