Possibly the latest Frank Godwin drawing in my collection . . .

In the previous post, I discussed a drawing that is probably the earliest Frank Godwin original drawing in my collection.  The earliest “known” published drawing by Frank Godwin is probably a baseball cartoon that Allan Holtz, a comic-strip researcher, located several years ago.  That cartoon appeared in 1907, and if my arithmetic is correct, Godwin was eighteen at the time.

I decided to take a quick look at the other end of the spectrum, and tried to locate the latest Frank Godwin original drawing in my collection — the artwork in my collection that he drew most recently.  As it happens that may also be the latest drawing he made.

But I ran into problems in pinpointing that work.  I do have five of the six known Rusty Riley strips that would have followed the final syndicated strip.  The final strip distributed by KIng Features Syndicate was the one for September 19, 1959.  The next day was a Sunday (no daily strip).  Then I have the art for September 21, 23, 24, 25, and 26.  (The September 22 strip can be seen in the Wikipedia article by Frank Godwin.)

You might say, “Well, just look at the strip for September 26.”  That doesn’t work, for more than one reason.  First, the September 26 strip was plainly inked by someone other than Godwin.  (However, Godwin probably penciled it.)  Secondly, the other strips were apparently all in development simultaneously!  Thus, the September 21 strip is largely still in pencils.  The September 25 strip is pretty fully inked, but the first character in the first panel was obviously inked by someone other that Godwin.  But the following, which is an image of the final panel in the September 25 strip, is a good selection as “the latest Godwin art in my collection.”  It might well not be, but it is pretty close!

The composition is interesting, because it contrasts the slightly defiant “Plunky,” at left, with his disinterested father (talking with his son, but mainly engrossed in his newspaper).

Again, it is plain that there is no detectable diminution in Godwin’s skills, regardless of the fact that this is very late work.  The speech balloons have lettering in pencil (by Godwin), while the final inked lettering would have been done by the syndicate.  There are also traces of pencil elsewhere, for example where the picture frame meets the speech balloon, and as horizontal and vertical guide-lines at the corners of the panels.  The background is well developed, and it seems that this particular panel is “finished.”

One of Frank Godwin's final drawings.

One of Frank Godwin’s final drawings.

It is, of course, possible that his last drawing was a Sunday strip, or part thereof (or a doodle on a napkin, for that matter).  I’ll probably discuss that concept in a future post.

—Tom Sawyer

November 4, 2013

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