The final appearance of Patty Miles in Frank Godwin’s “Rusty Riley” . . .

It seems that every discussion of Frank Godwin quotes Bob Lubbers as saying that Sylvan Byck of King Features Syndicate asked Bob if he would “do the last two weeks in Godwin’s style to end the series.”  I am not certain where that quotation originated, but I think it was published in print somewhere.  Years ago, I think I saw a more lengthy discussion, of which the usual quoted material was just one part.

It is plain that Lubbers is referring to the final two Sunday Rusty Riley strips, and not to the daily strips, because the final two weeks of daily strips were plainly by Godwin.  Moreover, the final two Sunday strips were obviously at least inked by someone other than Godwin — and that would have been Lubbers, I am sure.

As I think I have mentioned in another post, in my earlier collecting days, I was always very interested in acquiring the latest Godwin art I could find.  I was not too interested in acquiring the final two Rusty Riley Sundays, after I learned that they were not drawn by Godwin.  This is nothing against Bob, who I think is recognized as one of the all-time great comic-strip and comic-book artists.  I did have the opportunity to purchase I think both of the Lubbers strips — but definitely at least one of them.  However, I decided to “pass” on them.  The two Bob Lubber Rusty Riley strips would have been the October 25, 1959, Sunday strip, and the November 1, 1959, Sunday strip.  And indeed, at the moment, I think those are more desirable than I appreciated at the time — however, as I recall, the asking price was much higher than the normal prices for Sundays in those days.

Whether those are more desirable than a typical Rusty Riley Sunday, I think that would depend on your point of view.  A Lubbers collector would probably find them more desirable.  A Godwin collector who already has some Rusty Riley Sundays would probably find one of the Lubbers Sundays to be more desirable than an additional Godwin Sunday.  (Of course, I am speaking generally.  A lot would depend on the specifics of the art.)

Later, one of them was sold by Heritage Auctions — and it may be seen here:  Link.

As I think I mentioned in another post, I was rather fortunate in being able to purchase the original art for the final two Sunday Rusty Riley strips that Frank Godwin drew — those for October 11, 1959, and October 18, 1959.

Now, you might say, “Gee, Tom, supposedly this post was about Patty Miles’s final appearance.  Yet you have not even mentioned Patty one time.”

Correct.  In fact, this post is now going to go in a somewhat different direction.  When I started the post, it had a very different title!  But I later decided I wanted to talk about Patty — yet I have left most of the foregoing unchanged.

Okay.  So, in what comic strip did Patty make her final appearance?

Well, for some reason, she did not appear in either of the last two Sunday strips.  That is shown partly by the Heritage Auctions listing of the October 25, 1959, strip.  I have never seen the half-page version of the November 1, 1959, strip, but I have the third-page version, and she does not appear there.  (There is a remote possibility that she appeared in the half-page version, but I am assuming that is not the case.)

Patty is also absent from the third-to-last strip.

This means that her final appearance in the Rusty Riley comic strip was in the October 11, 1959, Sunday strip.  She appears in two frames of the top tier.  Rusty has disappeared.  Everyone is excited about some evidence that will, they hope, lead to the capture of two people who stole a horse named Bedouin Sheik, which belonged to Mr Miles.  In in one frame, she says, “But what about Rusty?”  And in her final appearance in the Rusty Riley comic strip, in the last frame of the top tier for October 11, 1959, a tearful Patty says, “He’s more important than a horse!”

Of course, I am thrilled to own the original art for that strip, and I like the fact that it is an emotion-filled portrayal.

Now, you might ask, “Okay, but what was Patty’s final appearance in the daily Rusty Riley strip?”

The answer to that is easy.  The final daily strip — the one for September 19, 1959 — included Patty, Mr. Miles, and Rusty, as well as two other characters.

But the strip for the day before that — the one for September 18, 1959 — is more dramatic.  Patty thinks Rusty is inside a burning building, and she is outside, screaming, “Rusty!  Rusty!”

I checked recently, and I find that I have the original art for the final nine Rusty Riley daily strips.  That would be the art for:

9-10

9-11

9-12

(No daily art for Sunday, 9-13.)

9-14

9-15

9-16

9-17

9-18

9-19

I also am fortunate in having the partially completed strips for 9-21, 9-23, 9-24, 9-25, and 9-26.  I remember Allan Holtz telling me in an email that he had seen that art.  Little did I suspect at that time that they would someday be a part of my collection.

By today’s standards, Godwin was relatively young when he passed away at age 69.  In view of that, it is perhaps understandable that his final strips are excellent examples of some of the best work that he did in illustration or comic strips.

–Tom Sawyer

October 16, 2013

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