Polder Plots and Plotz

While the Spaniards are plotting about the polder, I’m plotzing because I don’t have color half pages to post. Nonetheless, King Henry brings Kevin up to speed on the situation.

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For the second consecutive week, the term “polder” was defined by way of an asterisk and an explanatory caption. While “Kevin the Bold” often had arcane or foreign terms explained in this fashion, it was unusual for the comic strip to be so heavy-handed about it. This was most certainly done at the request of Collins’ boss, Ernest Lynn, who repeatedly made the point that each episodes needed to be understood by readers who might’ve missed previous installments. It’s a fair point, within reason, but there is also a point where enough is enough (we haven’t reached it yet!).

Luck was on Kevin’s side—his passage to the Netherlands was indeed swift, and a chance encounter with young Elsa Van Loo puts him exactly where he needs to be.

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Tired of the newspapers.com downloads? I’m afraid the BW proof I have for the next episode isn’t much of an improvement. Which do you prefer? I’d love to hear your opinion.

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Despite his good fortune, has Kevin arrived too late?

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.

 

The Coward’s Coat

Last week’s episode ended with a flurry of activity—Louise was bound and gagged, and Jacob inadvertently started a fire, which quickly spread.

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Too late, Kevin discover’s Sir Guy’s secret weapon, but as the story concludes, Sir Guy will get his just desserts.

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Ain’t karma’s a bitch?


All That and More

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The two story arcs just presented—plus a dozen more!—are featured in the collection “Kevin the Bold: Sunday Adventures September 5, 1954 to June 2, 1957”.

Compiled by Eisner Award-winning comics historian Frank M. Young, the collection is available online from Amazon (a bargain at $14.99).

As Described on the back cover: Unjustly neglected in newspaper comics histories, Kreigh Collins’ Kevin the Bold is one of the 1950s’ best, with outstanding artwork and witty scripting. Here are close to three years of Kevin (and Collins) at the top of their game, sourced from rare syndicate proofs.


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

Sir Guy’s Revenge

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The pirates picked a fight with the wrong crew—even the “gentle” artist Stephen gets into the act. (It’s always interesting to note how Kreigh Collins portrayed artists in his comics).

Louise Essex is slowly coming to her senses; unfortunately, she’s still a bit naive.

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Kind of a funny thing, lovely Louise is running around and can’t seem to make an impression on the men—meanwhile they’re both headed to the shore, to scrutinize the same boat.

Jacob Merrily, an acquaintance of Stephen’s, was introduced during the previous sequence—in the March 4 episode. When Stephen went into hiding, the kindly old sailor gave him shelter; following a chance encounter with Louise, his protective instincts kick in again.

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Sadly, things didn’t work out the way Jacob had intended.

Next, will Stephen stop for lunch? Or will Kevin persuade him to investigate the smoke first? Check back next week for this story’s conclusion!


Note to readers: I know you’re situated all over the world, but wherever you are, I hope you are healthy and safe from the coronavirus. The situation is getting a bit worse where I am, in northern New Jersey, but at this point my family and I are fine. I sincerely hope the same is true for you.


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

The Battle Draws Nigh

A surprise visit by Louise catches Sir Guy Thornberry unawares. (It’s hard to imagine what they see in him, but Sir Guy certainly attracts lovely young ladies).

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Shoving  Jacob Merrily to the ground, Thornberry shows his true colors, and Merrily’s comment proves to be prophetic.

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The May 27 episode is a beauty, with especially arresting opening and closing panels. The events are equally portentous with Louise naively sharing sensitive information and Kevin discussing the merits of different sailing rigs. It also includes an interesting sailing term of the day, shouted by the watch. These days, left is referred to as “port” side of a ship, as is “starboard” for the right, but in the 16th century, the left was known as the “larboard” side.

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As Stephen Moore sketches, the battle draws nigh.


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

Lovesick Louise

The action from the preceding story arc continues, and with many of the same characters. Sir Guy Thornberry has skulked offstage, but for how long? For reasons unknown, Louise Essex is smitten with the scoundrel. Meanwhile, King Henry has an important job for Kevin—once he overcomes a certain obstacle.

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The second panel has a nice rendering of the Cliffs of Dover.

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By this point, there wasn’t much difference in the print quality of the comics in the Chicago Sunday Tribune and the Detroit News (as shown below). One detail the Tribune versions lacked was the comic’s date inked into one of the panels (shown in the final panel of the News version). For Trib comics that didn’t appear at the top of a page, with the date typeset directly above, a nice personal detail for me is the date written on them, recognizable to me as done by my grandmother, Theresa. (“Teddy” also frequently modeled poses for her husband and basically served as his secretary).

