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 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.

The Battle Draws Nigh

A surprise visit by Louise catches Sir Guy Thornberry unawares. (It’s hard to imagine what they see in him, but Sir Guy certainly attracts lovely young ladies).

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Shoving  Jacob Merrily to the ground, Thornberry shows his true colors, and Merrily’s comment proves to be prophetic.

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The May 27 episode is a beauty, with especially arresting opening and closing panels. The events are equally portentous with Louise naively sharing sensitive information and Kevin discussing the merits of different sailing rigs. It also includes an interesting sailing term of the day, shouted by the watch. These days, left is referred to as “port” side of a ship, as is “starboard” for the right, but in the 16th century, the left was known as the “larboard” side.

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As Stephen Moore sketches, the battle draws nigh.


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

Lovesick Louise

The action from the preceding story arc continues, and with many of the same characters. Sir Guy Thornberry has skulked offstage, but for how long? For reasons unknown, Louise Essex is smitten with the scoundrel. Meanwhile, King Henry has an important job for Kevin—once he overcomes a certain obstacle.

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The second panel has a nice rendering of the Cliffs of Dover.

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By this point, there wasn’t much difference in the print quality of the comics in the Chicago Sunday Tribune and the Detroit News (as shown below). One detail the Tribune versions lacked was the comic’s date inked into one of the panels (shown in the final panel of the News version). For Trib comics that didn’t appear at the top of a page, with the date typeset directly above, a nice personal detail for me is the date written on them, recognizable to me as done by my grandmother, Theresa. (“Teddy” also frequently modeled poses for her husband and basically served as his secretary).

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The colors are a bit richer in the “Tribune” version, but in the third panel there seems to have been some indecision whether to include a yellow background or not.

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I think the second and third panels look better with a white background.

Another nice family detail is found in the name of the ship Kevin captains. Argonaut was the name of Kreigh Collins’ own sailboat, a yawl—somewhat smaller than her namesake (I think she was only 25′ long). And while Collins purchased his schooner Heather later this same summer, she too was dwarfed by Kevin’s ship.

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Collins and his family sailed aboard “Argonaut” (shown at left in Racine, WI) from 1952–1956, and aboard “Heather” (shown in Annapolis, MD) from 1956–1972.


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

Bargaining with the King

This story arc concludes with three episodes taken from three different newspapers: the Chicago Sunday Tribune, the Florida Times-Union, and the Detroit News. The reproduction quality varies noticeably. Despite being years past its early 1950s prime, the Tribune is superior, the News is decent, and the Times-Union… not so much.

Kevin finds himself in the King’s good graces and is soon made an offer that he cannot refuse. Kevin agrees, under one condition.

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Where Kevin has brought Marion Drake and Stephen Moore untold happiness, he has served an equal amount of misery to Sir Guy Thornberry.

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What’s the deal with all of that magenta?

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April 22, 1956 — The Detroit News

As Thornberry crawls off, tail between his legs, Kevin receives an assignment from his new champion, King Henry. In fact, the King becomes an oft-recurring character in “Kevin the Bold,” appearing in at least 14 more story arcs over the next 6-plus years of the comic strip’s run.

Next week: Sir Guy Thornberry seeks revenge!


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

A Trumped-up Story

Heralded by a beautifully-rendered splash panel, Kevin gets a temporary reprieve, but Sir Thornberry still schemes against him.

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Instead of listening to Thornberry and having Kevin killed, King Henry would rather have some entertainment.

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Kevin quickly takes the measure of his opponent, and impresses the audience with his showmanship.

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After baiting Conyngham and scoring a decisive win, Kevin takes aim at Thornberry. In an interesting choice of words, Sir Guy accuses Kevin of telling a Trumped-up story. A Trumped-up story is, of course, something that is is faked or fabricated. As any “Kevin the Bold” reader knows, Kevin lives by a moral code that would not allow such behavior. Reacting to the slanderous comment, Sir Guy backs down, lest he also face Kevin’s sword.

 


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

Mistaken Identity

Just in time, Marion arrives.

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In a case of mistaken identity, Kevin suddenly realizes the danger he is in. As with my torn copy of the March 6 episode, it’s always good to have backup.

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While Stephen finds safe harbor, Kevin lands in the Tower. Notorious as a prison, Kevin soon faces questioning from an equally imposing brute, illustrated marvelously by Collins. It seems that only a fool would save Kevin now.

