Sally’s plan is foiled and Kevin and Andrew are outnumbered.
Kevin has been snared in a noose, yet it’s Sally who sets a trap for her father. Kevin quickly follows her lead.
Andrew is the last one to realize what has played out, but they’re not out of the woods yet. (Literally! Recall they are trapped in a small thicket).
After a dramatic pause, Sir Bernard (Sally’s father) caves in to his daughter, giving the lovebirds permission to marry, and the strip transitions to the next storyline. One minor note is the use of photostats to illustrate Kevin’s rapier in the fourth panel of the December 30, 1962 episode, and in the fifth panel of January 13, 1963. This time-saver became a somewhat frequent tool for Collins in episodes after the comic strip’s logo was updated on April 30, 1961. (The photostats are the same size as the logo’s rapier).
Dressed in the clothes of the henchmen hired by Sally’s father, Kevin goes about his plan.
The plan goes off, but with a hitch—Sally has been identified. Plus, they have bigger a problem.
Not only has Sally packed a beautiful wedding gown, but plenty of confidence as well. It will be needed, in the face of this adversity! Here are black-and-white versions of the original half-page episodes.
Today marks the start of a sequence from late 1962. It features some beautiful illustrations, and its theme of young love seems appropriate as Valentine’s Day nears. The November 25 episode is the transition from yet another chapter with a lovely young lady bidding Kevin a tearful farewell.
When I started collecting my grandfather’s Sunday comics, I had no idea they had been repackaged as comic books. I soon learned differently, seeing occasional listings of “Australian edition” comics on eBay, usually featuring KEVIN THE BOLD. Atlas Publications seemed to have the longest run, and other titles were published by both Tip-Top Comics and Thriller Comics.
Because I was working on my Mitzi McCoy collection, the comic book that really caught my eye was Tip-Top’s “Special No. 3,” published by Southdown Press of Melbourne, Australia. Until recently, I never saw it listed for sale, only in google image search results.
The copy I snagged isn’t in very good condition, but I couldn’t resist. I wonder what these comics looked like when they were new, because after laying around for 70 years or so, the ones I have managed to collect are a bit beat up. My copy of “Special No. 3” has some other minor problems—the cover has a crease running horizontally near the bottom, and the pages are torn slightly where they were stapled—but otherwise, it’s intact. It runs 24 pages plus cover, and seems to be printed on both pink and white paper stock (the middle eight pages being white).
Inside, it features three of MITZI’s 12 story arcs; they come near the end of the strip’s run, and include a couple of my favorites. They inside front cover has a brief description of Kreigh Collins’ creation; it includes an error which I find amusing. Introducing the comic strip’s characters, it mentions that the dog is “part wolf.” Tiny is, in fact, an Irish wolfhound—a breed specializing in protection against and for the hunting of wolves. “Special No. 3” kicks off with a story where Tiny, a readers’ favorite, plays a major part. It starts with the sequence’s third episode, and while some of the preamble is lost, the story is still coherent. It begins with the episode that originally appeared on January 15, 1950. (This sequence was also featured in the French comic book P’tit Gars No. 1).
Next up is “Living Pinups,” packed with action. Interestingly, one of the original episodes is omitted (for those keeping score at home, its date is March 19, 1950), and another episode appears minus an entire page-wide panel—most unfortunately. In place of this wonderful example of good girl art is a small fractional ad for RED RYDER (another Tip-Top title). To see both the missing episode and the excised panel, please consider purchasing a copy of my book “The Complete Mitzi McCoy,” details at bottom.
The third and final story arc appearing in “Special No. 3” is “The Counterfeiters,” another great sequence that has more of a noir-ish feel to it than any other found in MITZI McCOY. The comic book’s cover art features redrawn art from the story’s penultimate episode (and the final episode contains the panel I used for the cover of my MITZI book). On the inside back cover are four dailies of a comic called VIRGIL, by Len Kleis.
Strangely, the first episode runs without several panels (and crops and scrunches those that remain) in order to squeeze in the same RED RYDER that appeared a few pages back.
The back cover has an ad for three of the titles on Tip-Top’s roster, RED RYDER, BUCK ROGERS, and HURRICANE HAWK. It makes me wonder if MITZI was a part of the gang on the ads that ran on those comic’s back covers—I can dream!
“The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, the Complete Mitzi McCoy,” features the entire run of Kreigh Collins’ first NEA feature, and is available for immediate delivery.
MITZI McCOY ran from 1948 to 1950 and showcased Kreigh Collins’ 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 in “The Complete Mitzi McCoy” 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.
The collection includes an introduction by Eisner Award-winning author Frank M. Young, an Afterward by Ithaca College’s Ed Catto, and previously unpublished artwork and photos. Longtime comics artist Butch Guice also provides a new pin-up of the character Mitzi McCoy.
