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.

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