Ruff and Reddy owes more than a little bit to Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, as a race of animated “celimates” exists alongside flesh and blood humans. Set in the 1950s, the atmosphere is laced with the Communist paranoia and bigotry that ran rampant in our own pre-Civil Rights era.
The first issue chronicles the rise and fall of the premier entertainment team of the era, as they star in any number of prefabricated screen plays with thin plots, thinner dialogue and predictable plot points to carry the audience along a comfortably familiar storyline. But like most teams of their day, their combined shelf life is short-lived, reminiscent of Martin & Lewis. In addition, there is the fickle nature of fame, as audiences need little to no excuse to taste the flavor of the month, only to spit it out seconds later.
Writer Howard Chaykin is known for many things, not the least of which is
A. Profoundly flawed protagonists, in this case a couple of foul-mouth film stars
B. Historical context, in this case the 1950s and ‘60s
C. The stagnant pond that is TV production in Hollywood, having spent a decade writing for television
All of which is to say he brings a level of authenticity to the story, free from misplaced idealism. However, much like the films of Ruff and Reddy, it’s familiar territory, just what the audience expects. He also brings long-time collaborator Ken Bruzenak, whose lettering, as usual, is illustrative unto itself.
But the glue holds it all together is the artwork of Mac Rey, whose artistic style is clearly inspired by animation – equal parts Tex Avery and Ralph Bakshi. If the first issue is any indication, animation fans are in for a hoot of run.