Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Ruff and Reddy's Crocodile Dilemma

Ruff and Reddy didn’t achieve the acclaim of Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear—their TV show was aimed strictly at children, for one thing—but they joined their fellow Hanna-Barbera characters on the drawing boards of Dell Comics.

I don’t claim any knowledge (or interest, to be honest) of comics, so I can’t tell you how many issues they appeared in. Checking around on-line, it appears there was an issue number 12, so that would mean the comics lasted for a few years. I gather they were published four times a year.

The comics are different from the TV show in that there’s no narrator, they’re not serialised, and they’re devoid of those Charlie Shows’ rhymes that drive me nuts on occasion. They’re not uproariously funny, either, but the stories were no doubt pleasant enough for youngsters.

Here’s one from issue number 11, cover dated December 1961. It features talking crocodiles and a turtle in tartan shorts. I couldn’t tell you the artist. Click to enlarge.


  1. I collect Hanna Barbera Gold Key/Dell comics and I can tell you that this is representative of how they handled most of the characters. In many cases it appeared the authors knew nothing about the characters. Snagglepuss did not use his "even" speech, Yogi rarely talked in rhyme, etc. Other cartoon / comic strip adaptations had the same fate. The Pink Panther talked. So did the Road Runner and comic strip character Henry. About the closest representation in a Gold Key comic was the Flintstones.

  2. It seems that this story was drawn by the legendary Harvey Eisenberg (the "Carl Barks from Hanna-Barbera").

  3. This doesn't look like Harvey Eisenberg's work to me, I think it's Pete Alvarado!

  4. Can't tell you the artist, but Mark Evanier said in a comment on Cartoon Research that the guy who lettered most of the West-Coast produced stuff for Western around this time was Rome Siemen.

  5. While many of the Hanna-Barbera Dell (and later Gold Key) comic books of the period were indeed drawn by Harvey Eisenberg, I agree with Mark Kausler – this one is by Pete Alvarado.

    The Ruff and Reddy comics may not have been an exact recreation of the animated episodes, but that could be considered a plus. They were not portrayed as out-of-character (such character as they *had*), and the non-serialized, sans heavy narration nature of the story actually worked to its advantage… as a comic book story, that is.

    It seems there was an “Adventure Template” for a “pair of buddy characters”, into which pairings such as Mickey Mouse and Goofy, Porky Pig and Bugs Bunny, Andy Panda and Charlie Chicken – and later Ruff and Reddy would be dropped into. Add locale, villains, and perhaps an eccentric character ally, and the stories would essentially write themselves. You can see the “building blocks” of “locale, villains, and eccentric character ally” all over this story – and at least the latter two are why it works so well.

    And, despite this seemingly questionable approach, many (if not most) such stories would, at least from the 1940s thru the 1960s, display some degree of quality beyond that which you might expect from this process. Perhaps it was due to the talented artists, usually moonlighting or former theatrical animators, pulling it off. Harvey Eisenberg, Roger Armstrong, Gil Turner, Bill Wright, Dick Moores, Paul Murry, Tony Strobl, Jack Bradbury, Pete Alvarado, Phil DeLara, John Carey, Vive Risto, and more. And Carl Barks, who specialized in Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge, was in a universe by himself.

    You must also give the creators of these stories some slack in that, when comic book versions of the Disney, Warner Bros., MGM, and Walter Lantz characters first originated in the early 1940s, these characters existed ONLY as theatrical short subject matter. Chances are, unless you were a REALLY dedicated movie-goer, you probably never saw ALL of these characters – at least not with any regularity.

    So, characterizations were built to best suit the medium of the illustrated printed page. Silent characters talked because pantomime gets old very quickly on the comic pages, once you exceed the length of a daily newspaper strip. You can’t carry that for 32 pages (less advertising, of course). Carl Barks’ ducks excelled at this, superseding the source material. His Donald “spoke” in a normal and intelligible voice, and no one ever cried “character violation”! Other character interpretations were more hit and miss but, in my opinion, certainly acceptable.

    The Tom and Jerry comics of the fifties and sixties read more like Pixie, Dixie, and Mister Jinks (since the pair, plus the diapered mouse "Tuffy", had to talk for comic books) but they were still very funny, and Harvey Eisenberg, and occasionally Phil DeLara, made them work - and work WELL!

    It wasn’t until television brought these characters renewed fame in the late ‘50s and beyond, that differences in characterization may have come to light. And was also why original TV productions like the H-B and Jay Ward character comics from Dell and Gold Key hewed closer to the source material than their predecessors.