Escape from the Harem

Just prior to the following sequence, Kevin’s travels took him to Japan. How he got so far east is another story, and because my collection of “Kevin” comics is incomplete, it’s a story I cannot recount at this time.

As this new adventure begins, Kevin is aboard a sailboat near Istanbul, a seemingly unusual place to secure intel on Spain’s plans to invade England.

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Due to the reference to Sultan Murad (III), the events depicted would be occurring c. 1580, the height of the Ottoman Empire. Kevin and tagalong Sir Richard are set to rescue the fetching English spy, Lucia.

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The August 11 episode is a marvel, and Collins’ beautiful line work is fully on display in the NEA Daily. Despite Sir Richard’s timely suggestion to change into less conspicuous clothing, their daring escape is noticed.

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

Did You Also Know–

That today is Easter, but in 1936, Easter fell on April 10.

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Having to produce so many illustrations on such a tight schedule led to a bit of recycling — in several instances, Kreigh Collins “resurrected” visual references he had used previously in his then-short career for some “Do You Know” panels. Among them were a birchbark canoe, a seated child, a ship’s helmsman, and a black cocker spaniel.

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As newlyweds, Kreigh and his wife Theresa spent a summer in a log cabin near Leyland, in northern Michigan. In exchange for rent, Collins bartered with the cabin’s owner—a painting of the landlord’s choice from those produced over the summer. While living in this rustic environment, Kreigh found an abandoned birchbark canoe, which he restored. It appeared in numerous early examples of his work, including a magazine cover he illustrated that summer for Outdoor America, as well as the April 10 episode at the beginning of this post. (If you look closely, you can see his wife’s initials inside a heart carved into a tree on the magazine cover).

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Another example of recycled imagery is found in one of the illustrations Collins did for the Informative Classroom Picture Series, an in-classroom teaching aid. In this case, the ICP illustration of the seated boy preceded the “Do You Know” version by about two years.

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During the early 1930s, Collins produced many large murals, some commissioned by the WPA. One of these included a massive, four-panel painting for the East Grand Rapids High school (which is still on display). The EGR sporting teams were known as the Pioneers, and Collins’ painting fittingly depicted the settling of the land. The first of the four panels portrayed an ocean crossing, and the entire mural was unveiled the same year as its corresponding “Do You Know” episode appeared in the ten Booth Newspapers (1935).

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A final example of this thriftiness of source materials was Kreigh and Theresa’s black cocker spaniel, Inky, who was later repurposed as a 1930s Christmas card.

Throughout his career as an illustrator and cartoonist, Collins frequently utilized his wife as a model. On the example from March 23, Theresa is posed as Mme. St. Aubin. Kreigh and “Teddy” were in their late 20s when he was working on the “Do You Know” series, and on the occasion of her 30th birthday in 1936, “Do You Know” seemed a fitting starting point for a home made birthday card .

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Inky even showed up on the birthday card.

Taken out of context, some “Do You Know” illustrations can be pretty humorous, as when Pontiac tells his French counterpart to “talk to the hand.”

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Next week, “Kevin the Bold” returns…

Do You Know–

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…the only place to order The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy, is here.

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

Do You Know–

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To commemorate Michigan’s centennial, Kreigh Collins illustrated a daily feature called “Do You Know.” A collaboration with writer Willis Atwell, it appeared in eight Michigan newspapers and ran from September 2, 1935 to January 26, 1937 (the 100th anniversaries of Michigan first becoming a U.S. territory and then a member of the Union).

Because each panel was comprised of three separate illustrations and historical accuracy was paramount, the project required a great deal of research. The hard work paid off and the feature became a hit in Collins’ home state. Due to popular demand, Booth Newspapers, Inc. compiled these 441 panels into a book, allowing Collins’ reputation as an illustrator to spread.


“Do You Know” was quite similar in style to “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.” While “Ripley” will celebrate its 100th anniversary this October, at the time it was a relatively new feature, having debuted 16 years earlier. In fact, another comic feature, illustrated by Art Krenz, appeared around the same time. It was also titled “Do You Know,” and was put out by the syndicate that would hire Collins 13 years later, Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA). The two like-named features coexisted, and it is unclear to me which came first. Even if the Booth Newspapers concept was not entirely original, the illustrations are both entertaining and educational, qualities that would also describe Kreigh Collins’ future comic strips, especially “Kevin the Bold” and “Up Anchor!”

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The March 18, 1936 installment has a very informative diagram showing the relative depths of the Great Lakes, most of which Collins would later sail on extensively (all but Lake Superior). The earliest installments (below) describe a border skirmish between Ohio and Michigan, the results of which are a bit embarrassing for someone whose family hails from the Great Lakes State. 

The illustrations are filled with interesting details, like the reverse lettering on the ink stamp (October 4, 1935), clever political cartooning (October 30, 1935), and despite the time period in which they were published, not only highlight the accomplishments of men, but those of women and native Americans too (November 14 and 1, 1935).

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

A Pretty Little Speech

Besides becoming an artist, the only other career choice Kreigh Collins considered was to become a magician. By the time he reached high school he’d made up his mind, yet magic cropped up in his work frequently enough. In 1937, he wrote Tricks, Toys, and Tim, a unique “how-to-do-it” book  published by D. Appleton-Century — Kreigh’s illustrations appeared throughout. In his later work, subjects related to magic came up — “Mitzi McCoy” had a sequence featuring a yodeling cowboy with a ventriloquist’s dummy (!) — and ventriloquism was featured again in this “Kevin the Bold” storyline.

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If you find a copy, buy it! You won’t be sorry. More information on “Tricks, Toys, and Tim” here.

Unfortunately, Kevin and Tankard are unaware of the current fearful climate in the little Dutch city of Bomen.

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The September 9 episode is a good example showing the difference between the Chicago Tribune’s superior color schemes and that of a typical newspaper. Although the image of the half page version is just a snapshot liberated from an old eBay listing, it has richer colors and and a much more extensive palette than the tabloid.

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The ever-honorable Kevin bids to save his new friends’ lives by sacrificing his own. In what appears to be a cowardly move, Tankard quickly backs the idea.

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Finding the perfect time to demonstrate his talents, Tankard saves the day. Meanwhile, Kevin is appreciative enough that Tankard accompanies him on his next adventure in Ireland, where no doubt he will demonstrate more magic.

The Complete Mitzi McCoy

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To read the 1949 “Mitzi McCoy” sequence featuring the yodeling cowboy and his ventriloquist’s dummy, pick up a copy of The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy, available here.

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