Serendipity

In addition to the unusual tone of the story, the episodes themselves have a slightly different appearance—most have only six panels. And while the story is a bit silly, it does have a nice graphic impression.

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Kevin is fortunate to be able to persuade his antagonist to help display the “jewels” more discreetly, and as he reaches the king’s palace, he is relieved that his job is over.

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King Henry’s abrupt dismissal and useless advice, to merely dispose of the Shah’s gift leaves Kevin at a loss.

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After a serendipitous meeting, Kevin seizes an opportunity to find a taker for the Shah’s gift.

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Thanks again to Arnaud for the tabloid scans.

Here is a half-page version of this episode, which serves as a finale to both the story arc and Jay Heavilin‘s stint as writer for “Kevin the Bold.”

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To follow the action as it returns to Kreigh Collins’ stewardship, click here for “The Field of the Cloth of Gold” sequence.


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

The Shah of Rani

Kevin certainly knows how to keep his cool, and his new acquaintance is impressed.

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What’s less impressive is the laziness of the name given to the Shah, an anagram of Iran. But a quick look online shows that the time period of the action does correspond to the beginning of the Safavid Empire, when rulers referred to as Shah first arose. Beyond that historical note, this sequence is as near to fantasy as Kevin ever strayed. It’s a good thing, because it all seems a bit cliched to me.

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They seem to have made quick work of rebuilding the stone bridge, but danger lies ahead. Religious fanatics  are introduced, and they’re not the visiting Muslims!KTB 050662 TA 150 qcc

To be continued…


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

The Gift

The scans for the following story arc were a gift from my friend Arnaud.


This sequence marks the end of Jay Heavilin’s run as the writer for “Kevin the Bold.” Like much of the action he scripted, it is comes across as more cartoonish than Collins’ work. An argument could be made that this isn’t a bad thing, that Collins’ stories were too traditional, and were more like illustration than cartooning. I’m biased, obviously, but what do you think? (There is a little-used comments feature at the very tail end of this post—hint, hint).

The characters are largely stereotypes, but they do have some redeeming visual qualities. Both Ahmed and his female friends have visible navels, so maybe that ban was no longer in effect.

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Pedro enters, and as was. in the case of the story “The Powder Expert” (which I haven’t yet run), there is some confusion about the meaning of a certain phrase. 

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To be continued…


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

Tamper; Tantrum

Two rivals vie for Lady Goodly’s affections, yet she only has eyes for another.

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Kevin is trapped, and has only a risky escape plan.

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The Duke takes the bait, Kevin plays possum, and Percival?

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Percival came through in the clutch. Here are the sequence’s final two episodes in color, as third-pages; I don’t have a color example from June 25, 1961.


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

 

Sidling Up

Like other cartoonists, Kreigh Collins looked to his family and friends when it came to naming characters, but sometimes the comic strip characters’ names came first. “Kevin the Bold” debuted several months before Collins’ son Kevin was born, and Kevin’s ward Brett appeared about nine years before my brother made the scene.

I’ve always wondered what my uncle Glen (Kevin’s twin) thought of the title of his father’s best-known strip—at least two characters named Glen eventually appeared, but they didn’t have large rolls. And while Brett played a major part, I always thought it would be nice if  there was a character named Brian.

In a case of “be careful what you wish for,” eventually a Brian appeared—he was a misogynistic cad. Appearing a few years before I was born, It’s not like I was named for him, but couldn’t his name have been spelled with a “Y”? This guy is especially onerous.

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A black-hearted rogue, indeed! (What is especially galling to me was that the Duke’s bad behavior was in the name of procuring a birthday gift, and this episode ran on my birthday).

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I guess I’m not the only one being overly sensitive, the Duke also seems a bit prickly.

Perhaps curious only to me, but in the two panels after the throwaway, the movement Kevin is making can only be described as “sidling.” Not commonly represented in comics—or anywhere, really—the only place I ever remember hearing the word is in this 1965 Johnny Cash A-side. A shame—it’s a great word!

