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Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
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for Friday, February 5, 2010

Ruff and Reddy

When I was a kid, Ruff and Reddy was one of my favorite cartoon shows. On the rare occasions when I'd miss an episode of their serialized adventures - yes, my children, this was a dark era in which mankind lacked even VHS recording - I would be devastated. I couldn't even assuage my pain by flipping through the channels to find something else to watch because we had no remote control and but three channels TOTAL. Not to mention having to constantly flee from dinosaurs, at least until the comet came. I'm old.

Despite my fondness for the dynamic dog-and-cat duo, I never saw an issue of their Dell comic book series. Indeed, I never read an issue of their 12-issue run until just recently, when I acquired Ruff and Reddy #4 [January-March, 1960]. It wasn't what I expected.

It's been four decades since I've seen an episode of Ruff and Reddy and, try as I might, I couldn't "hear" their voices while reading the comic. The short stories contained therein also lacked what I remembered, perhaps erroneously, as the epic nature of the animal adventurers' battles with the evil robots of planet Munimula, Texan twins Killer and Diller, the Goon of Glocca Morra, and other fearsome-to-a-six-year-old foes.

The first thing I noticed was how much better Ruff and Reddy looked in this comic book than in their cartoon appearances. The Harvey Eisenberg cover conveys fun and motion with a judicious use of lines. His one-page Ruff and Reddy gags at the front and back of the issue, four pages in all, are just a shade more complicated but still lively as all get out. Alas, not even the Grand Comics Datebase [] knows who wrote these gags or any of the four longer stories in the issue.

Balmy Swami

Three of those stories star Ruff and Reddy. In "Balmy Swami," a carnival gig puts the animal pals on the trail of bank robbers. It may not be an epic tale, but it definitely shows the courage and resourcefulness of its heroes.

"Sky Divers" is my favorite story in the issue and, I think, the funniest. The boys try a new sport and end up participating in a much older sport.

Ruff and Reddy's third and final adventure this issue is "Two Spy Guys," in which, quite inexplicitly, they are recruited by the police to pose as criminals and lead the authorities to some stolen loot. The GCD isn't certain who drew these stories, but has named Pete Alvarado and Lynn Karp as possibilities.

Small Fry Safari

Second-class postage regulations required Dell to include more than one feature in their comics. In this issue, that requirement was fulfilled by a single-page text story - "Cap'n Pelican's Tricky Problem" - of the type I used to skip over as a kid and still skip over today, and by a charming, four-page Eisenberg-drawn comics story starring "Leon, the Teensy Weensy Lion." That adds up to 36 pages of fun with nary an advertisement in sight and for the price (originally) of one slim dime.

These days, a dime buys about half-a-page of an over-written, over-produced tragedy that ties into 27 other stories in one month alone. Some of these modern comics are pretty terrific, but I wish I had more comics like Ruff and Reddy to cleanse the palette after watching so-called super-heroes ripping each other into tiny little bits.

Watch for more of my "blasts from the past" as I journey far and wide for comics that might be worthy of inclusion in the sequel to 1000 Comic Books You Must Read. Remember, not only is it the perfect Valentine's Day gift for the special comics fan in your life, but, every time someone buys a copy of my book, an angel gets its wings.

Thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'll be back on Monday with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

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Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.

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