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.

The voiceless speak

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Kevin’s tournament skills paid off in the first round of the joust, but by taking the high moral ground he is setting himself up for possible failure.

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Kevin’s virtue is matched by Basa’s treachery, but while Kevin is saved by Hugo’s unexpected confession, Basa meets his end at the hands of the angry mob. 

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As the story of the Field of the Cloth of Gold ends, another adventure begins.


The Complete Mitzi McCoy

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To read the complete run of “Mitzi McCoy” comics, The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy can be found here; it’s still available at its pre-order price of $24.95.  


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

The Predator

The past six weeks’ Sunday comics set the scene in a historical context, taking place during the Field of the Cloth of Gold, and now the action settles into a more local, intimate setting. 

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Surely there could be no harm in offering to stage a joust for an enthusiastic, convalescent child.

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Having demonstrated his brute strength, Basa also shows he is a louse, and worse.

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The Complete Mitzi McCoy

Mitzi cover final

To read the complete run of “Mitzi McCoy” comics, The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy can be found here; it’s still available at its pre-order price of $24.95.  


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

A good line worth repeating

At the summit arranged by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, King Francis I of France and King Henry VIII of England tried to outshine the other, with dazzling tents and clothes, huge feasts, music, jousting and games. The days were taken up with tournaments, in which both kings took part. 

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After the joust, Kevin was gracious in victory over his friend De Cagnes — but not everyone was so pleased, as the sourpuss Sir Basa is introduced.

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“The Field of the Cloth of Gold” was the first sequence written by Kreigh Collins after a 13-month stretch of episodes written by Jay Heavilin. In fact, the episode above contains a line (paraphrased) that originally appeared in “Kevin the Bold” a decade earlier. 

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Returning to our current sequence, Kevin has the misfortune of staying at the same inn as his detractor, and he also meets a mute stableboy. 

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

Help!

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Once I started collecting my grandfather’s comics, I came up with two goals: publish a book and collect them all. 

Kreighs’ comics appeared in newspapers every Sunday from November 7, 1948 until February 27, 1972, about three and a half decades. Adding it all up—the 23 complete years, the two partial years, and the four times leap years resulted in a year having 53 Sundays (1950, 1956, 1961, 1967)—amounts to 1,217 individual episodes. (Or is it 1,218? Can someone check my math?) However many there are, it’s easy to see why I chose to publish a book first.

Admittedly, I had a great head start with so many of the episodes having been given to me by my uncle. But while my grandfather saved a lot of stuff, I do not have examples of all of his individual comic strips. Since I have all 99 “Mitzi McCoy” episodes and less than half of the “Up Anchor!” comics, what I’m focusing on primarily are the missing “Kevin the Bold” episodes.

Of the 945 or so examples of “Kevin,” there are 45 which I’ve never seen in any form. The first hole in my collection appears about a decade into its run: April 24, 1960

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What happens next? I’d love to know!

A few months later, the October 2, 1960 episode draws a blank. It follows the one shown below, in a tale of two sons—one good and the other bad. Through 1958, I have full-sized (half-page or tabloid) versions of just about every comic, but by 1960, many of my comics are one-third page versions (sigh). But at least these allow the narrative to continue.

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Oh no, Kevin appears mortally wounded! Will he survive?

The next gap in the chronology is found in the first Jay Heavilin-penned sequence (June 25, 1961).

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Lady Goodly? Lady Godiva could be featured on June 25 for all I know.

You know what’s worse than a missing episode? Two consecutive missing episodes! (September 10 and 17, 1961).

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At least the September 3 episode introduced me to the word, “Taradiddle.” I can only imagine the vocabulary featured over the next two weeks.

 Perhaps even more interesting to me are a couple elusive mid-1963 episodes—June 23, 1963 and July 7, 1963. Kevin has made it all the way to Japan. I wish I had the entire sequence of comics to share that adventure with you. Here is part of it—the two comics that precede the two missing ones.

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I’m going to see if I can verify that translation in the throwaway panel.

