Did You Also Know–

That today is Easter, but in 1936, Easter fell on April 10.

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Having to produce so many illustrations on such a tight schedule led to a bit of recycling — in several instances, Kreigh Collins “resurrected” visual references he had used previously in his then-short career for some “Do You Know” panels. Among them were a birchbark canoe, a seated child, a ship’s helmsman, and a black cocker spaniel.

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As a newlywed, Kreigh and his wife Theresa spent a summer in a log cabin near Leyland, in northern Michigan. In exchange for rent, Collins bartered with the cabin’s owner—a painting of the landlord’s choice from those produced over the summer. While living in this rustic environment, Kreigh found an abandoned birchbark canoe, which he restored. It appeared in numerous early examples of his work, including a magazine cover he illustrated that summer for Outdoor America, as well as the April 10 episode at the beginning of this post. (If you look closely, you can see his wife’s initials inside a heart carved into a tree on the magazine cover).

 

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Another example of recycled imagery is found in one of the illustrations Collins did for the Informative Classroom Picture Series, an in-classroom teaching aid. In this case, the ICP illustration of the seated boy preceded the “Do You Know” version by about two years.

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During the early 1930s, Collins produced many large murals, some commissioned by the WPA. One of these included a massive, four-panel painting for the East Grand Rapids High school (which is still on display). The EGR sporting teams were known as the Pioneers, and Collins’ painting fittingly depicted the settling of the land. The first of the four panels portrayed an ocean crossing, and the entire mural was unveiled the same year as its corresponding “Do You Know” episode appeared in the ten Booth Newspapers (1935).

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A final example of this thriftiness of source materials was Kreigh and Theresa’s black cocker spaniel, Inky, who was later repurposed as a 1930s Christmas card.

Throughout his career as an illustrator and cartoonist, Collins frequently utilized his wife as a model. On the example from March 23, Theresa is posed as Mme. St. Aubin. Kreigh and “Teddy” were in their late 20s when he was working on the “Do You Know” series, and on the occasion of her 30th birthday in 1936, “Do You Know” seemed a fitting starting point for a home made birthday card .

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Inky even showed up on the birthday card.

Taken out of context, some “Do You Know” illustrations can be pretty humorous, as when Pontiac tells his French counterpart to “talk to the hand.”

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Next week, “Kevin the Bold” returns, with his travels taking him to the subcontinent of India…


Do You Know–

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…the only place to order The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy, is here.


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

Do You Know–

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To commemorate Michigan’s centennial, Kreigh Collins illustrated a daily feature called “Do You Know.” A collaboration with writer Willis Atwell, it appeared in eight Michigan newspapers and ran from September 2, 1935 to January 26, 1937 (the 100th anniversaries of Michigan first becoming a U.S. territory and then a member of the Union).

Because each panel was comprised of three separate illustrations and historical accuracy was paramount, the project required a great deal of research. The hard work paid off and the feature became a hit in Collins’ home state. Due to popular demand, Booth Newspapers, Inc. compiled these 441 panels into a book, allowing Collins’ reputation as an illustrator to spread.

 

“Do You Know” was quite similar in style to “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.” While “Ripley” will celebrate its 100th anniversary this October, at the time it was a relatively new feature, having debuted 16 years earlier. In fact, another comic feature, illustrated by Art Krenz, appeared around the same time. It was also titled “Do You Know,” and was put out by the syndicate that would hire Collins 13 years later, Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA). The two like-named features coexisted, and it is unclear to me which came first. Even if the Booth Newspapers concept was not entirely original, the illustrations are both entertaining and educational, qualities that would also describe Kreigh Collins’ future comic strips, especially “Kevin the Bold” and “Up Anchor!”

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The March 18, 1936 installment has a very informative diagram showing the relative depths of the Great Lakes, most of which Collins would later sail on extensively (all but Lake Superior). The earliest installments (below) describe a border skirmish between Ohio and Michigan, the results of which are a bit embarrassing for someone whose family hails from the Great Lakes State. 

The illustrations are filled with interesting details, like the reverse lettering on the ink stamp (October 4, 1935), clever political cartooning (October 30, 1935), and despite the time period in which they were published, not only highlight the accomplishments of men, but those of women and native Americans too (November 14 and 1, 1935).


