Suspended Animation Suspended Animation
by Michael Vance & Dr. Jon Suter

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November 24, 1999

Comics Legend Hank Ketcham - Knight Watchman
Beck & Caui: Investigations


Comics Legend Hank Ketcham

         Everyone knows Dennis the Menace, that mischievous five-year-old who has become an international symbol of boy ness. But what do you know about Hank Ketcham?

            Born in 1920. Ketcham is the cartoonist and papa of Dennis The Menace, one of the most popular comic strips in history. Beyond the adventures of that little blond whirlwind Ketcham has worked as an animator with Waiter Lantz (Woody Woodpecker, etc.). with Walt Disney (on Pinocchio. Fantasia, and Donald Duck), and won the Reuben Award and Bill de Beck Award in 1952. Ketcham has also done magazine advertisements, and his Dennis is the mascot of a fast food restaurant chain, and the subject of games and toys.

Dennis the Menace began publication in 1951 as a single panel feature about family life in America. Ketcham's simple, clean art brought success to some of the best realized characters in comics, endearing Dennis and Margaret in the hearts of millions of readers worldwide. The secret to that success may also lie in the strip's premise: everyone has known and loved a five-year-old boy.

Many paperback book editions of Dennis the Menace have been published, and Dennis has appeared as a live action and animated TV series, and in several movies.

Comic books include. Dennis... (Standard/Pines, Halden, Fawcett publishers,1953-'79); Dennis...Giants (Standard/Pines, Halden, Fawcett, 1955--'69); Dennis...(Marvel Comics, 1981-'82); Dennis ...and his Dog Ruff (Halden/Fawcett, 196l); Dennis... and His Friends (Fawcett, 1969-'80); Dennis...and His Pal Joey (Fawcett, 1961): Dennis ...and the Bible Kids (Word 1977); Dennis...Big Bonus Series (Fawcett, 1980); Dennis.. .Bonus Magazine (Fawcett, 1980), Dennis... Comics Digest (Marvel, 1982); Dennis...Fun Book (Fawcett 1960); Dennis...Fun Fest Series (Halden, Fawcett 1980); Dennis...Pocket Full Of Fun (Fawcett, 1969-'80); Dennis... Television Special (Fawcett 1961-'62); and Dennis...Triple Feature (Fawcett, 1961). Dennis: His First 10 Years, a trade paperback, was published by Abbeville Press.

Some older comics are expensive and difficult to locate. Price guides or comics dealers help. Comics shops, conventions, mail order companies and trade joumals are best sources.


Knight Watchman

Do you want it good, or do you want it original? If good, Knight Watchman is the best Batman homage in comics.

Homage? That's when an artist or writer openly steals another's work or style because of love and respect. There's an exceedingly fine line between homage and plagiarism.

Knight Watchman is love and respect...

Sure the art looks like Frank Miller's distinctive style, itself heavily influenced by high contrast artists like Alex Toth. The editor claims "while most Big Bang artists are trying to recreate someone else's art style, this IS Ben Torres style." Either way, this is some of the most dynamic, exciting art in super hero comics today.

This is good.

Sure the story reads like Frank Miller's famous The Dark Knight Returns Batman mini-series of ten years ago. But the editor claims "while we do tell stories in the styles of the guys who wrote and drew those heroes over the years, the characters themselves are not carbon-copied rip-offs."

This is true. And Knight Watchman is extremely well written.

This is also good.

So, what is its story? It doesn't matter, really. You've read it about ten thousand times. You'll read it ten thousand times more. What separates Knight Watchman from hundreds and hundreds of other superhero clones of Superman (there can only be one original, after all) is quality.

So, if you want original, read Superman. If you want good, read this comic.

Knight Watchman is arguably one of-the best superhero comic books on the market today.


Beck & Caui: Investigations

The adventures of supernatural sleuths who seemingly investigate nothing in occasionally obscure trips into a fantasy world called the "Underside". An unfulfilled promise.

We welcome Canada's Temps Tots to the growing number of magazines and newspapers publishing Suspended Animation. When in Canada, stop in and say eh?


Questions? Comments? A comic you wish reviewed? 
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