|First Appearance:||Roomies! October 2, 1998 |
|Relatives:||Dick Lesse (father), Howard Lesse (brother), Clint (grandfather)|
Ruth Lesse was a bookishly intelligent kid who, at 15, thought she knew all she needed to know. She did what her parents told her, excelled at school, and held others in silent contempt for not getting with the program. She had it all figured out.
But something happened. By the time she was in college, she was a lonely, embittered soul who had given up on the world. Although not proud of it, she lived in a perpetual cycle of drinking and self-loathing. Was this her destiny? Was it too late to make a change?
Plot and/or ending details follow.
Ruth and her brother Howard were largely neglected by their perpetually arguing parents, so she escaped into books. Babysitting Billie, the daughter of her rich neighbors, she grew happier as she saw a financial path out of her backward town, though she still felt terribly alone. To this end, she met Ryan, an older boy who understood and completed her. Yet she wasn't happy when they had sex, finding the experience somehow wrong.
This encounter took her attention off babysitting Billie and her friend, who got into an enigmatic accident. Her faith in herself shaken, she ran the wounded boy to her father, who was a doctor. Unfortunately, this caused her to discover that her father was having an ongoing affair with Billie's mother. Additionally, she would discover later that Ryan had merely used her for sex, and that he had immediately moved on to other targets.
Her faith in herself shattered, her father revealed as a sham of a role model, and her vulnerability painfully exposed, she retreated into herself. Her parents quickly and violently divorced, and she soon found herself, despite everything, the sole stable foundation her brother Howard had in the absence of their parents' attentions. Somehow, even though her morose, self-destructive tendencies continued through college - eventually infecting her friend Billie - she graduated with her bachelor's and moved on to do graduate work. This is when her brother Howard followed her to school, and where she met Danny Wilcox.
Curious about his moral attitude to life, she invited him to a party and tried to get to know him better. However, he objected to her friendship with drunken jerks. She admitted to him that, whilst not proud of it, she no longer cared about consequences, which was a big deal for Danny. However, she then began worrying about Danny as her depression seemingly rubbed off onto him. When he began drinking, she realized she had destroyed a valid moral person.
When Danny went driving already drunk, she resolved to make amends. Beginning a turning point, she went after him in order to stop him. Trying to get him to pull over, she noticed a truck crossing the lane barrier up ahead and heading for Danny. Uttering the now-infamous phrase, "Act with integrity, no regrets!", she rammed Danny's car out of the way, and was hit by the truck head-on. She died instantly from a snapped neck.
Her death was a massive turning point for both Danny and Billie. Billie gave up drinking in an attempt to be a better person, and she ended up dating Danny to help her stick to her new life. Danny himself became a more mature person in the end, who realized that morals are nothing without experience.
Ruth was seen again when Walky was in purgatory. She was surprised to see Walky was then older than her, a side effect of dying at different times of their respective lives.
- Ruth was in a sexual relationship with Billie prior to her death, although this was retconned in after the fact and not part of the strip's original run. That relationship has been touched on a few times since then, most notably in Shortpacked!
- Ruth's tragic death was baked into her character from the beginning; as David Willis notes, "I wanted a piece of that sweet Make Other People Have Feels action," 
- According to the creator's commentary on Bring Back Roomies!, Ruth and Howard ended up being brother and sister because both characters had red hair.
- She's apparently a fan of the Mighty Ducks (now the Anaheim Ducks) hockey franchise.
- Ruth seems to have rubbed off on Sal somewhere along the line, since Sal later used Ruth's "act with integrity" catchphrase when battling her brother.
