Sunday, December 27, 1959

Since my comics collection mostly consists of episodes of my grandfather’s comics cut from Sunday papers, the only other comics of the era I’m very familiar with are whatever printed on the other side of those pages. Occasionally, my grandfather saved entire pages (featuring up to a half-dozen comics), and in a few cases, entire comic sections, so these are in my collection too.

One example of an intact section is the Sunday, December 27 edition of the Detroit News, from 1959. Despite being almost 60 years old, nearly all the comics appeared as one-third pagers. The only comic appearing as a half page is Al Capp’s “Li’l Abner.” Unfortunately, due to the size of the News’ masthead, Capp’s comic is pushed down onto the fold, making it more difficult to scan. (Sorry about the slight misalignment of the the comic’s two pieces).

Not surprisingly, many of the comics’ themes revolve around Christmas (“Pogo” by Walt Kelly, “Red Ryder” by Fred Harman, “Freddy” by “Rupe,” “Will-Yum” by Dave Gerard, and “Dennis the Menace” by Hank Ketcham). New Year’s was also a popular motif (“Boots” by Edgar Martin, “Emmy Lou” by Marty Links, and my grandfather’s “Kevin the Bold”). This episode of “Kevin” is notable as far as my grandfather’s career is concerned—it marked the point where the Chicago Tribune dropped his comic. (I also have the comics section from that day’s Tribune).

Winter themes occurred in a couple comics (“Mickey Finn” by Lank Leonard, and “Out Our Way” by J. R. Williams), and Al Fatally & Harry Shorten’s “There Oughta Be a Law” focussed on a birthday, with somewhat racy results (am I seeing tan lines on that model?)

Otherwise, it’s business-as-usual for soap opera strips and other serials (“Rex Morgan, M.D.” by Dal Curtis, “Steve Roper” by Saunders and Overgard, “Mary Worth” by Ernst and Saunders, “Kerry Drake” by Alfred Andriola, and “Tarzan” by Edgar Rice Burroughs) as well as comics like “Archie” by Bob Montana, “Mark Trail” by Ed Dodd, “The Smith Family” by Mr. & Mrs. George Smith, and “Off the Record” by Ed Reed.

As for the other comic included, “Tales from the Great Book: David and Saul” by John Lehti, I’m not sure if this is Old Testament stuff of the New—perhaps I need a nice book of Bible Story Picture Comics to help me get straightened out on that. (The next volume in “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins” series will focus on his like-named pre-Mitzi strip, and is tentatively scheduled for publication in September, 2019).

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!

Happy Birthday!

Kreigh Collins was born 111 years ago on New Year’s Day.

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

The Christmas Story, Continued

While recycling the 1949 version of the Christmas Story comics, usually only one or two panels had to be recreated, as above. The following comic required a bit more work—nearly half the panels were new (Nos. 1, 3, 5 & 10).

Because Art Sansom, who did the lettering for both the original “Mitzi McCoy”-era version and this new one was still working for NEA, any text changes would go unnoticed. 

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to dig up any relevant information on “Bielefeld Studios,” although it is the name of a television broadcasting operation in northwestern Germany. Somehow I think these comics were prepared for a different entity.

While some new panels were created for the 1953 version, these “throwaway panels” were lost when the comics were reformatted into tabloids.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year! (Or, as they say in Bielefeld, Fröhliche Weihnachten!)


Speaking of Christmas…

Mitzi cover final

The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy is available here, and can be shipped to international locations (including Bielefeld, Germany). 

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

Christmas (Re)Packages

Any good story is worth telling more than once. That is certainly the case of the Christmas Story, and it was certainly the opinion of Kreigh Collins and the folks at his syndicate, Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA).

In 1949, Collins used his “Mitzi McCoy” comic strip as a vehicle to tell the Christmas Story. Although some panels showed Stub Goodman narrating the story to a young boy (Dick Dixon), most of the visuals consisted of the Christmas Story itself—Stub and Dick generally only appeared once or twice in each episode. Those comics appeared last year on this blog and can be seen here.

Four years later, with a new comic strip (“Kevin the Bold”) and a proven gimmick, the story was recast with Kevin and his ward Brett substituting for Stub and Dick. Only this time, the comics didn’t run in Sunday papers, they served as NEA promotional material. I’m not sure if any other versions appeared, but the following comics were sponsored by an outfit called “Bielefeld Studios.” 

The five original comics, in tabloid format, were supplemented by newly-created front and back covers and an introductory comic, and the result was an eight-page version tucked inside a portfolio of white card stock. No comic strip logo appeared in the stand-alone package. In fact, Kevin and Brett were introduced as if the reader had never met them. 

The artwork was picked up from the original 1949 version. Occasionally, new artwork replaced an old biblical scene, but usually the only changes were swapping out Stub and Dick for Kevin and Brett.

The Christmas Story continues next week. 


Speaking of Christmas Presents…

Mitzi cover final

It probably won’t be delivered in time for Christmas, but The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy is available here. International shipping now available! Forthcoming volumes in the series will feature Kreigh Collins’ mid-1940s “Bible Picture Stories” comics (due in 2019), and “Kevin the Bold” (tentatively scheduled for 2020). 

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

Kevin Den Tapre

I recently learned a bit about how “Kevin the Bold” first was seen in Denmark. Sunday comics often appeared in weekly magazines, and in August 1951, the weekly Hjemmet began featuring “Kevin” (in issue #32). It replaced the Danish golden age strip “Børnene paa Sydhavsøen” (or, The Children on the South Sea Island), a sort of Robinson Crusoesque comic  illustrated by Svend Otto S. Other U.S. comic strips featured were “The Katzenjammer Kids” and “Bringing Up Father.” 

