Frank Godwin’s third-to-last daily “Rusty Riley” comic strip, September 17, 1959 . . .

As we all know, or can easily find out, Frank Godwin passed away on August 5, 1959.  However, because the Rusty Riley comic-strip art (both Sunday and daily) was prepared long in advance of publication, the strip continued to run for a considerable period after Godwin’s death.  The final syndicated Rusty Riley daily strip appeared on September 19, 1959.  The final Rusty Riley Sunday strip appeared on November 8, 1959 — more than three months after Godwin died.  (Of course, in the case of the Sunday strips, the final two episodes were drawn by Bob Lubbers, as I have discussed elsewhere in this blog.)

In this post, I want to consider the original art for the third-to-last daily strip — the September 17, 1959, strip.  There were only two strips in the daily series after that one.  (That is, apart from the unfinished strips, which of course were not syndicated.)

This particular daily is of high fascination for the pen-and-ink techniques exhibited.  The hatching and crosshatching is fascinating, because of the effects Godwin was able to achieve in connection with the stormy sky and the clouds.  You’ll note that one edge of one section of cloud is left uninked (a top edge) — not far from the tree and just to the right of “Rusty’s in there!”  Then the cloud is formed with dense crosshatchings (but with a variation in density).

Then, to the right of the”point” of the speech balloon is a very interesting region of sky or clouds.  It is formed by two areas of hatching separated by some irregular tiny areas of white.  The area of hatching on the right varies in overall density, giving the impression of a little area of churning clouds.

There are probably a dozen lessons in cross-hatching in this panel.  The darkest areas are generally made up of small areas of cross-hatching, meeting each other at various angles.

Rusty 11 15 cropped

Now you might ask, “To what degree did the cross-hatching and other line-work show up in the printed version of the strip?”  The answer is “quite well,” based on a published example in my collection.  Even some of the densest areas — above the speech balloon, between the tree branches, and to the upper-right — there is pretty good differentiation among the separate lines.

Rusty 10 15 news

I hope to discuss this strip further in a future post.

—Tom Sawyer

November 15, 2013

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