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

 

 

Historical Fiction

Generally set in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Kevin the Bold can be labelled as historical fiction, with its early story arcs and characters being Kreigh Collins’ brainchildren.

After a couple of years, famous historical figures started appearing—sometimes as ancillary characters, and at other times being more integral to the action. The first of these was Leonardo da Vinci, who made a couple of brief appearances in 1952. (Da Vinci would make another memorable cameo in 1967, in one of Kevin’s final adventures).

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The historical figure most appearing frequently was King Henry VIII; in the September 24, 1961 episode he appears along with a mention of a noted portraitist of the era, (Hans) Holbein the Elder .

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In 1964, a young William Shakespeare was a central character, and a few years later Captain John Smith figured prominently.

King Henry first appeared in 1956, and that entire sequence will run over the next few Sundays. The tone of this story arc is different than most of what had preceded it, and it is likely that Kreigh Collins was extensively using other’s scripts for the first time. In between the more historical storylines (with King Henry, Shakespeare, etc.), Collins’ own chapters become easier to spot. This change in direction was caused in part by burn out. According to wife Theresa’s oral history, “Kreigh was always trying to think up the next story. It was the equivalent of writing a full novel every ten weeks.” Giving up the writing likely meant a cut in pay but with the overall ascendance of “Kevin the Bold” and the income it generated, it was a good tradeoff for Collins.

As Henry’s first chapter got off the ground, any time Collins saved by not writing looks like it may have been spent on the illustration. The Florida Times-Union‘s reproduction is mediocre, but the artwork is quite nice, with many compelling scenes and characters.

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To be continued…


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

Facing the Storm

Kevin manages to escape with the drugged prince, but when he comes to, Rupert’s confusion quickly changes to fear.

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The November 30 and December 7 episodes are beautifully-printed examples Chicago Sunday Tribune, but Rupert’s fear is somewhat overstated in the second panel below, with his overly worried expression and his jaundiced complexion—indeed, he is yellow.

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A casual reader might see Kevin or Rupert sailing the longboat into the ferocious storm, but what they were doing was trying to keep the boat’s bow pointed into the wind until the storm blew over. A quick check of the term “broach” yields the rightfully scary-sounding definition “[broaching] can cause the boat to enter a death roll… and if not controlled may lead to a capsize or pitchpole and turning turtle.” Knowing how to utilize a sea anchor is useful information to a sailor, and events in “Kevin the Bold” called for the device every four or five years.

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November 24, 1957

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April 9, 1961

I’m sure a sea anchor is mentioned once or twice in Collins’ final NEA comic strip, “Up Anchor!” I also remember my father describing them while we sailed together—I guess they were part of regular conversation in the Collins household.

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Meanwhile, things are grim in Lutenberg, and as Kevin and Rupert approach England, Kevin ponders how to help the young prince overcome his fears.

 


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

Cliffhanger

In another dramatic episode, Kevin faces von Blunt on foot. Calm as ever, and despite the Baron’s duplicity, Kevin continues to fight honorably. The comic ends with a genuine cliffhanger, and for me, this wasn’t the only mystery it held.

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My comics collection came about largely through packages periodically sent by my uncle (also named Kevin). At this point, I have copies in some form or another of the first 15 years of my grandfather’s comics. Initially, I didn’t have many of the earliest “Kevin”s, but I did have this compelling cliffhanger.

At the time, I wasn’t even sure which newspaper it came from; now it is obvious that its origin was the Chicago Sunday Tribune. What added to its mystery was its lack of a date, and the reverse side of the comic didn’t yield any clues, either. The NEA copyright line identifies it as from 1952, but in lieu of a publication date, its panels were sequentially numbered (to my knowledge, the only time it occurred with Kreigh’s comics, and in my opinion, completely unnecessary).

Every year or so (as my uncle cleared out the old family homestead), a new comics bonanza would arrive. Eventually, the gaps were filled (until October 21, 1962, anyway), and it became apparent that this comic was dated January 6, 1952. Meanwhile, the fates of Kevin and Baron von Blunt also became known.

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Von Blunt’s remains were identified by the spectators, but there was no sign of Kevin, and he was feared (and to the reader, appeared) dead. Kevin’s apparent demise has left both Stub and Princess Lea heartbroken, and as the comic transitioned to a new chapter, a new character was introduced.

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Suddenly, sadness became elation, as it was discovered that Glaustark’s savior, Kevin, lived. Kevin’s adventures would also continue. The tale of Brett Hartz and his grandfather previously appeared on this blog, and can be seen here.


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