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This comic lacks raggediness. Or raggeditude. Or raggediosity. Something. – Raggedy Ann and Andy #2

September 7, 2012

Having as a young child proudly owned a Raggedy Andy doll — in those early single digits before all toys had to have some sort of gun attached — I have a bone to pick with this comic. And to do that, I have to ask a rhetorical question, and it is: What’s the most defining feature of the Raggedy Ann and Andy design, the one that’s been with them since their storybook inception (which was almost a hundred years ago)? If you said “the unkempt red yarn hair,” then you and I are operating on the same wavelength. When I imagine my old Raggedy Andy doll, who’s probably sitting in a dark closet somewhere right now, it’s the hair that I think of. Not his sailor suit. Not his floppy arms. Not his wide-open eyes. The hair.

You see Raggedy Ann and Andy up on that cover? The red yarn hair? The red yarn hair that is THE DEFINING FEATURE OF RAGGEDY ANN AND ANDY? Take a good look, because that’s the last time you’re going to see it in this post. Because it’s the last time that you see it in this comic.

Yes, this book somehow managed to muck up one of the most iconic doll designs that the world has ever known, and instead made Raggedy Ann and Andy — can you even call them Raggedy now? — look more like the Hobbits from the Rankin and Bass Return of the King. Their round heads and big buggy eyes are so reminiscent, you keep expecting to hear Glenn Yarbrough’s warbly voice rising out of the comic. This hair is so, SO screwed up. It’s cropped short, AND IT’S NOT EVEN RED. Who’s in charge here — let me speak to the manager.

This comic series, one of several to tackle the venerable Raggedy mythos, takes a Toy Story approach to the lives of Ann and Andy, before there was such a thing as Toy Story, with a girl’s dolls springing to life whenever she’s asleep or out of sight. As a premise this is, let’s be honest, terrifying. I’m fairly certain that every season of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits and Tales from the Darkside all had at a bare minimum five episodes each where dolls came alive and started killing people. CREEPY. Sure, it all starts out nice and sweet, with gumdrops and happy songs and rainbows, but sooner or later someone gets stabbed in the eye with a penknife. (It should be noted that this comic is where I pulled the bizarre and off-putting Butterfly Maidens ad. Made for each other.)

There are four (mercifully) brief stories in this comic, all with Ann, Andy and their assorted comrades-in-plush-arms having real or imaginary adventures outside of their bedroom prison. The first has them travelling to the Middle East with a magician and riding around on flying carpets while running afoul of whatever scimitar-wielding authorities there are:

Surprised that they didn’t see Morpheus and Harun al-Rashid heading the other way.

The second has them left outside by their owner during a snowstorm, and going into survival mode with a helpful Eskimo doll:

How did they smooth out those snowballs into perfect igloo block dimensions? Are they igloo savants? Is that part of the magic that allows them to walk and talk?

The third shows that even dolls get the blues. Henny, a little Dutch boy doll, gets a glimpse of his homeland in a travel agency poster, and this sends him into a deep, deep depression:

No, he’s not sick. He’s just grown tired of his bondage. Back away, Ann, cause this guy’s about to snap like the prisoner in Escape from Alcatraz who chopped off his own fingers in desperate protest (relax, he doesn’t — that’s just hyperbole). Dolls bed-ridden with crippling sadness — enjoy, kids! (They manage to cure his ills with an imaginary trip to the land of windmills and dikes and marijuana. Not buying it. You have to think that this manic swing will be short-lived.)

These dolls must have a lot of pent-up frustrations, what with their interminable indentured servitude in a little girl’s bedroom. “If I have to sit through another one of her f–king tea parties, I swear to God…” That sort of thing.

The fourth has the dolls rescuing one of their number after a stray dog grabs it and takes it into a haunted house. I’ll post no scans from this one, and instead simply say this: THE DOLLS THAT COME ALIVE AND STALK AROUND WHEN NO ONE IS LOOKING ARE THE ONES THAT LIVE IN A HAUNTED HOUSE. OKAY?

There’s no listing here for who scripted and illustrated this comic, nor was said information easily found through a brief internet search. Perhaps that’s for the best. The art is neat and clean (the flying carpet scenes in particular have nicely rendered backgrounds), but the design for the two stars is utterly bewildering. I mean, really, how do you screw this up? Were they running low on red ink? Is that it? Was someone trying to put their stamp on the Raggedy franchise? The world may never know. I might not be in the target demo for a comic like this (and dear God, I hope I’m not), but I know Raggedy Ann and Andy when I see them. And these are pale-haired substitutes.

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