Henry King Ketcham, better known as Hank Ketcham, started in the cartoon business as an animator for Walter Lantz and eventually Walt Disney, where he worked on Pinocchio, Fantasia, Bambi and several Donald Duck shorts. During World War II, Ketcham was a photographic specialist with the US Navy Reserve. He also created the character Mr. Hook for the Navy during World War II and four cartoons were made. Also while in the Navy he began a camp newspaper strip, Half Hitch, which ran in The Saturday Evening Post beginning in 1943.
After World War II, he settled in Carmel, California, and began work as a freelance cartoonist. In 1951, he started Dennis The Menace, based on his own four-year-old son Dennis. At the time of Ketcham’s death, Dennis the Menace was distributed to more than 1,000 newspapers in 48 countries and 19 languages. In 1953, he received the Reuben Award for the strip. Ketcham spent his last years painting in oil and watercolor. Many of his paintings can be seen in a hospital in nearby Monterey, California. In this period he also wrote a memoir The Merchant of Dennis the Menace. Fantagraphics Books published Hank Ketcham’s Complete Dennis by Ketcham from the start of the strip, in thick volumes collecting two years per book.