Sidling Up

Like other cartoonists, Kreigh Collins looked to his family and friends when it came to naming characters, but sometimes the comic strip characters’ names came first. “Kevin the Bold” debuted several months before Collins’ son Kevin was born, and Kevin’s ward Brett appeared about nine years before my brother made the scene.

I’ve always wondered what my uncle Glen (Kevin’s twin) thought of the title of his father’s best-known strip—at least two characters named Glen eventually appeared, but they didn’t have large rolls. And while Brett played a major part, I always thought it would be nice if  there was a character named Brian.

In a case of “be careful what you wish for,” eventually a Brian appeared—he was a misogynistic cad. Appearing a few years before I was born, It’s not like I was named for him, but couldn’t his name have been spelled with a “Y”? This guy is especially onerous.

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A black-hearted rogue, indeed! (What is especially galling to me was that the Duke’s bad behavior was in the name of procuring a birthday gift, and this episode ran on my birthday).

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I guess I’m not the only one being overly sensitive, the Duke also seems a bit prickly.

Perhaps curious only to me, but in the two panels after the throwaway, the movement Kevin is making can only be described as “sidling.” Not commonly represented in comics—or anywhere, really—the only place I ever remember hearing the word is in this 1965 Johnny Cash A-side. A shame—it’s a great word!

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Here are the first two episodes in color, as third-pages; I don’t have a color example from June 18, 1961.


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

 

Setting a Snare

With his vast experience dealing with both dastards and the downtrodden, Kevin is a quick judge of character. Upon meeting meek Percival Southwick, he must have sensed something in him—and he must have seen something in the character of the Duke of Duval, as well. Kevin decides to make a man of Percival, which he’d done before—a decade earlier with Prince Rupert. Therein lies my beef with new writer Jay Heavilin—in his first credited story, he’s already rehashing old plot devices…

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…Kevin is also back to playing matchmaker, but his clever plot is uncovered.

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Kevin’s first lesson on manliness is interrupted, and things escalate quickly.

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Here are the three episodes in color, as third-pages.


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

 

Changing of the Guard

As the battle intensifies and the zaniness builds, the story arc reaches its conclusion. Here, “having sport with cheeses” means knocking the fire brigade from the rigging.

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The only way this could be better was if it was flaming cheese (a Detroit favorite).

An interesting detail in the April 23, 1961 episode above is how the strip’s logo is partially obscured  by Grommet’s monstrous ship. By the next Sunday’s comic, the old logo will have disappeared, replaced by a new one, and accompanied by the byline, “Story by Jay Heavilin.” While this new chapter carries over a couple of characters from the one that preceded it, the tone of the comic strip’s narrative changes.

After begging her father to accompany Kevin to England, Elsa and her mother set off on the journey across the North Sea with him. Allowing his wife and daughter to make the crossing in Kevin’s small boat—Kevin obviously made quite an impression Mr. Van Loo.

Meanwhile, in London, King Henry meets young Percival Southwick, and quickly sizes him up.

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The new logo was enlarged slightly for the May 7, 1961 episode, below, and looks great—its proportions work quite nicely with the amount of vertical space provided by a single tier of panels. A taller logo meant it took up more real estate horizontally, and apparently Collins didn’t like the tradeoff. As far as I can tell, the logo would always appear at the smaller size going forward.

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Here are the three episodes in color, as third-pages.


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

 

Drough Sabotage

The good news is that there aren’t any newspaper.com images this week; the bad news is that one of the BW proofs was “embellished.” But the good news is that whoever did it, did a pretty nice job. (Maybe I’ll take credit for this one, LOL)

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Kevin is up to some of his usual antics, climbing aboard an enemy’s ship, disabling a bad guy and using their clothes as a disguise. He has one more trick up his sleeve.

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In a couple of episodes from years past, Kreigh Collins showed how a sea anchor was used in order to stabilize a boat in the midst of a storm. In this case, Kevin used one as a brake, in order to slow the progress of Grommet’s monstrous ship. This bought some time for Kevin and the townsfolk time to implement a defensive plan—using fire arrows and… WHAT was the other thing?! (Fire arrows were another device Collins had used in the past, but I don’t recall any other instances of cheese ordnance).

I wonder if my grandfather ever needed to use a drough on his own sailboat—sea anchors loomed large enough that I can recall my father describing their use to me when I was young.

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The drough/drogue/sea anchor also was featured in the topper “Water Lore” for Collins’ final NEA comic, “Up Anchor!”

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Here are the three episodes in color, as third-pages.

