Powder Keg

Defending a flower girl leads to a world of pain for Kevin.

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I only have a one-third page version of the January 31, 1960 episode, which features a soldier riffing on a quote attributed to Mark Twain: “The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog.”

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After discovering what’s been stored in the wine cellar, Kevin and Brett know they have to escape their predicament.

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To be continued…


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

End of an Era

In this next story arc, from the beginning of 1960, the villain is Count Stabb. Another, more minor villain would be the Chicago Tribune. After nearly a decade, it dropped “Kevin the Bold” from its pages. Kreigh Collins had lost his early champion, but he would soldier on for for the NEA for another dozen years. The transitional episode below appeared in the Detroit News, but like most of Kevin’s contemporary clients, it only ran a one-third page version. The print quality is quite mediocre, generally out of register, and uses a very basic palette (Brett’s hair has even gone white in the last panel), Fortunately, I have black-and-white proofs of most of the sequence’s episodes.

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The one-third page versions don’t hold a candle to the black and white proofs, and they reveal how much each panel was cropped. Toward the end of Kevin‘s run, Collins would lay out his pages so that the entire third tier of panels was expendable. The small silver lining was that the resulting third-pages had a better-looking composition.

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I recently read that the NEA developed its third-page format in 1937. As Leo Bock would say, “it was a black day.”

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One paper running Kevin half-pages at this time was the Fort Meyers News-Press. The next episode is from the comics section that appeared here last week.

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The print quality of the News-Press surpasses that of the News (excepting the flower girl’s pink coiffure).



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

January 17, 1960

This 60-year-old comic section was a souvenir from my grandparents’ southern journey aboard their schooner, Heather. In late 1959, they left their west Michigan home port on Lake Macatawa and set sail for Chicago. The Illinois River led to the Mississippi, and eventually to Florida’s west coast—a favorite wintertime destination (In the ’40s, the Collins clan often rented on Anna Maria Island). Besides his wife, Teddy, Kreigh’s only crew was his eight-year old twins, Kevin and Glen. Heather and her crew wouldn’t return to Michigan until August, 1960.

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The Fort Meyers News-Press‘ Sunday edition included an eight-page comic section, led off by Milt Caniff’s popular strip Terry and the Pirates, handled since 1946 by George Wunder. Joining Terry on page one was Mary Worth, written by Allen Saunders and illustrated by Ken Ernst.

Scanning the outside pages of an old comic section is relatively easy with a tabloid scanner, but getting the inside pages presents more of a challenge. Despite having already shrunk from their enormous dimensions from earlier in the 20th century, these pages still measure 29″ x 21.5″ when unfolded. Pages 2-3 feature largely feature run-of-the-mill NEA titles: Boots, by Edgar Martin; Dick Turner’s Carnival; Roy Crane’s Captain Easy (handled on Sundays by Leslie Turner); Vic Flint (written by Jay Heavilin and drawn by Dean Miller); and Our Boarding House, likely illustrated by Bill Freyse. The only non-NEA comic on this first inside spread was Warner Bros.’ Bugs Bunny.

From my perspective, things improve on page 4. There are two contrasting half-page features, Chris Welkin, Planeteer, by Art Sansom and Russ Winterbotham, and Kreigh Collins’ Kevin the Bold. (This episode is one midway through a tale of buried treasure and tyranny, with the villain being Count Stabb). Page 5 has two King Features Syndicate titles (Chic Young’s Blondie and Mort Walker’s Beetle Bailey) and another by McNaught (Joe Palooka, likely handled at this point by Tony DiPreta and Morris Weiss). 

The final inside spread has a raft of third-page NEA comics, (Pricilla’s Pop by Al Vermeer, Tom Trick by Dale, Out Our Way by J.R. Williams, Rolfe’s Brenda Breeze, Merrill Blossar’s Freckles and His Friends and Walt Scott’s The Little People.

The back page of the comic section had two more McNaught titles (Lank Leonard’s Mickey Finn and McEvoy and Stribel’s Dixie Dugan), as well as the the NEA’s popular feature Alley Oop, by V.T. Hamlin.

