Frank Godwin’s possible use of models in the “Rusty Riley” comic strips for March 25, 1958, and May 28, 1959 . . .

If I could go back in time, I would have a lot of questions to ask Frank Godwin.  Some of those questions would have to do with the changing appearance of Rusty Riley and Patty Miles in the course of the strip.  I wonder whether he used specific models to represent those characters.  If so, it stands to reason that, with the strip running nearly twelve years, he would have relied on several models for each character.

Anyway, I was looking at some Rusty Riley art today, and it struck me how similar certain characters are to other characters, specifically in the March 25, 1958, episode, and the May 28, 1959, episode.  I don’t really know the details of the two stories from which the episodes came.  But it seems unlikely that the strip would feature the same characters as “villains” in two separate stories.  I am supposing that Godwin used the same models for the “bad guys” in both stories.

The similarities between the characters in the two strips are pretty self-evident.  The left-hand figure in one strip has a similar appearance to the left-hand figure in the other strip.  The same applies to the right-hand characters — similar hat and similar appearance.

The first image (below) is from the daily strip for March 25, 1958.  (I’ve reduced the appearance of stains.)

R1

The second image (below) is from the May 28, 1959, strip — well over a year later.

R2

It is interesting to me that the characters in the top example seem more hastily rendered than in the second example.  Of course, the scene in the second example took place in the dark, and so more hatching was necessary to demonstrate the darkness.  Nonetheless, the strip for that March 25, 1958, seems overall “too” simplified.

—Tom Sawyer

November 16, 2013

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