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Here are the first two episodes in color, as third-pages; I don’t have a color example from June 18, 1961.


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

 

Setting a Snare

With his vast experience dealing with both dastards and the downtrodden, Kevin is a quick judge of character. Upon meeting meek Percival Southwick, he must have sensed something in him—and he must have seen something in the character of the Duke of Duval, as well. Kevin decides to make a man of Percival, which he’d done before—a decade earlier with Prince Rupert. Therein lies my beef with new writer Jay Heavilin—in his first credited story, he’s already rehashing old plot devices…

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…Kevin is also back to playing matchmaker, but his clever plot is uncovered.

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Kevin’s first lesson on manliness is interrupted, and things escalate quickly.

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Here are the three episodes in color, as third-pages.


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

 

Changing of the Guard

As the battle intensifies and the zaniness builds, the story arc reaches its conclusion. Here, “having sport with cheeses” means knocking the fire brigade from the rigging.

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The only way this could be better was if it was flaming cheese (a Detroit favorite).

An interesting detail in the April 23, 1961 episode above is how the strip’s logo is partially obscured  by Grommet’s monstrous ship. By the next Sunday’s comic, the old logo will have disappeared, replaced by a new one, and accompanied by the byline, “Story by Jay Heavilin.” While this new chapter carries over a couple of characters from the one that preceded it, the tone of the comic strip’s narrative changes.

After begging her father to accompany Kevin to England, Elsa and her mother set off on the journey across the North Sea with him. Allowing his wife and daughter to make the crossing in Kevin’s small boat—Kevin obviously made quite an impression Mr. Van Loo.

Meanwhile, in London, King Henry meets young Percival Southwick, and quickly sizes him up.

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The new logo was enlarged slightly for the May 7, 1961 episode, below, and looks great—its proportions work quite nicely with the amount of vertical space provided by a single tier of panels. A taller logo meant it took up more real estate horizontally, and apparently Collins didn’t like the tradeoff. As far as I can tell, the logo would always appear at the smaller size going forward.

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Here are the three episodes in color, as third-pages.


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

 

The Turkish Cannon

While the next two story arcs contain overlapping characters, there is a pretty significant difference between them. The first sequence has only Kreigh Collins’ byline, whereas the one that follows is the first to carry the additional credit, “Story by Jay Heavilin.”

Sadly, I do not have color half pages for any of the comics, third-page versions seem most common for “Kevin the Bold” at this point in its run. Instead, I will post black and white half-page versions (usually syndicate proofs, with occasional BW downloads from newspapers.com), and supplement them with color third-page versions at the end.

The January 29, 1961 episode, below, is the transitionary episode at the end of one of my favorite sequences, featuring “Hercules.” That story arc ran previously. This sequence references the  then-current competition between Spain and England for trade—here, a fearsome weapon is being imported from Constantinople by a traitorous Dutch mercenary, which the Spaniards hope will give them the upper hand.

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The English spy has stowed away by climbing into an empty barrel, a plot device Collins used by Moya McCoy in his strip’s opening sequence.

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The next two episodes are ones for which I don’t have great examples. (And that hiding in the barrel ploy never seems to work).

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Hans Grommet is certainly arrogant, and his cockiness is decidedly a flaw. As the action shifts to the Netherlands, new characters are introduced.

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That’s a fine spy glass!

I don’t know who added the color—likely one of Kreigh’s grandchildren. I have vague memories of hanging out in my grandfather’s studio, after he had died, reading through stacks of printed comics, but what I remember are the NEA Daily and Sunday Comics publications, not proofs like the one festooned with watercolors above. At this point, my family lived in western New York state, and our trips to Ada, Michigan were sporadic. So I’m guessing either of my cousins Josh or Karen were serving as colorist. No matter, I’ve heard these adornments lend the episodes a certain charm.

Here are the three episodes in color, as third-pages.


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

 

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.

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.

Mitzi cover final


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