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.

 

 

Jealousy

My collection of my grandfather’s comics began when I acquired two complete years of Florida Times-Union Sundays half pages (1955–56), thanks in part to a leap year, there were 105 episodes in all. That bit of good news was offset slightly by the middling print quality of many of the episodes. Below, the opening splash panel shows quite nicely, but by the third panel, skin tones are represented by near-solid patches of magenta ink. Whenever possible, I will post comics from other sources.

In last week’s introductory episode, the stage was set—London, 1515. Among a large crowd, Kevin witnessed the arrival by boat of a delegation from Venice, bound for a meeting with King Henry VIII. However, other business had brought Kevin to the city.

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Kevin’s friend Stephen Moore is introduced; the handsome, friendly painter is obviously one of the  good guys. On the other hand, we meet the conniving Sir Guy Thornberry. The two have the same intention, marrying the beautiful Marion Drake.

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With King Henry having given his blessing to Thornberry, and Queen Catherine approving Marion’s own choice of a husband, quite a dilemma has been established. The Queen, Catherine of Aragon, was Henry’s first wife, but obviously not his last. This disagreement is a portent of real-life marital trouble down the road for the royals, and while Catherine’s demise is tragic, at least she did not suffer the fate of wives No. 2 and 5!

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As the plot thickens, we learn that Thornberry’s vanity and jealousy is matched only by his ruthlessness. As with several other episodes from this story arc, the visual is upgraded to a crisp NEA proof—which in this case has a hole cut into it—likely the casualty a craft project undertaken by one of Kreigh Collins’ younger children or grandchildren (moi?). I guess those Times-Union halves come in handy after all.


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.

Tit-Bits No. 2238

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In April 1952, the Argentinian weekly Tit-Bits added “Kevin the Bold” to its lineup. Among other stories and features, Tit-Bits reprinted American comics with Spanish translations. The magazine’s cover art was provided by the comic strips it featured inside (as would be the case with the Menomonee Falls Gazette two decades later).

“Kevin el Denodado” ‘s debut, in issue No 2232, was appropriately bold—in addition to landing on the magazine’s cover, its center spread was comprised of the strip’s first three episodes. For the next five issues of Tit-Bits, other comic strips appeared on the cover, and only a single, tabloid version of “Kevin the Bold” appeared inside. For No. 2238, Collins’ comic regained its spot on the cover, and another three-episode spread appeared inside. (Eventually, “Kevin” ‘s appearance on the cover no longer signified a triple-episode spread inside—later issues only had single tabloid episodes. Unlike some other Tit-Bits comics, “Kevin” continued to run in color).

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This spread cobbled together the November 19, November 26, and December 3, 1950 episodes (shown in English, below).

As in Issue No. 2232, the front of the magazine featured black and white versions of “Big Ben Bolt,” by John Cullen Murphy (Ben Bolt Campeón), and “Rusty Riley” by Frank Godwin (Rusty Riley, Aprendiz de Jockey).  

The back of the issue had Spanish versions of “The Phantom” (by Ray Moore?), “Terry and the Pirates” by Milt Caniff (Terry, el Piloto), and Dr. Nicholas P. Dallis’ “Rex Morgan, MD” (Rex Morgan, Médico).

 


Lost in Translation

The action featured in the epic “Kevin the Bold” comic above appears near the tail end of my book, “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy.” The book features all 99 episodes of “Mitzi McCoy” as well as the ensuing 12 “Kevin the Bold” adventures that following the “Mitzi”‘s transition to “Kevin”. While there are no immediate plans to translate the book into Spanish, it’s pretty awesome in its original English, if I do say so myself.

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“The Complete Mitzi McCoy” can be ordered here.


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

Hey Bartender!

If you’re reading this on November 7, Happy International Stout Day!


Following the lengthy story of Kevin, Rupert, and Madeline, here is something of a palate cleanser. Presenting… Kevin the Bold Imperial Stout. It’s debatable how well a rich, heavy brew like this would work as an entremet, but until someone comes up with a Mitzi McCoy Blonde Lager, this will have to do.

