The Drowned Rat’s Revenge

With the Regent dead of natural causes, a new villain(ess) appears. Baroness Vichi’s scheming causes heartache for poor Madeline. Elsewhere, Kevin deals with his own problems.

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After an overdue reunion with Brett and the recently coronated King Rupert, Kevin makes plans to rectify some things in Rheinstein.

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For more information on the career of Kreigh Collins, visit his page on Facebook.

Tree Tunnel

A recent trip to Ireland brought back a childhood memory of a road trip taken in my parents’ old Ford Fairlane 500, c. 1966. In Ireland, I saw many narrow roads covered by canopies of trees, or what my brother Brett and I excitedly called (and chanted from the back seat), “Tree tunnel, tree tunnel!” Likely on our way from our apartment in Ann Arbor to Ada, off to visit Grandma and Grandpa Collins. Maybe we’d heard the phrase mentioned previously…

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Me, Brett, and the Ford Fairlane. And of course, a Sunday comics section.


Despite last week’s flogging, Brett has recovered enough to get back in the game.

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Rupert might not have caught on to Madeline’s act, but Brett certainly has.

22 weeks into the story arc, the action in the March 15 episode, above, is a bit contrived. While Brett seems nauseated by the turn of events, Madeline’s reaction is perhaps best described by Newton’s third law. Despite this interlude, trouble is imminent—and fortunately, Brett is focused on his plan.

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The old, hollowed out tree provides access to an escape route (Tree tunnel!), but it’s a bit difficult to make out in the comic’s rendering. Nevertheless, it works, and now Rupert has a plan.

When we last saw Kevin (three episodes back) he had been overwhelmed and captured by the Regent’s guards as Prince Rupert escaped. Meanwhile, Rupert heads back to the palace and overhears a startling confession.

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No longer the weakling he remembered, Rupert literally scares the Regent to death.



The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, The Complete Mitzi McCoy

Describing “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy,” Bruce Canwell, of IDW Publishing’s Library of American Comics, had this to say:

Originally a painter and illustrator, artist Kreigh Collins delighted comics readers for a quarter-century with his rich compositions and distinctive characters. Collins’s series Mitzi McCoy has its roots in the small town of Freedom, echoing It’s a Wonderful Life’s Bedford Falls and pre-figuring TV hamlets like Hooterville and Mayberry. Open this collection and delight in Mitzi’s arresting artwork and solid Middle American sensibilities. Highly recommended!

In addition to the complete run of “Mitzi McCoy,” the book contains the first sequence of the comic strip it morphed into, “Kevin the Bold.” There are also never-before published comics and photographs, and the book includes a wonderful introductory essay by Eisner Award-winner Frank M. Young. It is available here.

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For more information on the career of Kreigh Collins, visit his page on Facebook.

A Legedary Sword

Following his near fatal encounter, Kevin makes an astonishing discovery.

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Foretold in an earlier comic, the sword’s legend has proven to be accurate.

Returning to Rheinstein to rule what is rightfully his, Rupert needs to keep a low profile—he and Kevin find it necessary to travel undercover.

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After their cover is blown, Kevin holds the guards at bay as Rupert makes his escape. This positive outcome is then offset by news that devastates Kevin.

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To be continued…


For more information on the career of Kreigh Collins, visit his page on Facebook.

Moment of Truth

Fittingly, tragedy has turned comic, and Kevin sets about his defense.

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An expertly-placed tripwire and a faked scream upends two of Torre Hemlar’s men, and in an especially gruesome opening panel, Kevin names his terms. Momentarily, the hunter gets captured by the game.

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The final panel above was used as the basis for the cover of Atlas Publications’ “Kevin the Bold” No. 11 comic book (printed in England, and marketed in Australia). As was the norm, the artwork has been modified: Kevin’s sword is raised while Torre Hemlar has fumbled his.

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Meanwhile, instead of simply attacking Torre Hemlar, the knightly code of conduct requires that Kevin allow his opponent to defend himself. Kevin soon learns that his ruthless adversary is bound by no such rules.

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In spite of all the fighting and dueling that took place in “Kevin the Bold,” losers were often spared death. In other cases, villains died indirectly, falling to their deaths, or accidentally—by their own hands. The February 15, 1953 episode was an exception, and Rupert shows that he has taken great strides since he first met Kevin.

18 episodes into the sequence, this extended story arc has much more in store.

 


The Complete MITZI McCOY (1948–1950)

There’s no sword fighting, but firearms and bows and arrows make appearances in this collection of Kreigh Colllins’ first NEA comic feature, “Mitzi McCoy.” Featuring never before seen photographs, a previously unpublished comic, and a wonderful introductory essay by Eisner Award-winner Frank M. Young, “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy” is available here.

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For more information on the career of Kreigh Collins, visit his page on Facebook.

Joining the Troupe

Unaware that Torre Hemlar has followed them to England, the mood lightens as Kevin and Rupert become acquainted with their new friends, play actors.

