This chapter, represented primarily by half-page comics from the Detroit News, features a scheming count and a playful young widow; it ran in Sunday comics sections 65 years ago.
The widow (Marie de Grasse) had made her situation clear in the transitional strip that preceded this one.
By the summer of 1957, the Chicago Tribune generally ran KEVIN in its loathed third-page format, and in the absence of half pages from the News, episodes will get the collage treatment—which is a shame because June 23 is a very nice example.
In stark contrast with Noir’s machinations, lovely Marie has her own methods to get what she wants.
It’s not exactly love at first sight, but whatever Sari is feeling, Kevin is completely oblivious.
Meanwhile, with Christmas over, the Tribune found room to resume running KEVIN THE BOLD half-page episodes. But in comparing its January 1 episode with that from the Times-Union, a discerning observer (shout out to my friend Dale!) would quickly notice the difference between the two.
I acquired the Times-Union version years before the one from the Tribune, and in my haste to get the new one scanned, I didn’t realize the two were different. The lack of a throwaway panel is one clue—but sometimes Tribune versions from this era eliminated the throwaway by extending an adjacent panel.
Here is an infographic showing how the Tribune’s January 1 episode was cobbled together from three different episodes…
…and in case it’s helpful, here are the three full-size originals.
It’s an interesting case of the story being edited and shortened, and it also leads me to believe that the folks at the NEA knew what the Tribune was going to be doing. The action left on the cutting room floor is all about what was happening in the King’s hunting camp, which was somewhat extraneous to the story’s plot.
Caught in a sticky situation in the French royal hunting preserve, Kevin solves one problem by making friends with the French king. But with Vasco lurking, trouble is in store.
Speaking of trouble, for a second week KEVIN THE BOLD didn’t run in the Chicago Sunday Tribune. (Thanks again to Dale for pointing out this anomaly to me). Beggars can’t be choosers and I suppose I should be happy with my Florida Times-Union KEVIN THE BOLD half page, but it’s a shame this one has so much show-through.
So what’s the funny business in the funnies?
Other than DICK TRACY running on the first page, the Tribune doesn’t seem to have a set order for its comics section.
Chester Gould’s strip is followed by some third-pagers: DAVY CROCKETT, FRONTIERSMAN (Jim McArdle, scripting by Ed Herron; Columbia Features); MOON MULLINS (Frank Willard); and DENNIS THE MENACE (Hank Ketcham; Post-Hall Syndicate). The third page features a mash-up of seven Tribune Syndicate comic strips as a one-off Christmas special: BRENDA STARR, REPORTER (Dale Messick); MOSTLY MALARKY (Wallace Carlson); SMILIN’ JACK (Zack Mosley); SMITTY (Walter Berndt); LOLLY (Pete Hansen); AGGIE MACK (Hal Rasmusson); and THE FLIBBERTYS (Ray Helle). Underneath the holiday greeting was a half-page LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE (Harold Gray). Next up were GASOLINE ALLEY (Bill Perry); WINNIE WINKLE (Martin Branner); AN OLD GLORY STORY/DANIEL BOONE (Rick Fletcher, scripts by Athena Robbins); TERRY AND THE PIRATES (George Wunder); DONDI (Irwin Hasen, script by Gus Edson); JED COOPER, AMERICAN SCOUT (by Dick Fletcher, scripts by Lloyd Wendt); FERD’NAND (Henning “Mik” Mikkelsen, United Features Syndicate); SMOKEY STOVER (Bill Holman); TEXAS SLIM (Ferd Johnson); TINY TIM (Stanley Link); and THE TEENIE WEENIES (William Donahay).
The Trib’s comic section again skipped three of its standards: KEVIN THE BOLD (Newspaper Enterprise Association), CAESAR (William Timyn), and KING AROO (Jack Kent, McClure Newspaper Syndicate). Omitting these and combining seven others into a single half-page opened up space for the Tribune to feature a rendering of Charles Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Credited to Don Sinks (illustrations) and Leon Harpole (text adaptation), the story, distilled into a dozen panels, appeared on the back page of the comics section.
I was unable to come up with any biogrphical information on Sinks, but for Harpole it was easier. From 1924 to 1956, Harpole was employed by the Chicago Sunday Tribune—as editor of the early mail editions, assistant Sunday editor, acting Sunday editor, and rotogravure editor and picture editor of the Chicago Sunday Tribune Magazine. That’s quite a few hats for one head to wear, and points to a successful 32-year career at the Trib.
Harpole’s biographical information appeared in a story from the Friday, April 10, 1959 edition of the Florida Southern College’s daily, The Southern. In fact, Harpole had left his gig at the Tribune for a faculty post in Lakeland, Florida, as Director of Journalism at Florida Southern (where he was an adviser to The Southern). I’m assuming the curriculum included tips on cross-promotion.