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

A Pretty Little Speech

Besides becoming an artist, the only other career choice Kreigh Collins considered was to become a magician. By the time he reached high school he’d made up his mind, yet magic cropped up in his work frequently enough. In 1937, he wrote Tricks, Toys, and Tim, a unique “how-to-do-it” book  published by D. Appleton-Century — Kreigh’s illustrations appeared throughout. In his later work, subjects related to magic came up — “Mitzi McCoy” had a sequence featuring a yodeling cowboy with a ventriloquist’s dummy (!) — and ventriloquism was featured again in this “Kevin the Bold” storyline.

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If you find a copy, buy it! You won’t be sorry. More information on “Tricks, Toys, and Tim” here.

Unfortunately, Kevin and Tankard are unaware of the current fearful climate in the little Dutch city of Bomen.

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The September 9 episode is a good example showing the difference between the Chicago Tribune’s superior color schemes and that of a typical newspaper. Although the image of the half page version is just a snapshot liberated from an old eBay listing, it has richer colors and and a much more extensive palette than the tabloid.

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The ever-honorable Kevin bids to save his new friends’ lives by sacrificing his own. In what appears to be a cowardly move, Tankard quickly backs the idea.

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Finding the perfect time to demonstrate his talents, Tankard saves the day. Meanwhile, Kevin is appreciative enough that Tankard accompanies him on his next adventure in Ireland, where no doubt he will demonstrate more magic.


The Complete Mitzi McCoy

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To read the 1949 “Mitzi McCoy” sequence featuring the yodeling cowboy and his ventriloquist’s dummy, pick up a copy of The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy, available here.


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

The Witch Hunter

Stub’s warning proven true, Kevin starts to swim for shore, looking for safety.

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After being rudely welcomed ashore, Kevin makes an acquaintance with the opportunistic Tankard. There is plenty of knavery afoot, as geese come and go.

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There is joy in the town, but its counterpart is manifest in the witch hunter, Swatrzhunt.

A little more than a year after the August 26, 1951 episode appeared in Sunday papers, its splash panel was repurposed as a cover for Tit-Bits, a weekly publication from Argentina. Tit-Bits featured other comics from the U.S., and even if you don’t know Spanish, like me, the strips are prettily easily identified. In addition to “Kevin el denodado,” typically there are episodes of “Ben Bolt Campeón,” by John Cullen Murphy, Dal Curtis’ “Rex Morgan, Médico,” and “Terry el Piloto/Terry and the Pirates” (George Wunder). Two comic strips whose names aren’t cognates also run—one is familiar to me (Lee Falk & W. McCoy’s “La Sombra/The Phantom”), and the other is not (“Las Llaves del palacio/The Keys to the Palace” by Fernanci).

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Later, there is more to come about “Kevin el Denodado,” but next week, Kevin’s adventures in Holland continue.


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

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A witch!

With the recent release of the Mueller Report, witch hunts are in the news. The subject came up on a couple of occasions in “Kevin the Bold.”

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Per wikipedia, the classical period of witch-hunts in Early Modern Europe and Colonial North America took place around 1450 – 1750. This actually corresponds (more or less) to the years the events depicted in “Kevin the Bold” took place (c. 1490 – 1668). Obviously, Kreigh Collins took liberties with the timeline while including historical events in his comic strip.

Based on the apparent age of Leonardo Da Vinci, the episode above is set around the year 1510, when witch hunts were common. Ironically, they seem to have returned to prominence in the last couple of years, but that’s another story.

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There are holes in my collection during this sequence, so I can’t run it in its entirety. I was fortunate to have the two episodes above given to me by illustrator/blogger Thom Buchanan. I saw them on an old blog he ran, which I discovered when I began searching online for my grandfather’s comics ten years ago. Thom encouraged me to start a blog, and six and half years later, I did.

The sequence with Leonardo and his lovely assistant Angelina came very late in the comic strip’s run — only three more sequences followed — and it wasn’t the first time witch hunts were featured in “Kevin the Bold.” Sixteen years earlier, in only its fourth sequence, witches were being targeted in the Netherlands. Most of this sequence’s comics are missing from my collection. The images I post here were mined from old eBay listings—how I wish I’d bought them when I had the chance!

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As the preceding storyline transitions, Tankard is introduced, and given his prominence, it’s quite likely he will play a large role in the coming events.

As Kevin sails north on the ship bringing home Sadea, the damsel he’d just saved as a favor to his erstwhile rival the Count de Falcon, Stub offers some words of advice that prove to be prophetic.

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To be continued…


The Complete Mitzi McCoy

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The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy can be ordered here.


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

Kevin the Bosnian

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On St. Patrick’s Day, it seems only fitting to highlight Kevin’s adventures in… Bosnia?

