|King Arthur and His Knights, illustrated by Frank Godwin|
In his color illustrations for these books, he favored rich, tonal colors; his style is somewhat reminiscent of both N. C. Wyeth and Maxfield Parrish but is distinctly his own. The illustrations from King Arthur are among my favorites; I even framed several of them (taken from a book which had lost its cover and was completely falling apart) for my living room.
|Uther and Ygraine (Frank Godwin, from King Arthur and His Knights)|
|Joan of Arc (frontispiece for The Book of Courage, illus. by Frank Godwin)|
Bottom and fairies from ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’
(Frank Godwin, from Tales from Shakespeare)
Little John and Robin Hood
(Frank Godwin, from Robin Hood)
|Three Princesses (Frank Godwin, from The Blue Fairy Book)|
|Francis Drake (Frank Godwin, from The Book of Courage)|
In addition to his book illustrations, Frank Godwin was the creator of the syndicated cartoon Connie (1927-44), which featured a liberated and surprisingly modern heroine. He took over Roy Powers in 1938, and in 1948 took over Rusty Riley after the original cartoonist’s death. Godwin was also a prolific magazine and advertising artist in the days before photographs took over both venues. He did a whole series of ads for Texaco, including both pen-and-ink drawings and oil paintings.
The cast of characters from ‘Rusty Riley’,
a syndicated comic strip by Frank Godwin
|Lady’s Home Journal cover from 1919. Art by Frank Godwin|
|“Life on a U.S. Warship” – Texaco ad by Frank Godwin|
|“As the Petals” ad for Lazell (art by Frank Godwin)|
In the interests of full disclosure: One of Godwin’s grandsons is my stepfather, which makes the artist my step-great-grandfather. I never met him (he died before I was born), but I spent many happy weekends with my grandparents in the house and studio that he built in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. There he also had a large workshop, and enjoyed working with his hands. The photo below shows Godwin with a working, 4-foot-long model steam engine that he built, machining the parts himself. I’m told the train actually ran on a track in the garden, though it was long gone by the time my mother and I came into the family.
Frank Godwin (photo taken for a newspaper article;
print scanned & cleaned up by W. F. Godwin)
|A younger Frank Godwin|
Sources and other links for Frank Godwin:
- The Golden Age: Frank Godwin illustrated books (scroll down and click “Older Posts” several times to see all Godwin’s book illustrations that have been scanned so far)
- Frank Godwin – Wikipedia article
- Connie (comic strip) – Wikipedia article
- A blog about Frank Godwin and the “Rusty Riley” strip
- American Art Archives article, with a lot of Godwin’s advertising and magazine art
- JVJ Publishing: Illustrators article on Godwin, with examples of his work
- Lambliek Comiclopedia offers examples of Godwin’s comics, including Connie, which he developed, and Roy Powers, which he took over in 1938.
- Frank Godwin Facebook page