Regional differences happen, even within the country. Depending on where you live, your mayonnaise is either called "Best Foods" or "Hellmans," and that fast food joint down the street that sells awful burgers and has a star as its logo is either named "Hardees" or "Carl's Jr." You either call carbonated brown stuff "Soda" or "Pop," and you'll beat up anybody who suggests the other. Of course, all these things apply to you only if you live in America. Across the seas, differences can be even greater.

One of the strangest differences had its origin on the morning of March 12, 1951. That day, a newspaper comic strip named "Dennis the Menace" was launched by North America Syndicate. This, however, was only in that country....over the Atlantic, in England, a weekly comic book launched its own strip-like series on the same day, which was also called "Dennis the Menace." Both found immediate fame and financial success, and both had no knowledge of each other for years. It's all true.

The American Dennis gets his laughs, or lack thereof, from his naive mind. He's kind of dumb and uneducated, causing him to get into mild trouble every so often. His pals are his dog Ruff and his friends Joey and Gina, and he gets his kicks tormenting a bossy smart girl named Margaret. There's also a retired neighbor next door, Mr. Wilson, who can't stand the constant presence of Dennis (but his wife likes him, so he can't get rid of the kid).

Bloom County isn't the only strip of which I own original newspaper samples of. I also collected Dennis, as well as Garfield, Calvin and Hobbes and a couple of others no one cares about. I have Dennis strips going back to '82.
American Dennis has had several movies and TV shows, the first being a 50's sitcom. Matt Groening once described his enthusiasm for the coming show, and the exhiliration of seeing the animated opening, which depicted a "five-year-old tornado of destruction." Then the actual live-action show started, which was basically Leave it to Beaver only with Dennis instead of The Beav. Matt would channel his disappointment with Dennis years later into making a real TV brat, at least for the first few years of The Simpsons. Bart has turned back into American Dennis recently, but even his most naughty years were no match for....

BRITISH DENNIS! While the blond-haired version always meant well, this Dennis is just a total jerk. His closest American equivalent might be Oscar the Grouch (Dennis DOES love trash). Every week Dennis appeared, to play an evil prank on somebody. Instead of sweet Ruff, Dennis has an equally-mischievous dog with a big bite named "Gnasher." And instead of a grumpy neighbor, Dennis played pranks on the well-named "Softy Walter" next door.

Dennis got his start in the British comic book that he's still the star of to this day. Let's take a look at one of the most recent issues of the jolly good mag that calls itself the "Beano," wot wot!

It's a British comic book, which means instead of the dark adventures of superheroes, you get a bunch of different adventures of different characters, with each one getting three pages at the most. This allows the comic to come out more frequently, though...The Beano has been released once a week since 1930. This would be issue 3,284.

You might think getting many characters in one book would be a value, but when Dennis took off, every other cartoon in the Beano became something about a little brat who torments others.

Read "Gordon Bennett"
Read "Bea"
Read "Robbie Rebel (No one tells HIM what to do!)"
Read "Ivy the Terrible"

All the same. But at least they're not all forensic investigators.

British-produced cartoons don't happen very often, at least not good ones. It took until 1996 for British Dennis to get his own cartoon show, and it'll probably never make its way over to America. I don't know how much of the American Dennis has been released in England, but since my country has the most film studios, we have an unfair advantage.

Who wins out in the Battle of the Dueling Denni? That's up to you. Naive Dennis has certainly trucked in more merchandise, but Smelly Dennis has passed the test of time (no one cares about American Dennis anymore). Yet American Dennis is famous everywhere BUT England, while British Dennis has never escaped his home country. (Maybe they won't LET him out.)

But ask yourself this.....which one would you rather have fighting your homeland War on Terrorism? They've got a leg up on us there. I'd like to see any al-Qaida member take on Gnasher....