Dumbing of Age
|First Appearance:||Dumbing of Age September 23, 2010|
|Roommates:||Jennifer Billingsworth (former)|
|Likes:||Jennifer Billingsworth, Howard Lesse, the Toronto Maple Leafs, punching, femur removal, alcohol|
|Relatives:||Unnamed parents (parents, deceased), Clint Howard (grandfather), Howard Lesse (brother)|
Ruth "Ruthless" Lessick is an Indiana University student and the Resident Assistant for the third floor of Clark Wing in Reed Hall, where most of the female Dumbiverse cast resides: Joyce, Sarah, Billie, Sal, Amber, Dina, Dorothy, Sierra, Mary, Roz, Agath, Rachel, Other Rachel, Carla, Mandy, and Grace.
Plot and/or ending details follow.
Ruth was born in Canada. She has a brother, Howard, who's four years younger than her. When Ruth was sixteen, her parents were killed by a drunk driver. She and Howard then moved to the States to live with their grandfather, who has been hinted at as being a less-than-kind person.
After her parents' deaths, Ruth turned to alcohol to drown her grief despite her hatred of the substance.
Ruth establishes from the get-go on move-in day that she's in charge, no questions asked. She rules her residents via intimidation tactics, such as threatening to rip out their femurs and beat them with them if they didn't show up to the floor meeting. A bit of an exaggeration perhaps, but Ruth is serious about them attending the floor meeting, as she is seen dragging in Sarah and Mary by the scruffs of their shirts. Billie rebels against this tyrannical treatment and boasts that as a cheerleader, she could easily take Ruth on in a fight.
Ruth calls her bluff and easily flips Billie over and onto a couch. After a couple of snarky comments about Billie's weight, she lays down the ground rules, demands that roommate agreements are turned in by the end of the week, and leaves.
Men are from Beck, Women are from Clark
A few days later, Ruth and Billie encounter each other again. Ruth is annoyed that Billie and Sal are the only two who haven't turned in their roommate agreement forms. Billie explains that it's because she hasn't even seen Sal in person yet, as Sal leaves before she awakes and comes back after she's already asleep. Ruth doesn't believe her and tells Billie that until she turns in the agreement, she won't get back her Dragons cheerleaders uniform, which Ruth stole from her room.
The Bechdel Test
As Billie is still unable to turn in the agreement because Sal is still nowhere to be seen a couple days later, Ruth cuts off the "S" from Billie's uniform, and threatens to remove more the longer the agreement remains unaccounted for. Billie responds by punching Ruth in the face, although the ensuing standoff is broken up by the appearance of Amazi-Girl.
Spotting Ruth in the hallway with her uniform, Billie creates a diversion and sneaks into Ruth's room to steal her property back. However, Ruth comes back sooner than expected, forcing Billie to duck into her closet. From her hiding place, Billie watches as Ruth has a terse conversation with what sounds like her father, then breaks down and cries. Later, Ruth all but drinks herself to sleep.
Yesterday Was Thursday
Having spent the night in Ruth's closet, Billie finally manages to make her escape - but not before snapping an incriminating picture of a pass-out-drunk Ruth, then stealing her booze. When Ruth confronts her later in the day, Billie suggests that she might snore less if she starts sleeping on her stomach.
Ruth attempts to intimidate Billie again, but is interrupted by the appearance of Sal.
Time Keeps on Slippin'
Ruth finally succeeds in cornering Billie alone, brandishing a bottle she's confiscated from Billie's room. She warns Billie that she'll be "finished" if the administration finds out about her drinking on-campus. Billie counters with a cellphone picture of Ruth passed out in a pile of bottles. When Ruth gleefully asks if they're playing for mutually assured destruction, Billie drops another "emotional bombshell", taunting Ruth about having a crying fit because "Daddy has your lady balls in a vise." Ruth coldly responds that her father is dead, leaving Billie scrambling to apologize. Ruth ultimately agrees to turn a blind eye to Billie's infraction (having already turned a blind eye to her own.)
Ruth unexpectedly shows up at Billie's room with beer, looking to hang out and watch sports. Billie describes this as the "scariest thing" Ruth has ever done, but eventually relaxes enough to strike up a conversation with her arch-nemesis. When a drunken Ruth admits she needed the social time, Billie asks her flat-out if anything is wrong. Ruth responds by leaving, insulting Sal on the way out.