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The colors are a bit richer in the “Tribune” version, but in the third panel there seems to have been some indecision whether to include a yellow background or not.

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I think the second and third panels look better with a white background.

Another nice family detail is found in the name of the ship Kevin captains. Argonaut was the name of Kreigh Collins’ own sailboat, a yawl—somewhat smaller than her namesake (I think she was only 25′ long). And while Collins purchased his schooner Heather later this same summer, she too was dwarfed by Kevin’s ship.

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Collins and his family sailed aboard “Argonaut” (shown at left in Racine, WI) from 1952–1956, and aboard “Heather” (shown in Annapolis, MD) from 1956–1972.


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

Bargaining with the King

This story arc concludes with three episodes taken from three different newspapers: the Chicago Sunday Tribune, the Florida Times-Union, and the Detroit News. The reproduction quality varies noticeably. Despite being years past its early 1950s prime, the Tribune is superior, the News is decent, and the Times-Union… not so much.

Kevin finds himself in the King’s good graces and is soon made an offer that he cannot refuse. Kevin agrees, under one condition.

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Where Kevin has brought Marion Drake and Stephen Moore untold happiness, he has served an equal amount of misery to Sir Guy Thornberry.

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What’s the deal with all of that magenta?

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April 22, 1956 — The Detroit News

As Thornberry crawls off, tail between his legs, Kevin receives an assignment from his new champion, King Henry. In fact, the King becomes an oft-recurring character in “Kevin the Bold,” appearing in at least 14 more story arcs over the next 6-plus years of the comic strip’s run.

Next week: Sir Guy Thornberry seeks revenge!


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

A Trumped-up Story

Heralded by a beautifully-rendered splash panel, Kevin gets a temporary reprieve, but Sir Thornberry still schemes against him.

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Instead of listening to Thornberry and having Kevin killed, King Henry would rather have some entertainment.

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Kevin quickly takes the measure of his opponent, and impresses the audience with his showmanship.

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After baiting Conyngham and scoring a decisive win, Kevin takes aim at Thornberry. In an interesting choice of words, Sir Guy accuses Kevin of telling a Trumped-up story. A Trumped-up story is, of course, something that is is faked or fabricated. As any “Kevin the Bold” reader knows, Kevin lives by a moral code that would not allow such behavior. Reacting to the slanderous comment, Sir Guy backs down, lest he also face Kevin’s sword.

 


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

Mistaken Identity

Just in time, Marion arrives.

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In a case of mistaken identity, Kevin suddenly realizes the danger he is in. As with my torn copy of the March 6 episode, it’s always good to have backup.

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While Stephen finds safe harbor, Kevin lands in the Tower. Notorious as a prison, Kevin soon faces questioning from an equally imposing brute, illustrated marvelously by Collins. It seems that only a fool would save Kevin now.

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

 

 

Jealousy

My collection of my grandfather’s comics began when I acquired two complete years of Florida Times-Union Sundays half pages (1955–56), thanks in part to a leap year, there were 105 episodes in all. That bit of good news was offset slightly by the middling print quality of many of the episodes. Below, the opening splash panel shows quite nicely, but by the third panel, skin tones are represented by near-solid patches of magenta ink. Whenever possible, I will post comics from other sources.

In last week’s introductory episode, the stage was set—London, 1515. Among a large crowd, Kevin witnessed the arrival by boat of a delegation from Venice, bound for a meeting with King Henry VIII. However, other business had brought Kevin to the city.

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Kevin’s friend Stephen Moore is introduced; the handsome, friendly painter is obviously one of the  good guys. On the other hand, we meet the conniving Sir Guy Thornberry. The two have the same intention, marrying the beautiful Marion Drake.

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With King Henry having given his blessing to Thornberry, and Queen Catherine approving Marion’s own choice of a husband, quite a dilemma has been established. The Queen, Catherine of Aragon, was Henry’s first wife, but obviously not his last. This disagreement is a portent of real-life marital trouble down the road for the royals, and while Catherine’s demise is tragic, at least she did not suffer the fate of wives No. 2 and 5!

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As the plot thickens, we learn that Thornberry’s vanity and jealousy is matched only by his ruthlessness. As with several other episodes from this story arc, the visual is upgraded to a crisp NEA proof—which in this case has a hole cut into it—likely the casualty a craft project undertaken by one of Kreigh Collins’ younger children or grandchildren (moi?). I guess those Times-Union halves come in handy after all.


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