 


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

 

Premature Celebration

Kevin finally arrives to warn the local officials of Grommet’s nefarious scheme.

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All together now, a polder is land reclaimed from the sea! This WILL be on the test!

The explosion has destroyed the dyke, and the Van Loo family struggles to stay afloat among the flotsam. The panel in the lower left corner shows poor Elsa and her little dog (modeled after the Collins family’s former spaniel, Inky) struggling.

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While Kevin has saved Elsa, he also seems to have broken her heart.

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As Grommet prematurely celebrates, Kevin boldly confronts him.

Here are the three episodes in color, as third-pages.

And here are a couple of Collins’ other renderings of Inky, from the 1930s.

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

 

Polder Plots and Plotz

While the Spaniards are plotting about the polder, I’m plotzing because I don’t have color half pages to post. Nonetheless, King Henry brings Kevin up to speed on the situation.

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For the second consecutive week, the term “polder” was defined by way of an asterisk and an explanatory caption. While “Kevin the Bold” often had arcane or foreign terms explained in this fashion, it was unusual for the comic strip to be so heavy-handed about it. This was most certainly done at the request of Collins’ boss, Ernest Lynn, who repeatedly made the point that each episodes needed to be understood by readers who might’ve missed previous installments. It’s a fair point, within reason, but there is also a point where enough is enough (we haven’t reached it yet!).

Luck was on Kevin’s side—his passage to the Netherlands was indeed swift, and a chance encounter with young Elsa Van Loo puts him exactly where he needs to be.

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Tired of the newspapers.com downloads? I’m afraid the BW proof I have for the next episode isn’t much of an improvement. Which do you prefer? I’d love to hear your opinion.

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Despite his good fortune, has Kevin arrived too late?

Here are the three episodes in color, as third-pages.


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

 

The Turkish Cannon

While the next two story arcs contain overlapping characters, there is a pretty significant difference between them. The first sequence has only Kreigh Collins’ byline, whereas the one that follows is the first to carry the additional credit, “Story by Jay Heavilin.”

Sadly, I do not have color half pages for any of the comics, third-page versions seem most common for “Kevin the Bold” at this point in its run. Instead, I will post black and white half-page versions (usually syndicate proofs, with occasional BW downloads from newspapers.com), and supplement them with color third-page versions at the end.

The January 29, 1961 episode, below, is the transitionary episode at the end of one of my favorite sequences, featuring “Hercules.” That story arc ran previously. This sequence references the  then-current competition between Spain and England for trade—here, a fearsome weapon is being imported from Constantinople by a traitorous Dutch mercenary, which the Spaniards hope will give them the upper hand.

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The English spy has stowed away by climbing into an empty barrel, a plot device Collins used by Moya McCoy in his strip’s opening sequence.

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The next two episodes are ones for which I don’t have great examples. (And that hiding in the barrel ploy never seems to work).

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Hans Grommet is certainly arrogant, and his cockiness is decidedly a flaw. As the action shifts to the Netherlands, new characters are introduced.

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That’s a fine spy glass!

I don’t know who added the color—likely one of Kreigh’s grandchildren. I have vague memories of hanging out in my grandfather’s studio, after he had died, reading through stacks of printed comics, but what I remember are the NEA Daily and Sunday Comics publications, not proofs like the one festooned with watercolors above. At this point, my family lived in western New York state, and our trips to Ada, Michigan were sporadic. So I’m guessing either of my cousins Josh or Karen were serving as colorist. No matter, I’ve heard these adornments lend the episodes a certain charm.

Here are the three episodes in color, as third-pages.


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

 

Sunday, September 17, 1950

Presenting a Sunday comic section from the New York Sunday Mirror. Paging through it, I’m struck by the large number of different syndicates represented—by my count, eight.

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As usual, Ham Fisher’s “Joe Palooka” (distributed by McNaught Syndicate, Inc.) ran on the front page, followed by Milton Caniff’s “Steve Canyon” (King Features) and “Mickey Finn” by Lank Leonard (McNaught). Next up are “Kerry Drake,” drawn by Alfred Andriola and written by an uncredited Allen Saunders, and “Rex Morgan, MD” by Bradley and Edgington (both distributed by Publishers Syndicate). Harry Hanand’s silent comic “Louie” (Press Features, Inc.) and  “Superman,” by either Stan Kaye or Wayne Boring (McLure Newspaper Syndicate) are followed by a half-tab version of “The Flop Family” by Swan (King Features), an advertisement for Ben Gay, and Carl Anderson’s “Henry.”