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Here are the dates of the comics  listed above: 
April 24, 1960
October 2, 1960
June 25, 1961
September 10, 1951
September 17, 1961
June 23, 1963
July 7, 1963

For the last three years of “Kevin the Bold,” I need quite a few: 
January 2 & 16, 1966
May 29, 1966
June 26, 1966
July 10, 17 & 24, 1966
August 21 & 28, 1966
September 4 & 11, 1966
October 2 & 9, 1966
December 25, 1966

January 29, 1967
February 5, 12 & 19, 1967
March 5, 12, 19 & 26, 1967
April 9, 23 & 30, 1967
May 21 & 28, 2967
June 11, 1967
August 27, 2967
October 22, 1967
November 12 & 19, 1967

April 7, 14, 21 & 18, 1968
May 5, 1968
September 15, 1968

Do you have any of these in your collection? I’m more than willing to trade scans. Please leave a message on my blog or contact me directly at brianedwardcollins1(at)gmail.com

Thank you very much.


The Complete Mitzi McCoy

Mitzi cover final

To read the complete run of “Mitzi McCoy” comics, The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy can be found here; it’s still available at its pre-order price of $24.95.  


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

The Ghost Ship

A nice feat of engineering reveals what Kevin and Brett hope will be their ticket off the island. 

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Luckily for Kevin and Brett, the islanders had a nice supply of white cloth for their ruse. 

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Most gratefully, Maria offers Kevin a kiss in lieu of marriage. Perhaps more than one, as Kevin and Brett don’t disembark until several days later.  

Finding a drowning sailor provides an interesting denouement as the sequence transitions swiftly.  

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Perhaps the reason for the abrupt change is that the next sequence would be Jay Heavilin’s last — his 13-month run as  the writer for “Kevin the Bold”  was ending.

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Now being shipped!

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I’m not sure how long delivery takes, but pre-sale orders of the book The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy have started to be shipped. Apologies for the delay. Presently, I am trying to find out what arrangements can be made for the publisher to fulfill overseas orders. The book is available at the publisher’s website.


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

The Catch

As Brett and Kevin get settled on the New World Island, Maria thinks she has landed a trophy fish in her net (in this case, a hammock). The next episode originally ran just before Valentine’s Day in 1962, yet Kevin seems to have missed the memo—he rejects Maria’s playful and romantic overtures.

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Although this adventure of Kevin’s was written by Jay Heavilin, Jay seems to have cribbed some of Kreigh’s plot devices. Norse mooring pegs were shown in a sequence from four years earlier (although it ran just last month on Kreigh’s Comics).

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As Kevin labors away in an attempt to raise the long-sunken boat, Maria continues to work on finding a husband. Soon, an even more series dilemma appears on Kevin’s horizon.

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In Kevin’s situation, few men would be able to resist Maria’s overtures. However, Kevin’s prime directive is to travel the world, undoing injustices, and helping those in need, and he is determined to stay true to those ideals.


Now being shipped!

Mitzi cover final

I’m not sure how long delivery takes, but pre-sale orders of the book The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy have started to be shipped. Apologies for the delay. Presently, I am trying to find out what arrangements can be made for the publisher to fulfill overseas orders. The book is available at the publisher’s website.


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

Jay Heavilin

For nearly all of “Kevin the Bold” ’s 18-year run, Kreigh Collins handled the comic strip’s continuation. The lone exception (credited, anyway) was the period from April 30, 1961 through May 27, 1962, when the comic strip carried the additional byline, “Story by Jay Heavilin.”

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Jay was a young NEA staffer of whom I know little, but I did manage to track down an NEA headshot. What is even more interesting than an old photograph is the dirt I discovered in a couple of letters (c. 1961) that NEA Vice President/Features Director Ernest Lynn sent my grandfather.

Lynn was responding to Collins’ query, was Jay dependable? Kreigh was looking for a writer for an unnamed book project, and Lynn didn’t mince words. “He’s a mixed-up kid without much, if any, conscience.” Lynn’s low opinion was apparently due in part to Heavilin having recently quit, leaving Cleveland for New York. And there was obviously a personality clash, “For one thing, he kept me tense. His utter contempt for office rules and the rights of others bothered me more than I care to admit. He has an ungovernable temper. The rules are for the other fellow, not Jay.” Because I don’t know the entire context, I won’t repeat anything else. At any rate, the letter sheds some light on the type of person Lynn was. too.

The next episode in the sequence currently being featured is one with which I am especially familiar. It has some lovely illustrations and action, and a particular detail that I find quite charming. In its last panel, Kevin and Brett have decided to swim for shore, and are shown jumping off the ship. When your sobriquet is “The Bold,” you don’t jump, you dive. As the faithful young ward of such a man, Brett also dives, but with only one hand outstretched — the other is holding his nose.

