Howard Chaykin

The Ruff & Reddy Show #6 (May 2018)

The Ruff & Reddy Show #6It’s over. It’s really, really over. Finally. In what’s got to be the best issue since the first–I can’t go back and look, I don’t want to remember too much about the experience of reading Ruff and Reddy. I’m ready to forget. Ha.

So this issue has very little of writer Chaykin trying to offer commentary on show business. There’s talk about commentary on show business, but it’s bluster. The bluster works better than when Chaykin’s actually trying. This issue opens with a pseudo-Ain’t It Cool News website page. Because Ruff and Reddy apparently thinks AICN is a thing still. But other than that painful exposition tool? There’s not a lot of nonsense here. When Ruff and Reddy go on TV, Chaykin sticks it out and has a real scene.

And on it goes, with the character development Chaykin’s avoided for four issues, before a nice, sort of funny finish. I mean, if it weren’t vaguely homophobic. It might have actually been a good start to the series but, no, Chaykin plotted the thing out disastrously and it’s possible the only reason I’m a wee bullish on the finale is because it is the finale.

I never have to read Ruff and Reddy Show again.

I can’t believe I read it this time.

Nice enough art from Rey. He really deserves a better project than this one.

CREDITS

A Cautionary Tale In Six Parts, Part Six; writer, Howard Chaykin; artist, Mac Rey; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editors, Michael McCalister and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

The Ruff & Reddy Show #5 (April 2018)

The Ruff & Reddy Show #5The Ruff and Reddy Show continues. It continues to get more and more embarrassing for writer Chaykin, who apparently decided to add some commentary on Hollywood sexual assault and harassment. Only not really, just for the opening summary page.

Then the issue is a series of not funny scenes with Ruff and Reddy in various television pilots. They’re all terrible modern television shows. Chaykin handles it all dispassionately. He’s just churning through. The reader, the writer, they get to churn through the pages without dwelling. Poor Rey has to illustrate this nonsense.

Chaykin finishes the comic with an almost decent scene at Comic Con with Ruff and Reddy getting into a fight. It’s not a decent scene, but it’s almost decent.

Barely almost.

I can’t believe I’ve made it through five of these comics.

CREDITS

A Cautionary Tale In Six Parts, Part Five; writer, Howard Chaykin; artist, Mac Rey; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editors, Michael McCalister and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

The Ruff and Reddy Show #4 (March 2018)

The Ruff and Reddy Show #4Ruff & Reddy has turned a corner. It’s now abjectly pointless. Chaykin has a big twist–which doesn’t come off like a big twist because artist Rey doesn’t make important panels bigger, in fact they’re usually smaller. But it’s also a really lame big twist.

Instead of doing the bickering cartoon animals shtick, Chaykin concentrates on a condemnation of the entertainment industry. Unfortunately, the cartoon animals are a terrible entry into that condemnation–and Chaykin really doesn’t have anything to say about the entertainment industry.

Or, if he does, it’s so bland, predictable, and familiar, the eyes gloss over it. In fact, mine glossed over so much I couldn’t help but notice Rey’s word balloons look funny this issue. Maybe they look funny every issue, but I haven’t noticed until now.

There are two more issues.

I don’t know if I can make it. Not because it’s too bad to read, but because it’s too bland to read.

CREDITS

A Cautionary Tale In Six Parts, Part Four; writer, Howard Chaykin; artist, Mac Rey; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editors, Michael McCalister and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

The Ruff & Reddy Show #3 (February 2018)

The Ruff & Reddy Show #3This issue Ruff and Reddy are tragic and sweet and sympathetic. Meaning Chaykin has changed it up yet again. Three issues, three starts to the comic.

Unless the different approaches are just the gag. Maybe they’re just the point of the comic. We’ll get to the end and the story never gets started; Chaykin will have introduced at least three new subplots and dismissed six by then. There’s something like a subplot development this issue but it doesn’t work. Chaykin hasn’t been working on the subplot at all, so it’s just a cheap twist.

Maybe not even cheap. Cheap’s a determination. Chaykin’s not determined on Ruff & Reddy.

Rey still does quite well with the art. He’s drawing the same things over and over again, but he does them well. Chaykin puts more time into his one-panel talk show spoofs than he does the issue itself. Sorry. Sorry. I was trying to be positive about Rey’s art.

It’s not enough to keep this book going though. Reading it feels like more effort than Chaykin put into writing it.

CREDITS

A Cautionary Tale In Six Parts, Part Three; writer, Howard Chaykin; artist, Mac Rey; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editors, Michael McCalister and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

The Ruff & Reddy Show 2 (January 2018)

The Ruff & Reddy Show #2The second issue of Ruff & Reddy might as well be the first. By the time it’s over, the series is basically in at the point where it should’ve been at the end of the first issue. Or the beginning of this one.

Instead Chaykin plots out this long issue featuring Ruff and Reddy have to go to a pop culture con and sign autographs. They’re being hounded by the young agent but don’t really want to sign on the dotted line yet. They’re too proud.

