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.

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.

End of an Era

In this next story arc, from the beginning of 1960, the villain is Count Stabb. Another, more minor villain would be the Chicago Tribune. After nearly a decade, it dropped “Kevin the Bold” from its pages. Kreigh Collins had lost his early champion, but he would soldier on for for the NEA for another dozen years. The transitional episode below appeared in the Detroit News, but like most of Kevin’s contemporary clients, it only ran a one-third page version. The print quality is quite mediocre, generally out of register, and uses a very basic palette (Brett’s hair has even gone white in the last panel), Fortunately, I have black-and-white proofs of most of the sequence’s episodes.

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The one-third page versions don’t hold a candle to the black and white proofs, and they reveal how much each panel was cropped. Toward the end of Kevin‘s run, Collins would lay out his pages so that the entire third tier of panels was expendable. The small silver lining was that the resulting third-pages had a better-looking composition.

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I recently read that the NEA developed its third-page format in 1937. As Leo Bock would say, “it was a black day.”

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One paper running Kevin half-pages at this time was the Fort Meyers News-Press. The next episode is from the comics section that appeared here last week.

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The print quality of the News-Press surpasses that of the News (excepting the flower girl’s pink coiffure).



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

Sunday, December 27, 1959

Since my comics collection mostly consists of episodes of my grandfather’s comics cut from Sunday papers, the only other comics of the era I’m very familiar with are whatever printed on the other side of those pages. Occasionally, my grandfather saved entire pages (featuring up to a half-dozen comics), and in a few cases, entire comic sections, so these are in my collection too.

One example of an intact section is the Sunday, December 27 edition of the Detroit News, from 1959. Despite being almost 60 years old, nearly all the comics appeared as one-third pagers. The only comic appearing as a half page is Al Capp’s “Li’l Abner.” Unfortunately, due to the size of the News’ masthead, Capp’s comic is pushed down onto the fold, making it more difficult to scan. (Sorry about the slight misalignment of the the comic’s two pieces).

Not surprisingly, many of the comics’ themes revolve around Christmas (“Pogo” by Walt Kelly, “Red Ryder” by Fred Harman, “Freddy” by “Rupe,” “Will-Yum” by Dave Gerard, and “Dennis the Menace” by Hank Ketcham). New Year’s was also a popular motif (“Boots” by Edgar Martin, “Emmy Lou” by Marty Links, and my grandfather’s “Kevin the Bold”). This episode of “Kevin” is notable as far as my grandfather’s career is concerned—it marked the point where the Chicago Tribune dropped his comic. (I also have the comics section from that day’s Tribune).

Winter themes occurred in a couple comics (“Mickey Finn” by Lank Leonard, and “Out Our Way” by J. R. Williams), and Al Fatally & Harry Shorten’s “There Oughta Be a Law” focussed on a birthday, with somewhat racy results (am I seeing tan lines on that model?)

Otherwise, it’s business-as-usual for soap opera strips and other serials (“Rex Morgan, M.D.” by Dal Curtis, “Steve Roper” by Saunders and Overgard, “Mary Worth” by Ernst and Saunders, “Kerry Drake” by Alfred Andriola, and “Tarzan” by Edgar Rice Burroughs) as well as comics like “Archie” by Bob Montana, “Mark Trail” by Ed Dodd, “The Smith Family” by Mr. & Mrs. George Smith, and “Off the Record” by Ed Reed.

As for the other comic included, “Tales from the Great Book: David and Saul” by John Lehti, I’m not sure if this is Old Testament stuff of the New—perhaps I need a nice book of Bible Story Picture Comics to help me get straightened out on that. (The next volume in “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins” series will focus on his like-named pre-Mitzi strip, and is tentatively scheduled for publication in September, 2019).

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!


Happy Birthday!

Kreigh Collins was born 111 years ago on New Year’s Day.


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

Special Man Is Wanted

Artists and illustrators often have models pose for them — Kreigh Collins frequently enlisted his family with the task. Occasionally, a special situation would call for a hired model, and such was a case for an early “Kevin the Bold” sequence. Getting a help wanted ad on the front page of the local paper was helpful, and the Grand Rapids Herald provided some nice promotion for Collins’ year-old comic.

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The “special man” needed to be of a specific stature, as he would be donning a centuries-old suit of armor recently donated to the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Since historical authenticity was important to Collins, having a live model for reference would be very useful, as knights in armor were a staple of his comic strip.

The newspaper page was trimmed so that no publication date showed, but an article on the page had some information that placed it in late July of 1951. The NEA’s production schedule required comics to be inked two to three months ahead of their publication date, and with this sequence appearing in September, the timing of the newspaper article made sense.

The fifth “Kevin the Bold” sequence introduced a new villain, Baron Von Blunt. Was his new Flemish armor modeled after the set from the Grand Rapids Public Museum?

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Most of the early “Kevin” comics in my collection are from the Chicago Sunday Tribune, but the September 30, 1951 comic shown above ran in the Detroit News. (Most likely, the comic had debuted in the News with this sequence). Collins’ artwork is especially strong in this period, but the printed results from the News are no match for those of the Tribune.

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Kevin and his squire, Stub, had been separated during the previous sequence, in which Kevin was gravely injured. Once reunited, Stub fills his knight in on the details of the task he has been assigned — training an army of men to face Baron Von Blunt, the same ruthless man that had already made an enemy of Kevin. The October 7 comic is another beauty from the Trib, with more to follow.

Of note: The Grand Rapids Public Museum has a rather impressive collection of Kreigh Collins’ original artwork.


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