Wednesday, March 10, 2010
"Hellooo, Mr. Wilson!"
He may always look like he's 11 years old, but Dennis Mitchell turns 59 in a couple of days. The "Dennis the Menace" comic strip made its debut on March 12, 1951, making the kid with the rooster tail able to use his AARP card for all kinds of discounts.
Hank Ketchum, the creator of the enduring comic strip, got the inspiration from his own 4-year-old son named -- what else? -- Dennis. Legend has it Ketchum's wife, Alice, threw open his studio door one day and said, "Your son is such a menace!"
Eureka. The name was born.
Ketchum retired from the strip in 1994, and died in 2001. But Dennis lives on through the work of Ketchum's former assistants, Marcus Hamilton and Ron Ferdinand. The strip appears in roughly 1,000 newspapers, including the Globe-News, in 48 countries in 19 languages. A TV show based on the strip ran from 1959 to 1963.
Some Dennis trivia: His favorite drink is root beer, and he keeps a slingshot in his pocket. Dennis, along with parents Henry and Alice Mitchell, live in Wichita, Kan. His dad is an aerospace engineer.
His best friend is Joey, and he has a dog named Ruff and a seldom-seen cat named Hot Dog.
The next-door neighbors, George and Martha Wilson, get the brunt of Dennis' well-meaning hijinks. George is a crank, but Dennis considers the retired postal carrier his best friend.
So happy birthday, Dennis. Don't ever grow old.