Mistaken Identity

Just in time, Marion arrives.

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In a case of mistaken identity, Kevin suddenly realizes the danger he is in. As with my torn copy of the March 6 episode, it’s always good to have backup.

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While Stephen finds safe harbor, Kevin lands in the Tower. Notorious as a prison, Kevin soon faces questioning from an equally imposing brute, illustrated marvelously by Collins. It seems that only a fool would save Kevin now.

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




My collection of my grandfather’s comics began when I acquired two complete years of Florida Times-Union Sundays half pages (1955–56), thanks in part to a leap year, there were 105 episodes in all. That bit of good news was offset slightly by the middling print quality of many of the episodes. Below, the opening splash panel shows quite nicely, but by the third panel, skin tones are represented by near-solid patches of magenta ink. Whenever possible, I will post comics from other sources.

In last week’s introductory episode, the stage was set—London, 1515. Among a large crowd, Kevin witnessed the arrival by boat of a delegation from Venice, bound for a meeting with King Henry VIII. However, other business had brought Kevin to the city.

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Kevin’s friend Stephen Moore is introduced; the handsome, friendly painter is obviously one of the  good guys. On the other hand, we meet the conniving Sir Guy Thornberry. The two have the same intention, marrying the beautiful Marion Drake.

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With King Henry having given his blessing to Thornberry, and Queen Catherine approving Marion’s own choice of a husband, quite a dilemma has been established. The Queen, Catherine of Aragon, was Henry’s first wife, but obviously not his last. This disagreement is a portent of real-life marital trouble down the road for the royals, and while Catherine’s demise is tragic, at least she did not suffer the fate of wives No. 2 and 5!

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As the plot thickens, we learn that Thornberry’s vanity and jealousy is matched only by his ruthlessness. As with several other episodes from this story arc, the visual is upgraded to a crisp NEA proof—which in this case has a hole cut into it—likely the casualty a craft project undertaken by one of Kreigh Collins’ younger children or grandchildren (moi?). I guess those Times-Union halves come in handy after all.

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

Historical Fiction

Generally set in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Kevin the Bold can be labelled as historical fiction, with its early story arcs and characters being Kreigh Collins’ brainchildren.

After a couple of years, famous historical figures started appearing—sometimes as ancillary characters, and at other times being more integral to the action. The first of these was Leonardo da Vinci, who made a couple of brief appearances in 1952. (Da Vinci would make another memorable cameo in 1967, in one of Kevin’s final adventures).

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The historical figure most appearing frequently was King Henry VIII; in the September 24, 1961 episode he appears along with a mention of a noted portraitist of the era, (Hans) Holbein the Elder .

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In 1964, a young William Shakespeare was a central character, and a few years later Captain John Smith figured prominently.

King Henry first appeared in 1956, and that entire sequence will run over the next few Sundays. The tone of this story arc is different than most of what had preceded it, and it is likely that Kreigh Collins was extensively using other’s scripts for the first time. In between the more historical storylines (with King Henry, Shakespeare, etc.), Collins’ own chapters become easier to spot. This change in direction was caused in part by burn out. According to wife Theresa’s oral history, “Kreigh was always trying to think up the next story. It was the equivalent of writing a full novel every ten weeks.” Giving up the writing likely meant a cut in pay but with the overall ascendance of “Kevin the Bold” and the income it generated, it was a good tradeoff for Collins.

As Henry’s first chapter got off the ground, any time Collins saved by not writing looks like it may have been spent on the illustration. The Florida Times-Union‘s reproduction is mediocre, but the artwork is quite nice, with many compelling scenes and characters.

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To be continued…

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

Change of Heart

Injured in the explosion that knocked the treasure loose, Kevin tries to get help for Brett. He is delayed first by Stabb, then by falling debris.

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Regaining consciousness, Brett (and the reader) are left to figure out what’s just happened…

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…and the townspeople are surprised to hear Stabb’s decree.

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On the first day of spring, one sequence concludes, and another begins—and we learn it is not only a young man’s fancy that lightly turns to thoughts of love.

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

Hidden Treasure

Because my collection has only one-third page versions of the next three episodes of this story arc, they have been supplemented with BW versions I found on Newspapers.com. Quality varies considerably from one newspaper’s archives to another, but sometimes hidden treasure is found.

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While the Carbondale (IL) Southern Illinoisian‘s half-page isn’t as fine as those above, it does have the prestige of featuring “Kevin” as its lead comic strip.

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Count Stabb might have visions of swimming Scrooge McDuck-style in his newfound wealth, but I have a feeling that the outcome might be a bit different. This sequence concludes next week.

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

Powder Keg

Defending a flower girl leads to a world of pain for Kevin.

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I only have a one-third page version of the January 31, 1960 episode, which features a soldier riffing on a quote attributed to Mark Twain: “The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog.”

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After discovering what’s been stored in the wine cellar, Kevin and Brett know they have to escape their predicament.

