Sjors No. 45 – Kevin O’Kelly

Finding new foreign versions of KEVIN THE BOLD is exciting, but someone else doing the research and taking the time to send me scans of a new incarnation of Kevin is incredible. A huge thank you to my friend Arnaud from the Netherlands, who sent me scans of an entire comic book. In addition to the images, Arnaud provided me with a load of background information on the other comics included, for which I am also grateful.

Sjors No. 45 was published in November, 1968, and this issue is likely the only one to feature Kreigh Collins’ hero, renamed KEVIN O’KELLY for the Dutch market. I always wonder if my grandfather was aware of these overseas publications, but no doubt he would have had a particular fondness for this one. Kreigh’s wife, Theresa, was born in Michigan, but her parents had both emigrated from the Netherlands c. 1900. The envelope of a mid-1940’s Christmas card from Kreigh to “Teddy” didn’t have her name on it, but had an illustration of a pair of wooden shoes.

The comic book’s cover illustration was created by Bert Bus, a Dutch comic legend who specialized in science fiction comics (CLIFF RENDALL, 1963–1965; and LANCE BARTON, 1967–1968). Outside of the Netherlands, he is known only for his take on ROBOT ARCHIE, originally a British comic strip. Besides the four spreads featuring KEVIN O’KELLY, Sjors No. 45 featured about a dozen other comic titles, plus a couple of extras, a “Parade of Stars” that featured current music acts, a page on sports cars, and a crossword puzzle.

I dig the Electric Prunes, but wasn’t familiar with the Eddysons (a bubblegum pop group from Rotterdam with at least one charming music video) or David Garrick, a British musician who achieved some success in Germany and the Netherlands (his video is also pretty sweet).

KEVIN O’KELLY begins on page 4, and consists of 13 KEVIN THE BOLD episodes from early 1966, condensed somewhat to fit a comic book format.

Much of the original artwork for late-period KEVIN THE BOLD is included Syracuse University Library’s Special Collections Research Center, including most of the episodes featured in Sjors No. 45.

I have not yet featured this story arc so these colorful Dutch renderings will have to suffice for now.

Besides the editing done by resequencing and eliminating certain panels, another difference is the elimination of any monochromatic or two-tone panels that widely appeared in the originals. The result is a much more colorful story presentation.

The March 13, 1966 episode features the splash panel that inspired Bert Bus’ cover illustration. That episode also includes a nasty bit of violence by the thuggish Gar against the lovely Nancy—but fear not, soon enough the brave lass gets sweet revenge with a small sledge hammer.

Next up is a version of BILLY BUTNER, by the British cartoonist Reg Parlett, renamed BILLIE TURF for the Dutch market, and a host of other comics for which I have no background information.

The final spread, above, contains the comic book’s titular comic, the Dutch version of Martin Branner’s PERRY WINKLE. Originally titled SJORS, the name changed to SJORS EN SJIMMIE when the Black character Sjimmie was added to the strip. Unfortunately, Sjimmie was originally drawn as a racial stereotype, but a year later (1969), his appearance changed so that it was less offensive.

The back cover featured SKIPPY DE KANGOEROE, who apparently knew how to surf.

Thanks again to Arnaud for the scans and background information, and apologies for this hastily-written post.

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

Taking the Gloves Off

As he helps Brett gather wood, notice that Kevin is wearing long leather gloves.

Yet as he rushes into action and confronts Vasco, Kevin is barehanded.

Below, regarding “Kevin’s quick action”—it must mean the speed he put his leather gloves back on!

When it comes to dispatching villains, it is usually someone other than Kevin who delivers the fatal blow. Having such a noble character, it is no surprise that Kevin’s request to the King benefits someone other than himself. The sequence ends happily with a wedding, and the action transitions to a chapter that will introduce a character who will play a large part in many of Kevin’s future adventures—King Henry VIII of England.

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

January 1, 1956

The drama in the King’s hunting camp continues.

It’s not exactly love at first sight, but whatever Sari is feeling, Kevin is completely oblivious.

Meanwhile, with Christmas over, the Tribune found room to resume running KEVIN THE BOLD half-page episodes. But in comparing its January 1 episode with that from the Times-Union, a discerning observer (shout out to my friend Dale!) would quickly notice the difference between the two.

I acquired the Times-Union version years before the one from the Tribune, and in my haste to get the new one scanned, I didn’t realize the two were different. The lack of a throwaway panel is one clue—but sometimes Tribune versions from this era eliminated the throwaway by extending an adjacent panel.

Here is an infographic showing how the Tribune’s January 1 episode was cobbled together from three different episodes…

…and in case it’s helpful, here are the three full-size originals.

It’s an interesting case of the story being edited and shortened, and it also leads me to believe that the folks at the NEA knew what the Tribune was going to be doing. The action left on the cutting room floor is all about what was happening in the King’s hunting camp, which was somewhat extraneous to the story’s plot.

Next week: the story arc’s final three episodes.

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

December 25, 1955

Caught in a sticky situation in the French royal hunting preserve, Kevin solves one problem by making friends with the French king. But with Vasco lurking, trouble is in store.

