The Field of the Cloth of Gold

Last week I asked readers if their collections included any “Kevin the Bold” episodes that were missing in mine. This week a sequence starts using comic scans sent to me by my man in Rotterdam, Arnaud, with whom I traded a bunch of other “Kevin” scans (Nogmaals bedankt!). These tabloid comics were originally published starting in June, 1962, and were based on a historical event from 442 years earlier—the June, 1520 summit between England’s King Henry VIII and France’s King Francis I. 

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These first few episodes serve as a preamble to the main event, but the June 17 comic shown above is a favorite of mine because I have the original artwork in my collection. 

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In 2010, when I first found an image of the artwork online, it appeared as shown above. Sadly, by the time I saw it listed for sale four years later, the illustration had been cropped so it would fit in an 18″ x 24″ picture frame (below). It might have been damaged goods, but I bought it anyway (frame not included). One interesting detail is found in the panel in the lower left-hand corner, where Brett is holding Kevin’s sword. The sword is a photostat, pasted onto the original art—apparently as a time saver for the artist. 

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Another shameless plug!

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Featuring the complete run of Kreigh Collins’ first NEA comic, “Mitzi McCoy,” The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy can be found here; it’s still available at its pre-order price of $24.95.  


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

Help!

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Once I started collecting my grandfather’s comics, I came up with two goals: publish a book and collect them all. 

Kreighs’ comics appeared in newspapers every Sunday from November 7, 1948 until February 27, 1972, about three and a half decades. Adding it all up—the 23 complete years, the two partial years, and the four times leap years resulted in a year having 53 Sundays (1950, 1956, 1961, 1967)—amounts to 1,217 individual episodes. (Or is it 1,218? Can someone check my math?) However many there are, it’s easy to see why I chose to publish a book first.

Admittedly, I had a great head start with so many of the episodes having been given to me by my uncle. But while my grandfather saved a lot of stuff, I do not have examples of all of his individual comic strips. Since I have all 99 “Mitzi McCoy” episodes and less than half of the “Up Anchor!” comics, what I’m focusing on primarily are the missing “Kevin the Bold” episodes.

Of the 945 or so examples of “Kevin,” there are 45 which I’ve never seen in any form. The first hole in my collection appears about a decade into its run: April 24, 1960

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What happens next? I’d love to know!

A few months later, the October 2, 1960 episode draws a blank. It follows the one shown below, in a tale of two sons—one good and the other bad. Through 1958, I have full-sized (half-page or tabloid) versions of just about every comic, but by 1960, many of my comics are one-third page versions (sigh). But at least these allow the narrative to continue.

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Oh no, Kevin appears mortally wounded! Will he survive?

The next gap in the chronology is found in the first Jay Heavilin-penned sequence (June 25, 1961).

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Lady Goodly? Lady Godiva could be featured on June 25 for all I know.

You know what’s worse than a missing episode? Two consecutive missing episodes! (September 10 and 17, 1961).

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At least the September 3 episode introduced me to the word, “Taradiddle.” I can only imagine the vocabulary featured over the next two weeks.

 Perhaps even more interesting to me are a couple elusive mid-1963 episodes—June 23, 1963 and July 7, 1963. Kevin has made it all the way to Japan. I wish I had the entire sequence of comics to share that adventure with you. Here is part of it—the two comics that precede the two missing ones.

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I’m going to see if I can verify that translation in the throwaway panel.

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Here are the dates of the comics  listed above: 
April 24, 1960
October 2, 1960
June 25, 1961
September 10, 1951
September 17, 1961
June 23, 1963
July 7, 1963

For the last three years of “Kevin the Bold,” I need quite a few: 
January 2 & 16, 1966
May 29, 1966
June 26, 1966
July 10, 17 & 24, 1966
August 21 & 28, 1966
September 4 & 11, 1966
October 2 & 9, 1966
December 25, 1966

January 29, 1967
February 5, 12 & 19, 1967
March 5, 12, 19 & 26, 1967
April 9, 23 & 30, 1967
May 21 & 28, 2967
June 11, 1967
August 27, 2967
October 22, 1967
November 12 & 19, 1967

April 7, 14, 21 & 18, 1968
May 5, 1968
September 15, 1968

Do you have any of these in your collection? I’m more than willing to trade scans. Please leave a message on my blog or contact me directly at brianedwardcollins1(at)gmail.com

Thank you very much.


