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Posted at 2:24 PM ET, 11/ 2/2009

Should 'Red and Rover' roll over? Time to Defend That 'Toon

By Michael Cavna

'RED AND ROVER' (WPWG)Enlarge Image

Ever since Comic Riffs asked readers the other day what strip they would move to KidsPost -- so "Frazz" could return to the daily comics page -- one of the most mentioned features after "Peanuts Classics" has been Brian Bassett's warm and fuzzy strip, "RED AND ROVER."

"Red and Rover" was launched in 2000 by Basset, who was already drawing the strip "Adam@home" (Basset turned over the artistic duties of that latest strip to another cartoonist earlier this year). With its secretive boy-and-pet communication (Red can understand what Red's thinking) and its sweet nostalgia for childhood circa the '60s, "Red and Rover" emerged as a natural, some editors have said,to win some of the newspaper slots once held down by the retired "Calvin and Hobbes."

Basset draws "Red" with a sure, simple line that befits the subject matter. Lines are literally, elegantly rendered as a bit soft-focus "fuzzy." This effect gives the strip a certain "Leave It to Beaver" glow -- "Red," in fact, can look more like the old black-and-white "Dennis the Menace" TV show (starring Jay North) than the "Dennis the Menace" strip itself.

So what do you think, 'Riffs readers? If you're not a fan, feel free to Impugn That Toon. Otherwise it's time to Defend. That. Toon.


MORE TRUDEAU IN THE POST: Back in March, of course, Comic Riffs interviewed "Doonesbury" creator Garry Trudeau about the new and burgeoning Twitter account of his fictive reporter Roland Hedley. Several weeks later, Hedley's Tweets made The New Yorker. Now, with Hedley's book of Tweet nothings ("My Shorts R Bunching. Thoughts?") out in bookstores, Post media critic Howard Kurtz today has some great comments from Trudeau about the challenge of maintaining Hedley's Twitter account.

VIDEO UPDATE: Kurtz "twinterviews" Hedley on CNN's "Reliable Sources."

What adds to the meta-nature of Kurtz's entertaining column are two things:
(1) Trudeau/Hedley humorously tweeted last Friday: "Just did book twinterview w/ snarky media critic. Accused ME of narcissism. Dude! Yr so vain, you probably think this tweet is about you."
[8:26 AM Oct 30th from web]
(2) Columbia Journalism Review staged a Great American Tweet-Off between Kurtz and Hedley over the summer. (Still not sure who, um, "won.")

[As Comic Riffs noted Sunday, Hedley will hawk his new book in this week's series of strips.]

MASH GAME: Was chatting with the Empress over the weekend about The Post Style Invitational's cartoon mash-up -- and wanted to make sure to point comics fans to the final results (winner: a "Dagwood sandwich" gets a whole-new bedroom definition) from the weekend. Enjoy.

By Michael Cavna  | November 2, 2009; 2:24 PM ET
Categories:  Defend That 'Toon  
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I'm sorry; "sweet" just doesn't do it for me. And there's no way a kid like Red would understand Jules Feiffer, who isn't thge least bit sentimental.

I want my funnies to be FUNNY, dammit.

Posted by: Theophylact | November 2, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

it's harmless. I rarely remember it 10 seconds after I've read it. But I wouldn't pay to read it.

Posted by: greasypores | November 2, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Defend it?

Sorry, I can't...but I harbor no ill will towards it.

Posted by: JkR- | November 2, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

It is sweet. It is well drawn. It is also boring and obvious. Bring back Frazz or better yet get Pooch Cafe or Monty.

Posted by: bryanchip | November 2, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Send "Peanuts" to KidsPost & drain Camp Swampy. Start killing the zombie strips & bring in some fresh ideas.

Posted by: BinM | November 2, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

The comics don't all have to be Zippy and Bug-Eyed Earl. Red and Rover always makes me smile.

Posted by: TDog66 | November 2, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Keep Red and Rover. It's funny, and kids can identify with it. Why fix something that's working so well?

Posted by: tphyll | November 2, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse

It's inoffensive, simply because it's bland, trivial, repetitious,and forgettable. My only real objection to a strip that's as ignorable as this one is that it occupies space on the comics page that could be devoted to something more interesting.

Does your second paragraph mean that some editors somewhere actually consider "Red and Rover" to be a meaningful replacement for "Calvin and Hobbes"???? Someone that clueless about comics would, um, put "Frazz" on the kids' page, probably.

Posted by: seismic-2 | November 2, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

That "dance" session shown above pales in comparison to Calvin & Hobbes; even Earl and Mooch (in Mutts) can dance better than that. Still, Red & Rover is a perfectly normal, innocuous comic. There's no reason to kill it, when there are so many other candidates for the trash heap still being printed.

The above link to the Style Invitational jumps to page two of the comic mashup results, here's a link to page one: - click on the NEXT button in the slideshow to see the Dagwood Sandwich.

Posted by: kilby | November 3, 2009 5:02 AM | Report abuse

I read Red and Rover every day-something I can't say about 3/4 of the other comics the Post runs. It's got a quality that you don't get much of these days: niceness. Leave it in!

Posted by: Sonia6 | November 3, 2009 7:21 AM | Report abuse

One of the six that I read regularly.

Posted by: jpslon1 | November 3, 2009 7:27 AM | Report abuse

We subscribe to the Post and we also read it online.
Leave Red and Rover in, as it is a welcome relief with humor. My college kids like it and my grandson reads it.
Get rid of Agnes and her whining, and Cul de Sac with its poor graphics and depressing attempts at wit.
Bring back Frazz! It’s funny and often has a very good moral (*gasp*!) point to the strip.