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By far, most of my comics are single sheets cut from sections, but I’m glad that my grandparents kept this section intact. (Maybe they forgot to bring scissors when they went south).

Happy New Year! (January 1 was Kreigh Collins’ 112th birthday).

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

Land-Sea Rescue

Captain Smith has managed to get Elizabeth safely to his ship, but what about Kevin and Pedro?

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A somewhat whimsical rescue plucks Kevin and Pedro from their perch atop the tower, but now the ship is aground. The sight of the two men swinging from the yard was likely dreamt up by Collins while sailing aboard his schooner Heather, and similar antics would appear in his next comic feature, “Up Anchor!,” which debuted a year later.

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For Captain Smith and his crew, an abrupt and timely change of weather arrives.

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The story arc concludes within the confines of the third-page format, but readers fortunate enough to see the half-page version are treated to a rather provocative question from Elizabeth—would Kevin finally get the girl?


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

Mad Dash from the Palace

This week’s installment features three third-pages and a throwback half-page.

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In order to help increase Elizabeth’s chances of escaping, Kevin selflessly stays behind to distract the Pasha’s men, who are in pursuit. But he’s not the only one with noble intentions.

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Th episode below marks the 17th anniversary of the debut of “Kevin the Bold”.

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October 1, 1967

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October 1, 1950

To be continued…


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

Great Shakes

Kevin and Smith set to meet the Pasha; they are wise to be leery.

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For the September 3, 1967 episode, I found an image of the original artwork from an online auction; a third-page version follows (minus a hookah and the Pasha’s nefarious thoughts).

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Regrettably, I only have a third-page version of the next episode. (What was illustrated in the bottom tier?!)

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The fact is, this episode has the most cold-blooded killing I can remember from “Kevin,” (but remember, it was Smith who wielded the dagger).

At the time these episodes were running, Kreigh Collins’ comics had been appearing in Sunday sections for 20 years. Adventure strips like “Kevin the Bold” were dying out, victims of the changing times. A vivid sign of the times appeared on the opposite side of the tabloid at the top of this post… groooovy!

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“Gasoline Alley” appeared alongside the advertisement; at the time, it was being handled by Bill Perry. At any rate, the very traditional-looking strip is quite a contrast to the Great Shakes ad.

A couple copies of the record are currently listed on ebay, and it looks pretty sweet. (Judy Hoots at least thought so!)


Need a great holiday gift idea?

(No, not “Shake-Out 2!”) You’d be hard pressed to find a more charming collection of Golden Age comics than The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins: The Complete Mitzi McCoy. 

Drawn and scripted by Kreigh Collins, Mitzi McCoy showcased the artist’s skill as an illustrator and storyteller. His picturesque landscapes, lovely character designs, and thrilling action sequences brimmed with detail and charm, and the strip’s ensemble cast rotated in and out of the spotlight taking turns as protagonists in the dozen story arcs collected in this volume. The last story collected here is the narrative bridge that set Collins and his characters off on a new journey, beautifully told for the next couple of decades in the much-lauded adventure strip Kevin the Bold.

Edited and restored by the artist’s grandson, Brian E. Collins, with an introduction by Eisner Award-winning author Frank M. Young, an Afterword by comics columnist Ed Catto, and a new tribute illustration of Mitzi by Butch Guice

Available HERE from Lost Art Books.

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

Vanishing Harbor Gates

Expecting a fight, Kevin is in for a surprise.

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While half-page examples of “Kevin the Bold” are obviously preferable to any other format, it is interesting to see how the strip appeared in other configurations. As in earlier examples, tabloid versions excised a single panel, but in these latter-day episodes, the throwaway wasn’t a small panel in the second tier but a larger one from the bottom.

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Because so many newspapers were running third-page examples of the comic strip, Collins began producing his layouts so that the entire third tier could be deleted. The benefit was that his artwork wouldn’t suffer from having all of its panels cropped, but the drawback was obvious. For this post’s first episode, this would be quite unfortunate. For the following pair of episodes, the results wouldn’t be quite as tragic—but a key plot element’s concise description would be lost.

