Prophecy Fulfilled

Even though the subject matter of these “Bible Picture Stories” does not fully engage me, I find everything else very interesting. “Jesus in Jerusalem No. 13” has expressive character illustrations, relatable colloquial language, and the final two panels are wonderful. The style is quite similar to the prototype comic Kreigh Collins developed for the NEA, which evolved into “Mitzi McCoy.” (No big surprise, as it was illustrated at about the same point in time as these Bible comics).

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To my eye, No. 14 doesn’t have quite the appeal of the previous comic, but the mood comes across very effectively, as Jesus’ fate hangs in the balance. No. 15 is another marvel. (“Insurrection!” and an raised eyebrow “AWK” — I love it!) It also features a nice variety of perspectives and facial expressions.

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

The Last Last Supper

For each episode of “Bible Picture Stories,” Kreigh Collins received a lengthy outline from writer M. C. Wilson. Collins’ first job was to distill the story into six or seven panels, keeping the message intact, a very difficult task. Making it visually interesting was less of a challenge, but still no mean feat. With the Bible as subject matter, the artist had a fine line to walk, so as not to upset his editors or audience. As correspondence between MPH editor Morgan Stinemetz and Collins shows, the artist consistently delivered the goods.

These comics were finished in late summer, 1946, when conversations were just beginning between Collins and his future employer, the NEA syndicate. The appeared in issues of Boys Today and Girls Today in the spring of 1947, during Lent.

The Last Supper was a rare case of the subject matter being spread over two weeks (possibly the only time this happened). Here is part two.

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The Easter story is very familiar, even to a lapsed Episcopalian such as myself. However, I don’t remember Peter’s attack on the guard. The action in the fourth panel foreshadows the swordplay of “Kevin the Bold.”

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

Boys (and Girls) Today

Boys Today cover Dec 1941 150

Mrs. Stephen Collins was Kreigh’s mother Nora. 

Before his comics career took off with the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA), Kreigh Collins spent about eight years freelancing for the Methodist Publishing House of Nashville, Tennessee. Collins got his start with the MPH writing and illustrating stories for the Sunday School publications Boys Today and Girls Today. As described in an earlier post, he was eventually asked to illustrate stories from the Bible in comic strip form, and this project became known as “Bible Picture Stories.”

Source material for these weekly Bible comics came from both the Old and New Testaments. The first few years featured extended sequences on Paul, Joseph, Mary, and John the Baptist. Two more sequences followed (Jesus in Galilee; Jesus Leaves Galilee), and then came one on Jesus in Jerusalem, which ran from December, 1946 until June, 1947.

The following comics are from the History & Special Collections Department of the Grand Rapids Public Library. Today, these comics are quite rare—even the library’s collection (given to the library by Collins’ widow, Therese) is incomplete. The sequence that follows starts with the third episode of “Jesus in Jerusalem.”

My understanding of the Bible is not very deep—maybe things would have turned out differently if these sweet comics were part of my Sunday School lessons! However, I do recall a certain villain named Judas…

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Besides the fine illustrations, aspects of the comics that appeal to me are the speech balloons, with Collins’ distinctive lettering, and the colloquial language, must have been relatable for the young reader. The small introductory illustrations at the tops of the comics are nice touch, too.  The fifth comic in the series opens with a large splash panel, as Jesus dramatically confronts the scribes and Pharisees.

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The story told in these comics may be familiar, but check back next week to see how it was told in these mid-1940s comics.


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