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.
Aware that KEVIN THE BOLD had been published as part of the 1970s Italian comic book “Il Nerbiniano,” I recently learned that Kevin was originally featured in his own line of comic books under the moniker RINALDO SENZA PAURA. It’s a great name for our hero, since Rinaldo means “wise power” or “ruler’s advisor,” and senza paura translates to “fearless.” (A huge grazie to my friend Davide for alerting me to these Italian editions!)
The comic books must be rare—the ones listed on ebay are quite expensive. According to the publishing information Davide sent, 14 editions were published by La Rosa dei Venti, based in Milano, dating from 1953–54. Printed in a horizontal format, the comic books were initially 24.5 cm x 17 cm (9.6″ x 6.7″) and 32 pages long; after four or five issues the trim size was reduced to 17 cm x 8 cm (9.6″ x 3.1″) and ran 96 pages. Here are some of the larger-format issues:
Above at left, the first RENALDO SENZA PAURA issue (53-7-30). The sample interior pages show it featured KEVIN THE BOLD’s debut “McCoy Family Legend” story arc, while the cover comes from the second story arc (“The Search for Sadea”). Above center (RSP issue 53-09-30) also has cover and interior pages from “The Search for Sadea;” above right (RSP issue 53-10-30) has cover and interior pages from KEVIN’s fourth “Baron Von Blunt” sequence. Below are some of the smaller-format issues. Perhaps these were designed to be pocket-sized—if you had deep enough pockets (if I had deeper pockets, I’d own one of these beauties!)
Kevin wasn’t the only character expanding into a new market—inside front covers often carried ads for other NEA titles.
While doing this research, an interesting hit led me to an old book. It contains a very old poem—and by old, I mean 13th century! A reprinted version of the book lists 1788 as its date of publication, though I’m not certain if the following images are from same edition. Below, its title page.
The book, nearly 300 pages long, consists of a single poem, written in over 2,000 eight-line stanzas. The first page of the book has a large woodcut illustration showing two armored men battling, helpfully including identifications of the combatants—one of whom is named Rinaldo.
Every few pages, one of the stanzas is replaced by a woodcut spot illustration; occasionally there are two of these illustrations on a single page. I asked a friend from Italy if she could provide some translations, but she said it was written in very old Italian and difficult to read.
The reason this interesting old book come up in my search results was due to a mention (in the seventh line of stanza 53) of the character illustrated on the title page, “Rinaldo senza paura.”
This old poem seems to be the inspiration for Kevin’s moniker in the Italian comic books. It’s an excellent choice, given the subject matter of the poem, and the fact that it dates (approximately) to the era in which KEVIN THE BOLD was set.
In all, the book contained about 25 different spot illustrations. In general, each one was repeated several times at various points in the book, leading me to surmise that they were decorative, and not specific to the action of the poem.
Many of the illustrations depict the type of scenes portrayed in KEVIN THE BOLD episodes. Above, in the first column, we see horsemen riding with banners flying, a ship being loaded with cargo, and a view of a walled city. The second column has three scenes featuring a king—on the battlefield, in the throne room surrounded by advisors, and watching two men in combat. The bottom illustration appears to show a soldier being led away as a prisoner. The third column has scenes of mounted soldiers preparing for or engaging in combat, with the bottom one featuring a centaur who seems to have killed one of the two soldiers he was facing. The fourth column features hand-to-hand combat; the bottom illustration appears to show a soldier carrying the severed head of his opponent.
While it is doubtful that Kreigh Collins ever saw this old book, he was known for thoroughly researching his subject matter, and many of KEVIN THE BOLD’S adventures were likely based on similar original sources.
Next week, I will be traveling to Italy. Along the way, I hope to find some comic book shops that have (affordably priced) copies of either Il Nerbiniano or Kevin Senza Paura. If anyone knows of any stores I should visit in Milano, Firenze, Venice, or Verona, please let me know! Leave a message below, or email me at BrianEdwardCollins1[at]gmail.com. Grazie!
Next week, a new story arc begins. It features the villain Count Noir, and ran in the funnies in the summer of 1957. The story arc picks up where the action in “Kevin the Bold: Sunday Adventures” leaves off. “Sunday Adventures” is a collection of nearly three years’ worth of episodes, presented in a black and white tabloid format, from original proofs (for all but a few episodes). Available here.
Issue No. 2 of the French comic book Big Horn follows the same format as its predecessor. In addition to Warren Tufts’ title comic, it also features John Wheeler’s KID COLORADO 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. Leading off is BIG HORN.
Full- or half-page ads separate the comic book’s features, which include a text-heavy short story. BIG HORN is followed by the more graphic KID COLORADO.
Once again, KEVIN LE HARDI brings up the rear of the book. It leads off with another nicely illustrated opener—but I can’t immediately peg which episode it came from.
The action picks up where it left off in No. 1, partway through the September 30, 1951 episode.
As before, the panels’ original sequence has been edited, with some of them omitted completely.
(Sorry about the glare in the images—I was taking the pictures on a relatively balmy day in mid-January).
Page 117 was devoted to the splash panel that was featured in an all-time great episode (October 28, 1951).
An oft-mentioned line in biographies of Kreigh Collins is that he employed his wife, Theresa, as a model. The comic book’s final panel is a good example—the close-up of the princess dressed as a commoner. The previous panel was likely posed by Teddy as well. While I can’t vouch for the décolletage, my grandmother did have a very slight build.
Despite the caption at the bottom of the final panel, this was not the end of the episode—it went on for another nine weeks. That action is featured in Big Horn No. 3.
Finalement, congratulations to Emmanuel Macron on his reelection as President of France.
“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 months 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—grab a copy of “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, the Complete Mitzi McCoy.” 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.