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Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Number 526


More Al Wiseman


When I first showed a Dennis the Menace story by writer Fred Toole and Hank Ketcham assistant, Al Wiseman, I got several e-mails from grateful fans. There are a lot of fans and professional cartoonists who share the opinion that Wiseman was a great artist.

Here are two more Dennis the Menace stories by the team of Toole and Wiseman. They are scanned from The Best of Dennis the Menace #1, 1959. The Grand Comics Database doesn't know what issue of Dennis that "Dennis Rides Again" comes from, but based on the art style it's obviously early, within the first few issues of the series that began in 1953. "Dennis the Space Menace" is from an unnumbered issue of Dennis the Menace Giant Vacation Special, circa mid-'50s.

The thing these stories have in common with our Dennis story in Pappy's #497 is that they come from Dennis' imagination, a kid's version of what he hears. In one case it's a dream about cowboys, in the other flying saucers. They're told from his point of view, which gives Toole and Wiseman room to have fun with the material.















7 comments:

Tamfos said...

AAAAGH! More Wiseman!!! Thanks, Pappy! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Been looking forward to more of his great Dennis stuff (and non-Dennis, if you come across it). As always, his art is amazing; so simple and stylized, yet still able to work in all kinds of little details (the cap ribbons in ALL the cowboy guns, the Wally Wood-esque gadgetry on the splash of "The Space Menace" and the dining room table that the Saucer-port is on). Not to mention his flat-out drawing chops! Lovely.

But Toole's writing is hilarious, as well. Having the adult "Indians" appear about as naked as a five year kid is probably comfortable with, his word play with "pardner" and "mosey" and what I see as his very (very) sly political commentary on "Palefaces" inability to understand what the "Indians'" problem is; "Hey, Lucky. Why don't Injuns like Palefaces?" "Uh, gosh, I dunno!" Not to mention a dozen other little tidbits. This was a joy to read as both an appreciator of great comics art, and great comics writing.

Pappy said...

Tamfos, you said that so well.

I hope to be showing some more Dennis in the future. Some of it is epic but unwieldy, like the giant issues, Dennis the Menace in Mexico, ...in Hollywood, etc., but I could probably post a chapter or two.

Tamfos said...

Well, maybe I'm the only one commenting, but I can't be the only one loving this stuff. By all means, whatever Wiseman you want to post, please do! He's one of those artists who is absolutely worshiped by other comics artists (and a few others), but virtually overlooked by the general comics reading public. Not by you, though, and thank heaven for that!

untamedhighway said...

Tamfos and Pappy, just wanted to let you know there are more Wiseman fans out here...I've treasured my Dennis comics for years and only recently through the internet have been able to find out who my favorite Dennis artist was. I could never understand why these comics have been so overlooked. The cartooning and stories are amazing and rank up there with my all time favorite comics. Kudos, Pappy, for giving these comics their due. The Space story is one I've never seen before. Excellent stuff!

Jeff A. Williams said...

More excellent Dennis/Wiseman/Toole stuff!

Just to clear up things, the story "Dennis the Menace Rides Again" first appeared in Dennis The Menace #3.

ZMOQ said...

Hi Pappy and Dennis the Menace comics fans!

Glad that I discovered this blog. I have a question about the Dennis the Menace "travel" series, usually illustrated by Al Wiseman. Since 1972 (or so), I've had a few issues, such as MEXICO, HOLLYWOOD and QUEEN MARY.

After searching the Internet, I noticed that MEXICO had once contained 96 pages. My copy had 64 pages. So, at some point in time, Fawcett had removed up to 32 pages from their 70's era reprints, probably to save paper. Kids never noticed the difference at the time.

I went ahead and bought a bunch more of these Dennis the Menace "travel" issues on ebay recently. On some of them, Wiseman's distinctive, clean style with the elegantly rendered backgrounds came through. So, is it correct that Wiseman illustrated these?

MEXICO (#38) [96pp]
HAWAII (#114) [64 pp]
HOLLYWOOD (#130) [48pp]
CALIFORNIA (#47) [64pp]
WASHINGTON DC (#144) [48pp]

I noticed a different style on some of the others... the buildings are not as detailed, fewer panels per page, and a looser, less refined line style. Are these other "travel" comics the work of a different artist?

PARIS (#127) [48pp]
LONDON (#125) [48pp]
IRELAND (#143) [48pp]
AIR/SPACE MUSEUM (#167) [32pp]
CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL (#163) [48pp]
QUEEN MARY (#128) [48pp]

Lastly, are these page counts correct? Or am I looking at latter-day reprints with some pages removed? Are there earlier, more complete issues of these comics?

ttw said...

I can confirm that Al drew both the Mexico and Hawaiian travel books as well as most of the earlier giant issues. Al's son, Jim, accompanied Al and Fred on their trip to Mexico and we still have the original mask he used in one of the panels as well as some pictures from that trip. Al, Fred and their wives went on the trip researching for the Hawaii book. We have some wonderful articles from the local newspaper about their trip and some pictures of both Fred and Al. Al also illustrated a great postcard he sent home to Jim that we still have as well.