A news item from Stub Goodman’s Freedom Clarion has reached the big city papers, and the little guys move quickly, trying to stay on top of the story of Mitzi’s disappearance.
MITZI’s third episode is again densely packed with figures and action as the narrative picks up speed. My knowledge of comics history is somewhat limited, but MITZI reminds me of CONNIE, an earlier strip by Frank Godwin. Like Collins, Godwin’s background was in illustration, and both strips’ protagonists were female aviators. A connection between the two artists first happened in the early 1940s, when the two produced illustrations for Hermann Hagedorn’s “The Book of Courage,” published by The John C. Winston Company in 1943.
Near the onset of his professional career (late 1920s), while summering in a rural northern Michigan cottage with his new wife Theresa, Kreigh Collins came across a discarded old birch bark canoe. He set about restoring it, and it became a frequently-used prop in his artwork. It first appeared in paintings, then as a magazine cover, and later as a part of the “Do You Know—” series (a 16-month, daily newspaper feature Collins illustrated from 1935–1937).
Eventually, the canoe made its way into the fourth episode of MITZI McCOY, reproducing beautifully in the nascent comic strip’s first splash panel.
The episode is packed with more arresting content—a racing canoe, a suggestively posed and unconscious Mitzi, her burning aircraft, and some stereotypically-depicted Indigenous people (whose conversation quickly brings Mitzi back to consciousness). Collins availed himself to his “Do You Know—” canoe reference material a second time for this episode. Having launched his career as the Great Depression began, Kreigh had learned the virtues of thriftiness.
Meanwhile, back in the
jungle, er, Canada’s Great North Woods, Tim has made tracks in his pursuit of Mitzi. His 1,000-mile trip from Freedom, Michigan would likely situate him near the northern boundary of Manitoba, on the western shores of Hudson Bay. While the Great North Woods might be sparsely populated, folks tend to be friendly—lucky for Tim.
The chase continues (as do the plugs for my book).
An Overlooked Classic
“The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, the Complete Mitzi McCoy” features the entire run of Kreigh Collins’ first NEA feature, and is available for a limited time at a reduced price.
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 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.
The book is available for
$30 ONLY $20! For domestic shipping, add $4; for international orders, please add $25 to cover first class shipping. To place an order, leave a comment below or email me at BrianEdwardCollins1[at]gmail.com, and I will give you PayPal or Venmo information.
For more information on the career of Kreigh Collins, visit his page on Facebook.