Dennis the Menace’s Marcus Hamilton Interviewed

Marcus Hamilton was trained by Hank Ketcham to take over the Dennis the Menace daily panel in the 1990s. Robin Easter, for the Savannah College of Art and Design recently interviewed Marcus.

Hamilton: One night I was channel surfing when I came across a promotional interview with Hank Ketcham. Mr. Ketcham mentioned that he wanted to retire, but first he would need someone to take over the comic. I talked to my friend Jim Scancarelli, the current artist of “Gasoline Alley,” and it turned out he had Hank’s phone number. I called Hank and told him I was interested, and he asked for my portfolio.

Hamilton: Hank brought me up to his studio in California and had me draw a “Dennis” panel for him. He’d correct me and then I’d try again. We kept going until I could draw a strip that he approved of, and then he officially welcomed me to the team. Several of the comics between 1993 and 1995 are actually my work left unsigned — our way of testing the waters with a new artist.


above: Marcus Hamilton’s first approved Dennis panel in 1993.
below: 25 years later, today’s Dennis panel by Marcus Hamilton.


The Connector: What is the process of creating a daily strip like?
Hamilton: I’m given 150 possible gags every month, and I go through them and pick six each week. I then take a gag and sketch five or six possible compositions, pick one, and refine it by redrawing it a few times. The average reader spends only 10 seconds looking at a comic, so every second counts.

Read the entire Marcus Hamilton interview.