Six years earlier, Kreigh Collins’ retelling of The Christmas Story was featured in the Tribune; generic half-page MITZI McCOY episodes ran on Saturdays for five weeks. For Collins and his syndicate, it was a feather in their cap—the first time an NEA comic strip had appeared in the Trib. However, despite concerted efforts by NEA, the paper declined to add MITZI McCOY to its roster of Sunday comics. Now, to have KEVIN THE BOLD (his “brainchild”) bumped like this must have stung.
As December drew to a close, perhaps some Tribune readers were also wondering what the new year would bring.
After a nice, long run of half pages from the Chicago Sunday Tribune, there is a hole in my collection—and for good reason, it turns out. Fortunately, I have 105 episodes from the Florida Times-Union for the years 1955-56. These were the first KEVIN THE BOLD episodes I purchased, nearly 20 years ago. Due to the way they had been stored, there was a lot of ink showing through from their reverse sides, and their coloring wasn’t that great to begin with (so much magenta!), so the initial thrill they gave me has subsided to a degree.
But I digress. Kevin, Brett, and Sari have set off for Paris to try to clear up the mystery surrounding Sari’s birth. Kevin was prepared for trouble, and found it soon enough.
The most rewarding part of blogging my grandfather’s comics over the past six-plus years is making the acquaintance of so many of his fans. The insight and knowledge they share is always appreciated, and what has been most surprising to me is how the most passionate fans seem to come from overseas. While my newest comics buddy is from the United States, I include him with the overseas group since he lives in Hawaii. Dale clued me in to the reason for the hole in my run of Tribune episodes—in late 1955, the esteemed comics section actually dropped KEVIN THE BOLD!
I was aware that the paper had dropped my grandfather’s strip for good at the end of the decade, but this development took me completely by surprise. A look at the Trib’s complete comic section for December 18 proves Dale’s point.
Nearly all of the comics were from the Trib’s own syndicate. As usual, DICK TRACY (Chester Gould) leads off. It is followed by a string of third-pagers: TINY TIM (Stanley Link); SMITTY (Walter Berndt); AN OLD GLORY STORY/DANIEL BOONE (Rick Fletcher, scripts by Athena Robbins); BRENDA STARR, REPORTER (Dale Messick); MOON MULLINS (Frank Willard); MOSTLY MALARKY (Wallace Carlson); SMOKEY STOVER (Bill Holman) and a couple of third-page ads (for Pacquins Anti-Detergent Hand Cream and Ben-Gay). Next up are half-page episodes of LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE (Harold Gray) and TERRY AND THE PIRATES (George Wunder). These are followed by more thirds: JED COOPER, AMERICAN SCOUT (by Dick Fletcher, scripts by Lloyd Wendt); WINNIE WINKLE (Martin Branner); and THE FLIBBERTYS (Ray Helle). Beneath a half-page DONDI (Irwin Hasen, script by Gus Edson) is LOLLY (a third-page by Pete Hansen) and the topper ZE GEN’RAL (Bob Leffingwell). Toward the back of the comics section is another raft of third-pagers: SMILIN’ JACK (Zack Mosley); FERD’NAND (Henning “Mik” Mikkelsen, United Features Syndicate); DENNIS THE MENACE (Hank Ketcham; Post-Hall Syndicate); DAVY CROCKETT, FRONTIERSMAN (Jim McArdle, scripting by Ed Herron; Columbia Features); TEXAS SLIM (Ferd Johnson); and THE TEENIE WEENIES (William Donahay). The back page of the section has a vertical half page version of GASOLINE ALLEY (Bill Perry) flanked by an ad for Mennen gift sets.
Tribune comic sections didn’t usually run so many ads, but this was the Christmas season, and something had to give. Besides KEVIN THE BOLD (Newspaper Enterprise Association), the section was also missing CAESAR (William Timyn) and KING AROO (Jack Kent; McClure Newspaper Syndicate).
Today is Boxing Day, a day on which servants, tradespeople, and the needy are traditionally presented with gifts. It originated in the United Kingdom, and is primarily celebrated in countries formerly part of the British Empire.
It precedes Kevin the Bold, who might have celebrated it differently.
I learned of Boxing Day more as a day to share holiday leftovers and good cheer, and this post will follow that line of thinking. In my more freewheeling younger days, my brother (Brett) and I would often host Boxing Day parties where we’d encourage attendees to dress in boxer shorts and play a few rounds of Rock-em Sock-em Robots.
Brett was Kreigh Collins’s first grandchild and my brother’s namesake character was a major player in KEVIN THE BOLD from January 1952 until April 1965.