The Complete Mitzi McCoy

Mitzi cover final

To read the complete run of “Mitzi McCoy” comics, The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy can be found here; it’s still available at its pre-order price of $24.95.  


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

Stand Alones

The last two comics of this sequence are humorous affairs that, unlike the majority of “Mitzi McCoy” episodes, can stand alone. Grouped with the previous five, they help better describe the goings on in the little town of Freedom and flesh out the characters that live there.

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The June 19 comic reveals a bunch of sailing terminology, most of which I was familiar with, having grown up on boats. One term was new to me, yet sounded familiar. What are “the Henty Books?” A quick google search revealed the answer, as well as a short nsfw distraction when I misspelled the term. You have to be careful with those google searches!

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The June 26, 1949 episode, above, is one of a handful of “Mitzis” for which I don’t have a half-page or tabloid version. Luckily, I was provided with a half-page version by Frank Young, the comics historian who wrote the fine introduction to my recent Mitzi McCoy book.

The action revolves around the model plane Dick Dixon built, and with which Stub is dying to lend a hand. Model building was a frequent pastime in Kreigh Collins’ household (both boats and planes), and the Stub’s comment about box kites is likely autobiographical. 

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Here’s my father, Eric, with his model plane. My dad modeled for Dick Dixon, and this photo was taken at approximately the same time the episode above was being developed. Around the time I was this age, I recall my father still goofing around with gasoline-powered model airplanes in our back yard.

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In this childhood water color of Kreigh’s, I assumed it shows his father at left, with his mother and Kreigh (with a box kite) to the right.


The Complete Mitzi McCoy

Mitzi cover final

To read the complete run of “Mitzi McCoy” comics, The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy can be found here; it’s still available at its pre-order price of $24.95.  


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

The Escapee

What was that noise in the attic?

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Suspense yields to hard-boiled interrogation, and soon enough, the perpetrator cracks. It it is revealed that Dick Dixon’s family lives in Grand Rapids (Michigan), which is a short drive away from the town “Mitzi” is set in (Freedom), as well as from Kreigh Collins’ actual home, in Ada.

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Having made a work arrangement with Mr. Dixon, Stub welcomes Dick back into his home (above the offices of the Freedom Clarion). Shortly, Stub puts his new employee to work.

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The June 12, 1949 comic is perhaps my favorite episode of “Mitzi McCoy.” Despite lacking a single appearance of the strip’s namesake, it has plenty of color and lovely illustrations—several of which feature strikingly pretty women situated prominently in panels 4, 7, 8, and 9. As Dick rattles off a startling amount of boating knowledge (for which Collins likely needed no research), Tim is taken aback and shoots a fourth wall-breaking look at the reader. The episode also references an upcoming “Mitzi” sequence—Dick will meet his hero Notty Pine under unusual circumstances in an episode eight weeks hence. Here, Stub has furnished a wonderful room for the lad. Note the decor: snow shoes, boxing gloves, hockey stick, rifle, books, a radio—and a sailboat model. Kreigh Collins had many outdoor interests, but none that he was more passionate about than boating. 

Most of my grandfather’s boats are shown below. He started small, but as he prospered in his career, his boats followed suit. As a newlywed, Kreigh had a small powerboat, and by the mid-’30s, he owned his first daysailer, a catboat christened “Stub” (a name he was fond of). Around 1950, he was given a 19′ Lightning by his syndicate (NEA)—possibly a bonus for the successful launch of “Kevin the Bold.” In 1952, Collins purchased a 28′ yawl formerly berthed across the “big lake” in Racine, Wisconsin; three years later he upgraded again with Heather, a 45′ schooner. Heather was the boat on which Collins traveled extensively with his family—through most of the Great Lakes, Lake Huron’s North Channel, the Mississippi River, the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, the Intracoastal Waterway, the Hudson River, the Erie Canal, and as far north as Maine.

 


Podcast

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To learn more about Kreigh Collins, “Mitzi McCoy,” and how my recent book on Mitzi came together, check out this recent interview: “Anatomy of a Comic Strip,” with host John Siuntres, on his long running pop culture audio podcast, Word Balloon.


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

The Return of Mitzi McCoy

Seeing “Mitzi McCoy” go back into print last year made me proud, as the comic strip is an overlooked gem in my (admittedly biased) opinion. This early sequence effectively distills its essence. At this point, the strip’s main characters are still being fleshed out, and lesser ones are slowly being introduced. Tim and Mitzi have just saved Mr. McCoy a bundle of money, and Freedom Clarion editor Stub Goodman worries that he could lose his trusted (and only) employee, Tim, to Mitzi’s father. 