Because the comics came from different syndicates, they had different dimensions, and in some cases filler was needed at the bottom of a page. Trading cards for “Captain Easy” and “Joe Palooka” were hawked beneath the “Mickey Finn” episode, and tiny bills of play money ran beneath  “Henry” ($10) and “Kerry Drake” ($2). “Rex Morgan,” “Louie,” and “Dixie Dugan” had customized footers featuring characters from their strips, and a couple other pages had more generic footers with characters from all of the Mirror‘s lineup.

Next up in the Sunday Mirror section was Kreigh Collins’ “Mitzi McCoy.” Before I bought this section, I owned a couple versions of the September 17 episode, but they were third-page versions—one in color and the other a black and white version from the Saturday edition of the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Press. Despite the awkward spaces added between its frames, I prefer the BW version in large part because the earring Stub finds in the sixth frame is more obvious. (When I first saw this episode I was confused as to what had happened).

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When I was putting together my book, The Complete Mitzi McCoy, I was stymied by a half dozen episodes like the one above—I only had third-page versions. Eventually, I found a tabloid example from the Free Press Weekly Prairie Farmer (a newspaper from Winnipeg, Manitoba). As a tabloid, it was missing its throwaway panel—which in this case, was not to be missed. So I splurged an bought the entire Sunday Mirror section.

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I think it’s an attractive little panel!

Accompanying Kreigh Collins’ “Mitzi McCoy” (NEA) was Marty Links’ “Bobby Sox,” (about a year before she changed its title to the better-known “Emmy Lou” (distributed by Consolidated News Features).

Most of the remaining comics are more NEA features, Merrill Blossar’s “Freckles and His Friends” (plus the topper “Hector”), Roy Crane’s “Captain Easy,” probably drawn here by Walt Scott, V.T. Hamlin’s “Alley Oop,” “Boots” by Martin, “Out Our Way featuring the Willets,” by J.R. Williams, and “Our Boarding House”. The other strips rounding out the section were McEvoy and Strieber’s “Dixie Dugan” (McNaught), ads for Colgate toothpaste and Philip Morris cigarettes, and “Lil’ Abner” by Al Capp (United Features Syndicate).

 

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Catch Her if You Can!

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I’m sorry to report that purchasing a copy of The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, The Complete Mitzi McCoy, can be a bit of a challenge. I’d heard there were problems with orders placed on my publisher’s website; sadly, I can confirm that this is true (I’m still waiting for the copy I ordered in November <frown emoji>) .

I would recommend checking out other vendors: Amazon, AbeBooks.com, or Alibris.com.


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

The Coward’s Coat

Last week’s episode ended with a flurry of activity—Louise was bound and gagged, and Jacob inadvertently started a fire, which quickly spread.

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Too late, Kevin discover’s Sir Guy’s secret weapon, but as the story concludes, Sir Guy will get his just desserts.

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Ain’t karma’s a bitch?


All That and More

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The two story arcs just presented—plus a dozen more!—are featured in the collection “Kevin the Bold: Sunday Adventures September 5, 1954 to June 2, 1957”.

Compiled by Eisner Award-winning comics historian Frank M. Young, the collection is available online from Amazon (a bargain at $14.99).

As Described on the back cover: Unjustly neglected in newspaper comics histories, Kreigh Collins’ Kevin the Bold is one of the 1950s’ best, with outstanding artwork and witty scripting. Here are close to three years of Kevin (and Collins) at the top of their game, sourced from rare syndicate proofs.


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

Sir Guy’s Revenge

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The pirates picked a fight with the wrong crew—even the “gentle” artist Stephen gets into the act. (It’s always interesting to note how Kreigh Collins portrayed artists in his comics).

Louise Essex is slowly coming to her senses; unfortunately, she’s still a bit naive.

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Kind of a funny thing, lovely Louise is running around and can’t seem to make an impression on the men—meanwhile they’re both headed to the shore, to scrutinize the same boat.

Jacob Merrily, an acquaintance of Stephen’s, was introduced during the previous sequence—in the March 4 episode. When Stephen went into hiding, the kindly old sailor gave him shelter; following a chance encounter with Louise, his protective instincts kick in again.

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Sadly, things didn’t work out the way Jacob had intended.

Next, will Stephen stop for lunch? Or will Kevin persuade him to investigate the smoke first? Check back next week for this story’s conclusion!


Note to readers: I know you’re situated all over the world, but wherever you are, I hope you are healthy and safe from the coronavirus. The situation is getting a bit worse where I am, in northern New Jersey, but at this point my family and I are fine. I sincerely hope the same is true for you.


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