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.

Gone Girl

Wykes has been eliminated but there is still danger afoot.

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After a quick getaway, some liberty appears to have been taken with the geography involved in this tale. The previous action had taken place around Roanoke Island, North Carolina, and yet now Kevin, et al., find themselves at the Jamestown Settlement, located over 100 miles away in Virginia. Or perhaps they paddled their canoe that far. (It’s possible this action was cut when the comic was reformatted as a one-third page!). At any rate, plans are being made for an ocean crossing, and a return to London.

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Saigen admits to abetting Ginia’s escape from the English merchantman, but happily agrees to stay aboard for the voyage across the sea. As a reward, Kevin begins telling the tale of Robin Hood, whose story becomes the next sequence in the comic strip’s narrative. Fittingly, recounting a story to a child is another device used by Collins throughout his cartooning career. It happened several times in “Mitzi McCoy:” the story of the Irish Wolfhound, the Christmas Story, and the McCoy Family Legend (which facilitated the transition of “Mitzi” into “Kevin the Bold”).

 


 

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

Pedro to the Rescue

As the past few weeks have shown, this Roanoke sequence has contained several instances where plot devices Kreigh Collins used in earlier episodes were repeated. Sometimes even oddball phrases would reoccur.

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There is no doubt that the introductory caption of the September 5 episode (above) would be worded differently if it appeared today. (I think “bundled sticks” would suffice). But at least an alternate spelling was used that better distinguished the word from its ugly sound-alike (how ironic it is that the term for this phenomenon is “homonym”). The more offensive spelling was actually used in an episode of “Kevin the Bold” that appeared nearly a decade earlier, again referring to firewood.

As for the theory Kreigh Collins mentioned in the newspaper article from a few weeks ago, he believes Ginia is better known by another name…

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Back to the action, Pedro bravely saves Kevin and Ginia/Pocahontas, and then he puts his back into the action!

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A deadfall device appeared early on in Kreigh Collins’ NEA cartooning career, in the ninth episode of “Mitzi McCoy,” which ran on January 2, 1949. It also raised the ugly specter of a beautiful girl being crushed to death.

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To find out Mitzi’s fate with the deadfall, pick up a copy of The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy, and turn to page 27. The book can be ordered here.

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

The Cruelest Cuts

Hmmm… this foundling daughter sure has an interesting name!

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Black and white tabloid proofs reveal the travesty of the one-third-page format—the last two panels are deleted! And in the August 29 episode shown below, the omission is even more egregious—a plot point is left on the cutting room floor. Meanwhile, Wykes sets his brutal plan in motion.

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Ginia’s harsh criticism leads her to suffer the same fate as Kevin. As she fills Kevin in on Wykes’ plans, salvation appears low on the horizon.

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

Finding a Friend

Kevin is confused by his new acquaintance’s behavior, and their relationship gets off to a rocky start.

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The two develop a certain amount of trust, and the July 25 episode presents Kevin with a couple of surprises.

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Saigen harks back to a character from a September, 1949 “Mitzi McCoy” episode. Tim Graham is saved in a very similar fashion by Mugs, another Native American boy. (This reminds me of a line by David Byrne, “There are a finite number of jokes in the universe.”)

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Although Kreigh Collins portrayed Native Americans as both heroes and villains, their speech was usually presented in the stereotypical fashion common of the era, a broken English where “me” was used instead of “I” and “-um” was appended to words. Kevin also shows some bias in making the mistake of underestimating his new friend Saigen.

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Not only that, but Kevin falls into the same trap as in an adventure from five years earlier…

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…as did Kevin’s dog Rory, in the comic strip’s inaugural 1950 sequence.

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As a kid, I remember digging holes for this type of trap out in the woods behind our house. Or more likely, I recall my brother Brett doing it in hopes of capturing me! We must have learned this trick from our father.


Tiger Traps and Other Comics

The 1950 “Kevin the Bold” episode directly above is featured along with 110+ others in “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy.” It also features a wonderful 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 Lost Colony

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The following “Kevin the Bold” sequence received quite a promotional push from Kreigh Collins’ syndicate. In addition to several paragraphs of descriptive text, four separate spots were prepared—three with illustrations and one with a photo of Collins at his drawing table.