In a sweet third panel, Stub describes how proud he is of his newspaper (to his Irish wolfhound, Tiny), and reveals how much he loves his job. Reading through these comics, part of the fun is looking up obscure references (Samarkand?), and the penultimate panel is an exercise in understated beauty. 

While the mood of the first episode was heart-warming, things darken a bit as we meet Sgt. Douma, a recurring character. Something’s afoot, and it could be dangerous. 

These comics appeared as half pages in the Indianapolis Times and continue over the next two weeks.


Podcast

wb banner

To learn more about Kreigh Collins, “Mitzi McCoy,” and how my recent book on Mitzi came together, check out this recent interview: “Anatomy of a Comic Strip,” with host John Siuntres, on his long running pop culture audio podcast, Word Balloon.


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

Thriller Comics No. 24

 

Only 5-1/4″ wide by 7″ tall, Thriller Comics No. 24 is smaller than other Australian edition comic books I’ve seen (below)—they have a trim size of 6-3/4″ x 10″. But as MacTavish Campbell MacGregor (shown training with Kevin on the cover) would be the first to tell you, sometimes big things come in small packages.

Thriller Comics No. 24 was printed in London, England c. 1951, and marketed in Australia. The cover lists its price as “1’–” which I’ve just learned is one shilling (thank you to my wife’s Australian cousin Lorrie!). It contains two classic early sequences, “The Count de Falcon” and “The Search for Sadea;” combined, they ran over a period of 33 weeks. These 33 episodes are split into five chapters and jammed into 59 pages. I say “jammed” because the comics are abridged—as many as three of the original panels are excised from each episode (not even including the throwaway panels!). In some cases, the panels’ order is changed as well, in an attempt to help streamline the flow of action.

The final three spreads of the comic book feature a Robin Hood comic by an unknown artist (Kreigh Collins isn’t credited for “Kevin,” either), leaving me to wish the comic book editors hadn’t bothered with Robin and had ran the “Kevin” episodes in their entirety.

This is a very minor nit to pick, as the Thriller Comics No. 24 is awesome. My copy kind of fragile — I didn’t want to damage it by flattening it in my scanner, so I took some quick photos of it with my phone. Here is Chapter 1. 

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(If these photographs aren’t satisfying, the sequence’s original, color Sunday comics can be seen here). The story continues with chapter two…  

Here’s Chapter 3, which I call “The Search for Sadea,” and whose original comics  can be seen here.

Chapter 4:

And the conclusion, Chapter 5. An avid sailor, my grandfather clearly loved drawing boats of any size in his comics. In addition to “Kevin the Bold,” boats were featured frequently in both “Mitzi McCoy” and “Up Anchor!”

In October, 1965, near the end of the line for “Kevin the Bold,” Kreigh Collins also used Robin Hood in a plot. Here is another cartoonist’s take on Robin. 

And finally, the back cover.

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

Sunday, December 27, 1959

Since my comics collection mostly consists of episodes of my grandfather’s comics cut from Sunday papers, the only other comics of the era I’m very familiar with are whatever printed on the other side of those pages. Occasionally, my grandfather saved entire pages (featuring up to a half-dozen comics), and in a few cases, entire comic sections, so these are in my collection too.

One example of an intact section is the Sunday, December 27 edition of the Detroit News, from 1959. Despite being almost 60 years old, nearly all the comics appeared as one-third pagers. The only comic appearing as a half page is Al Capp’s “Li’l Abner.” Unfortunately, due to the size of the News’ masthead, Capp’s comic is pushed down onto the fold, making it more difficult to scan. (Sorry about the slight misalignment of the the comic’s two pieces).

Not surprisingly, many of the comics’ themes revolve around Christmas (“Pogo” by Walt Kelly, “Red Ryder” by Fred Harman, “Freddy” by “Rupe,” “Will-Yum” by Dave Gerard, and “Dennis the Menace” by Hank Ketcham). New Year’s was also a popular motif (“Boots” by Edgar Martin, “Emmy Lou” by Marty Links, and my grandfather’s “Kevin the Bold”). This episode of “Kevin” is notable as far as my grandfather’s career is concerned—it marked the point where the Chicago Tribune dropped his comic. (I also have the comics section from that day’s Tribune).