Even though they’re sad and miserable. The comic goes on forever, without a lot of content. Rey’s digital art is fine, it’s just not at all interesting when all he’s visualizing is the anthropomorphic leads standing or sitting around alone and sad.

Maybe if Chaykin turns out to have a story in mind, the series will recover. From this issue, however, it doesn’t look like he’s got a story in mind at all.

CREDITS

A Cautionary Tale In Six Parts, Part Two; writer, Howard Chaykin; artist, Mac Rey; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editors, Michael McCalister and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

Satellite Sam 15 (July 2015)

Satellite Sam #15Satellite Sam comes to a close. A colorful one.

Fraction doesn’t exactly take the story somewhere unexpected or surprising–though there are a couple, post-big revelations last issue surprises (at least one anyway)–and, in many ways, it’s a gentle finish to the series. Chaykin doesn’t get anything lascivious to draw; they are just hints.

The not exactly surprising finish has a lot to do with the television industry. Fraction finishes up all the character plots and still has time for the history lesson. He does a great job with it; Chaykin too. The issue moves beautifully; the series works just as well without all the menace the creators have been imbuing it with.

But that success is the surprise. Fraction and Chaykin quietly created this great cast underneath a sensational story. So when the sensation finished, Sam stands on its own for the characters. It’s rather fantastic work.

CREDITS

Dead Air; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Howard Chaykin; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editor, Thomas K.; publisher, Image Comics.

Satellite Sam 14 (May 2015)

Satellite Sam #14And this issue is a perfect example of how you do a comic book. One thing Chaykin brings to Satellite Sam–even when he’s having an off issue, which he isn’t this issue–is a real understanding of how to make a comic book a comic book. You never read Sam and feel like Fraction’s itching for a movie option or whatnot. The way the story beats work, they only work in a comic.

And there are a lot of big story beats this issue. Fraction deals with all of the major plot lines, along with a couple nods–sometimes with just those Italian language word balloons–to major subplots. These plot lines aren’t resolved (well, probably one of them), but they’re getting close. Fraction and Chaykin pack a lot into the issue and its story threads.

Sam is going out on a rather high note, which is only appropriate.

CREDITS

Bad Actors; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Howard Chaykin; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editor, Thomas K.; publisher, Image Comics.

Satellite Sam 13 (April 2015)

Satellite Sam #13It’s an action-packed issue of Satellite Sam. At least it’s action-packed for Satellite Sam. And not even the kinky sex, which Chaykin must’ve loved getting a crack at. No, Fraction is moving Michael’s murder investigation to what seems to be its third act (and the third act for the series, based on some developments for supporting cast), and there’s action.

There’s revenge and action.

And kinky sex.

The only thing Satellite Sam doesn’t have this issue is television. The television plots don’t come in at all, with the exception of a sort of Godfather homage and TV isn’t the point of that scene. It’s Fraction and Chaykin being a little funny and showy, which they can afford to be; Satellite Sam is good stuff.

Fraction’s character work this issue is exceptional, maybe the best in the series so far. And it’s with practically melodramatic sequences where he excels.

CREDITS

Goodbye, Aristotle; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Howard Chaykin; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editor, Thomas K.; publisher, Image Comics.

Satellite Sam 12 (March 2015)

Satellite Sam #12It’s a good issue of Satellite Sam. Chaykin’s art is definitely stronger this time around. And the issue’s packed once again.

Fraction checks in on various characters and their still active subplots–some are small (like the guy with the Italian wife for a beard), some are much bigger (the black guy passing on TV now getting death threats). But the main plot for the issue deals with the overall story and Mike’s investigation.

In some ways, Fraction’s just cooking Sam. He’s got six burners on the stove and he’s tending all of the pots, but only really concentrating one one. And it’s an accompaniment subplot concerning Mike’s love life.

The conclusion of the issue gets back to some of the toughness the series imparted way back at the beginning, when the shock value was still part of the comic. Fraction and Chaykin do tough well. Even with Chaykin’s supermen.

CREDITS

Four Keys, Two Reels; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Howard Chaykin; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editor, Thomas K.; publisher, Image Comics.

Satellite Sam 11 (February 2015)

Satellite Sam #11The writing on this issue of Satellite Sam is excellent. Fraction hits every subplot, sort of checks its temperature, stirs it a little, then combines a couple of them into the final scene of the comic.

There’s a lot of plotting and a lot of unfortunate choices and situations. It’s soapy without seeming too soapy. The S&M and drug abuse and swinging certainly give Sam some edge, but there’s also how Fraction approaches the subjects, sans exploitation.

This issue has some character development, a bunch of surprises, another really good scene for the black actor passing as white. He’s practically Fraction’s only sympathetic character in the whole comic. Everyone else has issues. He’s also one things distracting from the comic’s soapiness.

This issue also has Chaykin’s worst art on the comic so far. He’s getting lazy, relying way too much on bad digital effects. But, otherwise, Sam is rocking.

CREDITS

Good Morning, Good Morning; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Howard Chaykin; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editor, Thomas K.; publisher, Image Comics.

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