A concise account of how young Robert Fitzooth became Robin Hood illustrates why the tale fits so nicely into the KEVIN THE BOLD narrative, and in the October 31, 1965 episode, Robin’s antagonist is introduced—the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Traveling through Sherwood Forest, Robin and his band are confronted by a formidable obstacle. It is Little John, who Kreigh Collins summarily rechristens with a name more appropriate for his comic strip—and his resemblance to the strip’s titular character no doubt helped casual readers stay interested in the action. (Two years later, in another story arc, a blond version of Kevin would appear!)
Collins’ chief antagonist for the 15 years he had been illustrating KEVIN THE BOLD was the abridged third-page abominations found in so many of his syndicate’s newspapers. The NEA created third-page versions by severely cropping the left and right edges of the strip’s panels, but toward the end of 1965 Kreigh took a new approach—laying out the episodes so that that the entire third tier was expendable. Half pages included it; third pages did not.
Collins generally captured the most relevant parts of each episode in the upper two tiers, but in many cases, readers were missing out on some lovely bonus material.
As the 1960s progressed, several changes happened in regards to the production of KEVIN THE BOLD. In April, 1961, it sported a new logo, and for a couple years, Jay Heavilin took over the strip’s writing. By 1964, NEA Features Director Ernest Lynn had handed over supervision of the strip to NEA staffer Robert Molyneux. In 1965, the prevalence of newspapers running the dreaded one-third page format led to a brilliant new way of dealing with this unfortunate situation, and in another development, the name of the story arc occasionally started appeared in conjunction with the strip’s logo.
The first chapter to include this minor embellishment to the logo was “A Story of Robin Hood.”
On his way back from the New World settlement at Jamestown, Kevin begins recounting the tale of Robin Hood to Saigen, a young indigenous boy with whom he is traveling to England. Having an adult narrate a tale to a child was a device Kreigh Collins employed periodically, but Saigen’s appearance leads to some unfortunate stereotypes, language-wise. Looking beyond that, the reader sees a warm relationship between the two, as shown in the transitional episode from October 10.
Recounting the oft-told tale of Robin Hood could also be seen as a sign that original ideas for story arcs were beginning to dry up.
I’m not overly familiar with the story of Robin Hood—the last version I’ve seen was Mel Brooks’ Men in Tights—so perhaps I can benefit from a more traditional account, like learning how Robin and Marian were slated for an arranged marriage. Meanwhile, Robin is off to see the King.
Having been duped into killing the one of the King’s deer, the October 24 episode concludes with three ominous panels whose silence adds to the suspense.
Here is another Sunday Times Mirror section I acquired while putting together The Complete Mitzi McCoy. As usual, Ham Fisher’s “Joe Palooka” leads off, followed by Milt Caniff’s “Steve Canyon” and “Mickey Finn,” by Lank Leonard. Next up is “Kerry Drake,” by Alfred Andriola/Allen Saunders and “Superman” by Wayne Boring (and likely Stan Kaye). Next is Merrill Blossar’s “Freckles and His Friends,” which shares a page with an ad for Colgate Dental Cream (I’ve never heard that term instead of “toothpaste” before), and Frank Miller’s “Barney Baxter in the Air.”
Found in the comics section’s center spread was the half-tab “Mitzi McCoy” episode I was looking for. Lacking an appearance by its titular character, it is one of my favorite episodes nonetheless. Beneath “Mitzi” is a pretty sweet ad for Rinso detergent; facing that is “The Flop Family” by Swan, alongside a Phillip Morris cigarette ad.
Roy Crane’s “Captain Easy” and V.T. Hamlin’s “Alley Oop” share the next page; by “Henry” by Carl Anderson follows. Next up, “Bobby Sox” by Marty Links, and “Rex Morgan, MD” by Bradley and Edgington. Sharing the page with an ad for Ajax Cleanser is “Boots” by Martin. Harry Hanand’s “Louie” follows, sharing a page with a nicely illustrated Pepsi ad. Then it’s “Out Our Way featuring the Willets,” by J.R. Williams, and “Our Boarding House.”
Taking its usual spot on the back cover is “Lil’ Abner” by Al Capp.
“The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, the Complete Mitzi McCoy,” features all eleven of its story arcs, plus the transitional sequence where the comic strips morphs into KEVIN THE BOLD.