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For most of his life, Kreigh Collins called Ada, Michigan, his home and it is only fitting that the beer was produced by Ada’s Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery.

Three varieties were produced to celebrate the company’s sixth anniversary. Using both original comic strip art and scanned newspaper comics, I worked with head brewer Nick Roelofs in designing the labels, and I’m pleased with the results.

 

The base version of the beer (“Kevin the Bold”) is a barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout, and the other two have added flavorings. “Kevin Goes to the Beach” uses coffee, coconut, and vanilla, and “Kevin Goes Camping” has a “smores” theme, and uses chocolate and graham flavor. These were the first bottled beers that Gravel Bottom has released.

I searched through my library of comics to find images that coordinated with the beer varieties, and paired them with the recurring image of Kevin. Initially, Gravel Bottom was going to make T-shirts with the bottle artwork—unfortunately, this idea has been moved to the back burner. However, the brewery has featured the artwork in some of their advertising.

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I have yet to taste the beer (I’m hoping they are still holding the bottles they promised me), but others seem to like it, according to online beer reviewing sites.

 

Gravel Bottom Brewery’s website is at gravelbottom.com


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

The Four Corners

Kreigh Collins truly had a wanderlust, and his comic strips’ settings reflected this as well. “Mitzi McCoy” was set in Freedom, Michigan, but in its short run, Mitzi traveled to Canada’s North Woods (in her own plane), Miami Beach, New York City, and Chicago; action also took place in ancient Rome and Ancient Israel.

“Kevin the Bold” had an 18-year run, and its protagonist travelled much more extensively—to the four corners of the Earth.

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This dramatic Irish cliff seems at least party inspired by the Cliffs of Moher.

Although Kreigh Collins never visited Ireland, he did travel to Morocco as a young man, and his classic Sadea sequence from 1952 featured the North African country.

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Situated as close to Ireland as it was, much action took place in the Netherlands, as in this episode from 1961. Bruges (Belgium), was also a relatively short trek for Kevin.

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Often, action was taking place in several distant lands in a single comic. The March 16, 1952 episode features Switzerland, northern Italy, and Byzantium (aka Constantinople).

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In a sequence that has yet to run on this blog, Kevin travels to Venice and eventually sails to the eastern Mediterranean in pursuit of the pirate Zyclos.

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Much of the action from the mid-50s episodes of “Kevin the Bold” took place in London and other locations in England; fictitious German towns were also a frequent setting. In Firenze, Kevin nearly bumped into Leonardo Da VInci.

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On an adventure that was published in the summer of 1953, Kevin traveled as far east as the Caucasus Foothills (Georgia, Asia). By the end of that chapter, he was back in the south of France.

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The next year, Kevin rode to Muscovy (modern-day Moscow). And of course, Kevin’s travels were generally in the name of fighting injustice. KTB 090554 HA CST 150 qcc

In 1955, Kevin set sail for Suez, Egypt, in order to return a princess to father. For this episode, Collins prepared a customized layout for the Chicago Tribune, featuring fewer panels and the addition of a nicer rendering of Kevin’s storm-tossed ship.

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A later sequence took place in Norway, again featuring one of the artist’s specialties, beautifully-drawn boats.

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In early 1962, Kevin’s adventures to him to the New World, the first of several trips he would make across the Atlantic.

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The following year, a storm struck Kevin’s ship and blew him off course—apparently around Cape Horn and into the Pacific, where he eventually beached in Japan. Unfortunately, and not so surprisingly, given the era in which this episode was published, the Japanese are shown with a skin tone beyond caricature. (However, by the time the sequence had wrapped, this travesty was corrected).

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In the mid-60s Kevin again crossed the Atlantic, reaching the North America mainland. He saw the location of the ill-fated colony of Roanoke, Niagara Falls, and the California coast.

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Near the end of its run, Kevin’s journey takes him furthest from his Irish beginnings, to the other side of the world, the South Sea Isles.

