Count Noir

This chapter, represented primarily by half-page comics from the Detroit News, features a scheming count and a playful young widow; it ran in Sunday comics sections 65 years ago.

The widow (Marie de Grasse) had made her situation clear in the transitional strip that preceded this one.

By the summer of 1957, the Chicago Tribune generally ran KEVIN in its loathed third-page format, and in the absence of half pages from the News, episodes will get the collage treatment—which is a shame because June 23 is a very nice example.

In stark contrast with Noir’s machinations, lovely Marie has her own methods to get what she wants.

To be continued…

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

Rinaldo Senza Paura

Aware that KEVIN THE BOLD had been published as part of the 1970s Italian comic book “Il Nerbiniano,” I recently learned that Kevin was originally featured in his own line of comic books under the moniker RINALDO SENZA PAURA. It’s a great name for our hero, since Rinaldo means “wise power” or “ruler’s advisor,” and senza paura translates to “fearless.” (A huge grazie to my friend Davide for alerting me to these Italian editions!)

The comic books must be rare—the ones listed on ebay are quite expensive. According to the publishing information Davide sent, 14 editions were published by La Rosa dei Venti, based in Milano, dating from 1953–54. Printed in a horizontal format, the comic books were initially 24.5 cm x 17 cm (9.6″ x 6.7″) and 32 pages long; after four or five issues the trim size was reduced to 17 cm x 8 cm (9.6″ x 3.1″) and ran 96 pages. Here are some of the larger-format issues:

Above at left, the first RENALDO SENZA PAURA issue (53-7-30). The sample interior pages show it featured KEVIN THE BOLD’s debut “McCoy Family Legend” story arc, while the cover comes from the second story arc (“The Search for Sadea”). Above center (RSP issue 53-09-30) also has cover and interior pages from “The Search for Sadea;” above right (RSP issue 53-10-30) has cover and interior pages from KEVIN’s fourth “Baron Von Blunt” sequence. Below are some of the smaller-format issues. Perhaps these were designed to be pocket-sized—if you had deep enough pockets (if I had deeper pockets, I’d own one of these beauties!)

The cover for issue 54-04-15 features the ruthless Zameel, interior pages indicate that the issue also ran the Cave Bear sequence.

Kevin wasn’t the only character expanding into a new market—inside front covers often carried ads for other NEA titles.

While doing this research, an interesting hit led me to an old book. It contains a very old poem—and by old, I mean 13th century! A reprinted version of the book lists 1788 as its date of publication, though I’m not certain if the following images are from same edition. Below, its title page.

The book, nearly 300 pages long, consists of a single poem, written in over 2,000 eight-line stanzas. The first page of the book has a large woodcut illustration showing two armored men battling, helpfully including identifications of the combatants—one of whom is named Rinaldo.

Every few pages, one of the stanzas is replaced by a woodcut spot illustration; occasionally there are two of these illustrations on a single page. I asked a friend from Italy if she could provide some translations, but she said it was written in very old Italian and difficult to read.

The illustration on the left appears to show a dragon, an man in armor, and his horse.

The reason this interesting old book come up in my search results was due to a mention (in the seventh line of stanza 53) of the character illustrated on the title page, “Rinaldo senza paura.”

This old poem seems to be the inspiration for Kevin’s moniker in the Italian comic books. It’s an excellent choice, given the subject matter of the poem, and the fact that it dates (approximately) to the era in which KEVIN THE BOLD was set.

In all, the book contained about 25 different spot illustrations. In general, each one was repeated several times at various points in the book, leading me to surmise that they were decorative, and not specific to the action of the poem.

Many of the illustrations depict the type of scenes portrayed in KEVIN THE BOLD episodes. Above, in the first column, we see horsemen riding with banners flying, a ship being loaded with cargo, and a view of a walled city. The second column has three scenes featuring a king—on the battlefield, in the throne room surrounded by advisors, and watching two men in combat. The bottom illustration appears to show a soldier being led away as a prisoner. The third column has scenes of mounted soldiers preparing for or engaging in combat, with the bottom one featuring a centaur who seems to have killed one of the two soldiers he was facing. The fourth column features hand-to-hand combat; the bottom illustration appears to show a soldier carrying the severed head of his opponent.