If the Shoe Splits
Ruth trips up Billie as she rushes to class in the morning - purely out of boredom, as she admits. However, when she sees Billie struggling to get into the main elevator, Ruth has a change of heart and bullies the other students into making room. Lots of room.
Later that night, Ruth runs into Billie again, who's crying after being shot down by Joe of all people. When Ruth makes the mistake of taunting Billie about her emotional state, Billie responds by grabbing Ruth's shirt, demanding she make up her mind about what she wants to be: an enemy or a friend.
After a moment's consideration, Ruth responds by kissing her arch-rival. A shocked Billie initially reciprocates... but quickly pushes Ruth away once she remembers exactly who she's kissing back, telling her in no uncertain terms to fuck off.
Answers in Hennessy
Following this little incident, Ruth locks herself in her room for two days, seemingly convinced that her career as an RA is over. She proceeds to drink heavily, eventually passing out entirely.
Finally noticing the growing puddle of alcohol coming from under Ruth's door, a worried Billie triggers the building fire alarm and forces her way into her RA's room in the ensuing confusion. She succeeds in waking Ruth from her drunken stupor, but the apathetic redhead resists all attempts to get her safety. Billie finally manhandles her archnemesis into the bathroom, where she confesses that she's had her own problems with alcohol: a DUI in her senior year that ultimately cost her a spot on the IU cheerleading squad.
Ruth responds that she's well aware of Billie's history, and exploited that knowledge to the fullest. She also explains that her own struggle with alcohol was caused by her parents' death, and she turned to drinking to cope with her depression. Finally realizing just how damaged her RA actually is, Billie confiscates Ruth's remaining alcohol and sends her off to the showers.
After cleaning up, Ruth agrees to join Billie in a no-drinking pact, promising to quit cold turkey. She also gives Billie a key to her room to make it easier to check in her... at least until she can teach Billie how to discreetly pick a lock.
Just Hangin' Out With My Family
Two days later, Billie stops by Ruth's room to check on her detox progress, figuring they can spend Freshman Family Weekend together - after all, Ruth is an orphan and Billie is practically an orphan, thanks to her utterly apathetic parents.
They are interrupted by the arrival of Ruth's brother, Howard, who drove down from Carmel to spend the day with his sister and get his Game of Thrones on. (Though not necessarily in that order.) Noticing her brother staring at Billie's cleavage, she bluntly informs him that she "saw her first."
Over lunch, Ruth struggles to explain her newfound sexuality with her brother. Asked about her relationship with Billie, Ruth admits, "I liked her, but she didn't like me back." Howard also notices his sister's detox-induced nausea, which he chalks up to a "secret lesbian baby".
On the way back, Ruth runs across Blaine O'Malley trying to chase down his daughter. She warns him to stand down, then body-flips him when he attempts to attack her. Unfortunately, this triggers a crippling bout of detox nausea, giving Blaine time to escape. Temporarily incapacitated, Ruth sends Billie to track Blaine in her stead.
After Blaine is finally apprehended and escorted off-campus, Ruth takes Billie and her brother to see the IU-Purdue game. She quickly notices that Billie seems distracted and unhappy, but when she brings it up, she's brushed off with a bad "Your Mom" joke. Later on, Ruth confesses to Billie that she's probably the only person who's seen all aspects of her.
The Only Dope For Me Is You
Billie stops by Ruth's room again the following afternoon, where she discovers that the redhead has been trying to patch up her cheerleader uniform. Ruth admits to stealing the uniform back in an effort to do something nice for Billie, who quit drinking with her and has been looking out for her ever since. However, Billie never actually quit drinking; overwhelmed with guilt, she runs off.
