This chapter, represented primarily by half-page comics from the Detroit News, features a scheming count and a playful young widow; it ran in Sunday comics sections 65 years ago.
The widow (Marie de Grasse) had made her situation clear in the transitional strip that preceded this one.
By the summer of 1957, the Chicago Tribune generally ran KEVIN in its loathed third-page format, and in the absence of half pages from the News, episodes will get the collage treatment—which is a shame because June 23 is a very nice example.
In stark contrast with Noir’s machinations, lovely Marie has her own methods to get what she wants.
Aware that KEVIN THE BOLD had been published as part of the 1970s Italian comic book “Il Nerbiniano,” I recently learned that Kevin was originally featured in his own line of comic books under the moniker RINALDO SENZA PAURA. It’s a great name for our hero, since Rinaldo means “wise power” or “ruler’s advisor,” and senza paura translates to “fearless.” (A huge grazie to my friend Davide for alerting me to these Italian editions!)
The comic books must be rare—the ones listed on ebay are quite expensive. According to the publishing information Davide sent, 14 editions were published by La Rosa dei Venti, based in Milano, dating from 1953–54. Printed in a horizontal format, the comic books were initially 24.5 cm x 17 cm (9.6″ x 6.7″) and 32 pages long; after four or five issues the trim size was reduced to 17 cm x 8 cm (9.6″ x 3.1″) and ran 96 pages. Here are some of the larger-format issues:
Above at left, the first RENALDO SENZA PAURA issue (53-7-30). The sample interior pages show it featured KEVIN THE BOLD’s debut “McCoy Family Legend” story arc, while the cover comes from the second story arc (“The Search for Sadea”). Above center (RSP issue 53-09-30) also has cover and interior pages from “The Search for Sadea;” above right (RSP issue 53-10-30) has cover and interior pages from KEVIN’s fourth “Baron Von Blunt” sequence. Below are some of the smaller-format issues. Perhaps these were designed to be pocket-sized—if you had deep enough pockets (if I had deeper pockets, I’d own one of these beauties!)
Kevin wasn’t the only character expanding into a new market—inside front covers often carried ads for other NEA titles.
While doing this research, an interesting hit led me to an old book. It contains a very old poem—and by old, I mean 13th century! A reprinted version of the book lists 1788 as its date of publication, though I’m not certain if the following images are from same edition. Below, its title page.
The book, nearly 300 pages long, consists of a single poem, written in over 2,000 eight-line stanzas. The first page of the book has a large woodcut illustration showing two armored men battling, helpfully including identifications of the combatants—one of whom is named Rinaldo.
Every few pages, one of the stanzas is replaced by a woodcut spot illustration; occasionally there are two of these illustrations on a single page. I asked a friend from Italy if she could provide some translations, but she said it was written in very old Italian and difficult to read.
The reason this interesting old book come up in my search results was due to a mention (in the seventh line of stanza 53) of the character illustrated on the title page, “Rinaldo senza paura.”
This old poem seems to be the inspiration for Kevin’s moniker in the Italian comic books. It’s an excellent choice, given the subject matter of the poem, and the fact that it dates (approximately) to the era in which KEVIN THE BOLD was set.
In all, the book contained about 25 different spot illustrations. In general, each one was repeated several times at various points in the book, leading me to surmise that they were decorative, and not specific to the action of the poem.
Many of the illustrations depict the type of scenes portrayed in KEVIN THE BOLD episodes. Above, in the first column, we see horsemen riding with banners flying, a ship being loaded with cargo, and a view of a walled city. The second column has three scenes featuring a king—on the battlefield, in the throne room surrounded by advisors, and watching two men in combat. The bottom illustration appears to show a soldier being led away as a prisoner. The third column has scenes of mounted soldiers preparing for or engaging in combat, with the bottom one featuring a centaur who seems to have killed one of the two soldiers he was facing. The fourth column features hand-to-hand combat; the bottom illustration appears to show a soldier carrying the severed head of his opponent.
While it is doubtful that Kreigh Collins ever saw this old book, he was known for thoroughly researching his subject matter, and many of KEVIN THE BOLD’S adventures were likely based on similar original sources.
Next week, I will be traveling to Italy. Along the way, I hope to find some comic book shops that have (affordably priced) copies of either Il Nerbiniano or Kevin Senza Paura. If anyone knows of any stores I should visit in Milano, Firenze, Venice, or Verona, please let me know! Leave a message below, or email me at BrianEdwardCollins1[at]gmail.com. Grazie!
Next week, a new story arc begins. It features the villain Count Noir, and ran in the funnies in the summer of 1957. The story arc picks up where the action in “Kevin the Bold: Sunday Adventures” leaves off. “Sunday Adventures” is a collection of nearly three years’ worth of episodes, presented in a black and white tabloid format, from original proofs (for all but a few episodes). Available here.
