Let’s see: Rusty, Patty, Buckshot, and . . . MARY? What happened to Helen? Huh? Jeepers!

A day or so ago, I noticed something I had never seen before in the Rusty Riley saga.  My interpretation, as to the daily narrative:

Helen, out.

Mary, in.

This was in the July 7, 1959, daily Rusty Riley comic strip, somewhat over two months before the conclusion of the daily strip.  Here is an image, showing the key conversation.  Even though this is a terrible photo of a panel the strip as extracted from a newspaper, I can still say one or two things about it.  First, the image of Patty is very typical of Godwin’s portrayal of Patty throughout the story.  Secondly, among the main characters, Rusty, Patty, and to some degree Patty’s dad were the principal characters.  So this panel represents the story well in that respect as well.  Also, notice Patty’s attire, with the jeans and simple top, almost like a T-shirt.  Quite a contrast with the Patty of the first strips, with her jodhpurs or similar pants.  Also interesting is Patty’s enthusiasm, as compared with Rusty’s casual attitude.

The crucial line is uttered by Rusty:  “What about Buckshot and Mary?”

Patty and Rusty

Now, I’m not saying that Mary was never mentioned before that episode.  Maybe she was.  And although Helen appeared quite a bit in the Sunday Rusty Riley strip, I don’t know that she appeared much in the daily — if at all.

When you think about it, it is more straightforward to deal with four kids in a Sunday strip than in a daily strip, or so it seems to me.  This might explain why the main kids in the daily strip appear to be Rusty, Patty, and Buck.

In any event, Mary appears in a number of episodes between July 7, 1959, and the final syndicated daily of September 19, 1959.  I hope to show an image of her in the near future.

I suppose the thinking was that it would be nice if Buck had a female friend who was not his sister.  (Helen is Buck’s sister.)

—Tom Sawyer

November 20, 2013

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