Steve Bunche got a bunch of old comics collections from a neighbor and found some gems, including several Pogo books and a copy of BACKSTAGE FROM THE STRIPS. Unbelievably, the above strip is from 1970. Bunche explains.
But the main reason why I’m happy to have received BACKSTAGE AT THE STRIPS is that it contains a strip I never forgot since I first saw it in there three decades ago, namely the following unbelievable DENNIS THE MENACE daily from 1970, and not 1917.
Yes, this actually ran nationwide in 1970, which beggars the question of just how out of touch creator Hank Ketcham was. Were the 1960’s something that didn’t happen for him? Whatever the case, the Cleveland Press printed this apology the day after the strip ran, printing it in place of what would have been that day’s DENNIS THE MENACE installment:
Yesterday’s DENNIS THE MENACE cartoon offended a number of Press readers. The Press apologizes for the affront caused by the cartoonist. It assures subscribers that such a thing will not happen again.
What truly amazes me about it is that I don’t think Ketcham actually meant any harm and just didn’t know any better. DENNIS THE MENACE always kind of existed in a 1950’s-style, suburbia-that-never-was OZZIE AND HARRIET universe of bland (though very well drawn) blandness that was informed by generations of outdated humor, and the depiction of the kid as a Sambo stereotype was just a part of the once-accepted visual language. Too bad Ketcham apparently hadn’t payed attention to social advances and depictions of us “race” types since the mid-1940’s.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.