While recycling the 1949 version of the Christmas Story comics, usually only one or two panels had to be recreated, as above. The following comic required a bit more work—nearly half the panels were new (Nos. 1, 3, 5 & 10).
Because Art Sansom, who did the lettering for both the original “Mitzi McCoy”-era version and this new one was still working for NEA, any text changes would go unnoticed.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to dig up any relevant information on “Bielefeld Studios,” although it is the name of a television broadcasting operation in northwestern Germany. Somehow I think these comics were prepared for a different entity.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year! (Or, as they say in Bielefeld, Fröhliche Weihnachten!)
Any good story is worth telling more than once. That is certainly the case of the Christmas Story, and it was certainly the opinion of Kreigh Collins and the folks at his syndicate, Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA).
In 1949, Collins used his “Mitzi McCoy” comic strip as a vehicle to tell the Christmas Story. Although some panels showed Stub Goodman narrating the story to a young boy (Dick Dixon), most of the visuals consisted of the Christmas Story itself—Stub and Dick generally only appeared once or twice in each episode. Those comics appeared last year on this blog and can be seen here.
Four years later, with a new comic strip (“Kevin the Bold”) and a proven gimmick, the story was recast with Kevin and his ward Brett substituting for Stub and Dick. Only this time, the comics didn’t run in Sunday papers, they served as NEA promotional material. I’m not sure if any other versions appeared, but the following comics were sponsored by an outfit called “Bielefeld Studios.”
The five original comics, in tabloid format, were supplemented by newly-created front and back covers and an introductory comic, and the result was an eight-page version tucked inside a portfolio of white card stock. No comic strip logo appeared in the stand-alone package. In fact, Kevin and Brett were introduced as if the reader had never met them.
The artwork was picked up from the original 1949 version. Occasionally, new artwork replaced an old biblical scene, but usually the only changes were swapping out Stub and Dick for Kevin and Brett.
It probably won’t be delivered in time for Christmas, but The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy is available here. International shipping now available! Forthcoming volumes in the series will feature Kreigh Collins’ mid-1940s “Bible Picture Stories” comics (due in 2019), and “Kevin the Bold” (tentatively scheduled for 2020).
For more information on the career of Kreigh Collins, visit his page on Facebook.
My guess is that the tales featured in the three-week “Legends of Christmas” comic strip were stories Kreigh Collins had come across during his extensive historical research. The first week’s comic were unusual, and did not really hang together, but they certainly presented a view of Christmas that is completely absent today.
The longer story of Peter that ran over the strip’s final two weeks has better continuity, but is still quite unusual. While it may be a story Collins came across in his research, I wonder how much of it was his own. Like Peter, Kreigh was an only child; both were extremely devoted to their mother. Kreigh’s father worked as a construction engineer, and while he often moved his family with him as his work took to various parts of the United States, at other times he was away from home an extended period (like Peter’s father).
I have never seen printed examples of this comic. While the quality of these comics is not so great, at least they all have been preserved digitally. Season’s greetings — only 113 shopping days ’til Christmas!
Kreigh Collins’ comics were familiar to readers of Sunday funnies, and periodically there were discussions with his bosses at the Newspaper Enterprise Association about changing “Mitzi McCoy” or “Kevin the Bold” into a daily. Although these plans never came to fruition, in 1965 Collins illustrated a short-lived seasonal daily for the NEA called “Legends of Christmas.”
Running in various small-market papers that were typical for the NEA, the “Legends of Christmas” comics are rather curious, and despite their yuletide theme, there was room to squeeze in a little anti-Soviet Cold War-era commentary (December 8). Take that, Brezhnev!
A tip of the cap to Alec Stevens of Calvary Comics for sending these comics my way!