A few weeks ago I praised DC Entertainment for keeping SCOOBY-DOO! WHERE ARE YOU? true to the original and not trying to make it a modern update. Now I’m going to say the exact opposite of THE RUFF AND REDDY SHOW #4. Writer Howard Chaykin takes the opportunity to use a classic children’s cartoon as a modern commentary on celebrities and the state of the entertainment business. Here he proves that some things shouldn’t stay the same and need to evolve to survive.

Get Reddy

The Ruff and Reddy Show was the very first animated series from Hanna-Barbera, which aired from 1957-1960. It was pretty typical of an animated series at the time, with two talking animals going on adventures and getting into trouble. A retelling of the classic version may have worked, giving younger readers something to pick up each month. Instead, Chaykin chose to take it in a much more mature direction, and it absolutely works in THE RUFF AND REDDY SHOW #4.

THE RUFF AND REDDY SHOW #4 page 3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Celebrities grow old. Some age wonderfully and have a long, prosperous career. Others become Macaulay Culkin. Ruff and Reddy have the misfortune of falling into the latter category. Do animated characters live forever? It seems like they might, and here it represents the struggle of all celebrities to stay relevant when their time is past. Hollywood and the entertainment industry is harsh, and there will always be someone younger to step in and take your place. It makes total sense that Ruff and Reddy are bitter and unstable. The biggest name one day is forgotten the next. So what happens when you never age, never die, while all of the humans around you do? I guess that’s when you make a comeback.

Child Actors: The Trend of Young Casting

Who Framed Ruffer Cattit?

A lot happens in THE RUFF AND REDDY SHOW #4, and some of the jumps come fast and are hard to keep track of. It seems that some time passes, but it moves a little quick, and I would have liked to see some more time spent on some of the scenarios. Things are finally going in the right direction for Ruff and Reddy in this issue. Ruff finds the culprit behind the Ponzi scheme that broke him. Their new agent “Crafty” Schrafft finds them work, while their old agent Pamela gets into some trouble of her own. Since the title of the arc is “A Cautionary Tale in Six Parts,” I imagine it’s all going to fall apart again soon. I can’t wait to see where it all goes, but I’m also cringing at what Chaykin has in store for our “heroes” because I know it can’t be good.

Now With 50% Less %@#%ing

This is the least rude and crude issue of THE RUFF AND REDDY SHOW so far (issue #1 definitely takes that title), and the humor suffers a little for it. This book is at its best when the characters are being vulgar. If it’s going to twist and distort what was once a light kids cartoon, then go all the way. The first issue had some very borderline offensive jokes, and I loved it for them. I wish there was more of that in this installment.

After four issues, I’m still not clear on the rules of this world. The first issue told us these talking animals were “Celimates,” but never expands any further on the concept. It appears to be a ROGER RABIT or COOL WORLD type situation where animated characters live among humans, but nothing in the art indicates the difference aside from cats and dogs walking on two feet and talking. It may have been an interesting look to have the celimate characters drawn in this style, and everything else in a more traditional one.

Jail Cell Shaded

So let’s talk about the art by Mac Rey. It’s totally unique and not like anything else out there. It feels like cells taken from an animated film. The colors are slick and shiny, like each panel is a frame of film. There are a lot of cool little details hidden in the panels — watch for the name of the restaurant on page 15, or the box Pamela is holding on page 21. These really add another layer to THE RUFF AND REDDY SHOW #4.

I’m a little less enthusiastic about the lettering by Ken Bruzenak. I’ve seen enough of Bruzenak’s past work to know that he can create beautiful balloons. The squared tails of his balloons just look strange here. I understand it’s a stylistic choice, but I don’t see how it adds value to the art. Rey’s style already has a lot of hard edges, and the balloons take it too far. Bruzenak does do some cool stuff with varying balloons for the setting, like static-y borders on the TV screen and the “To” line for an email.

THE RUFF AND REDDY SHOW #4 page 2. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Final Thoughts On THE RUFF AND REDDY SHOW #4

The pacing in this issue moves a little too fast. Some of the scenes could have used extra context to make more sense. Still, it does set up some important plot points for the rest of the series that should pay off in future issues. The jokes were a little less vulgar than in past issues, and that toned down some of the humor. THE RUFF AND REDDY SHOW has been at it’s best when it’s pushing boundaries. Still, this was a fun read with a deeper message lurking under the insults.

THE RUFF AND REDDY SHOW #4 turns a classic children's cartoon into a twisted and offensive commentary on celebrities and the state of Hollywood. Where it could have been a safe trip to nostalgia-land, it becomes something different and new with a statement to make.
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