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The promotional push generated other articles, such as this one from the Atlantic City Press. Placing it alongside an update on pole sitter Dixie Blandy is interesting perhaps only to me (but get a load of this!)

Although the comics came out in the summer of 1965, the required research was started five years earlier. Collins and his family had taken their schooner Heather south in 1959, wintering in Coconut Grove, Florida. This was the first step in their endeavor of sailing the Great Loop, an approximately 6,000-mile journey (quite a feat considering the 45′ sailboat’s crew consisted of Kreigh, wife Theresa, and 9-year-old twins Kevin and Glen.

It is worth mentioning that Collins continued working on his comic strip during this year-long adventure, he arose early in the morning and did his illustrations in the main salon of his sailboat’s cabin. Visits to post offices along the way were required for mailing off his scripts and illustrations, and for receiving feedback from the suits at the syndicate.

In April, the family headed north via the Intracoastal Waterway, eventually sailing through New York Harbor, the Hudson River, and across the Erie Canal. From there, they entered the Great Lakes, sailing through Lake Erie, Lake Huron, and Lake Michigan, making it back to their home port on Lake Macatawa in late August.

Somewhere in North Carolina, a photographer joined the crew (although these photos must have been taken by someone else, since the photographer appears in a couple of the shots).

Among their many stops was Hatteras Island on North Carolina’s Outer Banks—the location of the lost colony of Roanoke, and the mystery and disappearance of its settlers, including Virginia Dare. No one knows what happened, but as Collins said in the newspaper article about the sequence, he had his theory.

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A souvenir from an annual stage show about “America’s greatest mystery” (now in its 82nd season)

The action begins with Kevin about to sail for the New World, and with his amigo Pedro determined to join the crew.

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As usual, the comics’ tone is lighthearted at the beginning of the story arc, but soon the real action begins.

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

Tit-Bits No. 2232

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Tit-Bits was a British weekly with origins in the late 19th century. An Argentinian version was created in 1909, and among its pages, Spanish translations of American comics were featured.

Measuring 10.5″ x 13.5″, the 24-page, tabloid-sized magazine had full-color covers, and the interior was a mixture of black and white and color pages.

“Kevin the Bold” made its Tit-Bits debut in issue No. 2232, published on April 1, 1952. Retitled Kevin el Denodado, its adventure theme fit in nicely with the other comics the magazine featured. In addition to appearing on the cover, “Kevin” also ran on the inside spread. The other comics in this issue were Spanish versions of “Big Ben Bolt,” by John Cullen Murphy (Ben Bolt Campeón), “Rusty Riley” by Frank Godwin (Rusty Riley, Aprendiz de Jockey), “Terry and the Pirates” by Milt Caniff (Terry, el Piloto), and Dr. Nicholas P. Dallis’ “Rex Morgan, MD” (Rex Morgan, Médico). Sometimes the comics ran on full pages, and in other cases there was editorial content wrapping around them.

In all the copies I have seen of Tit-Bits, comics were featured on both the second page and facing the table of contents (page 3). The other comics appeared at random intervals throughout and generally ran in black and white.

On the other hand, the new comic found on the magazine’s center spread ran in color. Not only that, but this massive 21″ x 13.5″ image was made by combining three separate episodes into one.

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It actually begins with the final episode of “Mitzi McCoy,” and continues with the first two episodes of “Kevin the Bold.” This composite comic was constructed from tabloid versions of the original—each of the three throwaway panels are missing—and the visuals of the third and fourth panels are reversed, with the dialog remaining in its original position (I guess the NEA’s Ernest “East” Lynn wasn’t the only fussy comics editor in the western hemisphere!)

As a comparison, here are the original versions of the spread’s three comics (September 24, October 1, and October 8, 1950).

