I’ve come across quite a bit of Hank Ketcham’s work in the pages of my old magazine collection, and every once in a while something really cool crops up – like this very familiar looking kid, who predates Dennis the Menace by about a year. In The Merchant of Dennis, Ketcham describes how he “hauled out the shoebox where[he] stored [his] gags, picked out a dozen kid ideas and feverishly translated them into rough pencil sketches” when he first got “the spark” for the mischievous tyke. Perhaps this kid was one of those that Ketcham referenced.
But most startling of all was this four panel gag from October 1951, a year after Dennis “was born”. How in the world did Ketcham and Collier’s magazine comics editor Gurney Williams manage to slip this one into print?
I mean this might have been perfectly fine for Esquire magazine or Argosy… but Collier’s? You’d think Ketcham would have been asked to strategically draw some bubble bath foam into this rather, erm, tittilating panel.
My goodness, I have so many false impressions of what the acceptable public standards of decency were back in the ’50s, based on old episodes of Leave It to Beaver…