My friend Marko recently pointed me toward some comic books with “Kevin the Bold” translated into Bosnian. Shown above are two late examples published by Lale that sold for 1.5 dinar. Without seeing the physical copies, it is difficult to tell which storyline is contained inside, because the covers were redrawn and don’t come from any of Collins’ original artwork.

Other Serbian publishers also featured Kreigh Collins’ noted strip. Dugin magazine #7-20 ran most of the Baron Von Blunt sequence (originally appearing in Sunday papers from October 21, 1951– January 27, 1952). Happy Party #51-63 ran most of the sequence where Kevin and Brett search for the Hartz family fortune, plus the following one featuring Zyclos the Pirate (April 13–August 3, 1952); #64-65 has the beginning of Leonardo Da VInci’s flaming dragon sequence (August 10–24, 1952). Zenit #10-23 has an interesting 1965 storyline about the lost colony of Roanoke (June 27–September 26, 1965); #45-62 has two sequences, more about the Hartz family fortune and another about Captain Duncan Bellows; and #63-134 apparently contains over a year’s worth of comics (September 20, 1959–January 29, 1961). I haven’t been able to find images of any of these titles.

My favorite is another Lale title, #11, “Neustrasivi Kevin.” It’s obviously an earlier publication, as its price was only 80 dinara. It also features another recreated cover. The cover artwork is very nice, if a bit unlikely—for over 18 years, Kevin ran away from the beautiful damseles he’d rescued—he had unfinished business and wouldn’t be tied down.

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The comics inside told the tale of a kidnapped princess, and originally ran from February 8–May 3, 1959. I found this entire issue online, and have included it below.  The comic book is 36 pages long, with most of it devoted to Kevin. Pages 30–34 feature a comic called “Megdan.”

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And here’s “Megdan.”

There were no images for the inside covers, but there was a back cover.

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For these foreign translations, I rely heavily on online translators, which deliver mixed results. The back cover text indicates there was something like a poll to determine what comics should be featured in this issue. It reads something along these lines:

Dear Readers,
According to your choice, we have prepared for the fall season a series of the most interesting world comics that will be published in our popular library. The editorial staff of the library on this occasion bestowed you on the support and advice you unselfishly provided.


Podcast

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To learn more about Kreigh Collins, “Mitzi McCoy,” and how my book on Mitzi (“The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Volume 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy“) came together, check out this 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 voiceless speak

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Kevin’s tournament skills paid off in the first round of the joust, but by taking the high moral ground he is setting himself up for possible failure.

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Kevin’s virtue is matched by Basa’s treachery, but while Kevin is saved by Hugo’s unexpected confession, Basa meets his end at the hands of the angry mob. 

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As the story of the Field of the Cloth of Gold ends, another adventure begins.


The Complete Mitzi McCoy

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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.

Foul Play

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Sir Basa sets his nefarious plan in motion, and De Cagnes smells a rat. As usual, Kevin remains calm.

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Evil to the bone, Sir Basa reneges on his promise to pay Hugo—and he confuses the stableboy’s inability to speak with stupidity. Perhaps Hugo isn’t the only one Basa has underestimated.  

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In the August 26 episode, the “Ancient Code” is spelled out once again. From the beginning of his time with NEA, Collins had been instructed to repeat information critical to a story’s plot so that newspapers could pick up the strip at any time and start running it—and the same was true for readers. If they’d missed a sequence’s earlier episodes, they could be brought up to speed. The repetition might help newcomers, but to those following the action each week, the practice was no doubt a bit tedious.


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 Predator

The past six weeks’ Sunday comics set the scene in a historical context, taking place during the Field of the Cloth of Gold, and now the action settles into a more local, intimate setting. 

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Surely there could be no harm in offering to stage a joust for an enthusiastic, convalescent child.

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Having demonstrated his brute strength, Basa also shows he is a louse, and worse.

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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.

A good line worth repeating

At the summit arranged by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, King Francis I of France and King Henry VIII of England tried to outshine the other, with dazzling tents and clothes, huge feasts, music, jousting and games. The days were taken up with tournaments, in which both kings took part. 

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After the joust, Kevin was gracious in victory over his friend De Cagnes — but not everyone was so pleased, as the sourpuss Sir Basa is introduced.

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“The Field of the Cloth of Gold” was the first sequence written by Kreigh Collins after a 13-month stretch of episodes written by Jay Heavilin. In fact, the episode above contains a line (paraphrased) that originally appeared in “Kevin the Bold” a decade earlier. 

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Returning to our current sequence, Kevin has the misfortune of staying at the same inn as his detractor, and he also meets a mute stableboy. 

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