December 25, 1955

Caught in a sticky situation in the French royal hunting preserve, Kevin solves one problem by making friends with the French king. But with Vasco lurking, trouble is in store.

Speaking of trouble, for a second week KEVIN THE BOLD didn’t run in the Chicago Sunday Tribune. (Thanks again to Dale for pointing out this anomaly to me). Beggars can’t be choosers and I suppose I should be happy with my Florida Times-Union KEVIN THE BOLD half page, but it’s a shame this one has so much show-through.

So what’s the funny business in the funnies?

Other than DICK TRACY running on the first page, the Tribune doesn’t seem to have a set order for its comics section.

Chester Gould’s strip is followed by some third-pagers: DAVY CROCKETT, FRONTIERSMAN (Jim McArdle, scripting by Ed Herron; Columbia Features); MOON MULLINS (Frank Willard); and DENNIS THE MENACE (Hank Ketcham; Post-Hall Syndicate). The third page features a mash-up of seven Tribune Syndicate comic strips as a one-off Christmas special: BRENDA STARR, REPORTER (Dale Messick); MOSTLY MALARKY (Wallace Carlson); SMILIN’ JACK (Zack Mosley); SMITTY (Walter Berndt); LOLLY (Pete Hansen); AGGIE MACK (Hal Rasmusson); and THE FLIBBERTYS (Ray Helle). Underneath the holiday greeting was a half-page LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE (Harold Gray). Next up were GASOLINE ALLEY (Bill Perry); WINNIE WINKLE (Martin Branner); AN OLD GLORY STORY/DANIEL BOONE (Rick Fletcher, scripts by Athena Robbins); TERRY AND THE PIRATES (George Wunder); DONDI (Irwin Hasen, script by Gus Edson); JED COOPER, AMERICAN SCOUT (by Dick Fletcher, scripts by Lloyd Wendt); FERD’NAND (Henning “Mik” Mikkelsen, United Features Syndicate); SMOKEY STOVER (Bill Holman); TEXAS SLIM (Ferd Johnson); TINY TIM (Stanley Link); and THE TEENIE WEENIES (William Donahay).

The Trib’s comic section again skipped three of its standards: KEVIN THE BOLD (Newspaper Enterprise Association), CAESAR (William Timyn), and KING AROO (Jack Kent, McClure Newspaper Syndicate). Omitting these and combining seven others into a single half-page opened up space for the Tribune to feature a rendering of Charles Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Credited to Don Sinks (illustrations) and Leon Harpole (text adaptation), the story, distilled into a dozen panels, appeared on the back page of the comics section.

I was unable to come up with any biogrphical information on Sinks, but for Harpole it was easier. From 1924 to 1956, Harpole was employed by the Chicago Sunday Tribune—as editor of the early mail editions, assistant Sunday editor, acting Sunday editor, and rotogravure editor and picture editor of the Chicago Sunday Tribune Magazine. That’s quite a few hats for one head to wear, and points to a successful 32-year career at the Trib.

Harpole’s biographical information appeared in a story from the Friday, April 10, 1959 edition of the Florida Southern College’s daily, The Southern. In fact, Harpole had left his gig at the Tribune for a faculty post in Lakeland, Florida, as Director of Journalism at Florida Southern (where he was an adviser to The Southern). I’m assuming the curriculum included tips on cross-promotion.

Six years earlier, Kreigh Collins’ retelling of The Christmas Story was featured in the Tribune; generic half-page MITZI McCOY episodes ran on Saturdays for five weeks. For Collins and his syndicate, it was a feather in their cap—the first time an NEA comic strip had appeared in the Trib. However, despite concerted efforts by NEA, the paper declined to add MITZI McCOY to its roster of Sunday comics. Now, to have KEVIN THE BOLD (his “brainchild”) bumped like this must have stung.

As December drew to a close, perhaps some Tribune readers were also wondering what the new year would bring.

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

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