Hank Ketcham (Hank Ketcham)

Hank Ketcham

Hank Ketcham started in the business as an animator for Walter Lantz and eventually Walt Disney, where he worked on Pinocchio, Fantasia, Bambi and several Donald Duck shorts. During World War II, Ketcham was a photographic specialist with the US Navy Reserve. He also created the character Mr. Hook for the Navy during World War II and four cartoons were made (one by Walter Lantz Productions in color and three by Warner Bros. Cartoons in black and white). Also while in the Navy he began a camp newspaper strip, Half Hitch, which ran in The Saturday Evening Post beginning in 1943. After World War II, he settled in Carmel, California, and began work as a freelance cartoonist. In 1951, he started Dennis The Menace, based on his own four-year-old son Dennis Ketcham. Ketcham was in his studio in October 1950, when his first wife, Alice Mahar, burst into the studio and complained that their four-year-old, Dennis, had wrecked his bedroom instead of napping. “Your son is a menace,” she shouted. Within five months, 16 newspapers began carrying the adventures of the impish but innocent “Dennis the Menace.” By May 1953, 193 newspapers in the United States and 52 abroad were carrying the strip to 30 million readers.

When his Dennis the Menace cartoon added a Sunday strip, Hank Ketcham hired artist Al Wiseman and writer Fred Toole to produce the Sunday strips and the many Dennis The Menace comic books that were published. People from around the country sent captions to him, and he would find one that he liked and illustrate the gag. When he retired from drawing the daily, Ketcham’s former assistants, Marcus Hamilton and Ron Ferdinand, took over. At the time of Ketcham’s death, Dennis the Menace was distributed to more than 1,000 newspapers in 48 countries and 19 languages, by King Features Syndicate. Hank Ketcham spent his last years in retirement at his home in Carmel, California, painting in oil and watercolor. Many of his paintings can be seen in a hospital in nearby Monterey, California. In this period he also wrote a memoir The Merchant of Dennis the Menace. Fantagraphics Books published the complete Dennis by Ketcham from the start of the strip, in thick volumes collecting two years per book. Hank Ketcham died in Carmel, California, of prostate cancer on June 1, 2001. He was survived by his oldest son, Dennis, his third wife, Rolande, and their two children, Dania and Scott.


  • March, 14, 1920
  • USA
  • Seattle, Washington


  • June, 06, 2001
  • USA
  • Carmel, California

Cause of Death

  • Heart disease and cancer


  • Cremated

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