Speaking of trouble, for a second week KEVIN THE BOLD didn’t run in the Chicago Sunday Tribune. (Thanks again to Dale for pointing out this anomaly to me). Beggars can’t be choosers and I suppose I should be happy with my Florida Times-Union KEVIN THE BOLD half page, but it’s a shame this one has so much show-through.

So what’s the funny business in the funnies?

Other than DICK TRACY running on the first page, the Tribune doesn’t seem to have a set order for its comics section.

Chester Gould’s strip is followed by some third-pagers: DAVY CROCKETT, FRONTIERSMAN (Jim McArdle, scripting by Ed Herron; Columbia Features); MOON MULLINS (Frank Willard); and DENNIS THE MENACE (Hank Ketcham; Post-Hall Syndicate). The third page features a mash-up of seven Tribune Syndicate comic strips as a one-off Christmas special: BRENDA STARR, REPORTER (Dale Messick); MOSTLY MALARKY (Wallace Carlson); SMILIN’ JACK (Zack Mosley); SMITTY (Walter Berndt); LOLLY (Pete Hansen); AGGIE MACK (Hal Rasmusson); and THE FLIBBERTYS (Ray Helle). Underneath the holiday greeting was a half-page LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE (Harold Gray). Next up were GASOLINE ALLEY (Bill Perry); WINNIE WINKLE (Martin Branner); AN OLD GLORY STORY/DANIEL BOONE (Rick Fletcher, scripts by Athena Robbins); TERRY AND THE PIRATES (George Wunder); DONDI (Irwin Hasen, script by Gus Edson); JED COOPER, AMERICAN SCOUT (by Dick Fletcher, scripts by Lloyd Wendt); FERD’NAND (Henning “Mik” Mikkelsen, United Features Syndicate); SMOKEY STOVER (Bill Holman); TEXAS SLIM (Ferd Johnson); TINY TIM (Stanley Link); and THE TEENIE WEENIES (William Donahay).

The Trib’s comic section again skipped three of its standards: KEVIN THE BOLD (Newspaper Enterprise Association), CAESAR (William Timyn), and KING AROO (Jack Kent, McClure Newspaper Syndicate). Omitting these and combining seven others into a single half-page opened up space for the Tribune to feature a rendering of Charles Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Credited to Don Sinks (illustrations) and Leon Harpole (text adaptation), the story, distilled into a dozen panels, appeared on the back page of the comics section.

I was unable to come up with any biogrphical information on Sinks, but for Harpole it was easier. From 1924 to 1956, Harpole was employed by the Chicago Sunday Tribune—as editor of the early mail editions, assistant Sunday editor, acting Sunday editor, and rotogravure editor and picture editor of the Chicago Sunday Tribune Magazine. That’s quite a few hats for one head to wear, and points to a successful 32-year career at the Trib.

Harpole’s biographical information appeared in a story from the Friday, April 10, 1959 edition of the Florida Southern College’s daily, The Southern. In fact, Harpole had left his gig at the Tribune for a faculty post in Lakeland, Florida, as Director of Journalism at Florida Southern (where he was an adviser to The Southern). I’m assuming the curriculum included tips on cross-promotion.

Six years earlier, Kreigh Collins’ retelling of The Christmas Story was featured in the Tribune; generic half-page MITZI McCOY episodes ran on Saturdays for five weeks. For Collins and his syndicate, it was a feather in their cap—the first time an NEA comic strip had appeared in the Trib. However, despite concerted efforts by NEA, the paper declined to add MITZI McCOY to its roster of Sunday comics. Now, to have KEVIN THE BOLD (his “brainchild”) bumped like this must have stung.

As December drew to a close, perhaps some Tribune readers were also wondering what the new year would bring.

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

December 18, 1955

After a nice, long run of half pages from the Chicago Sunday Tribune, there is a hole in my collection—and for good reason, it turns out. Fortunately, I have 105 episodes from the Florida Times-Union for the years 1955-56. These were the first KEVIN THE BOLD episodes I purchased, nearly 20 years ago. Due to the way they had been stored, there was a lot of ink showing through from their reverse sides, and their coloring wasn’t that great to begin with (so much magenta!), so the initial thrill they gave me has subsided to a degree.

But I digress. Kevin, Brett, and Sari have set off for Paris to try to clear up the mystery surrounding Sari’s birth. Kevin was prepared for trouble, and found it soon enough.

The most rewarding part of blogging my grandfather’s comics over the past six-plus years is making the acquaintance of so many of his fans. The insight and knowledge they share is always appreciated, and what has been most surprising to me is how the most passionate fans seem to come from overseas. While my newest comics buddy is from the United States, I include him with the overseas group since he lives in Hawaii. Dale clued me in to the reason for the hole in my run of Tribune episodes—in late 1955, the esteemed comics section actually dropped KEVIN THE BOLD!

I was aware that the paper had dropped my grandfather’s strip for good at the end of the decade, but this development took me completely by surprise. A look at the Trib’s complete comic section for December 18 proves Dale’s point.

