Monday, December 5, 2011

Hank Ketcham Animation

This is something I've been meaning to do for a long time.

The 1976 paperback collection, Dennis the Menace: Short Swinger, contains a flipbook that appears to be done by Hank Ketcham. The registration, however, is horrible. I bought a cheap copy of the book on Ebay and pulled it apart, registered it to the best of my ability and then shot it. The character is less than an inch and a half high and the pulp paper was surprisingly hard to see through on my lightbox, so the registration still leaves something to be desired.

Here it is exactly as it is in the book, on 2's.

Here it is with my retiming to make it read better:

Ketcham got his start in the animation business, working for Walter Lantz and then Disney before he enlisted in the navy during World War II. After the war, he concentrated on magazine cartooning before selling Dennis the Menace to newspapers.

After the war, Ketcham really blossomed as a designer. His style, using a pen, was expressive and elegant. With Dennis, he handled the daily panel while handing off the Sunday strip and the comic books to assistants such as Owen Fitzgerald, Al Wiseman and Lee Holley, terrific cartoonists all. Ketcham's influence is still felt in Jaime Hernandez's work.

The animation above shows that Ketcham remembered the basics, but there are weak spots. The stitching on the ball doesn't rotate when it rolls farther from Dennis. I focused on registering Dennis and discovered that the position of the ball isn't controlled well. The timing works for a flipbook, but it needed more room than the 63 images in the book for the timing to work on screen.

I wonder what motivated Ketcham to try animation again? Was it an attempt to help sell a Dennis animated series? Was he influenced by Walt Kelly, who animated a short for Pogo? Or was it just a lark? In any case, I hope that the video versions of the flipbook show off the animation better than the print version.

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