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To be continued…

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

End of an Era

In this next story arc, from the beginning of 1960, the villain is Count Stabb. Another, more minor villain would be the Chicago Tribune. After nearly a decade, it dropped “Kevin the Bold” from its pages. Kreigh Collins had lost his early champion, but he would soldier on for for the NEA for another dozen years. The transitional episode below appeared in the Detroit News, but like most of Kevin’s contemporary clients, it only ran a one-third page version. The print quality is quite mediocre, generally out of register, and uses a very basic palette (Brett’s hair has even gone white in the last panel), Fortunately, I have black-and-white proofs of most of the sequence’s episodes.

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The one-third page versions don’t hold a candle to the black and white proofs, and they reveal how much each panel was cropped. Toward the end of Kevin‘s run, Collins would lay out his pages so that the entire third tier of panels was expendable. The small silver lining was that the resulting third-pages had a better-looking composition.

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I recently read that the NEA developed its third-page format in 1937. As Leo Bock would say, “it was a black day.”

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One paper running Kevin half-pages at this time was the Fort Meyers News-Press. The next episode is from the comics section that appeared here last week.

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The print quality of the News-Press surpasses that of the News (excepting the flower girl’s pink coiffure).

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

January 17, 1960

This 60-year-old comic section was a souvenir from my grandparents’ southern journey aboard their schooner, Heather. In late 1959, they left their west Michigan home port on Lake Macatawa and set sail for Chicago. The Illinois River led to the Mississippi, and eventually to Florida’s west coast—a favorite wintertime destination (In the ’40s, the Collins clan often rented on Anna Maria Island). Besides his wife, Teddy, Kreigh’s only crew was his eight-year old twins, Kevin and Glen. Heather and her crew wouldn’t return to Michigan until August, 1960.

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The Fort Meyers News-Press‘ Sunday edition included an eight-page comic section, led off by Milt Caniff’s popular strip Terry and the Pirates, handled since 1946 by George Wunder. Joining Terry on page one was Mary Worth, written by Allen Saunders and illustrated by Ken Ernst.

Scanning the outside pages of an old comic section is relatively easy with a tabloid scanner, but getting the inside pages presents more of a challenge. Despite having already shrunk from their enormous dimensions from earlier in the 20th century, these pages still measure 29″ x 21.5″ when unfolded. Pages 2-3 feature largely feature run-of-the-mill NEA titles: Boots, by Edgar Martin; Dick Turner’s Carnival; Roy Crane’s Captain Easy (handled on Sundays by Leslie Turner); Vic Flint (written by Jay Heavilin and drawn by Dean Miller); and Our Boarding House, likely illustrated by Bill Freyse. The only non-NEA comic on this first inside spread was Warner Bros.’ Bugs Bunny.

From my perspective, things improve on page 4. There are two contrasting half-page features, Chris Welkin, Planeteer, by Art Sansom and Russ Winterbotham, and Kreigh Collins’ Kevin the Bold. (This episode is one midway through a tale of buried treasure and tyranny, with the villain being Count Stabb). Page 5 has two King Features Syndicate titles (Chic Young’s Blondie and Mort Walker’s Beetle Bailey) and another by McNaught (Joe Palooka, likely handled at this point by Tony DiPreta and Morris Weiss). 

The final inside spread has a raft of third-page NEA comics, (Pricilla’s Pop by Al Vermeer, Tom Trick by Dale, Out Our Way by J.R. Williams, Rolfe’s Brenda Breeze, Merrill Blossar’s Freckles and His Friends and Walt Scott’s The Little People.

The back page of the comic section had two more McNaught titles (Lank Leonard’s Mickey Finn and McEvoy and Stribel’s Dixie Dugan), as well as the the NEA’s popular feature Alley Oop, by V.T. Hamlin.

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By far, most of my comics are single sheets cut from sections, but I’m glad that my grandparents kept this section intact. (Maybe they forgot to bring scissors when they went south).

Happy New Year! (January 1 was Kreigh Collins’ 112th birthday).

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

Land-Sea Rescue

Captain Smith has managed to get Elizabeth safely to his ship, but what about Kevin and Pedro?

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A somewhat whimsical rescue plucks Kevin and Pedro from their perch atop the tower, but now the ship is aground. The sight of the two men swinging from the yard was likely dreamt up by Collins while sailing aboard his schooner Heather, and similar antics would appear in his next comic feature, “Up Anchor!,” which debuted a year later.

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For Captain Smith and his crew, an abrupt and timely change of weather arrives.

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The story arc concludes within the confines of the third-page format, but readers fortunate enough to see the half-page version are treated to a rather provocative question from Elizabeth—would Kevin finally get the girl?

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

Mad Dash from the Palace

This week’s installment features three third-pages and a throwback half-page.

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In order to help increase Elizabeth’s chances of escaping, Kevin selflessly stays behind to distract the Pasha’s men, who are in pursuit. But he’s not the only one with noble intentions.

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Th episode below marks the 17th anniversary of the debut of “Kevin the Bold”.

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October 1, 1967

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October 1, 1950

To be continued…

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