Dennis the Menace Is 50

Dennis the Menace, cartoonist Hank Ketcham’s perennially naughty youngster, turns 50 on Monday. (Heck, that must make Mr. Wilson at least 100.) Dennis’s adventures began on March 12, 1951, when the kid with the cowlick appeared in the back seat of a vintage car and taunted a policeman as his parents waited nervously for a traffic ticket. The caption read: “You didn’t catch us! We ran outa gas!” Ketcham, who turns 81 on March 14, retired from drawing nearly a decade ago. (Today, others draw the strip, which still appears in 1,000 newspapers.) His creation was inspired by his son, Dennis, from his first marriage. As for why Dennis has lasted so long — there was also a ’60s TV version, starring child actor Jay North — Ketcham told the Associated Press: “He doesn’t have any answers but a lot of questions and a lot of energy, and you’ve got a lot of loyalty and a little bit of mischief in him, too. But that’s the way kids are.” Happy Birthday, you little brat.

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