Ruffians #1

Posted: Tuesday, October 31, 2006
By: Steve Saville

Cover of Ruffians #1 Creator(s): Brian Canini
Publishers: Drunken Cat Comics (Self Published)
From: USA
Price: $2.95 - 1.50(US)

The plot of Ruffians#1 goes something like this, “Scar has always known violence. He was born to it, raised in it, and will someday die by its hand. But Blackjack’s death is a whole new type of violence, a type that he can’t wrap his mind around with any kind of ease.
Finding his best friend dead on a rooftop, bullet through his head, has made Scar a bit paranoid. And when you know as many ways to kill a man as he does, there are few things more dangerous than paranoia. He want’s to know who did it, why they did it, and if they have any last requests.”

Pretty dark stuff then, a world of hitman and mystery lived on the wrong side of town. Now I am picking that whatever pictures formed in your mind of Scar as you were reading the outline above they did not feature a cartoon dog with a large snout. And even if they did I’m picking that they did not feature a blue cartoon dog with a large yellow snout and red boxing gloves. Thankfully the comic is in black and white and the very ‘colourful’ [in every possible way] main character is only portrayed in full colour on the cover.

The large cartoonish dog and the dark world he inhabits are not always comfortable bed fellows in this comic, but I tend to blame Roger Rabbit for starting this whole cute character in evil world thing. At times the two are just a little too incongruous. There are some other problems in this first edition that also get in the way of our accessibility as new readers.
The bar room dialogues, while necessary to establish the characters, are just a little long and even the fact that they are interspersed with acts of extreme violence the pace does flag a little through the middle of this comic.

The plot alternates between two time frames, now and the time leading up to and discovery of Blackjack’s murder. The problem is that the change from one time frame to the other is not indicated with any cohesion or clarity and as a result confusion can and does occur as we struggle to figure out whether we are in the past or the here and now. In the end we are nearly as confused as Scar himself.

Visually there is a problem in the presentation of some of the frames as Scar [large snout and all] appears just too big for some of the frames. He is too dominant and takes up just too much space, at times this detracts from creating an ongoing environment and setting that is important in establishing the context of a new title. Scar just seems to block everything else out.

Despite these criticisms Ruffians is a worthy edition to the world of small press. The first edition creates a good level of complexity in both the characters and storyline and this augurs well for future editions. This title should develop into a nasty little read full of deception and violence as we continue to delve into the dark and violent world of Scar the angry dog with the large snout.

In a Word: Ruffenuf.

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