Strangers in the Night

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Brought together by chance, Kevin hears a firsthand account of the plight of the Glaustarkians from a beautiful young woman he initially believes to be a peasant. A nightwatchman soon confirms what Kevin had heard from the peasant, and Kevin realizes what must be done.

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The December 9, 1951 comic is another gem. Its nine panels are filled with beautifully-illustrated horses and settings, witty dialog, and charming examples of the principal characters’ qualities. When Kevin strikes the gong, he startles his horse Satan, and appears to crack the gong itself. Stub fearlessly confronts von Blunt in one panel and nearly swoons at the end, when he discovers Princess Lea’s scented handkerchief.

In case you were wondering if the help wanted ad Kreigh Collins had placed in the Grand Rapids Herald produced any results, sure enough — it worked. A local gentleman named Frank Tatroe filled the bill. If you compare the second photo below with the penultimate panel of the December 9 comic, you can see for yourself.

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

The Slide

Early “Kevin the Bold” sequences could stretch over a significant chunk of the calendar. This one, featuring Baron von Blunt, ran for 18 weeks. The Search for Sadea, whose principals appeared in last week’s post, had 22 episodes, and lasted nearly half a year). Such long storylines allowed character development in the strip, and its stories and stunning illustrations proved to very popular with readers. The November 4, 1951 comic is exquisite.

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Kevin and his men face a huge obstacle in trying to deliver weapons along a dangerous mountain path, but they aren’t the only ones trapped between a rock and a hard place.

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As usual, Kevin’s outrageous plan has worked. Astride his horse Satan (won from Count DeFalcon in a jousting tournament), Kevin successfully led the horses down the cliff. Unfortunately, they are not yet home free.

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A close brush with von Blunt has steeled Kevin’s resolve to deliver the people of Glaustark from under the Baron’s thumb. Hoping to clear his mind, Kevin sets out on an evening walk. Meanwhile, Princess Lea also heads out for the moonlight. Perhaps the night air will benefit both of them.

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

Princess Lea Pursued

In preparation for his confrontation with Baron Von Blunt, Kevin musters some forces and makes plans to arm them. His past good deeds help as he calls in a favor. Meanwhile, his antagonist continues his brutal ways.

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About that armor refurbished by Seusenhofer… it looks familiar…

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Rebuffed by beautiful Princess Lea again, Baron Von Blunt seethes with anger. Vowing to destroy Glaustark, the stage is set for conflict. In an extraordinary final splash panel, Kevin arrives at last. As usual, Stub and Kevin are confident. First, Kevin and his men face an arduous journey just to reach Von Blunt. Then, will they be strong enough to overcome the Baron?

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

Special Man Is Wanted

Artists and illustrators often have models pose for them — Kreigh Collins frequently enlisted his family with the task. Occasionally, a special situation would call for a hired model, and such was a case for an early “Kevin the Bold” sequence. Getting a help wanted ad on the front page of the local paper was helpful, and the Grand Rapids Herald provided some nice promotion for Collins’ year-old comic.

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The “special man” needed to be of a specific stature, as he would be donning a centuries-old suit of armor recently donated to the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Since historical authenticity was important to Collins, having a live model for reference would be very useful, as knights in armor were a staple of his comic strip.

The newspaper page was trimmed so that no publication date showed, but an article on the page had some information that placed it in late July of 1951. The NEA’s production schedule required comics to be inked two to three months ahead of their publication date, and with this sequence appearing in September, the timing of the newspaper article made sense.

The fifth “Kevin the Bold” sequence introduced a new villain, Baron Von Blunt. Was his new Flemish armor modeled after the set from the Grand Rapids Public Museum?

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Most of the early “Kevin” comics in my collection are from the Chicago Sunday Tribune, but the September 30, 1951 comic shown above ran in the Detroit News. (Most likely, the comic had debuted in the News with this sequence). Collins’ artwork is especially strong in this period, but the printed results from the News are no match for those of the Tribune.

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Kevin and his squire, Stub, had been separated during the previous sequence, in which Kevin was gravely injured. Once reunited, Stub fills his knight in on the details of the task he has been assigned — training an army of men to face Baron Von Blunt, the same ruthless man that had already made an enemy of Kevin. The October 7 comic is another beauty from the Trib, with more to follow.

Of note: The Grand Rapids Public Museum has a rather impressive collection of Kreigh Collins’ original artwork.

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

Navel Battle

After several weeks of setup and conflict, this sequence is primed for some classic “Kevin the Bold” ingredients — beautiful women, creepy villains and combat.

Last week’s comic teased with a beautiful drawing of Estrella in its final, double-decked splash panel, and as the sequence continues, Estrella remains prominent. Like many cartoonists, Kreigh Collins used lovely women to help attract readers. However, there were rules, and lines that could not be crossed. As described in this fine article from Vanity Fair about Connecticut cartoonists of the era, you could draw a girl in a bikini but you couldn’t show a navel. Gaze upon Estrella’s tummy and you will notice this to be the case.

With sex appeal now part of the sequence’s mix, it was now time for a new band of villains — this time, cannibals.

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Good fortune has Kevin being saved by Estrella. Despite his brush with death after being kicked off the Polaris, Kevin is quick to go to the aid of the cannibals’ victim, with a creative and dramatic display.

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Another chance encounter reunites Estrella and Diego, but our friends are not out of hot water yet — the cannibals are still in pursuit.

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Kevin’s bluff is enough to deter the savages, and after a final plot twist, the sequence is completed. The story continues with some comics previously featured on this blog — click here to continue following the action.

This Date in Comics History:

Sunday, October 1 (1950) — “Kevin the Bold” debuts in the Chicago Sunday Tribune, and in papers across the U.S. and Canada.

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“Continued” indeed. The strip ran for 18+ years. 

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