To commemorate today’s National Puerto Rican Day Parade in Manhattan, here are some more examples from El DIario. I don’t have much information about the newspaper (originally published in San Juan, Puerto Rico), but I learned its NYC edition originated in the late 1940s.
Based on the logo at the top of the page, this must be issue No. 126. I assume that El Diario was a daily, but if so, the “126” is confusing—June 15 is not the 126th day of the year, but the 152nd. “126” also doesn’t make sense if the paper was published six times a week—then it would be issue No. 141. in KEVIN EL AUDAZ, “–126–” is inscribed in the final panel, to the right of the usual NEA date identifier “6-15”. I don’t recall where I got this image, but I do have a hard copy of the 8-page comic section from El Diario No. 127, which follows. It is comprised of three NEA strips and five from United Features.
The action in KEVIN EL AUDAZ continues from the previous episode, and El Diario’s identification number is again inscribed in the final panel along with NEA’s “6-22”.
The second page has the United Features Syndicate’s title FERD’NAND (by Mik, AKA Henning Dahl Mikkelsen).
I don’t see a “–127–” label, but the final panel does have “7–13,” which seems to indicate a date (July 13, 1952 was a Sunday). Being unfamiliar with FERD’NAND, I wonder if this episode ran early?
Page 3 featured another United Features Syndicate title, DORITA, originally Ernie Bushmiller’s FRITZI RITZ.
DORITA is labelled with both a “127” and “July 13.” Next up, page 4 has NEA’s Spanish version of CHRIS WELKIN, PLANETEER (written by Russ Winterbotham and drawn by Art Sansom). CRISTOBAL TROTAMUNDOS DEL ESPACIO is labelled “6-22” and “–127–”.
VIC FLINT (Michal O’Malley and Dean Miller), on the fifth page, has the labels “6-29” (?) and “–127–”.
This is followed by the Spanish version of Raeburn Van Buren’s ABBIE AN’ SLATS (“7-13” and “–127–”).
That’s an interesting episode—I wish I could read Spanish! It is followed by EL CHIQUITO ABNER (Al Capp), also labelled “7-13” and “–127–”.
Running on the back page of the section was Warren Tufts’ CASEY RUGGLES, another United Features Syndicate title, also labelled “7-13” and “–127–”.
With all the 7-13 labels, I wonder if the section was actually from July, since only the NEA strips had June dates either 6-22 or 6-29). If any readers have better information on El DIario, please leave a comment. As I like to mention, I am no comics expert, and please accept my apologies for any mistakes I make.
While the publication dates are confusing, I think the publisher of El DIario clearly made the right call on which comic strip to feature on the front page of its comic section.
Disguised as Captain Samson (an appropriate name for such a hirsute man), Kevin’s plan starts to unravel as he nears the Falcon.
Loading “Long Tom” with a double charge seems like overkill—Captain Hudson’s history with Kevin must be unpleasant.
Hudson’s crew is doomed, and his own future is not so bright, either.
Following the previous episodes’s explosive climax, readers could have reasonably expected a final episode to conclude the story arc, but it is wrapped up in the first two panels of the September 4 episode, with the remainder jumping quickly to the next chapter. A notable aspect of the September 4 episode is the severe way the original art was modified to produce the third-page version. Although not apparent on the collaged version above, in the first panel of the bottom tier (in the third-page version), the father’s left arm was repositioned so that it was more vertical, allowing the panel to be cropped by about 25% along its right edge. In another space-saving move, the two brothers were positioned much closer together in the final panel. Eventually, Kreigh Collins would figure out a way to avoid having his artwork manipulated so much. His solution was for the entire third tier to consist of panels that could be omitted. While this was a cleaner solution, it also compromised his artwork, but with so many newspapers running third-pages of KEVIN, it seemed like the lesser of two evils. _______________________________________________________________
Back in Stock!
“The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, the Complete Mitzi McCoy,” is available again—it features the entire run of Kreigh Collins’ first NEA feature, MITZI McCOY.
MITZI McCOY ran from 1948 to 1950 and showcased Kreigh Collins’ 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 in “The Complete Mitzi McCoy” 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.
The collection includes an introduction by Eisner Award-winning author Frank M. Young, an Afterward by Ithaca College’s Ed Catto, and previously unpublished artwork and photos. Longtime comics artist Butch Guice also provides a new pin-up of the character Mitzi McCoy.
The book’s price is $30. For domestic shipping, add $4; for international orders, add $25 for first class shipping. To place an order, leave a comment below or email me at BrianEdwardCollins1[at]gmail.com, and I will give you PayPal information.