While it is doubtful that Kreigh Collins ever saw this old book, he was known for thoroughly researching his subject matter, and many of KEVIN THE BOLD’S adventures were likely based on similar original sources.

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Ciao, Italia

Next week, I will be traveling to Italy. Along the way, I hope to find some comic book shops that have (affordably priced) copies of either Il Nerbiniano or Kevin Senza Paura. If anyone knows of any stores I should visit in Milano, Firenze, Venice, or Verona, please let me know! Leave a message below, or email me at BrianEdwardCollins1[at]gmail.com. Grazie!

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On Deck

Next week, a new story arc begins. It features the villain Count Noir, and ran in the funnies in the summer of 1957. The story arc picks up where the action in “Kevin the Bold: Sunday Adventures” leaves off. “Sunday Adventures” is a collection of nearly three years’ worth of episodes, presented in a black and white tabloid format, from original proofs (for all but a few episodes). Available here.

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

A Close Shave for “Samson”

Disguised as Captain Samson (an appropriate name for such a hirsute man), Kevin’s plan starts to unravel as he nears the Falcon.

Loading “Long Tom” with a double charge seems like overkill—Captain Hudson’s history with Kevin must be unpleasant.

Hudson’s crew is doomed, and his own future is not so bright, either.

Following the previous episodes’s explosive climax, readers could have reasonably expected a final episode to conclude the story arc, but it is wrapped up in the first two panels of the September 4 episode, with the remainder jumping quickly to the next chapter. A notable aspect of the September 4 episode is the severe way the original art was modified to produce the third-page version. Although not apparent on the collaged version above, in the first panel of the bottom tier (in the third-page version), the father’s left arm was repositioned so that it was more vertical, allowing the panel to be cropped by about 25% along its right edge. In another space-saving move, the two brothers were positioned much closer together in the final panel. Eventually, Kreigh Collins would figure out a way to avoid having his artwork manipulated so much. His solution was for the entire third tier to consist of panels that could be omitted. While this was a cleaner solution, it also compromised his artwork, but with so many newspapers running third-pages of KEVIN, it seemed like the lesser of two evils. _______________________________________________________________

Back in Stock!

The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, the Complete Mitzi McCoy,” is available again—it features the entire run of Kreigh Collins’ first NEA feature, MITZI McCOY.

Mitzi McCoy Cover 150

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 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.

The book’s price is $30. For domestic shipping, add $4; for international orders, add $25 for first class shipping. To place an order, leave a comment below or email me at BrianEdwardCollins1[at]gmail.com, and I will give you PayPal information.

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

Baggywinkle?

Lacking a black and white bromide proof for the July 31 episode, my newspapers.com go-to is usually the Carbondale Southern Illinoisian. An interesting artifact is created between the final two panels by a hole in the online original.

Kevin and Pedro’s hard work paid off. Meanwhile, Miss Teendale’s fantasy for an intimate meal with her prisoner is dashed.

As Millicent seems smitten with Kevin, a reader can’t help but feel the same about her—but how did she fall for such a heinous man? (Reminds me of a song).

By the way, does anyone have a guess for the definition of “baggywinkle?”

Ah… baggywrinkle (with an “R.” I guess this is another of Collins’ alternate spellings). With that disguise, what could go wrong?

To be continued…

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

WWKD

A while back, for episodes that I lacked color half page examples, a reader suggested combining third page episodes with BW half pages. The results for July 10 are pretty nice. (Thanks for the suggestion, Gregorio!)

To create its third page versions, NEA staff artists cropped panels left and right, extended art vertically on occasion, and repositioned speech balloons were as needed. An exception to this method is found in the final panel, above, where Pedro’s position in the Thames was shifted to the immediate foreground of the Falcon.

