A few tentative thoughts on the market for Frank Godwin original art . . .

These are subjective observations, based on my own experience, and the views of others might easily differ.

Lately I have taken note of a phenomenon, and maybe a trend, regarding collector interest in Frank Godwin original art. It appears to me that most of the interest is in Frank Godwin’s comic-strip work, and to some degree in his pen and ink drawings.

Collector interest in his original illustration art (other than pen and ink) seems to be far lower. In the past, on several occasions, I have listed on eBay a certain original drawing by Godwin, which was used as a Redbook illustration back in 1932. As I recall (someplace around here I have the receipt), I paid $850 for the drawing about 15 years ago. It still have it. Recently I offered it on eBay for $725, and even threw in a Rusty Riley daily. No takers, no inquiries.

Last year, I listed an oil painting (used as for the frontispiece image in most Godwin printings of The Swiss Family Robinson), full color, a beautiful, large painting, at two different prices, $3750 and $3500.  No takers.

I actually think that on the whole, even the market for Rusty Riley art in general seems depressed. If this is so, it is probably in large part because there is such a huge quantity of Rusty Riley original art “out there.”

At the moment, someone is auctioning on eBay an original Frank Godwin oil painting used for Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Black Arrow. It will be interesting to see how the bidding goes on that. (There is a “reserve,” which as of now has not been met.)

—Tom Sawyer

October 24, 2016

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I can hardly believe it! I found the Frank Godwin letter!

This post (now somewhat edited) was written in 2014.  Not sure why I did not post it then!

I am referring to a letter written by Frank Godwin, of which the late Gordon Campbell sent me a copy. It was a letter from Godwin to Campbell, who had written to Godwin.

Actually, I found the letter about ten months ago.  True, I have misplaced it again, but I did find it. And I imagine that I put it in an “obvious” place this time.

I am really fascinated by the existence of such “personal” things relating to Frank Godwin.

Oh, and as indicate above, it is not the actual letter itself — it’s a photocopy of a letter, which the late Gordon Campbell sent me back in 1998.  No, it had not been lost for 16 years.  But it had been lost for about 7 years.

I have a couple of original handwritten Frank Godwin letters or the like in my collection, which I like quite a bit.  But Gordon’s letter was earlier than mine.

The copy Gordon sent me was of a typed and signed letter —  it is quite interesting.  The envelope (Gordon sent a copy of that as well) was postmarked ENE 18 1939 — meaning January 18, 1939. So, it was beginning to be toward the end of the Connie strip, which probably concluded about two years later.

Godwin told Gordon that he couldn’t send him a strip (presumably Connie), because he didn’t receive them back (from the syndicate).  He more or less suggested that Gordon write to Douglas Borgstedt at the Ledger Syndicate.

I guess the foregoing is actually “inside baseball” information about Godwin’s strips.  But I’m sure some of you think it’s fascinating.  (I do!)

—Tom Sawyer

September 19, 2014

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REVISED POST: Comments on Taffy Allerdyce (sort of) and the September 24, 1950, “Rusty Riley” Sunday comic strip original art and third-page version . . .

Note:  This is a revised version of a post I first posted on (probably) July 19, 2013. I was looking at some of my Rusty Riley Sunday strips (as extracted from newspapers), looking for a certain Sunday for which I have the bottom tier of the original Sunday art, thinking I might want to sell that original art.

Well, at some point I noticed Taffy Allerdyce’s name, and I seemed to remember that I had done a post relating to that character. I found the newspaper strip. I checked for the post, and I found that as well, and I was surprised at the horrible quality of the images (which were not based on scans). So I decided to revise the post with better scans and a few little revisions.

I think I have in the past made pretty clear certain reasons for believing the “third-page” version of some Rusty Riley Sunday strips are a significantly inferior format in which the view the Sunday strip. (For example, see this post.)

This post further supports that thesis.

Some years ago, I came into possession of the bottom row of a Rusty Riley Sunday for September 24, 1950. Since the back is covered with dried glue, it appears that the entire row was a “replacement” row. I also have in my collection a daily strip in which the center panel is pasted on top of other artwork — another apparent example of wholesale replacement of a large section of art.I believe, however, that this phenomenon is quite unusual in examples of original Rusty Riley art.

Below is an image of a small portion of the original art showing the entire height of the art (and frame as well). This is probably as it appeared in the half-page version, although I believe that even the half-pages were not always identical to the original art. The differences between this and the published third-page version are numerous. These are the kinds of changes that were sometimes necessary in adapting the half-page (three-tier) art to the third-page format. (I think in recent years of the strip they probably tended more toward dropping certain panels, and perhaps dropping the top tier, but I do not know that there was any hard-and-fast rule.)

Plainly, the changes impaired the art (when compared with the original). In essence, the left portion was chopped off, and so was the right portion. The top edge was raised.  The left speech-balloon was modified (note the pointer) and was raised and moved to the right. Quite a bit of shadowy area was added under the balloon.

