Friday, May 14, 2010

Number 736

Dennis, Henry and Li'l Pappy in the Fun House

To help prove my personal theory that everything I needed to know I learned from comic books, comes this funny story that in 1955 taught me about the fun house. Dad and Mom gave me 35¢ for admission to said palace of pain at a local amusement park. I found out that the fun house was exactly as writer Fred Toole and artist Al Wiseman had shown me in Dennis the Menace #13. The difference was no ghost with a taser, as in the story (imagine someone coming up to you and administering an electric shock, no matter how mild; where's my lawyer?) and something my youthful and budding prurient eye noticed: girls in skirts walking over a screen in the floor got a blast of air which blew their skirts above their waists. Wow! Great fun! I didn't see THAT in a Dennis the Menace story! It's hard to imagine nowadays that something like that was allowed to happen, or even that there was a time when a female would go to an amusement park in a dress.*

The rest of it, the moving stairs--brilliantly pictured by Wiseman--the barrel, the slide, the room of mirrors, was all there. Who says comic books aren't educational?

Click on the Dennis the Menace link at the bottom for more Dennis.

*Here's an example of the fun house air blast.


Prof. Grewbeard said...

what a great way to start the day! i have this comic somewhere but had completely forgotten about it, thanx for digging it up for me again!(so to speak...)

Mykal said...

I can never decide which Dennis artist (after Ketchum) I like best: Al Wiseman or Owen Fitzgerald. Luckily, with brilliance like this work, I can just go on forever trying to make up my mind.

Pappy said...

Mykal, my personal preference is clear: I give Al Wiseman the edge.

I'm still looking for a story I saw as a kid, where Wiseman takes some people (a family?) into his studio and shows them how he draws. It was when I learned that comic books were drawn larger than the printed page. Anyone know that issue number or where that story appeared?

Mykal said...

Pappy: I go back and forth, but most often I am in the Fitzgerald camp. It's a bit like choosing between Beethoven and Mozart, isn't it? - the sheer, breathtaking beauty of classic structure (Beethoven/Wiseman) or the stabs of joy provided by flashes of pure inspiration (Mozart/Fitzgerald). That is to say, I love Fitzgerald's "cartoony" style!

I don't have that issue you mention but wish to hell I did! Wow. I will surely keep my eyes open!

I don't have that

Jeff A. Williams said...

Man - I love this old Dennis stuff!

I grew up with it in the 60's, after Wiseman stopped drawing them. Even at the age of 8, I could tell the difference between the "good", early, Dennis stories and the ones that were being published at the current time. I didn't know what that difference was, but it was obvious.

I contend that "Dennis In Mexico" is one of the best comics of all time. The other vacation specials are incredible, as well.

I took my family to San Francisco a few years ago, and we visited the Monterrey Peninsula, just like the Mitchells did in one of their vacation specials. Even though I had never been there before, it was nostalgic, because I had "visited" there with Dennis so many times before.

Pappy, the story you are looking for is "The Inside Story" from Dennis The Menace #30. In that story, Dennis meets a man who draws comic books. The man is Al Wiseman; he actually introduces himself to Henry. Wiseman takes Henry and Dennis to his office (which appears to be someone's home). Fred Toole is there, hard at work on a new script. After some normal Dennis mayhem, Toole and Wiseman realize that they should make a comic book about, which they call "Dennis The Menace".

Thanks for posting these amazing comics!

Anonymous said...

i just would like to say thank you. i love comic books of all kinds. and i love you'er web page.thank you for sharing it.

Pacwest Wholesale said...

I grew up in Carmel Valley, CA in the 1950's and was fortunate enough to make several visits to the Wiseman and Toole studio, which was located above the Village Market in Carmel Valley Village. It was a page right out of the comic book story. This would have been around 1958-1960. Each time they were very gracious, showed us what they were working on and gave us Dennis the Menace comic books. In our youthful wisdom we turned down the repeated offers of pages of the original art...who wanted these black and white big pages when we could have full color comics? Nice gentlemen and a great experience for two comic book fans. Richard Pryor