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Lightly showing through the third-page above is another NEA feature, Jim Berry’s “Berry’s World.” Berry and Collins were friends; Kreigh was gifted a signed original. Its date is unknown, but its subject (president Lyndon B. Johnson) makes it about the same vintage as these episodes of “Kevin.”

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The August 20, 1967 episode revisits the workings of the harbor’s pontoon gates.

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A year later, when “Kevin” morphed into “Up Anchor!”, this problem would be solved more diplomatically. Instead of an expandable third tier, a topper strip (“Water Lore”) would appear. While this solution had less effect on the presentation of the feature comic, it resulted in very few papers running “Up Anchor!” as a half page.

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Need a great holiday gift idea?

I think you’d be hard pressed to find a more charming collection of Golden Age comics than The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins: The Complete Mitzi McCoy. 

Drawn and scripted by Kreigh Collins, Mitzi McCoy showcased the artist’s skill as an illustrator and storyteller. His picturesque landscapes, lovely character designs, and thrilling action sequences brimmed with detail and charm, and the strip’s ensemble cast rotated in and out of the spotlight taking turns as protagonists in the dozen story arcs collected in this volume. The last story collected here is the narrative bridge that set Collins and his characters off on a new journey, beautifully told for the next couple of decades in the much-lauded adventure strip Kevin the Bold.

Edited and restored by the artist’s grandson, Brian E. Collins, with an introduction by Eisner Award-winning author Frank M. Young, an Afterword by comics columnist Ed Catto, and a new tribute illustration of Mitzi by Butch Guice

Available HERE from Lost Art Books.

Mitzi cover final


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

A True Story of Captain John Smith

Among the late themes that ran in “Kevin the Bold” was one featuring Captain John Smith. Despite continued pop culture references, I had mostly forgotten his story (which is very much worth revisiting.)

Of course, Pocahontas is the main story now, but her relationship with Smith was mentioned  Peggy Lee’s 1958 smash, and again in the the Disney film from 1995 (and elsewhere, no doubt). As a young girl, Pocahontas even appeared in a 1965 episode of “Kevin.”

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But here the story is Smith. When he conjured up the world of “Kevin the Bold,” Kreigh Collins must have been familiar with Smith’s life—there are several notable parallels. Here, a chapter of the English adventurer’s life is retold with the inclusion of Kevin and his friend Pedro.

This 14-episode story arc comes from near the end of the storied strip’s run—only four more sequences would follow. These 1967 episodes ran from July 16 through October 15. Most of the examples are half pages, but there are also some third pages, a couple of tabloids, and two images of Collins’ original artwork. This arc’s introductory episode uses the strip’s standard logo, but for those that followed, the typeset copy “A True Story of CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH” was appended.

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For a late-period episode of “Kevin the Bold,” July 16 stands out with its compelling opening and closing panels. The throwaway charmingly shows Notre Dame in the distance, and helps to situate the action on Paris’ left bank. (The Pont de l’Archevêché appears in the foreground).

As the scene shifts to Morocco, a country that Kreigh Collins had visited is featured. After his first ocean crossing, his steamship docked in Tangier. The duration of Collins’ stay in the north African country is unclear, but it was long enough for him to produce some illustrations—and be knifed by a would-be robber late one night. However, Collins was a large man, and at 6’3″ and over 200 pounds, he was able to defend himself. He returned safely to his quarters aboard the ship and only then noticed his head wound, which was still bleeding. He was 21 years old.

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I don’t own a physical copy of the July 23, 1967 episode; fortunately, I was able to track down an example from an online auction.

As they approach their destination, the competing desires of the two men are revealed: For Kevin, it’s the “local scenery,” and for Pedro (as usual), it is food.

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Kevin’s first order of business is to show a rogues’ gallery of men who is in charge, and he is ready to use any powers of persuasion to accomplish this goal.


Need a great gift idea?

OK, I’m biased, but I think you’d be hard pressed to find a more charming collection of Golden Age comics than The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins: The Complete Mitzi McCoy. 

