Saturday, October 20, 2012

Hank Ketcham Works
 Above is a link to the second part on Hank Ketcham's, The Merchant of Dennis the Menace: The Autobiography of Hank Ketcham, posted by Michael Sporn. This part is devoted to Hank's work at Disney. Not only is it a great overview of the carefree and lighthearted early days enjoyed at the studio, it also sheds light on the transition after the strike and how that carefree atmosphere had to vanish under the time clocks and union rules.

 But what I found interesting are the panels I'm posting here showing how Ketcham did his Dennis the Menace strip. His days as an animator seemed to have influenced his choice of using a light-table and working with tracing tissue. I liked that he uses more erasers than pencils, (I struggle with drawing and can empathize), and I like that he mentions what pen and brush he uses. I used to think it was all done with a brush.

Dennis the Menace never had that deep social commentary or melancholy edge that resonated with me like Charles Schulz's Peanuts did. But the graphic artistry and dynamic poses in Denise always thrilled me. I love that missing line that still defined the shape because of all the supporting lines around it. The only example I could find of this is the drawing of Dennis popping out of the TV. Notice the line on the other side of his neck is missing? Ketcham used this graphic device on Dennis' pants where one leg overlapped and many other areas to great effect.

Ketcham remains in my pantheon of great comic artists like Al Capp, Walt Kelly, and Gus Arriloa.

UPDATE:  I did mange to find another example of a line dropping out and the shape still defined by surrounding lines in that last illustration explaining his process.  If you look closely at the jar holding his pens and brushes, the line defining it drops out where it touches the corner of the table top.  Same with the water jar ending before it touches the eraser.  Cool, huh?

Click on image to enlarge

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