Kevin is AWOL and Pedro has abandoned ship, leaving Brett to fend for himself—aboard the Falcon, which is about to leave port. With Kevin as his mentor, hopefully the lad will use good judgement.

Pedro’s appetite leads him straight to the riverfront home where Kevin is being held—but Brett is still on his own.

Unfortunately, my third page episode for July 24 was torn and taped together, discoloring the page in a couple spots. And perhaps the third pages mesh better with black and white half pages better than with black and white bromides. Meanwhile, in the episode above, what Brett had done to sabotage the Falcon wasn’t exactly clear. Quick checks on the definitions of top hamper and main brace were helpful—Brett cut the line holding the ship’s uppermost rigging in place, causing a mess. (I wonder how many comic strips inspire readers to look up definitions? Some people might find it tedious, but I love the educational aspect of KEVIN THE BOLD).

To be continued…

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

Jeze-belle

Kevin and Miss Teendale become acquainted.

It’s unclear if Kevin had time to learn his new friend’s given name, but it’s my guess that the spelling of this belle’s name starts with a J-E-Z-E.

Turns out the name is Millicent, which seems fitting for a villainess.

To be continued…

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

Something to Behold

Here is a story, 14 episodes long, that ran in the summer of 1960. It starts with another collaboration between Kreigh Collins and an unknown artist. I have no recollection of ever coloring or painting on these bromide proofs but who knows, it could’ve been me. Visiting Ada as an eight- or or nine-year old, I recall hanging out in my grandfather’s studio on a couple of occasions. I remember paging through the stacked copies of the NEA Daily and Sunday Comics. This would have been around 1975, after my grandfather had died. If I had to guess, the colorization was the work of one of my cousins, Josh or Karen. Whomever it was, it was no doubt sanctioned by Grandma Collins. My collection of these bromides is incomplete so I suspect that many, probably “better” examples, were taken home by the young artist as a keepsake.

When King Henry VIII has pirate trouble, there’s only one man for the job.

Apparently, it’s a shock that nice Brian Hudson has taken to such a life of crime. But what catches my attention is Kevin’s reference to his own childhood. Ten years in, almost nothing has been revealed about Kevin’s backstory, except that as an orphaned child he was found, raised, and trained for battle by the character Stub (MacTavish Campbell MacGregor, a regular character at the strip’s onset).

Seen in the final two panels of the June 12, 1960 episode, keep an eye on the blonde mademoiselle. With her mask off, she’s certainly something to behold (as Kevin soon learns).

I’m not exactly sure how Kevin leapt down from from that gizmo (seemingly hoisting him onto the ship) faster than the barrel and crates could fall, but his efforts were rewarded quite handsomely.

To be continued…

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

Big Horn No. 2

Issue No. 2 of the French comic book Big Horn follows the same format as its predecessor. In addition to Warren Tufts’ title comic, it also features John Wheeler’s KID COLORADO and Kreigh Collins’ KEVIN LE HARDI (“Kevin the Bold“).

Because these comic books are so thick (132 pages), they don’t scan very well. These images are photos I took outside with the comic book spread flat beneath a piece of plexiglass. Leading off is BIG HORN.

Full- or half-page ads separate the comic book’s features, which include a text-heavy short story. BIG HORN is followed by the more graphic KID COLORADO.

Once again, KEVIN LE HARDI brings up the rear of the book. It leads off with another nicely illustrated opener—but I can’t immediately peg which episode it came from.

The action picks up where it left off in No. 1, partway through the September 30, 1951 episode.

As before, the panels’ original sequence has been edited, with some of them omitted completely.

(Sorry about the glare in the images—I was taking the pictures on a relatively balmy day in mid-January).

Page 117 was devoted to the splash panel that was featured in an all-time great episode (October 28, 1951).

An oft-mentioned line in biographies of Kreigh Collins is that he employed his wife, Thersa, as a model. The comic book’s final panel is a good example—the close-up of the princess dressed as a commoner. The previous panel was likely posed by Teddy as well. While I can’t vouch for the décolletage, my grandmother did have a very slight build.