MITZI McCOY ran from 1948 to 1950 and showcased Kreigh Collins’ skill as an illustrator and storyteller. His picturesque landscapes, lovely character designs, and thrilling action sequences brimmed with detail and charm, and the strip’s ensemble cast rotated in and out of the spotlight taking turns as protagonists in the dozen story arcs collected in this volume. The last story collected in “The Complete Mitzi McCoy” is the narrative bridge that set Collins and his characters off on a new journey, beautifully told for the next couple of decades in the much-lauded adventure strip Kevin the Bold.
The collection includes an introduction by Eisner Award-winning author Frank M. Young, an afterword by Ithaca College’s Ed Catto, and previously unpublished artwork and photos. Longtime comics artist Butch Guice also provides a new pin-up of the character Mitzi McCoy.
The book’s price is $30. For domestic shipping, add $4; for international orders, add $25 for first class shipping. To place an order, leave a comment below or email me at BrianEdwardCollins1[at]gmail.com, and I will give you PayPal or Venmo information.
A commotion caused by the apparent change in tournament combatants causes a delay, much to the King’s displeasure.
Following the knight’s code of conduct puts Kevin at a disadvantage, facing a scoundrel such as Bruce Black.
Saved by his impeccable instincts, Kevin witnesses his opponent self-destruct.
The matter of Conovanshire’s title is settled by the King who, despite his surprise in bumping into Kevin, has a new task for the him—which certainly helps move the story along. That action, posted previously, continues here.
Motivated by finding booze, the guards make some questionable decisions.
As previously mentioned, much of my comics collection was given to me by Kreigh Collins’ son Kevin. Uncle Kevin gave me tons of Sundays, plus numerous black and white bromide proofs. I have most of the bromides for this story arc, but one is missing—March 30. The episode was a favorite, and the framed proof hangs Kevins dining room.
The April 6 episode starts with a gorgeous silhouetted splash panel and includes a lovely closeup of the conniving Kay. In between, Kevin’s good nature lands him in a world of pain.
The following chapter is from the spring of 1958, and most its scans were provided by my friend Arnaud. The first several episodes introduce new characters, and while Kevin is mentioned at the end of the second, he doesn’t make an appearance until the fourth one.
With a name like Bruce Black, he is clearly the villain—yet the loutish thug certainly has a comely, yet conniving, lady friend.
Published in late 1957, issue No. 3 of the French comic book Big Horn follows the same format as its two predecessors. In addition to Warren Tufts’ title comic, it also features John Wheeler’s KID COLORADO, a short story, and Kreigh Collins’ KEVIN LE HARDI (“Kevin the Bold“).
Because these comic books are so thick (132 pages), they don’t scan very well. These images are photos I took outside with the comic book spread flat beneath a piece of plexiglass. Sorry about the glare. First up is BIG HORN.
BIG HORN is followed by KID COLORADO.
A three-page short story, likely a space filler, buttresses the comic book’s non-titular features.
KEVIN LE HARDI brings up the rear of the book with the action picking up where it left off in BIG HORN No. 2. Originally published on November 25, 1951, the episode features someone I like to call the original Princess Lea.
The KEVIN LE HARDI episodes cover the second half of the chapter featuring Baron Von Blunt. That chapter begins here; the action in BIG HORN No. 3 begins here.
The final (complete) KEVIN THE BOLD episode covered in BIG HORN No. 3 is particularly dramatic.
Unlike the previous BIG HORN titles in which KEVIN LE HARDI appeared, the KEVIN sequence wraps up at the comic book’s ending, with the next chapter being featured in Big Horn No. 4.
I have a soft spot for comics from the Indianapolis Times—it is the newspaper from which the first six months of my MITZI McCOY collection originated. I also appreciate the paper’s solid reproductions.
The remaining two episodes are represented by third-page versions, which is a shame—for me the only bonus are the identifying labels. Initially thinking it was the handwriting of Kreigh’s wife Theresa, I was mistaken—it was written by Kreigh’s mother, Nora. Because Nora and Stephen Collins lived in a small cabin on Kreigh and Teddy’s property, all the mail was co-mingled, and since the cabin was closer to the mailbox than the house, Nora took charge of the mail. No doubt she felt enormous pride in her son’s career, and many of the saved copies of his comic strips include Nora’s handwritten labels. I have no memories of my great-grandmother—she died when I only two or three.
At any rate, today is the birthday of Nora’s daughter-in-law, Teddy—sweet 116. (She lived to be 101).
Meanwhile, Pedro is still in custody, and Carmine has an audience with the King.
As Carmine charms King Henry, the chapter quickly draws to a close…
…with the suddenly freed Pedro gaining both a job and a fiancée.