Making Christmas come to life on paper

MINT HILL, NC (WBTV) - Dennis the Menace Illustrator Marcus Hamilton recently visited the WBTV studio to talk to us about how he got started drawing Dennis the Menace and to talk about why he likes drawing Christmas scenes so much.

"Dennis has a lot of respect and love for Santa Claus and he's probably thinking you know, when I grow up, I'd like to be Santa Claus," says Marcus Hamilton, Illustrator of the Monday through Saturday Dennis the Menace panels.

"It's just fun. I really enjoy the Christmas thing. I put more into the Christmas daily panels than the whole rest of the year," says Hamilton.

How Hamilton became a Dennis the Menace illustrator is quite a tale. He actually began his career at WBTV in 1965 in the art department. He was later a freelance illustrator for 21 years. Then Hamilton says computer graphics put him out of the illustration business.

"I was working at a local Walmart making minimum wage. I had just turned 50 years old. I was discouraged because no one wanted my illustrations anymore," says Hamilton.

But Hamilton says he never gave up. Then one day in June of 1993, he was watching TV when he saw an interview with Hank Ketcham.

Hamilton says, "…And Mr. Ketcham was asked what he wanted to do with the rest of his life, he had drawn Dennis for forty years at that point and he said, well, if I could find somebody to draw Dennis, I would love to travel and paint and do things I haven't had the opportunity to do. The minute he said, find somebody to draw Dennis, I don't know what went off in my head, I thought, I'm gonna call him."

After reviewing Hamilton's work, Hamilton says Ketcham offered to train him to take over drawing the Monday through Saturday Dennis daily panel.

Despite his immense talent, Hamilton is a humble man.

"Here I am continuing Hank Ketcham's legacy which I never thought I would have the opportunity to do and it's all over the world. I just...I can't believe it," he says.

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