Drawn and scripted by Kreigh Collins, Mitzi McCoy showcased the artist’s skill as an illustrator and storyteller. His picturesque landscapes, lovely character designs, and thrilling action sequences brimmed with detail and charm, and the strip’s ensemble cast rotated in and out of the spotlight taking turns as protagonists in the dozen story arcs collected in this volume. The last story collected here is the narrative bridge that set Collins and his characters off on a new journey, beautifully told for the next couple of decades in the much-lauded adventure strip Kevin the Bold.

Edited and restored by the artist’s grandson, Brian E. Collins, with an introduction by Eisner Award-winning author Frank M. Young, an Afterword by comics columnist Ed Catto, and a new tribute illustration of Mitzi by Butch Guice

Available HERE from Lost Art Books.

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

Tit-Bits No. 2238

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In April 1952, the Argentinian weekly Tit-Bits added “Kevin the Bold” to its lineup. Among other stories and features, Tit-Bits reprinted American comics with Spanish translations. The magazine’s cover art was provided by the comic strips it featured inside (as would be the case with the Menomonee Falls Gazette two decades later).

“Kevin el Denodado” ‘s debut, in issue No 2232, was appropriately bold—in addition to landing on the magazine’s cover, its center spread was comprised of the strip’s first three episodes. For the next five issues of Tit-Bits, other comic strips appeared on the cover, and only a single, tabloid version of “Kevin the Bold” appeared inside. For No. 2238, Collins’ comic regained its spot on the cover, and another three-episode spread appeared inside. (Eventually, “Kevin” ‘s appearance on the cover no longer signified a triple-episode spread inside—later issues only had single tabloid episodes. Unlike some other Tit-Bits comics, “Kevin” continued to run in color).

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This spread cobbled together the November 19, November 26, and December 3, 1950 episodes (shown in English, below).

As in Issue No. 2232, the front of the magazine featured black and white versions of “Big Ben Bolt,” by John Cullen Murphy (Ben Bolt Campeón), and “Rusty Riley” by Frank Godwin (Rusty Riley, Aprendiz de Jockey).  

The back of the issue had Spanish versions of “The Phantom” (by Ray Moore?), “Terry and the Pirates” by Milt Caniff (Terry, el Piloto), and Dr. Nicholas P. Dallis’ “Rex Morgan, MD” (Rex Morgan, Médico).

 


Lost in Translation

The action featured in the epic “Kevin the Bold” comic above appears near the tail end of my book, “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy.” The book features all 99 episodes of “Mitzi McCoy” as well as the ensuing 12 “Kevin the Bold” adventures that following the “Mitzi”‘s transition to “Kevin”. While there are no immediate plans to translate the book into Spanish, it’s pretty awesome in its original English, if I do say so myself.

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“The Complete Mitzi McCoy” can be ordered here.


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

Wild Night

While the entire Count del Morte story is short, its episodes are very graphic, and have a storyboard quality—the sequence seems as if it would translate very nicely to live action. Near the end of the comic strip’s run, plans were afoot for a television adaptation; sadly, this never came to fruition.

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Now back to our story!

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With one of his pursuers no longer a threat, Brett is not yet out of danger.

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The story ends with Kevin admonishing Brett for his carelessness, and neatly segues into a new adventure.


Need a great gift idea?

Call me biased, but I think you’d be hard pressed to find a more charming collection of Golden Age comics than The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins: The Complete Mitzi McCoy. 

Drawn as well as scripted by Collins, Mitzi McCoy showcased the artist’s skill as an illustrator and storyteller. His picturesque landscapes, lovely character designs, and thrilling action sequences brimmed with detail and charm, and the strip’s ensemble cast rotated in and out of the spotlight taking turns as protagonists in the dozen story arcs collected in this volume. The last story collected here is the narrative bridge that set Collins and his characters off on a new journey, beautifully told for the next couple of decades in the much-lauded adventure strip Kevin the Bold.

Edited and restored by the artist’s grandson, Brian E. Collins, with an introduction by Eisner Award-winning author Frank M. Young, an Afterword by comics columnist Ed Catto, and a recently-inked tribute illustration of Mitzi by Butch Guice

Available HERE from Lost Art Books.

Mitzi McCoy Cover 150

 


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