PART 1: “Connie” versus “Rusty Riley”: Which is the better comic strip?

Well, first of all, that’s almost like asking, “Which is better, chocolate cake or chocolate pudding?”  Or, “Which is better, football or baseball?”  Or, “Which is better, UC Berkeley or UCLA?”  When the key term of the question is the word “better,” it is going to be hard to answer those questions — even apart from the fact that they call for subjective answers.  (If you asked, “Which has the better art,” it would still call for a subjective answer, but the question would be more manageable.)

Nonetheless, I hope (in a multi-part post) to deal with the issue in more depth than I have ever seen it treated before.  I’ll start out by discussing the writing.

I haven’t made a real study of this, but I believe that I have read opinions that the Connie stories were weak, and also that they were strong.  And I believe I have seen the same general comments about Rusty Riley.  And, by the way, I think that probably no one who has made such pronouncements has read all of the stories for either Connie or Rusty Riley — although I suppose that it is possible!  And none of them (that I know of) pretend that they have read them all — and some, I think, limit their comments to certain eras.  Nonetheless, with that kind of variation in opinion, it is almost difficult to know where to start.

What’s that?  You want me to PROVE my assertion that people’s opinions vary radically regarding the stories of those two strips?  Well, okay, I’ll address Connie.

Don Markstein, Toonopedia:

But as the series evolved, it never did get very gripping. Tho a superb draftsman, Godwin wasn’t very good at constructing plots, writing dialog and other storytelling crafts.

Michael May, Robot 6:

There’s a lot going on and it’s fantastic, but it never feels episodic. The adventures flow into and out of each other, often circling back to tie off loose ends.

A review on amazon.com:

Herb Galewitz, who provides the introduction, notes that Godwin’s writing is not quite the equal of his art. I would have to concur . . . .

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction:

Godwin was not much admired for his writing . . . .

Jess Nevins’s Pulp Hero Encyclopedia (quoted here):

. . . adventures done in outstanding style for a number of years, with Godwin’s art and the scripts of Ray Thompson and Grace Congleton both at high levels of excellence.

(A side-note:  It isn’t clear to me “who” wrote Connie.  I have some ideas, but that is far beyond the scope of this post.)

Okay, then, I think that shows a distinct difference of opinion existing regarding the Connie stories.

One last point for the moment.  I realize that it is difficult to generalize about Connie and Rusty Riley, particularly since each strip ran for about twelve years.  But some generalizations are going to be reasonably valid — I hope!

I think I’ll leave it at that for the present post.

—Tom Sawyer

November 8, 2013

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