Happy Fifth!

Kreigh circa 1970 72

Today I am celebrating the fifth anniversary of this blog. I started it in order to raise my grandfather’s profile, and to try to help create a bit of a market for the book I was putting together, “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins: The Complete Mitzi McCoy.” At its onset, I had no idea how long I would keep the blog going, but at this point—about two years after the Mitzi book was published—I have no plans to stop (and I’m not even half-way through the comics my grandfather produced). 

Silver is the contemporary fifth anniversary gift; this seems appropriate for a blog celebrating a cartoonist whose work primarily appeared in comics’ Silver Age. The traditional fifth anniversary gift is wood, meant to symbolize the strength and durability of the bond. So, to all the loyal readers of this blog, thank you very much for your continued interest in Kreigh Collins’ oeuvre.


When I began researching my grandfather’s career, I had no idea his work appeared outside the United States. (I’m not sure he was fully aware, either). I enjoy looking at the statistics WordPress collects—tallies of view and visitors, and the countries people are from—and from the beginning I was surprised at how many readers were from outside the United States. Soon enough I began to discover all kinds of foreign publications that published his work.

KTC MM 1949 Contract

Regarding international rights, I’ll have to peruse this contract more closely next time I’m at the Public Library in Grand Rapids, Mich. And check out the signature—no longhand for Kreigh!

Early on I learned that in addition to their domestic newspapers, NEA also had papers in Canada. And because some of these were based in Québec, the episodes were translated into French.

MM 091750 TA 150 qcc

From the Free Press Weekly Prairie Farmer (Winnipeg, Manitoba)

KTB 101864 TH Fr 72 qcc

I’m not sure which Montreal newspaper carried this episode of “Kevin l”Audacieux.”

As for actual Sunday comics, with one exception, I have only seen them printed for newspapers in the US and Canada. In most cases, for foreign markets, Collins’ artwork was repurposed into comic books or weekly general interest magazines. I found an interesting two-color reproduction taken from Die Jongspan, a South African weekly magazine for children, which was translated into Afrikaans. This episode of “Kevin Die Dappere” appeared on Valentine’s Day, 1966, about seven moths after its original publication.

KTB 1965 09.12 afrikaans

The next foreign market I discovered for Kreigh’s comics was down under. Several different publishers produced these “Australian Edition” comic books, again featuring both Mitzi and Kevin.

While going through Special Collection #56 at the Grand Rapids Public Library, I found tear sheets of both Mitzi and Kevin comics from Havana, Cuba’s El Mundo newspaper. These tabloid comics are pretty cool, and coming from Cuba, they seemed rather exotic, as political differences had prevented travel between the US and Cuba between 1963 and 2000.

Another hit that came up in my search results was for “Kevin el Denodado,” which I learned was how it was branded in Argentina. The comics ran for several years in the weekly magazine Tit-Bits, which was a tabloid.

Sometimes Kevin was featured on the cover, and at its onset, several episodes were combined into one giant spread. In at least one case, a promotional poster was included. Later, only single episodes appeared inside.

Tit-Bits 2238 12-13 150 qcc

KTC Moya McCoy bound 111950 qcc

Scandinavia was another fertile market for Collins’ work. “Kevin den Tapre” ran in Denmark, either in the magazine Hjemmet or possibly in a newspaper.

KTB 100151 Denmark Kevin_Hjemmet_1951

I also learned from my friend Anders Hjorth-Jørgensen that his company (Forlaget desAHJn) was in the process of publishing a three-volume “Kevin den Tapre” series.

After hearing about my efforts to publish the “Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Volume 1: Mitzi McCoy,” Asger sent me a Danish comic book in the mail featuring the exploits of Kevin hin Frygtløse.” Asger and some associates have been working on a similar project—reprinting “Willy På Eventyr” (Vol. 5 has since been published, see www.willy-centret.dk).

SM Solo Nr. 23 01 150

Kevin also appeared in a Swedish comic book. In Sweden, he was called “Roland den Djärve.” This comic book was in my grandfather’s collection, so at least he was aware of this one distant fanbase (and possible source of additional income). In addition to running three spreads of Kevin, it featured other comics as well.

At some point I also came across a couple of examples “Haukka” from Finland, although I don’t know the name of the publication in which they ran.

Several other times I have been contacted by people from other countries who were fans of my grandfather’s work. Davide even sent me a couple copies of the Italian weekly Il Nerbiniano. (I paid him back with a copy of the Kevin the Bold collection available on Amazon that was put together by Frank M. Young).

