Prince Rupert and the Legend of the Sword of Courage

For a serial adventure like “Kevin the Bold,” NEA believed that the proper number of episodes in a given sequence was about a dozen. Kreigh Collins had shown interest in developing a longer and more complicated story, but for the first several years he produced comic strips for NEA, these stories rarely exceeded 15 episodes.

In late 1952, following the conclusion of his first sequence featuring Leonardo Da Vinci, Collins unveiled an epic adventure. It would run for 33 weeks. This chapter is another classic, with action, heroism, and a grand climax. But first, the scene is set.

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An enormous illustration of a galley ship is the payoff of the transitional October 19 episode. The one-third page version severely crops the illustrations, and omits a unusual panel showing Brett breaking character—he’s trying to impress a young lady, for once.

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The conniving Regent (Sire da Maxavelli) is introduced, and in the following comic, so is his henchman, Torre Hemlar.

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Next week, the action begins in earnest.


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

 

The Four Corners

Kreigh Collins truly had a wanderlust, and his comic strips’ settings reflected this as well. “Mitzi McCoy” was set in Freedom, Michigan, but in its short run, Mitzi traveled to Canada’s North Woods (in her own plane), Miami Beach, New York City, and Chicago; action also took place in ancient Rome and Ancient Israel.

“Kevin the Bold” had an 18-year run, and its protagonist travelled much more extensively—to the four corners of the Earth.

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This dramatic Irish cliff seems at least party inspired by the Cliffs of Moher.

Although Kreigh Collins never visited Ireland, he did travel to Morocco as a young man, and his classic Sadea sequence from 1952 featured the North African country.

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Situated as close to Ireland as it was, much action took place in the Netherlands, as in this episode from 1961. Bruges (Belgium), was also a relatively short trek for Kevin.

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Often, action was taking place in several distant lands in a single comic. The March 16, 1952 episode features Switzerland, northern Italy, and Byzantium (aka Constantinople).

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In a sequence that has yet to run on this blog, Kevin travels to Venice and eventually sails to the eastern Mediterranean in pursuit of the pirate Zyclos.

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Much of the action from the mid-50s episodes of “Kevin the Bold” took place in London and other locations in England; fictitious German towns were also a frequent setting. In Firenze, Kevin nearly bumped into Leonardo Da VInci.

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On an adventure that was published in the summer of 1953, Kevin traveled as far east as the Caucasus Foothills (Georgia, Asia). By the end of that chapter, he was back in the south of France.

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The next year, Kevin rode to Muscovy (modern-day Moscow). And of course, Kevin’s travels were generally in the name of fighting injustice. KTB 090554 HA CST 150 qcc

In 1955, Kevin set sail for Suez, Egypt, in order to return a princess to father. For this episode, Collins prepared a customized layout for the Chicago Tribune, featuring fewer panels and the addition of a nicer rendering of Kevin’s storm-tossed ship.

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A later sequence took place in Norway, again featuring one of the artist’s specialties, beautifully-drawn boats.

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In early 1962, Kevin’s adventures to him to the New World, the first of several trips he would make across the Atlantic.

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The following year, a storm struck Kevin’s ship and blew him off course—apparently around Cape Horn and into the Pacific, where he eventually beached in Japan. Unfortunately, and not so surprisingly, given the era in which this episode was published, the Japanese are shown with a skin tone beyond caricature. (However, by the time the sequence had wrapped, this travesty was corrected).

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In the mid-60s Kevin again crossed the Atlantic, reaching the North America mainland. He saw the location of the ill-fated colony of Roanoke, Niagara Falls, and the California coast.

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Near the end of its run, Kevin’s journey takes him furthest from his Irish beginnings, to the other side of the world, the South Sea Isles.

