A True Story of Captain John Smith

Among the late themes that ran in “Kevin the Bold” was one featuring Captain John Smith. Despite continued pop culture references, I had mostly forgotten his story (which is very much worth revisiting.)

Of course, Pocahontas is the main story now, but her relationship with Smith was mentioned  Peggy Lee’s 1958 smash, and again in the the Disney film from 1995 (and elsewhere, no doubt). As a young girl, Pocahontas even appeared in a 1965 episode of “Kevin.”

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But here the story is Smith. When he conjured up the world of “Kevin the Bold,” Kreigh Collins must have been familiar with Smith’s life—there are several notable parallels. Here, a chapter of the English adventurer’s life is retold with the inclusion of Kevin and his friend Pedro.

This 14-episode story arc comes from near the end of the storied strip’s run—only four more sequences would follow. These 1967 episodes ran from July 16 through October 15. Most of the examples are half pages, but there are also some third pages, a couple of tabloids, and two images of Collins’ original artwork. This arc’s introductory episode uses the strip’s standard logo, but for those that followed, the typeset copy “A True Story of CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH” was appended.

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For a late-period episode of “Kevin the Bold,” July 16 stands out with its compelling opening and closing panels. The throwaway charmingly shows Notre Dame in the distance, and helps to situate the action on Paris’ left bank. (The Pont de l’Archevêché appears in the foreground).

As the scene shifts to Morocco, a country that Kreigh Collins had visited is featured. After his first ocean crossing, his steamship docked in Tangier. The duration of Collins’ stay in the north African country is unclear, but it was long enough for him to produce some illustrations—and be knifed by a would-be robber late one night. However, Collins was a large man, and at 6’3″ and over 200 pounds, he was able to defend himself. He returned safely to his quarters aboard the ship and only then noticed his head wound, which was still bleeding. He was 21 years old.

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I don’t own a physical copy of the July 23, 1967 episode; fortunately, I was able to track down an example from an online auction.

As they approach their destination, the competing desires of the two men are revealed: For Kevin, it’s the “local scenery,” and for Pedro (as usual), it is food.

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Kevin’s first order of business is to show a rogues’ gallery of men who is in charge, and he is ready to use any powers of persuasion to accomplish this goal.

Need a great gift idea?

OK, I’m biased, but I think you’d be hard pressed to find a more charming collection of Golden Age comics than The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins: The Complete Mitzi McCoy. 

Drawn and scripted by Kreigh Collins, Mitzi McCoy showcased the artist’s skill as an illustrator and storyteller. His picturesque landscapes, lovely character designs, and thrilling action sequences brimmed with detail and charm, and the strip’s ensemble cast rotated in and out of the spotlight taking turns as protagonists in the dozen story arcs collected in this volume. The last story collected here is the narrative bridge that set Collins and his characters off on a new journey, beautifully told for the next couple of decades in the much-lauded adventure strip Kevin the Bold.

Edited and restored by the artist’s grandson, Brian E. Collins, with an introduction by Eisner Award-winning author Frank M. Young, an Afterword by comics columnist Ed Catto, and a new tribute illustration of Mitzi by Butch Guice

Available HERE from Lost Art Books.

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

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