An informal comparison of the “Roy Powers, Eagle Scout” comic strip and the “Rusty Riley” comic strip . . .

There are significant differences between Roy Powers, Eagle Scout and Frank Godwin’s other comic strips. One thing that the Roy Powers strip lacks is . . . uh, let me see . . . oh, yeah — females!  They are few and far between. In the strips I have seen, there is not the slightest romantic interest hinted at, and the only girls or women who exist in the stories — and there are very few — are strictly incidental.

The Roy Powers stories that I have examined (from the Frank Godwin era of 1938-1940) seemed fairly well structured and at least reasonably interesting. I have not read all of the strips, but the ones I have seen compare favorably with Rusty Riley. A number of “angles” or types of plots exist in both strips. Here are a few situations that occur in both strips:

Being framed for a theft

Stolen property disguised by paint

Hero dressed as circus clown

Thwarting smugglers

Wallet stolen by pickpocket

Major flood, threatening life

There are a couple of other plot-similarities I have noticed, as well, and of course all this involves less than three years of Roy Powers strips, the ones drawn by Godwin. And, mind you, I do not claim to be an expert on the content of the Roy Powers strip or the Rusty Riley strip! (Also, I think I only have about two-thirds of the Rusty Riley dailies, although I believe I have almost all of the Sundays, mainly one-third-pages.)

While the Roy Powers strip and the Rusty Riley strip do have similarities, differences between the two strips abound. Roy and Rusty are very different people. At least a couple of times, Rusty is identified as being 14 years old, while Roy Powers is 17. Both Roy and Rusty have their moment or moments of brilliance, but Rusty, sorry to say, is burdened, from time to time, by his exercise of unbelievably poor judgment and by a high level of gullibility, seasoned with occasional bouts of cluelessness. Both of them, however, know right from wrong, and although Rusty is repeatedly accused of wrongdoing, whether it be theft (multiple occasions) or defacing school property, he is never guilty of anything more serious than not having a license for his dog, Flip.

Without pretending to get into a detailed analysis of either strip, I can say that both strips stretch reality to the limit. As to Rusty’s discovery of the miniature horses (eohippuses), that was as much science fiction as if he had discovered dinosaurs. As for the discovery by Roy Powers of the glowing tomb in the Ninth Crypt of the Great Pyramid, well, that almost could have been straight out of the Connie comic strip.

In these types of stories, the wilder they are, the more believable they are. That’s part of the reason why, in the final analysis, Connie is a better strip than either Roy Powers or Rusty Riley, in spite of the fact that the art, in large part, in Connie seemed more casually done than that of Roy Powers and Rusty Riley. (Of course, the art in Connie was in many cases excellent almost beyond comparison, especially (from what I have seen) in the science fiction days.)

—Tom Sawyer

March 2, 2012

(Based on an unpublished draft from my Connie Kurridge blog.)

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