Friday, November 22, 2019

Number 2416: Dennis the Menace: Crime does not play

The story goes that cartoonists Hank Ketcham and Al Wiseman were talking about trying to sell their syndicated newspaper comic features. In the 20th century the successful newspaper comic strip was the ne plus ultra of success as a cartoonist. They vowed that the one would become the assistant to the one who got to the promised land first. Is that story true? I don’t know for sure, but I like it. Regardless, Ketcham made it first with “Dennis the Menace,” and Wiseman became his assistant.

Wiseman may have drawn in Ketcham’s style, but he was a talented cartoonist in his own right. For years I have admired his work, especially his years of drawing the comic book version of Dennis in collaboration with writer Fred Toole. This is an early example, from Dennis the Menace #3 (1954).

Pappy’s owes a debt to Tom Spurgeon

It was a sad day when I read that Tom Spurgeon had died. Douglas Wolk begins his obituary of Spurgeon with “Tom Spurgeon, the writer and editor of The Comics Reporter, died November 13, [2019] at the age of 50. For the second half of his life, Tom was an extraordinary presence in American comics, as a chronicler of the medium and the industry around it, a critic, a convention organizer, and a nexus point for the comics community.”

I never knew Tom and never corresponded with him, but he was aware of Pappy’s Golden Age. At least once a week I go through the statistics of how many visitors the blog has had. When I saw a huge jump in the viewers for one of my postings, I knew to look at The Comics Reporter, knowing I would find a link from Tom. I am sure many people were first made aware of this blog by clicking on those links from Tom Spurgeon. I was very grateful to him for his unsung contribution to this blog.

Fifty is too young to die. But, Spurgeon was doing what he wanted to do. To spend one’s lifetime working at a job that is also one’s pleasure is a great gift. My regret for Tom is that he did not have decades more to write about he medium he loved.


top_cat_james said...

I wish Papercutz would continue publishing their volumes Of Dennis comic book stories.

Brian Barnes said...

This was always one of my problems with Dennis the Menace -- he's not actively menacing! It's all passive, he never said anything snarky or set any traps or did anything other than mistake who this guy was, and the guy made his own problems.

Still well drawn and dynamic, which makes up for it!

Condolences to Tom Spurgeon. I've read some of what he's wrote and he always came through as a real lover of comics.

BillyWitchDoctor said...

So sad. Cartoonist Gahan Wilson passed away a couple of days ago. He lived to 89, and to be perfectly honest when someone is lucky enough to beat seventy I usually don't feel too bad for them. But Wilson was such a unique and brilliant talent, and every panel of his "Nuts" strip in National Lampoon stayed with me all these years. I'm still fighting back tears just typing this out.

バーンズ エリック said...

The Dennis the Menace comic books are great stuff. Thanks for sharing such enjoyable comics.