Nearly all of the comics were from the Trib’s own syndicate. As usual, DICK TRACY (Chester Gould) leads off. It is followed by a string of third-pagers: TINY TIM (Stanley Link); SMITTY (Walter Berndt); AN OLD GLORY STORY/DANIEL BOONE (Rick Fletcher, scripts by Athena Robbins); BRENDA STARR, REPORTER (Dale Messick); MOON MULLINS (Frank Willard); MOSTLY MALARKY (Wallace Carlson); SMOKEY STOVER (Bill Holman) and a couple of third-page ads (for Pacquins Anti-Detergent Hand Cream and Ben-Gay). Next up are half-page episodes of LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE (Harold Gray) and TERRY AND THE PIRATES (George Wunder). These are followed by more thirds: JED COOPER, AMERICAN SCOUT (by Dick Fletcher, scripts by Lloyd Wendt); WINNIE WINKLE (Martin Branner); and THE FLIBBERTYS (Ray Helle). Beneath a half-page DONDI (Irwin Hasen, script by Gus Edson) is LOLLY (a third-page by Pete Hansen) and the topper ZE GEN’RAL (Bob Leffingwell). Toward the back of the comics section is another raft of third-pagers: SMILIN’ JACK (Zack Mosley); FERD’NAND (Henning “Mik” Mikkelsen, United Features Syndicate); DENNIS THE MENACE (Hank Ketcham; Post-Hall Syndicate); DAVY CROCKETT, FRONTIERSMAN (Jim McArdle, scripting by Ed Herron; Columbia Features); TEXAS SLIM (Ferd Johnson); and THE TEENIE WEENIES (William Donahay). The back page of the section has a vertical half page version of GASOLINE ALLEY (Bill Perry) flanked by an ad for Mennen gift sets.

Tribune comic sections didn’t usually run so many ads, but this was the Christmas season, and something had to give. Besides KEVIN THE BOLD (Newspaper Enterprise Association), the section was also missing CAESAR (William Timyn) and KING AROO (Jack Kent; McClure Newspaper Syndicate).

Continued next week…

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

The Patient Is Fine

Recapping: Sari, reputedly an heiress, is pursued by a villain, who to this point is unnamed. He is Vasco, and with a thug doing his bidding, has just abducted Brett.

As Kevin searches for Brett, Sir Fleming speaks with his physician and recounts a sad chapter from his life. Meanwhile, Vasco has plans of his own.

Sari narrowly escapes danger, Brett is freed, and things seem to take a turn for the better.

The physician is called on to check on Sari. I’m no doctor, but I think she looks fine. Each time Collins draws her character, she is absolutely lovely. However, danger lurks, and next week the story takes a very unexpected twist..

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

Sari not Sorry

Reunited, Kevin and Brett find time to catch up.

Kevin’s timing is exquisite, and he has found a new purpose.

Only the scar? Perhaps Kevin noticed other distinctive qualities about the lovely Sari.

Sari’s guardians are found—they certainly aren’t sorry! But trouble finds Brett.

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

Power to the People

Following Count Nargyle’s dramatic disappearance is an equally astonishing entrance.

The October 23 episode is a beauty—its two oversized panels showcase some wonderful artwork. The colors are rather unique too—the burgundy in the first frame and the ghostly, almost psychedelic trees looming in the background of the last seem to come from a different palette.

Meanwhile, with his options limited, Count Nargyle makes important concessions to the beggars of the forest.

The reunion between Kevin and Brett inspired Kreigh Collins to employ a favorite pose—a boy playing leapfrog.

It first appeared in an episode of BIBLE STORIES COMICS (far right, c. 1944) and then twice in KEVIN THE BOLD (October 30, 1955 and December 15 1963). Collins used it a final time in his last NEA feature, UP ANCHOR!, where it popped up in a “Water Lore” topper from 1968.

Next week, the story of Brett meting the beggars of the forest continues, and another lovely lass is introduced.

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

Gone in a Flash

Suddenly, Kevin makes a desperate bid for freedom.

With a second leap, he leaves Count Nargyle and his henchmen behind—only to be caught again!

As for that splash panel, where have I seen it before?

Kevin the Bold: Sunday Adventures” collects nearly three years’ worth of episodes—including this current chapter; they are presented in a black and white tabloid format, from original proofs (for all but a few episodes). Anyway, back to the story.

The beggars of the forest act quickly in dealing with the “spy,” but lady luck soon smiles upon Kevin.

Oh—to be saved from death by a beautiful girl! Inspired, Kevin quickly hatches an audacious plan.

To be continued…

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

The Clock Strikes Thirteen

The chapter continues with three more beautifully-drawn episodes. Of note, each of the ten episodes includes a double-decked splash panel. The September 11 installment features one with a wonderful rendering of the town’s imposing bell tower (possibly inspired by the famous Belfry of Bruges); the rest of the episode’s panels match it in quality and drama. Meanwhile, trapped in the belfry, Kevin’s options are limited.

Kevin’s imitation of the bell-ringer is inspired. Nonetheless, it puts him in danger…

…and time is not on Kevin’s side. Meanwhile, lovely Taka eavesdrops on the soldiers.

Another magnificent splash panel, as arresting as the others, hints at Kevin’s only escape.

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