Another friend, Marko, sent scans from a Serbian comic book called Kevin Neustrasivi, One of the issues had a very nice cover, featuring artwork by an unknown Balkan artist.

KTB NK VLALE_11

The most recent acquaintance I’ve made with a foreign Kreigh Collins fan is Gérard, who sent me scans of French comic books featuring both “Mitzi McCoy” and “Kevin le Hardi“. At this point, I’m not too surprised to hear about more Kevin comic books, but the revelation of a collection featuring my grandfather’s first feature astonished me.

 

The Fantax covers are especially great because the covers, inspired by Collins’ illustrations, were done by the French publisher and artist Pierre Mouchot (who signed his artwork, “Chott”). And While Big Horn didn’t use Kevin on its cover, he does get a mention there.

In commemoration of this blog’s fifth anniversary, I thank its readers for their continued interest in my grandfather’s comics career, and especially my far-flung comics friends who have shared parts of their collections with me..


The Perfect Anniversary Gift!

Nevermind wood or silver—now you can order “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, the Complete Mitzi McCoy.” directly from me. 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.”

Mitzi McCoy Cover 150

The book’s price is $30. For domestic shipping, add $4; for international orders, first class shipping costs $25. (A recent order sent from New Jersey to France took 10 calendar days to be delivered). To place an order, email me at BrianEdwardCollins1[at]gmail.com, and I will give you PayPal or Venmo information.

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 Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, 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.

Mitzi McCoy Cover 150


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

 

Anno III, N. 1

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My other recently-acquired copy of Il Nerbiniano is an older one: year III, number 1, published in January, 1975. While Kevin shared the cover with a strip called “Cino e Franco,” one of Kreigh Collins’ most arresting panels was repurposed for the cover. Notably, the comic in which it originated (October 28, 1951) does not appear inside.

Anno III, N. 1 used heavier cover stock than my other copy. This one was bound in a landscape format, and all of the material inside is formatted that way too. Overall, this earlier copy is of a higher quality than Anno VIII, N. 1. The inside covers were printed in two colors, black and cyan, and the interior text pages appeared in alternating 4-C and black-and-white signatures, each four pages long. The inside front cover lists an editor-in-chief, six staffers and a cover artist, and includes an editor’s letter (La Poltrona del Direttore, or, The Director’s Chair). The table of contents nicely features a piece of Collins’ artwork as a spot illustration.

 

 

Having started this blog as a tribute to my grandfather, perhaps the most fascinating aspect is how much I learn about ancillary material while doing necessary research. While I know quite a bit about my grandfather’s comics, I am by no means a comics historian. I learned that the comic featured in the opening section, “Jungle Jim,” was created as a topper by Alex Raymond for his comic “Flash Gordon.” The comics reprinted here are lovely, dating to 1939.

“Kevin the Bold” appears on page 5, and two tabloid comics are split across four pages as in my other copy of Il Nerbiniano, but with no need to rotate the book while reading. The interior text pages’ stock is heavier than in my other copy, and instead of a coated paper with what almost appears to be xerographic printing, this issue uses a nice uncoated stock. The reproduction quality is excellent.

Nerbiniano 03 01 05 150Nerbiniano 03 01 06 150

This time, the comics’ original publication dates (and NEA copyright credit) remain in the artwork. While I always thought of this sequence as “The Search for Sadea,” I now prefer the Italian title, “Sadea, la Ragazza Stregata” (“Sadea, the Bewitched Girl”).

In all of my grandfather’s comics, the Sadea sequence is perhaps my favorite. It features thrilling action, a hauntingly beautiful (kidnapped) young woman, magnificent ships, horses and battle scenes. Not to mention Koko, the mischievous sea monkey (not that kind!), and frightening villains, all beautifully illustrated and with a captivating plot line.

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After four stunning pages, Il Nerbiniano continues with more four-color “Cino e Franco” comics. After further research, I learned that this comic is the Italian version of Lyman Young’s long-running “Tim Tyler’s Luck.” (I also learned that Lyman’s younger brother Chic Young was the man who created “Blondie”). This is followed by eight black and white pages of a comic called “Nell Impero Degli Incas” (“In the Empire of the Incas”), and four more color pages of “Cino e Franco.” Then, four more exquisitely-reproduced “Kevin the Bold” pages — the comics from April 22 & 29, 1951.

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Because this sequence has had no exposure for the past 67 years (in color, anyway), next week I will begin featuring it on this blog it in its entirety. But first, one last look at Il Nerbiniano — what a charming back cover!

