Project Wonderful

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Hank Ketchum's Complete Dennis The Menace 1951-1952

This image is copyright © 2005 Fantagraphics Books and Hank Ketchum Enterprises, Inc. and is used as a Fair Use Review image only. Image will be removed upon request of Fantagraphics Books or Hank Ketchum Enterprises, Inc.

Hank Ketchum's Complete Dennis The Menace 1951-1952
Cover Price: $24.95
Writer & Artist: Hank Ketchum (March 14, 1920 - June 1, 2001)

Characters: Dennis, Dennis' Mom & Dad, Ruff, Mr. & Mrs. Wilson, Henry and Alice Mitchell, Joey and Margret and a cast of others.

So I had seen this book around along with all the other Fantagraphics Books reprints and I had always thought it was a wonderful idea for the classic strips to finally be reprinted. I had bought the first four Peanuts collections and had my eye on the Dick Tracy and Dennis The Menace collections. Of course money is always a factor and I'd never gotten around to getting them until about two weeks ago I walked into the Barnes And Noble in Gretna, Louisiana and I found the first volume of Dennis The Menace for $6.99 and so I now have it and am glad that I do.

Sometimes the things we see all the time are taken for granted that it will always be there and always has been but this shows that there was a beginning and a funny one at that. The very first strip in March 1951 shows Dennis sticking his head out of the backseat window looking toward a motorcycle cop with a smug look on his face. The caption reads "You didn't catch us! We ran out gas!"

The cartoons are all really well drawn, very stylized and sharp with great inking. I love that almost every cartoon has a nice solid black section that just pops the cartoon off the page. You can see that the art was different back in the 1950's and as this book ends you can see a big difference in what two years of drawing the same characters will do. If you visit the official website( ) you can really see the differences.

The gags are really pretty funny and most stand up to today's standards, some are dated but fun nonetheless. Dennis is a character that says all the wrong things at exactly the right time, he causes trouble wherever he goes and he says what we are all thinking. This kid defines what it is to be a little kid and I think most of us can relate to the innocence of taking your shoes off and then splashing in a mud puddle so your Mom wouldn't be mad because you got your shoes muddy.

This is a wonderful collection and can stand alone but it makes me happy to know that this isn't the end of the line there are over 60 years worth of these comic strips.

- Kevin P. Johnson

Copyright © 2008 Kevin P. Johnson

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