A strip from Frank Godwin’s final “Rusty Riley” daily story — the last daily strip that shows Rusty with a horse . . .

I have always been fascinated by Frank Godwin’s most recent strips — his work from well into the year 1959 — and for good reasons.  Probably some of the reasons are hard to put into words, or maybe impossible.  But the more recent the art that one looks at, the closer one is to the artist.  That does not make complete sense, because if you were to look at a 1930 drawing by Godwin, you are definitely getting close to the artist as he was at that time.

One might ask whether it is necessary to look at original art, in order to obtain that connection.  I think so, but that topic is really beyond the scope of this post.

It is of continuing fascination to me that Godwin’s capabilities did not diminish as he grew older.  Then again, Godwin was only 69 when he passed away, and by today’s standards that is still rather young.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that he did not allow his standards to drop.

Anyway, as I have probably mentioned elsewhere in this blog, I have quite a bit of Godwin art from 1959, the year Godwin passed way.  One of my theories is that Godwin accumulated many pen-and-ink techniques through the years, and he probably created a lot of methods and approaches on his own.  I figure that for the most part he simply added to his arsenal, and never dropped anything useful — so that he had at his disposal a lifetime of techniques from which he could choose.

As I have probably mentioned many times on this blog, I am fortunate in possessing the art for the final Rusty Riley strips that Frank Godwin drew — daily and Sunday. (I don’t have the art for the final two Rusty Riley Sundays.  Those were drawn by Bob Lubbers.)  In this post, I am going to talk about the daily strips.

The daily story itself as a whole ended with the September 19, 1959, daily strip. The image below, from September 14, 1959, appeared about six week after Godwin’s death, which occurred on August 5, 1959.  (Comic-strip artists generally produce their work a considerable time in advance of the planned publication date.)  This strip is notable, because it is the final depiction of Rusty Riley with a horse.  Horses were a key component of the Rusty Riley saga.

rusty and horse

This is the last panel of the September 14, 1959, strip.  It is not as brilliantly drawn as some of his Rusty Riley art, but it is certainly well done.  There were only five daily Rusty Riley strips after this one (apart from unfinished strips).

—Tom Sawyer

January 16, 2014

Significantly revised on January 26, 2014.

Forgot to add the image — added it January 27, 2014.

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