Saturday, December 29, 2007

Hank Ketcham's Complete Dennis the Menace 1957-58

Here's how this works: I finish reading something, and I tell you about it, and I try not to bore you to death.

It's been a while since I posted one of these! I've been slowly working through some longer books, and passing a few further down the pile to read again before I figured they were ready to shelve.

Anyway, by the end of this fourth volume, Ketcham had all four of the main kids in the cast present, although Joey is still in a strange, silly, silent incarnation, who just quietly follows Dennis around. Now, if you missed out on the first couple of volumes, or the hype and surprise around their rediscovery, it turned out that 1950s Dennis really was a menace - a shin-kicking terror who even snuck cigarettes in one installment. Well, by volume four, the edge is in the process of being sanded off - that antiseptic TV sitcom with Jay North is just around the corner - and the manic destruction and inappropriate nudity is awkwardly sharing space with platitudes about saying please at the dinner table. On the other hand, Ketcham's linework is so damn amazing, and it's stunning and inspiring to see how well he conveys place with sparse, unfinished background lines. It's almost worth it just for the artwork, but the slow emergence of the treacly Dairy Queen-spokesperson Dennis makes this a recommendation with reservations. Volume five will have to be very surprising for me to continue past that point.

(Originally posted December 29, 2007 at hipsterdad's LJ.)

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