A Response from the Creator of ‘Dennis the Menace’

The creator of “Dennis the Menace” himself was kind enough to send me this email this morning, which he said I could reprint here.


From:     Marcus Hamilton
Subject:     Same gag
Date:     January 27, 2011 7:38:23 AM PST
To:     theratandpig@aol.com
Hi, Stephan,

I saw on your blog that Dennis and Margaret “relived” the same gag that you had done 9 years ago.
The question is, “was it a coincidence, or a swipe, or a compliment???”

Actually, when I chose that gag from one of our writer’s submissions, I was not aware that it had been used before.

If I had known that, I wouldn’t have accepted it. But I do believe it was a case of “creative minds” coming up with the same, or similar, idea.
Over the years, there have been several occasions where I have seen “mirror” situations of gags occurring the same day in the comics.

Please be assured that there was no intention to copy. If I had intentionally “swiped” the gag, it would have been done as a parody and would have included a credit line, “with apologies to Pearls Before Swine.”

Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

Here’s a tho’t…you could have rat and pig reading the comics and commenting that Dennis is more intelligent than dumb ol’ Margaret, ‘cause he gets his common sense from reading Pearls!

Keep up the good work,
Marcus Hamilton

38 thoughts on “A Response from the Creator of ‘Dennis the Menace’

  1. Yeah, they have “writers,” dontcha know. They’re so much better than you.

    And richer. Sue the pants off them.

  2. Hmmmm…Hank Ketcham will ALWAYS be the “creator” in my book, I’m comfortable with the idea of a cartoonist getting a situation and rolling with it from submissions and ideas, but a punch line’s gotta come from the guy drawing it, not someone “from the outside”, I’ve seen mirrors over the years also and there’s some close ones, it all depends on the delivery, i still think he owes you….any guy that’s been around awhile KNOWS, that outside ideas had an origin from somewhere recently.

  3. I was kinda bummed that he didn’t offer a handful of Dairy Queen gift certificates that could be redeemed for Dilly Bars.

  4. i feel that was a good enough response/apology, and I don’t feel no malice towards them. i agree, classy.

  5. Mr. Hamilton is really a nice, kind gentleman. I can never see him doing anything malicious in regards to using “Dennis the Menace” to do some evil bidding in the comics.
    Now that Mark Tatulli on the other hand……hahaha!
    Lighten up, people.
    Ask the patent office about replication of ideas……

  6. Hmm… in some future debate or blog or whatever they will have then, somewhere, say, 65 years in the future, when Pearls Before Swine has been handed off to your future assistants, and after all of our untimely demises, maybe your ghostly spirit will tolerate it when a future cartoonist refers to Pearls as being created by someone other than Stephen Pastis. Maybe. But I doubt it.

  7. The word of the day seems to be classy, and I think that response certainly was. Yay conflict resolution!

  8. Comic strips should die with their creators. It’s sad to open up the funnies and see about 90% of the strips that have been in print since WWI. Let’s move on please. Give some new strips a chance.

  9. Lovely letter, but I feel compelled to point out that it’s about as funny as your typical DtM comic.

  10. Here’s a freaky one – I once noticed that Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott published a Baby Blues cartoon that was identical in content (same joke, different graphics) as one, they themselves, published several years earlier.

    No one remembers jokes.

  11. Think I’ll write to J K Rowling and offer to take over that whole “Harry Potter” thing for her. A few weeks’ worth of interning, and I’ll be ready to go!

  12. It is nice that he reads your blog and responded. The only thing is, it was not really an apology-it is kind of like saying “Sorry if what I said offended you”–not me but you. Ask your wife on that one, I am sure she would agree. Looks like he is trying to profit off of the better of comics which is most definately PBS.

  13. I seriously didn’t know comic strips had writers. So… let me get this straight, there’s a “think tank” behind Garfield and they can’t get past the lasagna joke?

    At any rate, nice response from Hamilton, even though he did kind of blame the little guy.

  14. Still sue him. Oh in your strip, you should have them commenting on other strips stealing your material because the older strips are out of ideas.

  15. I find it amazing that he’d suggest you promote his strip in Pearls. That takes alotta balls to do that. He should be the one promoting Pearls in his stale strip. Amazing that he admits that he doesn’t even write the thing. Bogus.

  16. Yeah, I have a feeling Dennis will start calling his little sidekick a “Stupid Pig” pretty soon. Maybe the Crocs will replace Mister Wilson.

  17. There is a lot of mention of this being a “classy response” in the above posts but I wonder if this is acceptable to Guard Duck. I see a very troublesome series of strips in the future if Guard Duck is upset.

  18. It’s such a generic joke, I don’t think it’s actionable. However, there’d be no weaseling out of anything had he used “Dunk rye for me, Arch and Tina.”

  19. Actually, this is a really old joke. I remember it from when I was a kid, and that was decades before it appeared in either strip!

  20. Mm, a good response, and I like his suggestion. I think it’s quite obvious that Dennis reads Pearls; how else would he know the way through life is to harass everyone within a fifty foot radius?

  21. A lot of folks are calling this a “classy” response. I beg to differ. I found it rather boring and lacking any humor whatsoever. Much like I find the Dennis strip to be. Sorry. Just how I see it.

  22. The funniest part of the Pearls strip was not necessarily the line itself, but the delivery (if you can call it that; in my head, I hear their voices…) of Rat and Pig. So even if the joke itself is not original, Pearls made it funnier than DtM did. That’s what matters: the humor (I heard that in a David Brent voice).

  23. Speaking of same comics, didn’t you do Saturday’s “pogo stick” one before? If you did it’s still very funny.

  24. I think you should alter your vocab a bit. Ketcham was the creator, Hamilton is “one of the current cartoonists.”

    Gag writers, huh? Wow. Creative.

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