March 14th, 2016

Editor’s Dispatch: Happy Birthday, Dennis and Hank!

by Tea

Dennis the Menace is celebrating his 65th birthday!  Funny how he doesn’t look a day over five-anna-half! 

Dennis made his first appearance in the funny pages on March 12, 1951. Later, Hank Ketcham changed Dennis’ official birthday to TODAY, March 14 to coincide with his own, which means we get to celebrate twice!

In honor of this special occasion, the amazing cartoonists who bring Dennis the Menace to life today, Ron Ferdinand and Marcus Hamilton, wanted to share some memories of working with Hank:

Marcus Hamilton

In 1993, I called Hank Ketcham after seeing him in a TV interview where he said
he would like to find someone to draw the daily Dennis panels, so he could retire.
He had been drawing Dennis the Menace for over 40 years at that point,
and wanted to spend some time doing some fine arts paintings…without a daily deadline

When I heard Mr. Ketcham’s comment, I felt that this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
I immediately got his phone number and called him at his studio in Monterey.
After some trial sketches and a visit to his studio, he hired me.

And now, after almost 23 years of drawing the daily Dennis panels, it has truly been a “dream career.”

Hank was the prime example of encouraging other artists/cartoonists to reach their goal.
And, I will always be thankful he helped me to reach mine.

Ron Ferdinand

     What can I say about being hired by Hank Ketcham? Me, a struggling School of Visual Arts graduate ‘nibbling on the edges’ of the cartooning world. I can still remember being met by legendary Dennis comic book writer, Fred Toole and his lovely wife, Molly at Monterey Peninsula airport that fateful day in August ‘81. Then being ushered into the presence of ‘The Master’ at his Pebble Beach home/studio.

    Hank was a cartoonist with the ‘soul of a watercolorist’ by his own admission. He elevated the comic panel to the realm of fine art. There was nothing he couldn’t draw….and he was FUNNY! He was also an amazing editor, finely honing every caption until it sparkled. There are still countless cartoonists and fans out there who speak with awe of Hank, and rightly so. My prayer is that my memories of those golden days working with him will remain as vivid as they are right now.

Happy birthday to Dennis and Hank!





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