Nerbiniano 03 01 C4 150.jpg


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

Il Nerbiniano

Recently, I received a surprise in the mail — a large padded envelope. I tore it open before realizing who’d sent it, or where it had come from. Inside were two copies of the Italian comics publication Il Nerbiniano, sent to me by an overseas blogger with whom I’d recently connected with via email. We’d made plans to trade a couple issues of Il Nerbiniano for a book on “Kevin the Bold,” but it had slipped my mind. (I hastily placed an order).

I first became aware of Il Nerbiniano earlier this year. After some research, I began to get a handle on what it was, sort of an Italian Menomonee Falls Gazette. Because everything I saw online about it was written in Italian, it made sleuthing more difficult (so much for that one semester of the language at SUNY-Buffalo 30-some years ago!). Published in Florence, Il Nerbiniano existed from about 1973 until 1980. The editions varied in length but were usually ran 32–36 pages. Initially, there were six issues produced yearly, but by 1980 it seems to have become a quarterly.

The covers had a heavier paper stock, and the text pages were generally black and white, with occasional two- or four-color pages. Its trim size was quite large, about 9-3/4″ x 13-1/2″, nearly tabloid-sized.

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I grabbed the one with the more striking cover. I had seen an Australian comic book from the 1950s that utilized the same panel as its cover, but the art was heavily modified. Il Nerbiniano was truer to the original.

KTB Comicbook 24Lg

Nerbiniano 08 01 C2 150

This edition was the first issue from year eight. The table of contents listed page numbers for its features, but the book’s pages weren’t numbered. The front of the book consisted of a seven-page feature/interview with noted Disney artist Floyd Gottfredson, and was illustrated with some very nice artwork. The next page had a beautiful full-page Hal Foster illustration. Opposite this was what I was looking for — but what was going on?

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Flipped 90° so it appeared with a landscape orientation was half of a “Kevin the Bold” tabloid comic, translated into Italian. It was the bottom portion of the comic that concluded the strip’s initial sequence. Here it served as a transition to the following sequence, highlighted by Kevin’s tournament showdown with Count de Falcon.

The balloons were redrawn, and the dialog changed, ever so slightly. Details in the original were smoothed over because of the truncated appearance of the comic, and to blur the ethnicity of the protagonist.

Ma prima, ditemi qual’e’il vostro cognome translates to “But first, tell me what your surname is,” while the original states “Kevin, you are no mere shepherd. What’s your full name, lad?” More tellingly, Ho Capito! Hai un segreto che non vuoi svelare. Allora per noi sarrai per sempre Kevin il Temerario! (“I get it! You have a secret that you do not want to reveal. Then for us you will always be Kevin the Bold!”) originally ran as, “Keep your secret, lad! But the Irishman who wields this sword shall be known as Kevin the Bold!”

By splitting the tabloid comics in half and running them on two separate pages, they are printed about 12-3/4″ wide, larger than the original Sunday versions. However, because they are both oriented so that the tops of the comics align with the gutter, reading them requires a bit of book spinning. The next two pages consist of the first episode in the Count de Falcon sequence. It originally ran on December 17, 1950.

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The December 25, 1950 episode follows on the next two pages.

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Page 14 consists of the top half of the December 31, 1950 comic, but readers are left hanging because a three pages of “Flash Gordon” material begins on the next page. Recapping, that’s two full “Kevin” tabloids and two partials.

Nerbiniano 08 01 14 150

“Collectors Corner” followed the “Flash Gordon” comics, and in turn was followed by four pages of Neil O’Keeffe and Max Trell’s “Dick’s Adventures” (running in two colors, black plus magenta). Three pages were devoted to an interview with some Italian comics collectors, and the remaining six pages consisted of five weeks of “Lone Ranger” dailies. I didn’t see any sign of the comics’ original publication dates.

The inside back cover featured “Tim Tyler’s Luck,” a half-page 1928 comic by Lyman Young, and the back cover listed a bunch of comics for sale (4.000 lira apiece).

I’ve heard of half-page comics turned into tabloids, but vice-versa? Interesting. By running landscape-oriented versions, they appear twice as large as they would otherwise, but only half as many comics fit in the six pages allotted to Kevin. Either way, there wouldn’t be enough room for the entire sequence, so it’s nice to see them enlarged like this, it must be a sign that Il Nerbiniano’s editors appreciated the quality and detail of Kreigh Collins’ comics. Perhaps this sequence continued in the next issue of Il Nebiniano?


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