Winter themes occurred in a couple comics (“Mickey Finn” by Lank Leonard, and “Out Our Way” by J. R. Williams), and Al Fatally & Harry Shorten’s “There Oughta Be a Law” focussed on a birthday, with somewhat racy results (am I seeing tan lines on that model?)

Otherwise, it’s business-as-usual for soap opera strips and other serials (“Rex Morgan, M.D.” by Dal Curtis, “Steve Roper” by Saunders and Overgard, “Mary Worth” by Ernst and Saunders, “Kerry Drake” by Alfred Andriola, and “Tarzan” by Edgar Rice Burroughs) as well as comics like “Archie” by Bob Montana, “Mark Trail” by Ed Dodd, “The Smith Family” by Mr. & Mrs. George Smith, and “Off the Record” by Ed Reed.

As for the other comic included, “Tales from the Great Book: David and Saul” by John Lehti, I’m not sure if this is Old Testament stuff of the New—perhaps I need a nice book of Bible Story Picture Comics to help me get straightened out on that. (The next volume in “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins” series will focus on his like-named pre-Mitzi strip, and is tentatively scheduled for publication in September, 2019).

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!


Happy Birthday!

Kreigh Collins was born 111 years ago on New Year’s Day.


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

The Christmas Story, Continued

While recycling the 1949 version of the Christmas Story comics, usually only one or two panels had to be recreated, as above. The following comic required a bit more work—nearly half the panels were new (Nos. 1, 3, 5 & 10).

Because Art Sansom, who did the lettering for both the original “Mitzi McCoy”-era version and this new one was still working for NEA, any text changes would go unnoticed. 

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to dig up any relevant information on “Bielefeld Studios,” although it is the name of a television broadcasting operation in northwestern Germany. Somehow I think these comics were prepared for a different entity.

While some new panels were created for the 1953 version, these “throwaway panels” were lost when the comics were reformatted into tabloids.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year! (Or, as they say in Bielefeld, Fröhliche Weihnachten!)

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Speaking of Christmas…

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The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy is available here, and can be shipped to international locations (including Bielefeld, Germany). 


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

Christmas (Re)Packages

Any good story is worth telling more than once. That is certainly the case of the Christmas Story, and it was certainly the opinion of Kreigh Collins and the folks at his syndicate, Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA).

In 1949, Collins used his “Mitzi McCoy” comic strip as a vehicle to tell the Christmas Story. Although some panels showed Stub Goodman narrating the story to a young boy (Dick Dixon), most of the visuals consisted of the Christmas Story itself—Stub and Dick generally only appeared once or twice in each episode. Those comics appeared last year on this blog and can be seen here.

Four years later, with a new comic strip (“Kevin the Bold”) and a proven gimmick, the story was recast with Kevin and his ward Brett substituting for Stub and Dick. Only this time, the comics didn’t run in Sunday papers, they served as NEA promotional material. I’m not sure if any other versions appeared, but the following comics were sponsored by an outfit called “Bielefeld Studios.” 

The five original comics, in tabloid format, were supplemented by newly-created front and back covers and an introductory comic, and the result was an eight-page version tucked inside a portfolio of white card stock. No comic strip logo appeared in the stand-alone package. In fact, Kevin and Brett were introduced as if the reader had never met them. 

The artwork was picked up from the original 1949 version. Occasionally, new artwork replaced an old biblical scene, but usually the only changes were swapping out Stub and Dick for Kevin and Brett.

The Christmas Story continues next week. 

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Speaking of Christmas Presents…

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It probably won’t be delivered in time for Christmas, but The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy is available here. International shipping now available! Forthcoming volumes in the series will feature Kreigh Collins’ mid-1940s “Bible Picture Stories” comics (due in 2019), and “Kevin the Bold” (tentatively scheduled for 2020). 


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

Kevin Den Tapre

I recently learned a bit about how “Kevin the Bold” first was seen in Denmark. Sunday comics often appeared in weekly magazines, and in August 1951, the weekly Hjemmet began featuring “Kevin” (in issue #32). It replaced the Danish golden age strip “Børnene paa Sydhavsøen” (or, The Children on the South Sea Island), a sort of Robinson Crusoesque comic  illustrated by Svend Otto S. Other U.S. comic strips featured were “The Katzenjammer Kids” and “Bringing Up Father.” 

It was quite interesting finding out that the Danish versions of “Kevin” ran almost contemporaneously to the originals (only 10 months after their publication). In all the business correspondence I’ve read between Kreigh Collins and Ernest Lynn, Collins’ NEA boss, nothing was ever said about “Kevin the Bold” appearing in Scandinavia. The only foreign markets mentioned were Canada, France, and Cuba. I wonder, was my grandfather even made aware of this additional market?