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The reason I’m so familiar with this particular episode is that for years, the original artwork hung on my older brother’s bedroom wall. My brother’s name was also Brett, and despite being Kreigh Collins’ oldest grandchild, this was a coincidence. Originally, Brett and I assumed the character had been named for him, and only later did we realize that the character in fact preceded Brett by nearly a decade.

The artwork was originally given by my grandfather to my Grandpa Palmer, and it’s inscribed in the upper left corner. Only later did the piece end up in my collection, though that’s an interesting story too. Brett kept the illustration all through college, and for several years afterward it hung prominently in his apartment. Eventually, he gave it to our father, because he would no longer have anywhere to hang it. Following the family tradition, he was moving aboard his sailboat, a 43′ ketch. Later, after I’d begun researching my grandfather in earnest, my father gave the artwork to me.

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Once ashore, Kevin and Brett make a shocking discovery.

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They warn Maria of Captain Moniz’s intentions, and help them escape enslavement. However, Maria has plans of her own for Kevin.

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Now being shipped!

Mitzi cover final

I’m not sure how long delivery takes, but pre-sale orders of the book The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy have started to be shipped. Apologies for the delay. Presently, I am trying to find out what arrangements can be made for the publisher to fulfill overseas orders. The book is available at the publisher’s website.


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

 

Brett the Bold

After thirteen plus years of writing the continuity for “Mitzi McCoy” and “Kevin the Bold,” Kreigh Collins was either a bit burned out or looking to free up time to pursue other projects. In any event, starting in mid-1961 and lasting for slightly over a year, Kevin’s adventures were dreamed up by NEA staff writer Jay Heavilin.

When I started collecting my grandfathers’ comics, I paid less attention to Jay Heavilin’s sequences because they weren’t Collins’ own brainchild (to use Kreigh’s phrasing). On more recent reflection, I notice these comics contain some fine illustrations even if the action is slightly out of character—e.g., Kevin attempting to visit his sickly mother, as shown in the December 17, 1961 comic that ran last week. (My theory on that episode: an excuse to introduce a gypsy woman who resembled Moya McCoy, who hadn’t appeared in the strip for over six years. Moya’s absence can be explained by the fact that she was the only woman Kevin ever loved, and removing her from the story helped ensure that our hero would never settle down, and would keep on moving.)

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August 15, 1954

Of note, Moya’s very last appearance (as far as I know) also involves a fortune teller.

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August 29, 1954

Now, back to our current sequence… where Kevin’s situation takes take a sudden turn for the worse.

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Brett’s well-aimed dagger saves the day, but as the ship’s provisions dwindle, so does their time.

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Mitzi book update!

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After receiving a few inquiries as to where the book they’d ordered was, I heard today from someone who said they’d finally received their copy! My apologies for the delay, and I hope you think it was worth the wait. November 7 was the 70th anniversary of the comic strip’s debut.

For those who haven’t ordered it yet, The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy can be found at the Lost Art Books website. 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.


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

Bound for the New World

As a young lad, I recall sitting in my grandfather’s studio and poring over stacks of comics—bound copies of the “NEA Daily and Sunday Comics.” At some point after my grandfather died, the covers (conveniently featuring “Kevin the Bold”) were cut off and the rest discarded. It’s a shame so much was lost, but I’m lucky to possess what remains.

The prominent date at the top of the page was the Monday of that issue’s week, and the publication contained the six daily comics (plus a Sunday comic, in some cases) for a given NEA strip. Since “Kevin the Bold” was a Sunday, these publications only featured one comic, whose publication date would be six days after the date shown for each issue.

The year is 1520, and the following sequence starts with Brett trying to sign onto a Portuguese ship headed for the New World. The ship is being financed by King Henry, and because he has heard bad news about its crew, he calls on an old friend to keep an eye on things.

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Shockingly, Kevin, an agent to the King, is about to refuse his request.

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According to Kevin’s back story, he was an orphan and knew nothing of his parents, so the the action at the beginning of this sequence is quite unexpected (and is abandoned abruptly). Kevin and Brett soon are reunited and about to set off on another adventure.

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As for those stacks of comics in my grandfather’s studio, it appears a young reader was inspired by the publication’s masthead to try his hand at cursive writing. The culprit was likely myself, my brother, or one of my cousins.