Tit-Bits continued running episodes of Kevin el Denodado for at least three years. A single episode ran in each of the five issues following No. 2232, and then another three-comic combination graced the center spread of issue No. 2238, dated May 13, 1952. As was the case with the Menomonee Falls Gazette, the Tit-Bits cover images rotated based on the comics featured inside. From what I can tell from my small collection, Tit-Bits kept publishing “Kevin” episodes sequentially, possibly skipping a story arc, or occasionally running them in a different order.

“Mitzi McCoy” does not seem to have been featured in Tit-Bits, and the only case I have seen of that comic strip having been translated into Spanish appeared in Havana, Cuba’s “El Mundo” Sunday edition.

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“El Mundo de Mitzi McCoy,” May 21, 1950.


Lost in Translation

The action featured in the epic “Kevin the Bold” comic above appears near the tail end of my book, “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy.” The book features all 99 episodes of “Mitzi McCoy” as well as the ensuing 12 “Kevin the Bold” adventures that following the “Mitzi”‘s transition to “Kevin”. While there are no immediate plans to translate the book into Spanish, it’s pretty awesome in its original English, if I do say so myself.

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“The Complete Mitzi McCoy” can be ordered here.


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

A Cripple Cured

Both Kevin and the Tyrantslayer receive a shock, but it’s all good news. Emboldened by the positive turn of events, the old man puts his body—or what’s left of it—on the line.

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[I stand corrected, the old man does have a name—Alexi. I still prefer “Tyrantslayer”].

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Two more surprises remain, the first being the guards’ reaction to the news of Sarrov’s death. The second involves Prince Ivan…

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The action transitions to a new story arc, which can be read in its entirety in “Kevin the Bold: Sunday Adventures,” along with a dozen other chapters of Kevin the Bold’s adventures.


Kevin the Bold: Sunday Adventures

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Here are over 140 episodes of this rollicking, witty and dramatic lost Sunday comics classic! With elegant artwork and smart storytelling by creator Kreigh Collins, KEVIN THE BOLD blends swordplay, suspense, humor and history in a rugged, highly appealing blend! 95% of the material is sourced from black and white syndicate proofs. Available here.


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

The Guinea Pig

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For a moment, it seemed that Kevin had found a way out, but it was not to be. Months pass, and Kevin remains caged like an animal (in this case, a guinea pig). While Kevin may be out of fighting shape, his mind is still sharp, and he comes up with a plan…

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Meanwhile, Kevin’s elderly ally has set upon providing some relief for his beloved, caged prince.

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It might be a bit of a stretch, but in an another parallel to Game of Thrones, the old man slays Sarrov. Since he’s unnamed, I’m dubbing him the Tyrantslayer. Appropriately enough, this spooky episode appeared on Halloween.

Next week—the sequence’s climax!


The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins

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The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy. The first-ever collection of Kreigh Collins’ debut NEA Sunday comic strip can be ordered here.


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

Catching a Snag

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Kevin learns the unlikely truth about the sword fighter he leapt to save, and of the horrible fate of the prince. This information is recounted by a newfound ally, and although the old man isn’t given a name, he has an unusual physical feature—a hook for a right hand (not so different than the Kingslayer, Jaime Lannister). Notably, the episode’s dramatic splash panel was used as back cover art for a highly-recommended 2017 collection of “Kevin the Bold” comics (details below).

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As a whole, these Chicago Tribune comics are not as vibrantly reproduced as examples from earlier in the decade, but the October 3 episode printed quite nicely.

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Kevin’s plan to get inside catches a snag—and another snag saves his hide.

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The October 10 episode is a marvel; it features perhaps my favorite panel in the comic strip’s entire 18-year run. It is even more dramatic as seen in a black-and-white syndicate proof, which showcases Collins’ mastery of composition and illustration.

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Kevin the Bold: Sunday Adventures

61NhkKcYitL

Here are over 140 episodes of this rollicking, witty and dramatic lost Sunday comics classic! With elegant artwork and smart storytelling by creator Kreigh Collins, KEVIN THE BOLD blends swordplay, suspense, humor and history in a rugged, highly appealing blend! 95% of the material is sourced from black and white syndicate proofs. Available here.

 


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