The book costs $30. For domestic shipping, add $4; for international orders, add $25 for first class shipping. To place an order, email me at BrianEdwardCollins1[at]gmail.com, and I will give you PayPal or Venmo information.
Chicago Tribune episodes are preferable to those found in other newspapers—except in cases where they are damaged. My copy from November 25, 1956 had gotten torn long ago, and the remedy my grandfather used was cellophane tape. 64 years later, it left quite a nasty yellow diagonal scar. I often complain about third-page examples, but in this case one from the Detroit News helped save the day. (The tear ran from Mary Campbell’s “hard scotch skull” in the splash panel all the way to the word “Tribune” in the running head). Now, back to the action.
While Mary immediately regrets their decision, Kevin relishes the opportunity to settle an old score. As the ensuing melee devolves into hand-to-hand combat, even Mary gets in on the action.
Things look especially grim for Kevin as Mary manages to escape.
The sequence ends dramatically—and with a unique layout. Instead of a single, double-decked splash panel, Collins includes two, the second being a silhouette. Having King Henry arrive on the scene of the conflagration at the moment of climax is a bit contrived, but there is no time to be wasted as he introduces Kevin’s next adventure.
Little does Kevin know that his unexplained black eye will lead to worse circumstances.
As far as this particular story arc goes, one definite bonus is the fact that I have Chicago Tribune examples of each episode. While the paper was long past its heyday of incredible color separations and reproduction—some “Kevin the Bold” episodes from the early 1950s are simply stunning—the paper still created its own printing plates, which led to higher-quality final results.
Comparing an episode from the Trib with one from the Florida Times-Union could be seen as comparing apples to oranges, with the latter’s output often being rather magenta-saturated, a close comparison between the two shows that the Tribune did indeed use different printing plates than those offered by NEA Services to its regular subscribing newspapers. In some panels it is hard to determine if the difference was simply due to the flood of magenta ink and indifferent press operators, but in the Trib‘s splash panel, the lower portion of Kevin’s cloak clearly shows shades of both orange and red, while in the Times-Union version it’s all reddish orange.
It’s a shame that raven-haired Gertie has gotten mixed up with the Strangler, she’s generally my favorite part of any episode in which she appears!
Happy New Year! January 1 also marks Kreigh Collins’ birthday; he would have been 48 years old when the following story arc appeared. The first two episodes are beautifully illustrated, and show Kevin sailing past the Isle of Sark. As is the case with many of the plot lines in “Kevin,” I was inspired to look up where exactly this little island was located—and I became intrigued by the local talent at the Elephant and Castle.
The previous episode’s splash panel is lovely, but it is no match for the one that followed. The third panel is also masterfully executed—the Strangler is a menacing villain straight from central casting.
The Christmas story is indeed filled with glorious drama, so much so that Kreigh Collins was happy to tell it more than once. His artistic rendition received its first major promotional push when it appeared as a story arc in 1949, midway through the run of “Mitzi McCoy,” but this wasn’t the first time his depiction of the Nativity appeared in print.
Prior to joining NEA Service, one of Collins’ steadiest clients was the Methodist Publishing House of Nashville, Tennessee. Among other projects, Kreigh illustrated a weekly, full-page comic in 1945 that appeared in Sunday school bulletins the company produced called “Boys Today,” and “Girls Today.”
The comics appeared in these bulletins during Advent, and a portion of them can be found in this earlier post.
Although it never ran in newspapers as part of the usual NEA fare, the Christmas story was reprised in 1953, in a special offering under the guise of a “Kevin the Bold” narrative. This time, most of the artwork from the “Mitzi McCoy” version was simply picked up and reused, with panels that showed Mitzi‘s characters (Stub Goodman was shown explaining things to his young friend Dick Dixon once or twice in each episode) being replaced by similar ones featuring Kevin and his ward, Brett.
Merry Christmas, and best wishes for a healthy New Year!
Starting in 1936, Kreigh Collins’ syndicate, NEA, produced special Christmas strips. A complete list of the titles and artists can be found here. In 1965, Collins’ creation “Legends of Christmas” was featured.
The first two episodes were stand-alones; they were followed by the two stories mentioned in the blurb above.
Running in various small-market papers that were typical for NEA clients, the “Legends of Christmas” comics are rather curious, and despite their yuletide theme, there was room to squeeze in a little anti-Soviet Cold War-era commentary (December 8). Take that, Brezhnev!
The final story of Collins’ “Legends of Christmas” featured an easier-to-follow legend. It starred Peter, a young boy trying to care for his ailing mother while his father was away.