Misinterpreting Billie's action, Ruth tracks down a current (and openly racist) member of the IU cheerleading squad and steals her uniform, then leaves it pinned up on Billie's "cheer wall." When Billie returns to find Ruth's gift, the redhead admonishes her, telling her stop beating herself up about the DUI. Overcome with emotion, Billie finally gives in and kisses Ruth.
But the happy moment only lasts for a second - once Ruth tastes the residual alcohol on Billie's tongue, she realizes Billie has been lying to her about quitting.
Billie makes no effort to apologize for her actions, telling Ruth that she isn't the one with the problem, and that her drinking isn't hurting anybody. "Reevaluate that after I leave," a heartbroken Ruth replies as she storms out. "You were my only hope."
I Was a Teenage Churchmouse
Still stinging from Billie's betrayal, Ruth wastes no time in having her locks changed. Later in the day, she stops by Amber's room to talk to her about her father, who's been hospitalized after getting smacked around by a mysterious caped crusader. During afternoon rounds, Ruth has a chance encounter with Billie, but manages to keep a steady poker face.
Up All Night to Get Vengeance
Ruth encounters Joyce in the hallway doing her best Sal impersonation, and quickly puts a stop to it. She later runs into Billie again, and gives the other girl a glare that could probably curdle milk.
The Whiteboard Dingdong Bandit
After waking up to a silent, sulking Billie in his bed, Walky turns to Ruth for help. Though still pissed, Ruth alleviates the worst of Billie's fears by confirming that she's hasn't relapsed quite yet. As she leaves, Ruth tells Billie to get it together and forget her.
Later that day, Billie breaks into Ruth's room and catches her in flagrante with a bottle of liquor. When pressed, Ruth admits that she's only holding onto sobriety long enough for Billie to move on and stop caring about her. Billie refuses, saying she'll never give up on Ruth. She reasons that while they're both too toxic to be involved with other people, they are also damaged enough that they can't do each other much more harm. When she offers Ruth her liquor back, Ruth finally gives in, figuring she'll relapse eventually anyway. They start to have sex, but get too drunk and end up passing out halfway through the act.
- Dumbiverse Ruth is a die-hard fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs, a hockey franchise mostly known for its failure to win a championship in almost half a century.
- This may explain why she has a dartboard with the Ottawa Senators logo on her door.
- Her cellphone ringtone is "Enter Sandman" by Metallica.
- After Walky and Dorothy kicked Walky's shoes down the hall in an effort to see who could go the furthest distance, Ruth kept the shoes and had them mounted on a plaque above her door.
- Like her Walkyverse counterpart, Dumbiverse Ruth is bisexual, although she didn't realize that fact until she first kissed Billie. Wasn't that fun?
- One of four left-handed main characters in DoA, the other three being Joe, Dorothy, and Sal.
- Willis has made it clear Ruth and Billie's relationship is not a healthy one in the slightest. With luck, you already figured that out.
- In 2015, Ruth made a multi-strip non-canon guest appearance on Woody After Hours, a webcomic based around a talk show written by Ben Carter and drawn by Paul Westover. As is the strip's tradition, the actual drawings of Ruth were made by Willis, and her lines were written by him as well.
- Really likes pudding!
- "No Harm Done", October 2, 1998. "http://www.itswalky.com/comic/no-harm-done/".
- "Too Late", March 25, 1999. "http://www.itswalky.com/comic/too-late/".
- "Drama", December 20, 2006. http://www.shortpacked.com/index.php?id=377.
- "...no regrets.". "http://www.bringbackroomies.com/comic/no-regrets/".
- "Vacation", October 5, 2016. http://www.dumbingofage.com/2016/comic/book-7/01-glower-vacuum/vacation/.
- "Pudding", November 17, 2016. http://www.dumbingofage.com/2016/comic/book-7/01-glower-vacuum/pudding/.
- "Drugged", November 18, 2016. http://www.dumbingofage.com/2016/comic/book-7/01-glower-vacuum/drugged/.
fell free to move these images into the article where they would be more appropriate Also, check out her image category