Monday, June 26, 2017

More fun with 'Dennis The Menace'

When wry observations backfire.

Dennis The Menace was one of my favorite comics when I was a kid. I was even sort of excited about Dennis' status as a mascot for Dairy Queen. Only when I grew up did I realize that the Mitchell family depicted in the comic was a cesspool of mutual resentment and acrimony. And it wasn't just my imagination either. The comic strip is based on a real family, and it presents a considerably sanitized, brightened-up version of their lives. The real Alice died of a drug overdose in 1959, and the real Dennis became estranged from his father and had a troubled adulthood. The real Henry, aka cartoonist Hank Ketcham, continued to exploit their misadventures for fun and profit for decades, putting a happy face on their domestic strife. But the truth oozes up through the drains sometimes. Here's the real comic for comparison. It's debatable whether my version is nastier or less nasty.