Posted by: Printchick | November 3, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

Keep Red and Rover, put Peanuts on the kids page, and get rid of "Watch your Head".

Posted by: oldgal49er | November 3, 2009 8:10 AM | Report abuse

"Red and Rover", a replacement for "Calvin and Hobbes"?
Yeah, right. Just like 'The Little Mermaid" filled the void left by "Kill Bill".

Posted by: labradog | November 3, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

"Red and Rover" filling the void left by "Calvin and Hobbes"?
Yeah, just like "The Little Mermaid" filled the void left by "Pulp Fiction".

Posted by: labradog | November 3, 2009 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Definitely leave Red and Rover...its good. Move many times do "we" have to tell you! Agnes and Heart of the City are keepers along with MOVING FRAZZ to the real comics page.

Posted by: ZeldaJane | November 3, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Hey, its fun ... nothing's broke, so nothing needs to be fixed. Tell the editorial guys they need to learn how to write scripts and make a website that works.

Posted by: kcbrady | November 3, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Red doesn't do it for me, but I can see where it might appeal to others. It can stay. Kill a zombie instead.

Posted by: kcghost | November 3, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

"Red and Rover" is, if nothing else, well rendered. That is reason enough to leave it where it is. I won't read a cartoon if the artwork is bad--and that eliminates 50 percent of the funny pages! "R&R" isn't hilarious, but it's sweet. "Cul de Sac," by the way, is the best of the lot, in both the humor and art departments. If you need to get rid of something, "Close to Home" is absolutely horrible; "Pearls Before Swine" is another space waster. And why on earth is "Peanuts" still there? Make space for living, breathing (non-zombie) cartoonists, for crying out loud! Also, bring back "Piranha Club" (drop the pathetically embarrassing "Mark Trail" to make room for it).

Posted by: jobro1 | November 3, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

I LOVE Red and Rover! It's a refreshing bit of humor and charm in a snarky world.

Posted by: StaffyOwner | November 3, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

KEEP Red n Rover...DITCH Rex Morgan, Prince Valient & Judge Parker.

Posted by: juliejohnk | November 3, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse


I hate to admit it, but I've actually started reading Judge Parker. The new artists are pretty good.

Posted by: jobro1 | November 3, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

No idea why, but Red and Rover always reminds me of a more racist time. I hate it. Regardless, not a good strip.

Posted by: MarylanDChris | November 3, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I've mentioned a couple of times that I'm not a fan of R&R - not particularly funny or original, and it's 1/5 in today, 1/5 50's, 1/5 70's, 2/5 60's time/cultural frame makes it a rather odd duck/goose/peahen. That said, I imagine a lot of younger kids like it - it is a good "entry" comic, so I can see where people would want to keep it.

The obvious move, as some have already said, still is to move Frazz back to the regular comics page, and Peanuts to KidsPost

Posted by: howiehunt | November 3, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Why do we have to keep defending the funny comic strips? Comics are supposed to be funny, not political as so many have become or soap operas like Judge Parker and Mark Trail. Let's laugh a little. Red and Rover, Peanuts Classics, Mutts, Blondie, and so on are funny - that's the purpose.

Posted by: JCollins1 | November 3, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

The jokes aren't always great, but the rendering of canine movement is wonderful -- that's enough for me to want it to stay.

Posted by: nvanative | November 4, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

I happen to like Red and Rover, and would be sorry to see it go. My proposal would be to dump Spiderman. That strip ceased being original years ago. It's just the same tired thread, over and over again. If kids like it, put it on the kids page. Otherwise, can it completely and let some other struggling cartoonist have a shot at the space.

Posted by: alert4jsw | November 4, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Boring! Please drop it and bring back Piranha Club!

Posted by: dandysmom | November 4, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse

I'd prefer you dropped Agnes(horribly drawn!), but love Cul de Sac!

Posted by: dandysmom | November 4, 2009 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Also like Red and Rover as an entry comic for my dog-loving kids. Agree with all who say move Frazz back to the comics and take out a zombie like Beetle Bailey. When will they listen to us and bring back Frazz??

Posted by: mksfromvienna | November 4, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Definitely keep Red and Rover. Agree with ditching Rex Morgan.

Posted by: destinysmom | November 5, 2009 8:15 AM | Report abuse

Keep it. I read it every morning.

Posted by: Commentator84 | November 5, 2009 8:28 AM | Report abuse

One of the better strips. The basic communication between boy and dog is beautiful to kids (of all ages) who have been lucky enough to be owned by a dog. Plenty of "crud" out there that could/should go. Mark Trail has got to be the dumbest person alive (you have to wonder why he is alive). He charges into situations where the police or rangers would go cautiously without a lick of sense.

Posted by: pjohn2 | November 5, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

We read Red and Rover daily and enjoy it very much. Keep in and please remove like Peanuts.

Posted by: Ramsey2 | November 5, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

What is it people hate so much these days about pleasantness? Red and Rover is a welcome part of the comics in a time when every second strip does nothing but insult the other artists. Aside from that, it hits home very often to me as a dog owner. Keep it, please, and don't let all the Stephen Pastises out there dominate the page.

Posted by: WillCraig16 | November 5, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

I absolutely LOVE Red & Rover! It's one of my favorites. I'll never forget the one right after the Challenger disaster with the 13 stars in the sky, one for each American astronaut who died in space (or in the capsule).

This comic's sweet innocence is a breath of fresh air that needs to be felt. Please keep it.


Posted by: bobaberman1 | November 6, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Keep Red & Rover where it is. It may seem "simple" to some, but to anyone who has had an animal for a pet, it is deeply meaningful. If only humans had Red's understanding of Rover, and all animals had human parents such as Red.

Posted by: lovesanimals67 | November 7, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

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