Rusty Riley down on the farm. Artist: Frank Godwin.

RUSTY RILEY

Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: King Features Syndicate
First Appeared: 1948
Creator: Frank Godwin
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Rusty Riley wasn't the most popular comic strip King Features ever had, and it was far from the …

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… longest lasting. But the quality of its illustration would rival practically anything put out by any syndicate, ever.

The man with the brush was Frank Godwin, whose earlier work included a lot of miscellaneous art for The Philadelphia Ledger, DC Comics, and other comics producers, and who was already famous for one superbly drawn strip, The Ledger Syndicate's Connie. It was Godwin who developed the scenario for the strip, tho he did bring in a writer, Rod Reed (Captain Marvel) to script the actual stories. The daily strip began January 26, 1948 and the Sunday version (written by Reed's brother, Harold) on June 27 of the same year.

Rusty (no relation) was an orphan, along the lines of Annie or the other Annie, except he didn't move around as much. He went straight from the orphanage to a stable boy gig on a Kentucky horse farm, where his melodramatic adventures, like the murder mystery novels of Dick Francis, revolved around the world of racing. Later, he broadened his horizons and started having melodramatic adventures in other settings, but melodramatic adventures still made up the strip's fare for its entire duration.

It ran until 1959, shortly before Godwin's death. Dell Comics reprinted four of Rusty's stories during 1952 and '53, in its Four Color Comics (which did everything from Oswald the Rabbit to Brain Boy), but that, plus the 150 or so newspapers the strip appeared in, was the extent of his media penetration.

— DDM

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Text ©2004-09 Donald D. Markstein. Art © King Features.