“Kevin le Hardi” was included as part of five French “Big Horn” comic books, which were published beginning in October, 1957. The comic books, though small in trim size (about 5-3/8″ x 7-1/8″), were quite lengthy, 128 black and white pages plus color covers. On the cover, Kevin received third billing, and Kreigh Collins’ creation ran on the 31 pages at the back of the book.
Warren Tufts’ title comic occupied the first 32 pages, and it was followed by “Kid Colorado,” by John Wheeler. Each of the comics have nice, custom introductory pages (three pages for “Big Horn.”)
At the conclusion of the “Big Horn” adventure is an ad for “Fantasia.” Next up is a sizable chunk of “Kid Colorado.” I wasn’t able to find out much about it, other than it was the work of a British artist, John Wheeler. Here, it runs for nearly 60 pages—about half the comic book’s pages—and is followed by an ad for “Rancho.”
Now, allow me a “Wizard of Oz”-like transition (RGB files for the good stuff!). Here’s the star of our show, Kevin le Hardi. I know just enough French to make some foolish assumptions about what I’m reading, so it looks like the charming introductory page presents Kevin, his enemy Von Blunt (en français, Von Blut), and his loyal, um, squire (I had to look that one up), MacGrégor (Stub).
“Big Horn No. 1″ features the fourth chapter in the “Kevin the Bold” saga, “The Witch Hunt.” The action picks up with the episode that ran in Sunday comic sections on August 5, 1951.
Ici, a single Sunday episode typically runs three and a half pages (sans throwaway panels).
Au dessous, the September 2, 1951 episode starts at the end of the left-hand spread, and in the center spread, a couple of panels are reversed in order. Otherwise, the panels follow unimpeded for the remainder of the chapter.
Près de the very end of “Big Horn No. 1″ (page 124), the fifth “Kevin the Bold” chapter begins. It features the foe shown on Kevin’s introductory page, Von Blut. The second-to-last page has another example of panel re-sequencing—Von Blut’s mug originally ran on September 23 but it is plopped right in the middle of the September 30, 1951 episode. It works just fine.
Sous the final panel, it curiously states “end of the first episode,” but it’s not even the end of the September 30, 1951 episode! Not to worry, the action continues in “Big Horn No. 2.”
Malheureusement, the back cover highlights everyone but Kevin le Hardi.
Today I am celebrating the fifth anniversary of this blog. I started it in order to raise my grandfather’s profile, and to try to help create a bit of a market for the book I was putting together, “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins: The Complete Mitzi McCoy.” At its onset, I had no idea how long I would keep the blog going, but at this point—about two years after the Mitzi book was published—I have no plans to stop (and I’m not even half-way through the comics my grandfather produced).
Silver is the contemporary fifth anniversary gift; this seems appropriate for a blog celebrating a cartoonist whose work primarily appeared in comics’ Silver Age. The traditional fifth anniversary gift is wood, meant to symbolize the strength and durability of the bond. So, to all the loyal readers of this blog, thank you very much for your continued interest in Kreigh Collins’ oeuvre.
When I began researching my grandfather’s career, I had no idea his work appeared outside the United States. (I’m not sure he was fully aware, either). I enjoy looking at the statistics WordPress collects—tallies of view and visitors, and the countries people are from—and from the beginning I was surprised at how many readers were from outside the United States. Soon enough I began to discover all kinds of foreign publications that published his work.
Regarding international rights, I’ll have to peruse this contract more closely next time I’m at the Public Library in Grand Rapids, Mich. And check out the signature—no longhand for Kreigh!
Early on I learned that in addition to their domestic newspapers, NEA also had papers in Canada. And because some of these were based in Québec, the episodes were translated into French.
From the Free Press Weekly Prairie Farmer (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
I’m not sure which Montreal newspaper carried this episode of “Kevin l”Audacieux.”
