Dennis the Menace, by Marcus Hamilton

Marcus Hamilton is a North Carolina cartoonist, who, after a long career in graphic art and illustration, took over the daily 'Dennis the Menace' panel from its creator Hank Ketcham in 1994.

Early life
Hamilton was born in 1943 in Lexington, North Carolina. As a child, he enjoyed drawing his own Disney cartoons, tracing Mickey Mouse on pieces of paper held against the window. He also made up his own characters, and was encouraged by his parents to pursue his artistic ambitions. Other inspirations besides Disney were Hank Ketcham's 'Dennis the Menace' cartoons and the Saturday Evening Post drawings by Norman Rockwell. In first grade, an accident caused Hamilton to loose depth perception in his right eye. Since he was so young when this happened, it never harmed him in his professional career, as he didn't know any other way.

Illustrator and graphic artist
After getting his degree in commercial art Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College), Hamilton worked for the art department of the local TV channel WBTV in 1965. After a year, the turned freelance, doing illustration work for magazines. His drawings appeared regularly in the Saturday Evening Post, Golf Digest and Cosmopolitan, and he designed covers for U.S. News and World Report, Doubleday, Scholastic Publications and Changing Times Magazine. Corporate clients included Duke Power, Springs Mills and Piedmont Natural Gas. By the early 1990s, digital art began to replace hand-drawn illustrations, and Hamilton felt unable to keep up with the technological advancements. He left the industry, and found a badly-paid job in a Walmart photo center. His luck changed when he saw a TV interview with Hank Ketcham, who wanted to retire from his daily 'Dennis the Menace' cartoon.

Saturday Evening Post illustration of Bob Hope (December 1978).

Dennis the Menace
Fifty-year old Marcus Hamilton contacted California-based Hank Ketcham, and was invited over for a long apprenticeship. In October 1994, Hamilton took over the full production of the daily 'Dennis' panel, although Ketcham remained involved as a creative consultant until his death in 2001. Hamilton's contributions were anonymous at first, as Ketcham was credited as creator until January 2003. Since 2010, the 'Dennis the Menace' franchise is overseen by Hank Ketcham's son Scott, who is actively involved in the writing, editing and inking too. While Hamilton and Ketcham create a single-panel cartoon (and occasionally a double-panel) on weekdays, Ron Ferdinand is responsible for the Sunday comic strip.

Since 1995, Marcus Hamilton has drawn over 7,000 'Dennis' cartoons, which are distributed by King Features Syndicate to about 1,000 newspapers worldwide. Even though Dennis celebrated his 70th anniversary on 12 March 2021, he is still the same mischievous "five-ana-half" year old kid in red overalls with blond hair and a cowlick. True to Ketcham's original, the havoc Dennis causes is still unintentional, and the cast of characters has remained the same. Interviewed in June 2019 by the local Charlotte magazine from Charlotte, North Carolina, Hamilton revealed the most important advice Hank Ketcham gave him: "I want you to have fun drawing Dennis, because if you're having fun, it will show in your work." With that in mind, Marcus Hamilton has continued to draw Dennis from his Mint Hill house studio well into his seventies.

Dennis the Menace, by Marcus Hamilton

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