These richly-printed episodes, from the Chicago Tribune, feature wonderful illustrations and great dialog. I especially like Barto’s line from the second panel about mistaking appearance for reality. The throwaway panels add educational diagrams and charming snapshots of the episodes’ ladies.

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A sudden threat interrupts Kevin and Rupert’s afternoon and Kevin quickly takes evasive action; Torre Hemlar thinks he’s set a trap.

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Hidden in plain sight, the ruse worked, and the troupe of actors moves on.

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Believing he owes him his life, Barto bravely steps in front of an arrow meant for Kevin. With what appears to be a mortal wound, the actor utters his final dramatic words. Coldly, Barto prepares to strike again.


For more information on the career of Kreigh Collins, visit his page on Facebook.

Acing the Test

After arriving in England, the action slows to allow for a very sweet episode celebrating the Christmas holiday.

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Kevin was able to graciously accept Jerry the stable boy’s offer and simultaneously repay the the lad for his kindness. And from there, it’s back to the important business at hand, making a man of Prince Rupert. Per Collins’ style, as Rupert learns fighting basics from Kevin, the reader is educated as well.

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Readers in Argentina learned, too.

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Moments after parting with Kevin, Rupert is faced with a dilemma: fight or flight.

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Kevin’s tutelage has begun to pay off, but as usual, danger looms on the horizon.


Before Kevin, there was Mitzi

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Set in the quirky small-town world of Freedom, Michigan, “Mitzi McCoy” ran from 1948 to 1950 and appeared in Sunday comics sections across the United States. Its wide variety of storylines included con artists, pin-up girls, counterfeiters and shakedowns.

Scripted by the artist, “Mitzi McCoy” showcased Kreigh Collins’ skill as an illustrator. His landscapes, GGA and thrilling action sequences were filled with detail. The strip was not tied down to one character or setting — each of its main characters was capable of taking the lead at any time.

“The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy” features a wonderful introductory essay by Eisner Award-winner Frank M. Young and every episode of Collins’ debut NEA comic strip. It is available here.


For more information on the career of Kreigh Collins, visit his page on Facebook.

Facing the Storm

Kevin manages to escape with the drugged prince, but when he comes to, Rupert’s confusion quickly changes to fear.

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The November 30 and December 7 episodes are beautifully-printed examples Chicago Sunday Tribune, but Rupert’s fear is somewhat overstated in the second panel below, with his overly worried expression and his jaundiced complexion—indeed, he is yellow.

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A casual reader might see Kevin or Rupert sailing the longboat into the ferocious storm, but what they were doing was trying to keep the boat’s bow pointed into the wind until the storm blew over. A quick check of the term “broach” yields the rightfully scary-sounding definition “[broaching] can cause the boat to enter a death roll… and if not controlled may lead to a capsize or pitchpole and turning turtle.” Knowing how to utilize a sea anchor is useful information to a sailor, and events in “Kevin the Bold” called for the device every four or five years.

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November 24, 1957

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April 9, 1961

I’m sure a sea anchor is mentioned once or twice in Collins’ final NEA comic strip, “Up Anchor!” I also remember my father describing them while we sailed together—I guess they were part of regular conversation in the Collins household.

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Meanwhile, things are grim in Lutenberg, and as Kevin and Rupert approach England, Kevin ponders how to help the young prince overcome his fears.

 


For more information on the career of Kreigh Collins, visit his page on Facebook.

Escape Artist

A Prince in name only, Rupert has been made impotent by the scheming Regent who is bent on solidifying his position by eliminating any potential threats to his power.

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Meanwhile, Madeline has decided that now is the time for action; she boldly makes an entrance. Meanwhile, Kevin is caught with his guard down, but quickly recovers.

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Somehow, between the last panel of the preceding episode and the first panel of the next, Kevin and Madeline have scrambled up onto the roof.

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She hastily explains to Kevin what needs to be done, and he quickly agrees. In the final panel, a chillingly-illustrated Regent hears the bad news.


The Complete Mitzi McCoy

Five years in the making, this book collects the entire run of Kreigh Collins’ debut NEA comics feature, “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy.” It features an introductory essay/biography by Eisner Award-winner Frank M. Young and is available here.

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For more information on the career of Kreigh Collins, visit his page on Facebook.

Prince Rupert and the Legend of the Sword of Courage

For a serial adventure like “Kevin the Bold,” NEA believed that the proper number of episodes in a given sequence was about a dozen. Kreigh Collins had shown interest in developing a longer and more complicated story, but for the first several years he produced comic strips for NEA, these stories rarely exceeded 15 episodes.

In late 1952, following the conclusion of his first sequence featuring Leonardo Da Vinci, Collins unveiled an epic adventure. It would run for 33 weeks. This chapter is another classic, with action, heroism, and a grand climax. But first, the scene is set.

