Frank “Shorty” Harris – source: National Park Service

My wife came across a mind-blowing find the other day. She sent me the above image with the simple caption, “This guy reminds me of your Geoff character.” A single look had me astonished…for a few reasons.

First, yes, this dude––Frank “Shorty” Harris––looks a lot like the lovable wandering merchant from the comic. Much less to see him pictured standing with a loaded up mule in a similar manner the overstuffed pack that Geoff carries in the comic.

Second, I’ve been vocal about how Geoff’s design was completely influenced by my wife’s late father, who was the definition of inimitable. I was, apparently, wrong.

Design sketches of Geoff

Though not a salesman, Shorty Harris was instead a very well-known and capable prospector in Nevada and California who spent most of his time in Southern California, though he came out west from New England (much like my wife’s father). He comes across as a colorful and unforgettable character, and all I want to do is learn more about him.

While the visual similarities are still shocking, it’s nice to know that these fiercely independent folks that quietly perforate historical records are more than just the eccentrics that movies and single paragraphs in history books paint them to be––they are archetypes, important and necessary.

Shorty Harris in Death Valley – source: