A Book Review
By Sally Holland
Ron Ruelle is creative and edgy and somewhat quirky. Like most artistic people he sometimes crosses a line into an area of humor that is a little uncomfortable for me. Yet, I’m enticed by his most recent invitation to step into the socially unacceptable world of his new book called Awful Activities.
I’ve known Ron since he wore a Cub Scout kerchief and I wore a Girl Scout sash in Cookeville, Tennessee where we grew up. We’ve both long since moved away. I live an hour from the Blue Ridge mountain range of the Appalachians and he is in the foothills of the Rockies. We keep up with each other on Facebook and occasionally use each other for a free place to stay during vacation. In Boulder, he has a bathroom in his house dedicated to the Christmas cards I’ve sent him over the years. I went through a period of time where I ran into enough B-level celebrities that I would have my photos with them put on Christmas cards. Ron brilliantly repurposed them.
And, he kindly listed me as one of the dedicatees in his new book. Although I’m a little concerned that my name will now be associated with “awful activities,” I’ve decided to let that slide for the time being.
Ron is a cartoonist. And like many artists, he has his fingers in many pies. He teaches, he draws, and he does graphic design. He’s even been known to drive a limo. Regardless of which hat he is wearing, conversations with him are always imaginative. As I mentioned before, his humor is always edgy.
In Awful Activities, he invites that adult reader/amateur artist to add their own enhancements to his cartoons. The situations he sets up are definitely mature but they aren’t really dirty unless the adult reader or amateur cartoonist decides to make them so. That’s what makes the book fun.
A drawing of a dog with his hind leg lifted asks the question: “What did Sparky just write in the snow?” The adult reader/amateur artist can write in whatever they want, preferably in yellow.
A drawing of a cake where you get to add the decoration has the caption: “Someone’s getting fired for this company birthday cake!”
Ron even offers the option of venting political frustrations with blank signs in the front yard of a house and the question: “Really? That’s how the neighbors are voting?”
My personal favorite is a drawing of a woman at a table with a bottle of wine on its side that asks the reader to draw, “What makes Mommy cry in the afternoon?”
The questions and captions are silly and frank and very real to life. The book is a mix of therapy and conversation starters. The concept is simple yet it makes you think. And, of course, giggle nervously.
It’s really up to the reader or artist as to the direction that the book will take. Ron points out in the front cover, “All I’ve done is present you with some ideas to start telling your own stories. The rest is up to you and your own sick mind, your own dark thoughts, your own vulgar taste.”
This book is only available online. I’m sure Ron would appreciate it if you went to your local bookstore and demanded that they stock it, but you don’t have to cause a scene. Although just for the fun of it, you might want to anyway.
When you finish completing his drawings in the Awful Activities book, I strongly recommend that you burn the book and buy a new one. Keep the second book clean. Otherwise, you run the risk that years from now your grandchildren will find it in your attic. They’ll flip through it and see what you did. They’ll see that drawing of “What horrible new marshmallow shapes are in your favorite cereal?” and your legacy will be seriously questioned.
“Look at what Aunt Sally drew!” I can hear it now.
Awful Activities can be purchased through Ron’s website at http://www.ronruelle.com at CreateSpace or on Amazon. You provide the crayons.