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An enormous illustration of a galley ship is the payoff of the transitional October 19 episode. The one-third page version severely crops the illustrations, and omits a unusual panel showing Brett breaking character—he’s trying to impress a young lady, for once.

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The conniving Regent (Sire da Maxavelli) is introduced, and in the following comic, so is his henchman, Torre Hemlar.

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Next week, the action begins in earnest.


For more information on the career of Kreigh Collins, visit his page on Facebook.

 

The Four Corners

Kreigh Collins truly had a wanderlust, and his comic strips’ settings reflected this as well. “Mitzi McCoy” was set in Freedom, Michigan, but in its short run, Mitzi traveled to Canada’s North Woods (in her own plane), Miami Beach, New York City, and Chicago; action also took place in ancient Rome and Ancient Israel.

“Kevin the Bold” had an 18-year run, and its protagonist travelled much more extensively—to the four corners of the Earth.

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This dramatic Irish cliff seems at least party inspired by the Cliffs of Moher.

Although Kreigh Collins never visited Ireland, he did travel to Morocco as a young man, and his classic Sadea sequence from 1952 featured the North African country.

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Situated as close to Ireland as it was, much action took place in the Netherlands, as in this episode from 1961. Bruges (Belgium), was also a relatively short trek for Kevin.

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Often, action was taking place in several distant lands in a single comic. The March 16, 1952 episode features Switzerland, northern Italy, and Byzantium (aka Constantinople).

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In a sequence that has yet to run on this blog, Kevin travels to Venice and eventually sails to the eastern Mediterranean in pursuit of the pirate Zyclos.

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Much of the action from the mid-50s episodes of “Kevin the Bold” took place in London and other locations in England; fictitious German towns were also a frequent setting. In Firenze, Kevin nearly bumped into Leonardo Da VInci.

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On an adventure that was published in the summer of 1953, Kevin traveled as far east as the Caucasus Foothills (Georgia, Asia). By the end of that chapter, he was back in the south of France.

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The next year, Kevin rode to Muscovy (modern-day Moscow). And of course, Kevin’s travels were generally in the name of fighting injustice. KTB 090554 HA CST 150 qcc

In 1955, Kevin set sail for Suez, Egypt, in order to return a princess to father. For this episode, Collins prepared a customized layout for the Chicago Tribune, featuring fewer panels and the addition of a nicer rendering of Kevin’s storm-tossed ship.

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A later sequence took place in Norway, again featuring one of the artist’s specialties, beautifully-drawn boats.

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In early 1962, Kevin’s adventures to him to the New World, the first of several trips he would make across the Atlantic.

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The following year, a storm struck Kevin’s ship and blew him off course—apparently around Cape Horn and into the Pacific, where he eventually beached in Japan. Unfortunately, and not so surprisingly, given the era in which this episode was published, the Japanese are shown with a skin tone beyond caricature. (However, by the time the sequence had wrapped, this travesty was corrected).

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In the mid-60s Kevin again crossed the Atlantic, reaching the North America mainland. He saw the location of the ill-fated colony of Roanoke, Niagara Falls, and the California coast.

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Near the end of its run, Kevin’s journey takes him furthest from his Irish beginnings, to the other side of the world, the South Sea Isles.

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Although Kevin’s journey seemingly brought him to the four corners of the world, this blog’s readers hail from an even more diverse list of exotic lands:

Estonia, Slovakia, Bolivia, Bahrain, Vietnam, Iceland, Malta,
the Bahamas, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Albania, Honduras,
Luxembourg, Greenland, Ecuador, Singapore, Qatar, Tunisia,
American Samoa, Costa Rica, Bulgaria, China, Egypt, Peru, Romania,
Japan, Guam, Malaysia, Taiwan, Russia, Macedonia, Puerto Rico,
Latvia, Myanmar, Poland, Greece, Indonesia, Uruguay, Panama,
Pakistan, Austria, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Belgium, South Africa,
Nigeria, South Korea, Ukraine, Mexico, Switzerland, Hong Kong,
Ireland, Norway, Turkey, New Zealand, Bosnia & Herzegovina,
Philippians, Finland, Hungary, Chile, Australia, India, Argentina,
Thailand, Colombia, United Kingdom, Germany, Serbia, Denmark,
Canada, Sweden, Netherlands, Brazil, Croatia, Portugal, Spain,
Italy, France, and (not as exotic to me), the United States

In commemoration of this blog’s fourth anniversary, I thank its readers for their continued interest in my grandfather’s comics career.


The Perfect Anniversary Gift!

Forget those traditional and modern gift lists—click here to place your order for The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy. In addition to the entire run of “Mitzi McCoy,” the book includes the opening sequence of the comic strip “Mitzi” evolved into, “Kevin the Bold.”

The book also features an extensive introduction by Eisner Award-winner Frank M. Young and previously unpublished artwork and photographs.

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For more information on the career of Kreigh Collins, visit his page on Facebook.