Danish cartoonist Freddy Milton has posted a sizable number of “Kevin Den Tapre” episodes on his blog, found here

In addition to all the background information, this fantastic promotional image was sent to me by my friend in Denmark, Asger, who is working on a collection of the afore-mentioned “Børnene paa Sydhavsøen,” to be published by Anders Hjorth-Jørgensen, a well known Danish comics historian). 

Each of the collage’s three elements came from the October 8, 1950 episode (below), and they were embellished slightly with inking that helps tie them together. (It is Anders’ belief that the comics artist Svend Otto S. created the collage.) 

Anders was also kind enough to translate the text that appeared with the promotional image:

A NEW EXITING COMIC STRIP STARTS NEXT WEEK

In the next issue, we will start a new comic strip, KEVIN THE BOLD, to replace CHILDREN OF THE SOUTHERN SEA, the cartoonist Svend Otto’s strip, which has been a great success, but now, after ten years’ progress, is finished.

KEVIN THE BOLD is designed by Kreigh Collins, who has won international fame for his costume illustrations. The action of the series, taking place on the green island of Ireland in the fifteenth century, is so captivating and dramatic that our young readers — and the elderly — will follow it with breathless excitement.

Kevin, the protagonist, is a man of aristocratic birth who has renounced a superficial existence in wealth and luxury to help the oppressed, and as the story begins he has just begun in the service of the wealthy squire Stafford [McCoy] — as a shepherd.

Moorish pirates on their way to hunt slaves make landing on the island. They rob Stafford’s daughter, the beautiful Nelly [Moya], who plays a major role in the ongoing action, but Kevin, who has an invaluable helper in Stafford’s Wolf Dog Scott [Rory], destroys their plans and fearlessly fights their leaders, Captain Zinbad and the traitor Black Jack [Bull Blackie].

Later Kevin comes across and experiences many other adventures, both at sea and in foreign countries. He is an excellent rider and fencer but also understands how to use his fists when it’s needed — and it often is! Over and over again he is the protagonist in dramatic situations that will captivate anyone who appreciates adventure and excitement. Kevin the Bold starts his first exciting adventures in the next issue, so it’s worth being there from the start.

Here is the original Danish:

Ny spændende tegneserie begynder næste uge

I næste nummer starter vi en ny tegneserie, KEVIN DEN TAPRE, der skal afløse BØRNENE PÅ SYDHAVSØEN, tegneren Svend Ottos serie, som har været en stor succes, men nu – efter ti års forløb – er bragt til afslutning.

KEVIN DEN TAPRE er tegnet af Kreigh Collins, der har vundet international berømmelse for sine kostume-illustrationer. Seriens handling, der udspilles på den grønne ø Irland i det femtende århundrede, er så fængslende og dramatisk, at vore unge læsere – og de ældre med – vil følge den med åndeløs spænding.

Kevin, hovedpersonen, er en mand af aristokratisk fødsel, som har givet afkald på en overfladisk tilværelse i rigdom og luksus for at hellige sig de undertryktes og forurettedes sag, og da historien begynder, er han netop gået i tjeneste hos den velhavende godsejer Stafford – som fårehyrde.

Mauriske pirater på togt efter slaver gør landgang på øen. De røver Staffords datter, den smukke Nelly, der spiller en stor rolle i den fortsatte handling, men Kevin, som har en uvurderlig hjælper i Staffords ulvehund Scott, tilintetgør deres planer og bekæmper frygtløs deres ledere, kaptajn Zinbad og forræderen Sorte Jack.

Senere kommer Kevin vidt omkring og oplever mange andre eventyr, både til søs og i fremmede lande. Han er en glimrende rytter og fægter, men forstår også at bruge de bare næver, når det kniber – og det gør det tit! Gang på gang er han hovedpersonen i dramatiske situationer, der vil fængsle enhver, som sætter pris på eventyr og spænding. – Kevin den Tapre lægger ud til sine første spændende bedrifter i næste nummer, så det kan betale sig at være med fra starten.

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The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy, Now Available Internationally

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Orders of The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy are shipping — apologies for any delay. International orders are available—after adding the book to your cart and clicking the “check out” button, there is a pull-down at the top of the page where the desired country can be specified. Find the book here at the publisher’s website.


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