As for actual Sunday comics, with one exception, I have only seen them printed for newspapers in the US and Canada. In most cases, for foreign markets, Collins’ artwork was repurposed into comic books or weekly general interest magazines. I found an interesting two-color reproduction taken from Die Jongspan, a South African weekly magazine for children, which was translated into Afrikaans. This episode of “Kevin Die Dappere” appeared on Valentine’s Day, 1966, about seven moths after its original publication.
The next foreign market I discovered for Kreigh’s comics was down under. Several differentpublishers produced these “Australian Edition” comic books, again featuring both Mitzi and Kevin.
While going through Special Collection #56 at the Grand Rapids Public Library, I found tear sheets of both Mitzi and Kevin comics from Havana, Cuba’s El Mundo newspaper. These tabloid comics are pretty cool, and coming from Cuba, they seemed rather exotic, as political differences had prevented travel between the US and Cuba between 1963 and 2000.
Another hit that came up in my search results was for “Kevin el Denodado,” which I learned was how it was branded in Argentina. The comics ran for several years in the weekly magazineTit-Bits, which was a tabloid.
Sometimes Kevin was featured on the cover, and at its onset, several episodes were combined into one giant spread. In at least one case, a promotional poster was included. Later, only single episodes appeared inside.
Scandinavia was another fertile market for Collins’ work. “Kevin den Tapre” ran in Denmark, either in the magazine Hjemmet or possibly in a newspaper.
I also learned from my friend Anders Hjorth-Jørgensen that his company (Forlaget desAHJn) was in the process of publishing a three-volume “Kevin den Tapre” series.
After hearing about my efforts to publish the “Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Volume 1: Mitzi McCoy,” Asger sent me a Danish comic book in the mail featuring the exploits of Kevin hin Frygtløse.” Asger and some associates have been working on a similar project—reprinting “Willy På Eventyr” (Vol. 5 has since been published, see www.willy-centret.dk).
Kevin also appeared in a Swedish comic book. In Sweden, he was called “Roland den Djärve.” This comic book was in my grandfather’s collection, so at least he was aware of this one distant fanbase (and possible source of additional income). In addition to running three spreads of Kevin, it featured other comics as well.
At some point I also came across a couple of examples “Haukka” from Finland, although I don’t know the name of the publication in which they ran.
Several other times I have been contacted by people from other countries who were fans of my grandfather’s work. Davide even sent me a couple copies of the Italian weekly IlNerbiniano. (I paid him back with a copy of the Kevin the Bold collection available on Amazon that was put together by Frank M. Young).
Another friend, Marko, sent scans from a Serbian comic book called Kevin Neustrasivi, One of the issues had a very nice cover, featuring artwork by an unknown Balkan artist.
The most recent acquaintance I’ve made with a foreign Kreigh Collins fan is Gérard, who sent me scans of French comic books featuring both “Mitzi McCoy” and “Kevin le Hardi“. At this point, I’m not too surprised to hear about more Kevin comic books, but the revelation of a collection featuring my grandfather’s first feature astonished me.
The Fantax covers are especially great because the covers, inspired by Collins’ illustrations, were done by the French publisher and artist Pierre Mouchot (who signed his artwork, “Chott”). And While Big Horn didn’t use Kevin on its cover, he does get a mention there.
In commemoration of this blog’s fifth anniversary, I thank its readers for their continued interest in my grandfather’s comics career, and especially my far-flung comics friends who have shared parts of their collections with me..
The Perfect Anniversary Gift!
Nevermind wood or silver—now you can order “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, the Complete Mitzi McCoy.” directly from me. In addition to the entire run of “Mitzi McCoy,” the book includes the opening sequence of the comic strip “Mitzi” evolved into, “Kevin the Bold.”
The book’s price is $30. For domestic shipping, add $4; for international orders, first class shipping costs $25. (A recent order sent from New Jersey to France took 10 calendar days to be delivered). To place an order, email me at BrianEdwardCollins1[at]gmail.com, and I will give you PayPal or Venmo information.
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 Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, 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 Afterward 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.
For more information on the career of Kreigh Collins, visit his page on Facebook.