Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Ren and Stimpy Show #1!

It was a dark and chilly night in November 1992. I had ridden with my mom to A&P, and I was standing in front of the magazine rack while she was grocery shopping. I had started collecting comics the year before, and soon after I discovered the numerous comic books next to the Woman's Day and Redbooks. Frankly, their selection was amazing. They carried everything from DC to Image, with a mix of Archie and the rare Dark Horse comic. The issues would be lined up on the 6ft shelf, three rows deep. There was no real rhyme or reason to their arrangement, though I guess it didn't really matter. After a few days everything was mixed up anyway. I like to think it added to the experience. Who knew what books you would find behind that first row of comics?

Well, on that random November night in 1992, I found this issue:

The first time I saw Ren and Stimpy, I was hooked. I hadn't seen anything else like it. If the 80's cartoons were all about selling toys, then the 90's shows were all about the gross out humor and there was no better example of gross out humor than Ren and Stimpy. I'm pretty sure more than one episode was based just on bodily functions.

Since my family lived in the middle of nowhere, we couldn't get cable service, and affordable satellite TV was still years away. As much as I would have loved to look out the window and see a large parabolic dish pointing at the sky, it wasn't in the budget. I was only able to catch the show when I would stay the night at a friend's house. As a result,  my viewings of Ren and Stimpy were few and far between. I think that's why I was so fascinated by the show. I think if I was able to catch it regularly, I'm sure the novelty would have worn off quickly. 

So, when I discovered I could get my Ren and Stimpy fix in comic form, I didn't hesitate to whip out my wallet and wait another hour for my mom to finish buying groceries. I actually had the same reaction when I found this copy on the book shelf at the nearby thrift store. I guess I haven't changed that much in 22 years.. 

In the spirit of "Every 1st issue is a collectible", this one came in a polybag along with a couple of Air Foulers. I think I got lucky with this one, because I only remember getting one air fouler with the issue I bought 20 years ago. Surprisingly, they both still work after all this time. If I'm remembering correctly, Stimpy is supposed to smell like Gritty Kitty cat litter, while Ren's is supposed to be wet chihuahua. They're nowhere near that bad, but I'm still not about to hang them in my office. Now, in someone else's office..

The comics, like the show, were anthology style. Each issue had two to three different stories, unrelated to previous issues. They were just as weird as the television show, often making little to no sense. I think that was part of the charm though. The first story in issue 1 tells how Ren and Stimpy accidentally became criminal masterminds after shoplifting from a pet store. I love how their crime spree ramps up, from stealing a basketball player's shoes to bagging still running cars from a dealership. Eventually, they work their way up to "beeg time crime lords". 

It took me 20 years, but I finally got the joke here. I have to admit I'm impressed that they were able to squeeze a Godfather and a Goodfellas joke on to one page. Of course, now I'm a little confused. Was this comic's target audience even old enough to have seen either of those movies? 

The next story was a space thriller that saw Commander Hoek and Cadet Stimpy facing off against the deadly Space Yak. It's a bit shorter than the first story, but that doesn't mean it's any less absurd. Re-reading this story, I was surprised to find an Alien reference I completely missed, as well as a nod toward Arnold Schwarzenegger. I used to laugh out loud at these comics, and I can only assume I was faking it, because there's no way I got some of these jokes. Maybe my 11 year old self is smarter than I give him credit for. 

Speaking of jokes I didn't get...grow figs. I get it now. Hilarious. At the end of every comic, there was an Ask Dr. Stupid section. In this segment, Dr. Stupid would answer actual questions that had been sent in by readers. Honestly, this was the funniest part of some of the later issues. Some of the answers were so off the wall insane, I couldn't help but laugh my ass off. I always wanted to write in and see if I could get a letter published, but alas, laziness and being easily distracted won out and I never got to see my name in print. Maybe I should try sending a letter to that address and see if I can still get a response. 

And, that was the first issue of The Ren and Stimpy show. It may not have been as crass and crude as the television show, but dammit, it was fun! 


  1. Man I remember getting this one - doesn't the 'secret message' say something to the effect that you are an eediot for opening the valuable collectible comic?

    Also, while I was probably too old to be the target audience for Ren and Stimpy comics in 1992, I was old enough to have seen/get the Godfather/Goodfellas references.

    1. Yep, that's the secret message. I have to admit, I felt a little pang of guilt when I opened the first one I bought. With the one I just picked up, I only hesitated opening it until I got a good picture of the comic in the bag. Guess what, the one I used still wasn't that good. *sigh*

      I guess I had an excuse, since I hadn't seen either of those movies at that point. Still, there were plenty of other references that just flew way over my head.

  2. Totally forgot they made a comic with these guys.

    1. They're worth a chuckle if you find them out in the wild. Oddly enough, I think Beavis and Butthead worked a little better as a comic.

  3. I still have all of my originals. My dad and I used to read these together with him doing all of the voices. This was the first comic I ever had a pull list for! The name I use for my Halloween coverage (Hokey Halloween Horror) is an homage to a Ren and Stimpy comics issue!

    I remember liking going to the comic shop with my dad because I'd usually come home with extra stuff. Not so much with my mom, though. I remember my mom complained about the price increase on the 25th issue because it had a cardboard cover that was preshredded. My mom actually asked the guy at the counter why the comic was more expensive and he pointed out that the cover was made from a harder material and was "shredded." I still remember my mom saying "for the money I could have shredded the cover myself."

    My dad still does a Ren Hoek voice from time to time. He's fairly good at it.

    1. I never made the Hokey Halloween Horror connection before. Now it all makes sense. That's awesome that your dad used to do the voices. I had a buddy that could do a decent Ren Hoek at one time, but then his voice changed. haha.

      I might have to track down issue #25. That would go great with my 90's gimmick cover feature, whenever I get around to making another one. Funny, I remember scoffing at some of the cover prices for the "limited" issues. I remember thinking how I could buy two or three issues for the price of the one with the fancy foil embossed cover.

    2. If you want foil embossed covers, I'm sure my mom could make you some out of aluminum foil. ;)

  4. I was so innocent on early 2000s when I watched Ren and Stimpy, and I though I was so hardcore because I was watching that cartoon... then... years later... I was told I watched the kid's version the whole time :(


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