A character named Brian only appeared in a single 1961 sequence and although the characters Brett and Brian both preceded my brother’s and my existence, I can’t help but feel a bit jealous about the discrepancy in those characters’ roles—though I’d be smart to avoid mentioning this to my Uncle Glen (Uncle Kevin’s brother).
At least Brian, the Duke of Duval, was a bad guy and basically shared a name with a tasty Belgian beer.
Speaking of Belgian beer, the painting above, from the Grand Rapids Public Museum’s collection, with its unusual composition, is unlike any other I have seen by Kreigh Collins. Its date (5/14/31) indicates it was produced while Kreigh and his wife Theresa were summering in Europe, shortly after they were married.
Although there were no major characters named Brian in my grandfather’s comic strips, I was bestowed a cool nickname in the Christmas letter he and my grandmother sent out in 1964. (I was born three days before his third grandchild, my cousin Josh).
With that, I wish you all a Merry Christmas, a gay holiday season, and that you look forward to 1965 2022 with as much anticipation as I look forward to all of the adventures the year promises to bring.
At each others’ throats just moments before, Kevin and Karl are now completely aligned.
The short chapter’s quick pace continues, and with Brett’s lion cub/baby switcheroo, the story begins to transition to Kevin’s next adventure.
Before Kevin’s lady friend gets a chance to share it, her story comes alive!
This story line would continue in the pages of the Monomonee Falls Gazette. KEVIN THE BOLD debuted in issue No. 109 (January 14, 1974), which featured Kreigh Collins’ artwork on the cover. For the next six months, KEVIN ran on the gazette’s back cover, and continued inside until the demise of the publication four years later.
In case you can’t get your hands on MFG issues 109–232, the next dozen or so KEVIN THE BOLD chapters are collected in the book Kevin the Bold: Sunday Adventures. The 154-page collection, about 97% of which was compiled from BW syndicate proofs, is available on Amazon.com.
This short chapter appeared at the tail end of 1954. Its five episodes were all taken from the Chicago Sunday Tribune, and although they are a bit past that newspaper’s prime years (as far as reproduction and printing of Sunday comics is concerned), they are beautiful examples nonetheless. This early chapter—KEVIN THE BOLD’s 17th—immediately precedes the episodes that ran in the Menomonee Falls Gazette.
As noted in the opening caption, the action is set in 1491. The year is somewhat arbitrary—my feeling is that it just serves to peg the action as occurring just before Christopher Columbus’ first voyage to the New World. It was a busy year for Kevin—the strip’s three previous chapters also took place in 1491. These were the first times a specific date was referenced for KEVIN THE BOLD’s action.
This sequence also kept Kevin busy—quite a bit of action was packed into its five episodes, which lacked the longer exposition normally found at the beginning of a chapter.
Having just arrived, Kevin makes immediate impressions on both the town’s law and order man and his pretty female friend. The jealous Swiss guardsman insults Kevin and moments later they square off to fight. Oh, and there are lions!
As quickly as it started, the fight ends, and the two combatants join forces in a common goal, finding the lioness’s cub. It’s all happened so quickly that I barely had time to look up the definition of mountebank—if he’s a charlatan, the townsfolk don’t seem to mind. Now back to the action!
In an odd form of payback, the lioness kidnaps a baby. Brett emerges as the voice of reason, the lion cub returns and… has Brett lost his mind?
Chicago Tribune episodes are preferable to those found in other newspapers—except in cases where they are damaged. My copy from November 25, 1956 had gotten torn long ago, and the remedy my grandfather used was cellophane tape. 64 years later, it left quite a nasty yellow diagonal scar. I often complain about third-page examples, but in this case one from the Detroit News helped save the day. (The tear ran from Mary Campbell’s “hard scotch skull” in the splash panel all the way to the word “Tribune” in the running head). Now, back to the action.
While Mary immediately regrets their decision, Kevin relishes the opportunity to settle an old score. As the ensuing melee devolves into hand-to-hand combat, even Mary gets in on the action.
Things look especially grim for Kevin as Mary manages to escape.
The sequence ends dramatically—and with a unique layout. Instead of a single, double-decked splash panel, Collins includes two, the second being a silhouette. Having King Henry arrive on the scene of the conflagration at the moment of climax is a bit contrived, but there is no time to be wasted as he introduces Kevin’s next adventure.
Happy New Year! January 1 also marks Kreigh Collins’ birthday; he would have been 48 years old when the following story arc appeared. The first two episodes are beautifully illustrated, and show Kevin sailing past the Isle of Sark. As is the case with many of the plot lines in “Kevin,” I was inspired to look up where exactly this little island was located—and I became intrigued by the local talent at the Elephant and Castle.
The previous episode’s splash panel is lovely, but it is no match for the one that followed. The third panel is also masterfully executed—the Strangler is a menacing villain straight from central casting.
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.