The GREATEST PICTURE EVER of Rusty Riley and Patty Miles? Probably not, but maybe! And a salute to Maurice Horn . . .

I’m not certain when or from whom I acquired the August 26, 1958, Rusty Riley daily strip art to be discussed in this post.  I bought some beauties from Dave Karlen (see link in right margin) many years ago, and I suspect that I bought it from him.  As I mentioned in another post, I have always been interested in strips that show Patty, or Rusty and Patty.  Maybe this is largely because, like Mr. Miles, I have a wonderful daughter of my own.  And I suspect that is also one of the reasons I like the Rusty Riley strip in general.

Now here I want to briefly salute Maurice Horn, editor of The World Encyclopedia of Comic Strips.  First, I wish I had a dollar for every time I consulted that book!  Second, I have come to realize that — even though Horn was not completely correct in everything he said about Godwin — the simple fact is that in 1976, when that book came out, we were basically in the middle of the dark ages as to Frank Godwin’s comic-strip work.  In view of that, he did a good job.  And I have a feeling that Horn’s long enthusiasm for Godwin’s comic-strip work has played some role — perhaps a major one — in the rising popularity of Godwin in recent decades.

One thing that (in my view) Horn got right was that Patty Miles was not Rusty Riley’s “girlfriend” — though he didn’t come right out and say that.  And you know what?  Of all the people I have read who have addressed Rusty’s and Patty’s relationship, Horn is the only one who seems to have grasped the real nature of their relationship!

Horn said, “Slowly romance blooms between the two young people, but this aspect of the strip was cut short by the sudden disappearance of Rusty Riley in the summer [it was more like autumn] of 1959 [. . .].”

Okay, if you want to claim that Patty is Rusty’s girlfriend, I suppose you could say that, and I couldn’t really prove you wrong.  (I do have at least one rather late strip in which Patty’s arm is linked with Rusty’s.)  But it is not a nuanced view, and it is (to me) so unrevealing that I would never dream of saying that.  So, kudos to Maurice Horn.

I have a fair amount of original art that portrays Patty, or Rusty and Patty, and a lot of it is really wonderful.  I have discussed some of it in one or more other posts.  But of all such art in my possession, I think my favorite might be this image:

IMG_4733 stagecoach

This Patty is somewhat different than the one readers met in the earlier strips.  There, she was the confident rider and horse-jumper.  As one character said, in part, when watching her ride, “What a sweet little, nervy little, marvelous little rider!” (May 23, 1950.)  So, in the above illustration, Patty may appear a little dependent.  But so what!  She trusts Rusty, that much is plain.  And Rusty looks relatively grown-up and confident — no comparison to the kid in the earliest scripts.  Here he truly looks as though he is ready for anything.  (However, bravery was always one of Rusty’s attributes.)

The portrayal of Patty is a little different than my usual impression of her.  Maybe it is her hairstyle, or the rather minimalistic approach of the line work.  But it’s fine with me!

In short, I love this picture!

In fact, it is the greatest picture ever of Rusty Riley and Patty Miles!

Maybe.

—Tom Sawyer

October 26, 2013

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One Response to The GREATEST PICTURE EVER of Rusty Riley and Patty Miles? Probably not, but maybe! And a salute to Maurice Horn . . .

  1. Dennis Wilcutt says:

    I have not had occasion to look at all the RR strips done, but that is certainly a great one for RR and Patty. Nevertheless, that was a good read. Thanks for posting it.

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