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Although Kevin’s journey seemingly brought him to the four corners of the world, this blog’s readers hail from an even more diverse list of exotic lands:

Estonia, Slovakia, Bolivia, Bahrain, Vietnam, Iceland, Malta,
the Bahamas, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Albania, Honduras,
Luxembourg, Greenland, Ecuador, Singapore, Qatar, Tunisia,
American Samoa, Costa Rica, Bulgaria, China, Egypt, Peru, Romania,
Japan, Guam, Malaysia, Taiwan, Russia, Macedonia, Puerto Rico,
Latvia, Myanmar, Poland, Greece, Indonesia, Uruguay, Panama,
Pakistan, Austria, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Belgium, South Africa,
Nigeria, South Korea, Ukraine, Mexico, Switzerland, Hong Kong,
Ireland, Norway, Turkey, New Zealand, Bosnia & Herzegovina,
Philippians, Finland, Hungary, Chile, Australia, India, Argentina,
Thailand, Colombia, United Kingdom, Germany, Serbia, Denmark,
Canada, Sweden, Netherlands, Brazil, Croatia, Portugal, Spain,
Italy, France, and (not as exotic to me), the United States

In commemoration of this blog’s fourth anniversary, I thank its readers for their continued interest in my grandfather’s comics career.


The Perfect Anniversary Gift!

Forget those traditional and modern gift lists—click here to place your order for The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy. In addition to the entire run of “Mitzi McCoy,” the book includes the opening sequence of the comic strip “Mitzi” evolved into, “Kevin the Bold.”

The book also features an extensive introduction by Eisner Award-winner Frank M. Young and previously unpublished artwork and photographs.

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

 

Late Themes

As they sailed away from the New World, Kevin began telling Saigen the story of Robin Hood. While having an adult narrate a story to a youth was a familiar trope for Collins, what was different was the appearance of the comic strip’s logo. A longbow and a quiver of arrows replaced the usual rapier and pistol, Robin Hood’s hat rested on the suit of armor’s helmet, and a chapter heading of sorts, “A Story of Robin Hood” was inscribed at the top.

The October 17, 1965 episode serves as an introduction for the chapter’s new characters.

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The only previous time the comic strip’s logo changed was on April 23, 1961. Ten years into its run, the familiar blocky KEVIN logo adorned with a claymore and shield was replaced by a more elegant version featuring new weapons and an uncial-style font more appropriate for an Irishman. In fact, in its final appearance in print, the old logo is half-obscured by an enormous Spanish galleon, a portent of its imminent departure. The new logo coincided with the onset of Jay Heavilin‘s 13-month stint as writer for the comic strip.

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Yes, those are balls of cheese being used for ammunition!

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A year later, the logo was modified again, this time just by adding the new chapter’s title, “Story of the Norman Conquest.” While the historical timeline  in “Kevin the Bold” can be a bit difficult to follow—the first episode takes place at the end of the 15th century while the final one is dated 1668, about 175 years later—setting the action during the Norman Invasion of Ireland (c. 1170) required a different approach. Here Kevin’s ancestor (also named Kevin) is featured. Making this flashback less confusing to casual readers, the two Kevins appear identical, except for the ancestor being blond.

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Another point of departure is the ancestor’s willingness to chase after women, something later-day Kevin eschews. However, the episode that ran two weeks later portrays the two Kevins as essentially the same character.

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The final time the comic strip’s logo was altered was for one its last sequences, “A True Story of Captain John Smith.” Following this chapter, only four more appeared before the comic strip morphed into Kreigh Collins’ final NEA feature, “Up Anchor!”

Oddly, the July 16 episode introducing the sequence is not labelled as “A True Story of Captain John Smith,” but the 14 comics that follow are. Perhaps adding the title was a late decision made by the NEA, and the fact that it is typeset, rather than hand-lettered, lends credence to the theory.

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Another familiar trope is the damselle in distress! Not that I’m complaining, mind you.

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Nearly all the original art for the final three years of KEVIN THE BOLD  is found in a collection at Syracuse University. The July 23 episode is an exception. (I found this image online).

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How Many Different Logos Were Featured in MITZI McCOY?

That question and more can be answered by picking up a copy of “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy.” It features a wonderful introductory essay by Eisner Award-winner Frank M. Young and is available here.

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