Despite the caption at the bottom of the final panel, this was not the end of the episode—it went on for another nine weeks. That action is featured in Big Horn No. 3.

Finalement, congratulations to Emmanuel Macron on his reelection as President of France.

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

Sjors No. 45 – Kevin O’Kelly

Finding new foreign versions of KEVIN THE BOLD is exciting, but someone else doing the research and taking the time to send me scans of a new incarnation of Kevin is incredible. A huge thank you to my friend Arnaud from the Netherlands, who sent me scans of an entire comic book. In addition to the images, Arnaud provided me with a load of background information on the other comics included, for which I am also grateful.

Sjors No. 45 was published in November, 1968, and this issue is likely the only one to feature Kreigh Collins’ hero, renamed KEVIN O’KELLY for the Dutch market. I always wonder if my grandfather was aware of these overseas publications, but no doubt he would have had a particular fondness for this one. Kreigh’s wife, Theresa, was born in Michigan, but her parents had both emigrated from the Netherlands c. 1900. The envelope of a mid-1940’s Christmas card from Kreigh to “Teddy” didn’t have her name on it, but had an illustration of a pair of wooden shoes.

The comic book’s cover illustration was created by Bert Bus, a Dutch comic legend who specialized in science fiction comics (CLIFF RENDALL, 1963–1965; and LANCE BARTON, 1967–1968). Outside of the Netherlands, he is known only for his take on ROBOT ARCHIE, originally a British comic strip. Besides the four spreads featuring KEVIN O’KELLY, Sjors No. 45 featured about a dozen other comic titles, plus a couple of extras, a “Parade of Stars” that featured current music acts, a page on sports cars, and a crossword puzzle.

I dig the Electric Prunes, but wasn’t familiar with the Eddysons (a bubblegum pop group from Rotterdam with at least one charming music video) or David Garrick, a British musician who achieved some success in Germany and the Netherlands (his video is also pretty sweet).

KEVIN O’KELLY begins on page 4, and consists of 13 KEVIN THE BOLD episodes from early 1966, condensed somewhat to fit a comic book format.

Much of the original artwork for late-period KEVIN THE BOLD is included Syracuse University Library’s Special Collections Research Center, including most of the episodes featured in Sjors No. 45.

I have not yet featured this story arc so these colorful Dutch renderings will have to suffice for now.

Besides the editing done by resequencing and eliminating certain panels, another difference is the elimination of any monochromatic or two-tone panels that widely appeared in the originals. The result is a much more colorful story presentation.

The March 13, 1966 episode features the splash panel that inspired Bert Bus’ cover illustration. That episode also includes a nasty bit of violence by the thuggish Gar against the lovely Nancy—but fear not, soon enough the brave lass gets sweet revenge with a small sledge hammer.

Next up is a version of BILLY BUTNER, by the British cartoonist Reg Parlett, renamed BILLIE TURF for the Dutch market, and a host of other comics for which I have no background information.

The final spread, above, contains the comic book’s titular comic, the Dutch version of Martin Branner’s PERRY WINKLE. Originally titled SJORS, the name changed to SJORS EN SJIMMIE when the Black character Sjimmie was added to the strip. Unfortunately, Sjimmie was originally drawn as a racial stereotype, but a year later (1969), his appearance changed so that it was less offensive.

The back cover featured SKIPPY DE KANGOEROE, who apparently knew how to surf.

Thanks again to Arnaud for the scans and background information, and apologies for this hastily-written post.

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

Taking the Gloves Off

As he helps Brett gather wood, notice that Kevin is wearing long leather gloves.

Yet as he rushes into action and confronts Vasco, Kevin is barehanded.

Below, regarding “Kevin’s quick action”—it must mean the speed he put his leather gloves back on!

When it comes to dispatching villains, it is usually someone other than Kevin who delivers the fatal blow. Having such a noble character, it is no surprise that Kevin’s request to the King benefits someone other than himself. The sequence ends happily with a wedding, and the action transitions to a chapter that will introduce a character who will play a large part in many of Kevin’s future adventures—King Henry VIII of England.

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