It was quite interesting finding out that the Danish versions of “Kevin” ran almost contemporaneously to the originals (only 10 months after their publication). In all the business correspondence I’ve read between Kreigh Collins and Ernest Lynn, Collins’ NEA boss, nothing was ever said about “Kevin the Bold” appearing in Scandinavia. The only foreign markets mentioned were Canada, France, and Cuba. I wonder, was my grandfather even made aware of this additional market?

Danish cartoonist Freddy Milton has posted a sizable number of “Kevin Den Tapre” episodes on his blog, found here

In addition to all the background information, this fantastic promotional image was sent to me by my friend in Denmark, Asger, who is working on a collection of the afore-mentioned “Børnene paa Sydhavsøen,” to be published by Anders Hjorth-Jørgensen, a well known Danish comics historian). 

Each of the collage’s three elements came from the October 8, 1950 episode (below), and they were embellished slightly with inking that helps tie them together. (It is Anders’ belief that the comics artist Svend Otto S. created the collage.) 

Anders was also kind enough to translate the text that appeared with the promotional image:


In the next issue, we will start a new comic strip, KEVIN THE BOLD, to replace CHILDREN OF THE SOUTHERN SEA, the cartoonist Svend Otto’s strip, which has been a great success, but now, after ten years’ progress, is finished.

KEVIN THE BOLD is designed by Kreigh Collins, who has won international fame for his costume illustrations. The action of the series, taking place on the green island of Ireland in the fifteenth century, is so captivating and dramatic that our young readers — and the elderly — will follow it with breathless excitement.

Kevin, the protagonist, is a man of aristocratic birth who has renounced a superficial existence in wealth and luxury to help the oppressed, and as the story begins he has just begun in the service of the wealthy squire Stafford [McCoy] — as a shepherd.

Moorish pirates on their way to hunt slaves make landing on the island. They rob Stafford’s daughter, the beautiful Nelly [Moya], who plays a major role in the ongoing action, but Kevin, who has an invaluable helper in Stafford’s Wolf Dog Scott [Rory], destroys their plans and fearlessly fights their leaders, Captain Zinbad and the traitor Black Jack [Bull Blackie].

Later Kevin comes across and experiences many other adventures, both at sea and in foreign countries. He is an excellent rider and fencer but also understands how to use his fists when it’s needed — and it often is! Over and over again he is the protagonist in dramatic situations that will captivate anyone who appreciates adventure and excitement. Kevin the Bold starts his first exciting adventures in the next issue, so it’s worth being there from the start.

Here is the original Danish:

Ny spændende tegneserie begynder næste uge

I næste nummer starter vi en ny tegneserie, KEVIN DEN TAPRE, der skal afløse BØRNENE PÅ SYDHAVSØEN, tegneren Svend Ottos serie, som har været en stor succes, men nu – efter ti års forløb – er bragt til afslutning.

KEVIN DEN TAPRE er tegnet af Kreigh Collins, der har vundet international berømmelse for sine kostume-illustrationer. Seriens handling, der udspilles på den grønne ø Irland i det femtende århundrede, er så fængslende og dramatisk, at vore unge læsere – og de ældre med – vil følge den med åndeløs spænding.

Kevin, hovedpersonen, er en mand af aristokratisk fødsel, som har givet afkald på en overfladisk tilværelse i rigdom og luksus for at hellige sig de undertryktes og forurettedes sag, og da historien begynder, er han netop gået i tjeneste hos den velhavende godsejer Stafford – som fårehyrde.

Mauriske pirater på togt efter slaver gør landgang på øen. De røver Staffords datter, den smukke Nelly, der spiller en stor rolle i den fortsatte handling, men Kevin, som har en uvurderlig hjælper i Staffords ulvehund Scott, tilintetgør deres planer og bekæmper frygtløs deres ledere, kaptajn Zinbad og forræderen Sorte Jack.

Senere kommer Kevin vidt omkring og oplever mange andre eventyr, både til søs og i fremmede lande. Han er en glimrende rytter og fægter, men forstår også at bruge de bare næver, når det kniber – og det gør det tit! Gang på gang er han hovedpersonen i dramatiske situationer, der vil fængsle enhver, som sætter pris på eventyr og spænding. – Kevin den Tapre lægger ud til sine første spændende bedrifter i næste nummer, så det kan betale sig at være med fra starten.


The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy, Now Available Internationally

Mitzi cover final

Orders of The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy are shipping — apologies for any delay. International orders are available—after adding the book to your cart and clicking the “check out” button, there is a pull-down at the top of the page where the desired country can be specified. Find the book here at the publisher’s website.

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

The Ghost Ship

A nice feat of engineering reveals what Kevin and Brett hope will be their ticket off the island. 

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Luckily for Kevin and Brett, the islanders had a nice supply of white cloth for their ruse. 

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Most gratefully, Maria offers Kevin a kiss in lieu of marriage. Perhaps more than one, as Kevin and Brett don’t disembark until several days later.  

Finding a drowning sailor provides an interesting denouement as the sequence transitions swiftly.  

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Perhaps the reason for the abrupt change is that the next sequence would be Jay Heavilin’s last — his 13-month run as  the writer for “Kevin the Bold”  was ending.


Now being shipped!

Mitzi cover final

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.