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Posted at 9:45 AM ET, 07/17/2009

Is 'Dennis' Merely a Menace? Time to Defend That 'Toon

By Michael Cavna

Yes, 'Riffs readers, time once again to play: Defend...That...Toon!


Just how old is Dennis the Menace? Well in theory, this "lovable" mischievous scamp is a perpetual 5-year-old. By real-life applications of Actual Time Measurement, though, Dennis carbon-dates as being in his 58th year. In other words, he's nearly as old as "Peanuts" and "Beetle Bailey" (which both launched in 1950), and comparatively, he makes "Family Circus" look like a short-and-pumpkin-headed spring chicken.

One thing that's tough to argue with: "Dennis the Menace" quickly found mass cultural success -- on film, on the stage, on the page (millions of books sold) and most notably the early '60s hit TV show. Creator Hank Ketcham died in 2001, survived by his long-employed former assistants, who continue to produce the strip; his real-life son Dennis, the strip's inspiration; and even actress Gina Lollobrigida, for whom the character Gina was said to be named.

The merits of various "zombie strips" -- as well as kids' "gateway strips" -- have much been discussed here. Now, the Question of the Day for 'Riffs readers is: Does "Dennis the Menace" earns its real estate on The Post's funnypages?

If you're not a fan, feel free to Impugn-That-Toon. Otherwise, 'Riffs invites your comments. It's time to Defend...That...'Toon.

By Michael Cavna  | July 17, 2009; 9:45 AM ET
Categories:  Defend That 'Toon  
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A dreadfully bad comic. 58 years and nobody who drew this asked themselves why his eyebrows are on top of his hair?

Posted by: cao091402 | July 17, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Horrible and hasn't been funny since I was 12. It does not belong on the main pages and should be moved to the kids page. Seriously how is this zombie strip still around on the main page? Move frazz and bring back Pooch Cafe and move several of the zombie strips to the kids page.

Posted by: buckeye96 | July 17, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand the "This comic is terrible...PUT IT ON THE KIDS PAGE" strategy. Why should kids have to suffer?

Bottom line: This comic is terrible...put it out of its misery.

Posted by: jakeok | July 17, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

This would be among my top three choices of Post comics to eliminate. The comic continues to reflect a 1950s sensibility that no longer has any resemblance to how U.S. children are raised. It isn't funny, isn't cute, and isn't droll. Nor is it in the "so outdated it's entertaining" category I would put Mark Trail and Mary Worth. Instead, the comic is simply annoying, when it is not downright offensive.

Posted by: OTBerbur | July 17, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Besides the fact that the comic is dated, the jokes are stale, and the material has been retreaded for every medium imaginable, one of the things that I have always despised about Dennis the Menace is that the author used his own son's name for the title character.

It's OK to have a private family joke, but it is inexcusable to expose your own kid to public ridicule by publicizing an unfavorable nickname. It's hardly surprising that the real Dennis did not get along with his father.

Posted by: kilby | July 17, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I still enjoy Dennis even after more than fifty years of reading it. The humor is generally gentle but fun. There seems to be a theory that only strips that are either mean-natured or stupidity based should be in the paper. If I had charge of the comic page Frazz would be back in the regular section every day or at least be available on the comics Web page. Agnes, Watch your Head. If there is some strange desire to dump classic strips I would say that Peanuts (not just a zombie but reruns) is the prime candidate for removal.

Posted by: glientz | July 17, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

While Dennis would not be my first pick for elimination, I certainly wouldn't miss it. The jokes (I think there are about 5 of them total) are rarely funny and often dated.

And now thanks to this blog I'm constantly looking for Dennis's neck.

Posted by: oceanchild | July 17, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

This one trick pony should have been retired decades ago.

Posted by: kcghost | July 17, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

the only time I read Dennis is in the paper. I don't look for it online. So, since I do still read it....keep it!

Posted by: ZeldaJane | July 17, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

It wasn't funny a generation ago, and still isn't ...dump it! Along with Garfield; bring back Mary Worth and Piranha Club!

Posted by: dandysmom | July 17, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Somebody draw me a cartoon gun and hand me some cartoon ammunition. I will jump into the strip, walk to Dennis' home, and ring the doorbell. When he answers, I will empty my cartoon gun directly into his adorable li'l zombie skull. You may consider this to be overkill, but it's the only way to be sure he's really dead . . .

Posted by: bucky_katt | July 17, 2009 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Dennis the Menace is a wonderful cartoon. I check in every day to see what he's up to.

Posted by: book134 | July 20, 2009 5:49 AM | Report abuse

The 1950s Dennis' are great ... much better than today's.

Posted by: greasypores | July 20, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

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