January 17, 1960

This 60-year-old comic section was a souvenir from my grandparents’ southern journey aboard their schooner, Heather. In late 1959, they left their west Michigan home port on Lake Macatawa and set sail for Chicago. The Illinois River led to the Mississippi, and eventually to Florida’s west coast—a favorite wintertime destination (In the ’40s, the Collins clan often rented on Anna Maria Island). Besides his wife, Teddy, Kreigh’s only crew was his eight-year old twins, Kevin and Glen. Heather and her crew wouldn’t return to Michigan until August, 1960.

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The Fort Meyers News-Press‘ Sunday edition included an eight-page comic section, led off by Milt Caniff’s popular strip Terry and the Pirates, handled since 1946 by George Wunder. Joining Terry on page one was Mary Worth, written by Allen Saunders and illustrated by Ken Ernst.

Scanning the outside pages of an old comic section is relatively easy with a tabloid scanner, but getting the inside pages presents more of a challenge. Despite having already shrunk from their enormous dimensions from earlier in the 20th century, these pages still measure 29″ x 21.5″ when unfolded. Pages 2-3 feature largely feature run-of-the-mill NEA titles: Boots, by Edgar Martin; Dick Turner’s Carnival; Roy Crane’s Captain Easy (handled on Sundays by Leslie Turner); Vic Flint (written by Jay Heavilin and drawn by Dean Miller); and Our Boarding House, likely illustrated by Bill Freyse. The only non-NEA comic on this first inside spread was Warner Bros.’ Bugs Bunny.

From my perspective, things improve on page 4. There are two contrasting half-page features, Chris Welkin, Planeteer, by Art Sansom and Russ Winterbotham, and Kreigh Collins’ Kevin the Bold. (This episode is one midway through a tale of buried treasure and tyranny, with the villain being Count Stabb). Page 5 has two King Features Syndicate titles (Chic Young’s Blondie and Mort Walker’s Beetle Bailey) and another by McNaught (Joe Palooka, likely handled at this point by Tony DiPreta and Morris Weiss). 

The final inside spread has a raft of third-page NEA comics, (Pricilla’s Pop by Al Vermeer, Tom Trick by Dale, Out Our Way by J.R. Williams, Rolfe’s Brenda Breeze, Merrill Blossar’s Freckles and His Friends and Walt Scott’s The Little People.

The back page of the comic section had two more McNaught titles (Lank Leonard’s Mickey Finn and McEvoy and Stribel’s Dixie Dugan), as well as the the NEA’s popular feature Alley Oop, by V.T. Hamlin.

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By far, most of my comics are single sheets cut from sections, but I’m glad that my grandparents kept this section intact. (Maybe they forgot to bring scissors when they went south).

Happy New Year! (January 1 was Kreigh Collins’ 112th birthday).

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

Sunday, May 22, 1949

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When I was working on my book, The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1, The Complete Mitzi McCoy, a late stumbling block was finding replacement comics for episodes of which I only had third-page examples. Ironically, after searching far and wide for several years, I located them in a comic book shop about a dozen miles from my home. The catch was that I had to purchase them in complete comic sections. I left the shop with five 16-page New York Sunday Mirror Sunday comic sections and while I spent far more than I hoped to, my quest was over. The Mirror carried “Mitzi” for the duration of its run—usually in a half-tabloid format, but occasionally as a full tabloid page. I chose this particular section because its 70th anniversary is imminent.

Flipping through it reveals both big name features and comics now forgotten.

As usual, Ham Fisher’s “Joe Palooka” ran on the front page, followed by Milton Caniff’s “Steve Canyon” and “Mickey Finn” by Lank Leonard. Next up are “Henry” by Carl Anderson, “Kerry Drake,” “Superman” (neither credited, but by Alfred Andriola/Allen Saunders and Stan Kaye/Wayne Boring respectively), “The Flop Family” by Swan, an advertisement for Rinso, and Frank Miller’s “Barney Baxter in the Air.”

What was the main event for me likely falls into the category I mentioned earlier, “comics now forgotten.” This early episode, “Mitzi” ‘s 29th, is at the beginning of the strip’s fourth story arc. Half-tabloids are pretty small, but at least they include the throwaway panel, which full-page tabloid versions do not.

As a young man, Kreigh Collins worked as an illustrator at an ad agency in Chicago. This gig lasted about a year, and the primary reason it ended is that Collins despised having to produce commercial illustrations like the one in the Pepsi ad. At this point in time, I find the the ad’s style quite charming, but maybe I’m just biased because I drank so much Pepsi as a kid. On the facing page, Frank Godwin’s “Rusty Riley” has a style similar to “Mitzi” —leaning more toward illustration than cartooning. In fact, illustrations by Godwin and Collins appeared in Hermann Hagedorn’s The Book of Courage, published by the John C. Winston Company six years earlier.

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Now back to the comics… and advertisements.

Roy Crane’s “Captain Easy,” drawn here by Walt Scott, and V.T. Hamlin’s “Alley Oop” face a couple of nondescript advertisements for Dr. Lyon’s Tooth Powder and Danderine. Next up are “Bobby Sox” by Marty Links, “Rex Morgan, MD” by Bradley and Edgington, “Boots” by Martin, and Merrill Blossar’s “Freckles and His Friends” (plus the topper “Hector”).

The last full spread in the section features Harry Hanand’s silent comic “Louie,” “Out Our Way featuring the Willets,” by J.R. Williams, “Our Boarding House,” and an ad. The ad might be my favorite part of the entire section. It features the type of male chauvinism so common of the era, but it’s quite hysterical (in my reading, anyway).

Taking its usual spot on the back cover is “Lil’ Abner” by Al Capp.

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Patience Is a Virtue

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According to recent reports, there continues to be occasional delays with order fulfillment, but eventually your book will come, that is, if you order The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy. This first-ever collection of Kreigh Collins’ debut NEA Sunday comic strip can be ordered here.


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