9 24 50 Rusty Riley cropped orig 3 300

Below is an image of the corresponding section of the third-page version of the strip, as published. Anyway, the speech balloon has been completely redrawn, and the speech is now ten lines instead of five. Also, part of the right-hand side of the panel has been cropped off. The cigar smoke was modified. The right-hand speech-balloon was verticalized and the words were rearranged. The whole frame went from an attractive (though wordy) horizontal format to a rather square format. It’s all okay, but it is inferior to the original, and it ain’t really Godwin.

9 24 50 Rusty Riley_0001 color cropped

—Tom Sawyer

July 19, 2012

Revised August 15, 2015

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Clues that Frank Godwin did not have much to do with the December 29, 1940, “Connie” Sunday strip . . .

Please note! My big announcement will be here soon, possibly sometime late this week. –Tom

Frank Godwin seems clearly to have made his exit from the Connie Sunday strip in the latter part of 1940, though presumably his work continued to appear for several weeks after he left. (Undoubtedly he worked a number of weeks “in advance.”)

The latest Connie Sunday strip in my collection is the one for January 5, 1941. The OSU collection listing online reports one for January 19, 1941, so it appears that the Sunday strip lasted at least through that date. It is obvious that Godwin had a diminished role toward the end, though it is not clear when, if ever, he had zero role. In part it depends on when the strip ended. If it ended a few months into 1941, then I would think he had no role toward the end. But as to the December 29, 1940, strip and the January 5, 1941, strip, it is quite possible that he may have created a rough layout or even penciled them.

But let’s consider briefly the December 29, 1940, Sunday strip. Here are some signals that Godwin was not handling the strip by himself, and in fact he possibly had nothing to do with it.

1. His name does not appear in the “title box,” which it normally, or always, did (after that style of title began). (You can compare it to the images shown in the preceding post. There, the box includes “By Frank Godwin.”)

2. The inking is not really Godwin’s normal style, though it is fairly close, and pretty nicely done.

3.  The same applies to the clouds.

4.  Connie’s face does not quite look like the usual Connie. (My scanner did not take in her whole face.)

5.  The lettering is distinctly non-Godwin in style.

6.  The shape of the speech-balloon is not a usual Godwin-style.

Connie 1940 72715 adj 2 in

—Tom Sawyer

August 3, 2015

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“Connie” in full color, and “Connie” in black, white, and red . . .

This post continues the discussion of the preceding post.

Overall, one would have to say that it is best when a Connie Sunday strip is in full color. The red-black-white and orange-black-white are nice as well, but they portray the events quite differently than the full-color.

Below are shown portions the strip for Sunday, February 11, 1940. The one on the left is from the Boston Sunday Post. I do not know where the other one first appeared.

One is obviously full color, and the other is red, black, and white.  You can see that a wide range of tones is available, even though only red, black, and white ink were used. The color in the image on the left is probably a little tamer than I would have preferred for this comparison, and unfortunately Connie herself does not appear in these images, but they demonstrate the general idea. I am not certain that I have any sets that are parallel to this one for any other Connie strips during the “adventure” era of the Sunday strip. Those strips in general are quite hard to find.

Connie723157f532am_0005 adj only cropped 70 croppedConniefineenough723 improved cropped only 70cropped

* * * * *

It is interesting to see the manner in which the full-color version “translates” into the more limited palette. Note that some judgment was used as to when the solid red should be used and when it should be rendered in different densities.

—Tom Sawyer

July 31, 2015

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The “Connie” Sunday comic-strip exists in a variety of color schemes . . .

Anyone collecting old Sunday comic-strips learns pretty quickly that the modern norm of full color had frequent exceptions back in the olden days. I have seen Connie Sunday strips in the following different varieties. The “white” color is supplied by the paper itself, meaning that it is usually some kind of “tan”:

Full color (printed with four colors of ink, including black, but usually portraying a wide range of colors)

Black and white

Blue and white

Red, white, and black

Orange, white, and black

Of course, it is possible that other varieties exist. These are the only ones I know of for the Connie Sunday strip.

All of the color schemes mentioned above are rather attractive, but the full-color strips are best overall. To me the black and white ones almost present the illusion of looking at original art, but I realize that I am deceiving myself on that. Ultimately, they are beautiful, but — black and white.

I may get into this a little further in my next post.

—Tom Sawyer

July 31, 2015

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“Connie”: Second banana?

It is hard to generalize, but I know that on occasion the Connie Sunday strip appeared on the final page of the Public Ledger Sunday comics section. I’ve never seen anything official on this, but it has always seemed reasonable to me that this would be the second most important strip in the section.

Below is an image showing another instance of the Connie Sunday strip on the final page. This example is from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Of particular note here is the fact that, if you did not know better, you might assume that this was the front page of the comics section, based on the title of the newspaper. I have several entire comics sections from that era from that newspaper, and it is plain that Connie was on the last page. The smaller image shows the original pricing information from the same page, which perpetuates the false idea that this was the front page of the comics section.

Connie fine 7 24 15 adj 72

Connie fine 7 24 15_0001 cropped 72

This is a more or less typical segment of a Connie Sunday strip from that era.  This one isn’t exactly a gag strip. It is more of a detective strip. Connie foils a “Santa Claus” who had attempted to purloin some Christmas gifts.

—Tom Sawyer

July 24, 2015

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