Christmas in Many Lands

Early in his career, Kreigh Collins did freelance work for the Fideler Company, a publisher in Grand Rapids, Michigan. One of his early projects was illustrating various “Unit of Teaching Pictures” programs from Fideler’s Informative Classroom Picture Series.

It was a plum assignment. Each unit included 20+ detailed black and white illustrations, and there were at least 18 different units. The unit’s historical themes were right in Collins’s wheelhouse, and the project kept him busy for several years starting in 1937. The Informative Classroom Picture Series was used by primary school teachers as a part of a social science curriculum.

CHRISTMAS IN MANY LANDS was one of the later themes. It included 21 plates showing different countries’ holiday customs and traditions. Not surprisingly, European countries featured prominently, but a couple of unexpected outliers were included (Plates 20 and 21). Perhaps a scene from your home country is included…

A new custom to me was the Festival of St. Lucia (Plate 10). Celebrated on December 13, it kicks off the Christmas season in Sweden. What caught my eye was the woman’s “crown of light”—my kind of holiday!

Another Swedish custom involves the Christmas Sheaf, which I can only understand to mean gifting sheafs of paper, such as comic books.

An interesting detail noted on Roger’s site notes how the size of the BUFFALO BILL logo grew until it surpassed that of TOM MIX, and how Bill eventually displaced Tom as the cover subject (bottom row).

I received a gift of such sheaves from my friend Roger. It consisted of 18 TOM MIX comic books, originally published in 1953–54. Included is ROLAND DEN DJÄRVE—a Swedish translation of KEVIN THE BOLD. Most of the covers featured cowboys (either Tom or Bill), but three sported Kevin-inspired artwork.

The grand Tom Mix competition is hereby opened!

I first laid hands on a copy of TOM MIX nearly ten years ago; it was included in a box I received from Uncle Kevin and basically disproved my theory that my grandfather was unaware of these foreign versions of his brainchild. Roger has written extensively about the TOM MIX comic book series (and so many others) on his remarkable website, and I look forward to featuring more of TOM MIX in the New Year.

Wherever you are celebrating—happy holidays and best wishes for a wonderful new year!


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

Kevin the Marriage Broker

Among the more than 900 episodes that appeared over 18 years, the December 12, 1965 installment is one of a handful of KEVIN THE BOLD pages missing from my collection. Until I discovered, I was unsure how Kevin was able to broker the union between Ellen and Alan-a-Dale.

Kevin’s plan begins smoothly, but an obstacle is found in the form of the Bishop who intends to marry Ellen to Sir Guy.

The story within a story ends, as Kevin’s tale of Robin Hood reaches its conclusion (recall how Kevin’s narrative came at the end of the “Lost Colony or Roanoke” story arc). Young Saigen was satisfied with the tale, but one thing still puzzled Pedro.

Next week is Christmas, and if you celebrate the holiday, I hope you are fortunate enough to receive a gift as wonderful as one that was recently delivered to me.


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

Sheriff Don’t Like It

The tale continues, and Robin Hood starts to get under the skin of his antagonist, the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Bows and arrows were a common theme in Kreigh Collins’ comics, especially in KEVIN THE BOLD, but the first time Collins illustrated an archery contest was in a mid-1949 episode of MITZI McCOY.

Another throwback to Collins’ earlier work is found in the third panel of the November 28 episode (below). Bathing by the stream, Robin’s pose harkens back to earlier work showcasing the artist’s skills in rendering figures and costumes. Sadly, in this example from late 1965, the results leave something to be desired, but the pose clearly seems to have been based on a piece of art from Collins’ illustration morgue.

With the third tier of each original episode now serving as an embellishment on the action shown in the third-page versions, the treatment the original’s “throwaway panels” has also changed. For the first 15 years of KEVIN THE BOLD’s run, the throwaway was a small panel generally found in the middle of the second tier (similar to the fifth panel, above). Now, a tabloid version was created by excising a tiny panel from the third tier—illustrated in a couple of black and white examples below.

To be continued…


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

Kevin the Red

A concise account of how young Robert Fitzooth became Robin Hood illustrates why the tale fits so nicely into the KEVIN THE BOLD narrative, and in the October 31, 1965 episode, Robin’s antagonist is introduced—the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Traveling through Sherwood Forest, Robin and his band are confronted by a formidable obstacle. It is Little John, who Kreigh Collins summarily rechristens with a name more appropriate for his comic strip—and his resemblance to the strip’s titular character no doubt helped casual readers stay interested in the action. (Two years later, in another story arc, a blond version of Kevin would appear!)

Collins’ chief antagonist for the 15 years he had been illustrating KEVIN THE BOLD was the abridged third-page abominations found in so many of his syndicate’s newspapers. The NEA created third-page versions by severely cropping the left and right edges of the strip’s panels, but toward the end of 1965 Kreigh took a new approach—laying out the episodes so that that the entire third tier was expendable. Half pages included it; third pages did not.

Collins generally captured the most relevant parts of each episode in the upper two tiers, but in many cases, readers were missing out on some lovely bonus material.


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