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Although Kevin’s journey seemingly brought him to the four corners of the world, this blog’s readers hail from an even more diverse list of exotic lands:

Estonia, Slovakia, Bolivia, Bahrain, Vietnam, Iceland, Malta,
the Bahamas, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Albania, Honduras,
Luxembourg, Greenland, Ecuador, Singapore, Qatar, Tunisia,
American Samoa, Costa Rica, Bulgaria, China, Egypt, Peru, Romania,
Japan, Guam, Malaysia, Taiwan, Russia, Macedonia, Puerto Rico,
Latvia, Myanmar, Poland, Greece, Indonesia, Uruguay, Panama,
Pakistan, Austria, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Belgium, South Africa,
Nigeria, South Korea, Ukraine, Mexico, Switzerland, Hong Kong,
Ireland, Norway, Turkey, New Zealand, Bosnia & Herzegovina,
Philippians, Finland, Hungary, Chile, Australia, India, Argentina,
Thailand, Colombia, United Kingdom, Germany, Serbia, Denmark,
Canada, Sweden, Netherlands, Brazil, Croatia, Portugal, Spain,
Italy, France, and (not as exotic to me), the United States

In commemoration of this blog’s fourth anniversary, I thank its readers for their continued interest in my grandfather’s comics career.


The Perfect Anniversary Gift!

Forget those traditional and modern gift lists—click here to place your order for The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy. In addition to the entire run of “Mitzi McCoy,” the book includes the opening sequence of the comic strip “Mitzi” evolved into, “Kevin the Bold.”

The book also features an extensive introduction by Eisner Award-winner Frank M. Young and previously unpublished artwork and photographs.

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

 

Late Themes

As they sailed away from the New World, Kevin began telling Saigen the story of Robin Hood. While having an adult narrate a story to a youth was a familiar trope for Collins, what was different was the appearance of the comic strip’s logo. A longbow and a quiver of arrows replaced the usual rapier and pistol, Robin Hood’s hat rested on the suit of armor’s helmet, and a chapter heading of sorts, “A Story of Robin Hood” was inscribed at the top.

The October 17, 1965 episode serves as an introduction for the chapter’s new characters.

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The only previous time the comic strip’s logo changed was on April 23, 1961. Ten years into its run, the familiar blocky KEVIN logo adorned with a claymore and shield was replaced by a more elegant version featuring new weapons and an uncial-style font more appropriate for an Irishman. In fact, in its final appearance in print, the old logo is half-obscured by an enormous Spanish galleon, a portent of its imminent departure. The new logo coincided with the onset of Jay Heavilin‘s 13-month stint as writer for the comic strip.

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Yes, those are balls of cheese being used for ammunition!

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A year later, the logo was modified again, this time just by adding the new chapter’s title, “Story of the Norman Conquest.” While the historical timeline  in “Kevin the Bold” can be a bit difficult to follow—the first episode takes place at the end of the 15th century while the final one is dated 1668, about 175 years later—setting the action during the Norman Invasion of Ireland (c. 1170) required a different approach. Here Kevin’s ancestor (also named Kevin) is featured. Making this flashback less confusing to casual readers, the two Kevins appear identical, except for the ancestor being blond.

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Another point of departure is the ancestor’s willingness to chase after women, something later-day Kevin eschews. However, the episode that ran two weeks later portrays the two Kevins as essentially the same character.

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The final time the comic strip’s logo was altered was for one its last sequences, “A True Story of Captain John Smith.” Following this chapter, only four more appeared before the comic strip morphed into Kreigh Collins’ final NEA feature, “Up Anchor!”

Oddly, the July 16 episode introducing the sequence is not labelled as “A True Story of Captain John Smith,” but the 14 comics that follow are. Perhaps adding the title was a late decision made by the NEA, and the fact that it is typeset, rather than hand-lettered, lends credence to the theory.

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Another familiar trope is the damselle in distress! Not that I’m complaining, mind you.

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Nearly all the original art for the final three years of KEVIN THE BOLD  is found in a collection at Syracuse University. The July 23 episode is an exception. (I found this image online).

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How Many Different Logos Were Featured in MITZI McCOY?

That question and more can be answered by picking up a copy of “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy.” It features a wonderful introductory essay by Eisner Award-winner Frank M. Young and is available here.

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