For nearly all of “Kevin the Bold” ’s 18-year run, Kreigh Collins handled the comic strip’s continuity. The lone exception (credited, anyway) was the period from April 30, 1961 through May 27, 1962, when the comic strip carried the additional byline, “Story by Jay Heavilin.”
Jay was a young NEA staffer of whom I know little, but I did manage to track down an NEA headshot. What is even more interesting than an old photograph is the dirt I discovered in a couple of letters (c. 1961) that NEA Vice President/Features Director Ernest Lynn sent my grandfather.
Lynn was responding to Collins’ query, was Jay dependable? Kreigh was looking for a writer for an unnamed book project, and Lynn didn’t mince words. “He’s a mixed-up kid without much, if any, conscience.” Lynn’s low opinion was apparently due in part to Heavilin having recently quit, leaving Cleveland for New York. And there was obviously a personality clash, “For one thing, he kept me tense. His utter contempt for office rules and the rights of others bothered me more than I care to admit. He has an ungovernable temper. The rules are for the other fellow, not Jay.” Because I don’t know the entire context, I won’t repeat anything else. At any rate, the letter sheds some light on the type of person Lynn was. too.
The next episode in the sequence currently being featured is one with which I am especially familiar. It has some lovely illustrations and action, and a particular detail that I find quite charming. In its last panel, Kevin and Brett have decided to swim for shore, and are shown jumping off the ship. When your sobriquet is “The Bold,” you don’t jump, you dive. As the faithful young ward of such a man, Brett also dives, but with only one hand outstretched — the other is holding his nose.
The reason I’m so familiar with this particular episode is that for years, the original artwork hung on my older brother’s bedroom wall. My brother was also named Brett, and despite being Kreigh Collins’ oldest grandchild, this was a coincidence. Originally, Brett and I assumed the character had been named for him, and only later did we realize that the character had in fact preceded Brett by nearly a decade.
Originally, the artwork was a gift from my Grandpa Collins to my Grandpa Palmer—it’s inscribed in the upper left corner. Only later did the piece end up in my collection, though that’s an interesting story too. Brett kept the illustration all through college, and for several years afterward it hung prominently in his apartment. Eventually, he gave it to our father, because no longer had anywhere to hang it. Following a sort of family tradition, he was moving aboard his sailboat, a 43′ ketch (Kreigh Collins’ boat was a 45′ schooner). Later, after I’d begun researching my grandfather in earnest, my father gave the artwork to me.
Once ashore, Kevin and Brett make a shocking discovery.
They warn Maria of Captain Moniz’s intentions, and help them escape enslavement. However, Maria has plans of her own for Kevin.
Now being shipped!
I’m not sure how long delivery takes, but pre-sale orders of the book The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy have started to be shipped. Apologies for the delay. Presently, I am trying to find out what arrangements can be made for the publisher to fulfill overseas orders. The book is available at the publisher’s website.
For more information on the career of Kreigh Collins, visit his page on Facebook.