Big Horn No. 1

“Kevin le Hardi” was included as part of five French “Big Horn” comic books, which were published beginning in October, 1957. The comic books, though small in trim size (about 5-3/8″ x 7-1/8″), were quite lengthy, 128 black and white pages plus color covers. On the cover, Kevin received third billing, and Kreigh Collins’ creation ran on the 31 pages at the back of the book.

Warren Tufts’ title comic occupied the first 32 pages, and it was followed by “Kid Colorado,” by John Wheeler. Each of the comics have nice, custom introductory pages (three pages for “Big Horn.”)

At the conclusion of the “Big Horn” adventure is an ad for “Fantasia.” Next up is a sizable chunk of “Kid Colorado.” I wasn’t able to find out much about it, other than it was the work of a British artist, John Wheeler. Here, it runs for nearly 60 pages—about half the comic book’s pages—and is followed by an ad for “Rancho.”

Now, allow me a “Wizard of Oz”-like transition (RGB files for the good stuff!). Here’s the star of our show, Kevin le Hardi. I know just enough French to make some foolish assumptions about what I’m reading, so it looks like the charming introductory page presents Kevin, his enemy Von Blunt (en français, Von Blut), and his loyal, um, squire (I had to look that one up), MacGrégor (Stub).

“Big Horn No. 1″ features the fourth chapter in the “Kevin the Bold” saga, “The Witch Hunt.” The action picks up with the episode that ran in Sunday comic sections on August 5, 1951.

Ici, a single Sunday episode typically runs three and a half pages (sans throwaway panels).

Au dessous, the September 2, 1951 episode starts at the end of the left-hand spread, and in the center spread, a couple of panels are reversed in order. Otherwise, the panels follow unimpeded for the remainder of the chapter.

Près de the very end of “Big Horn No. 1″ (page 124), the fifth “Kevin the Bold” chapter begins. It features the foe shown on Kevin’s introductory page, Von Blut. The second-to-last page has another example of panel re-sequencing—Von Blut’s mug originally ran on September 23 but it is plopped right in the middle of the September 30, 1951 episode. It works just fine.

Sous the final panel, it curiously states “end of the first episode,” but it’s not even the end of the September 30, 1951 episode! Not to worry, the action continues in “Big Horn No. 2.”

Malheureusement, the back cover highlights everyone but Kevin le Hardi.

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

Kevin den Tapre 1955-1960

The most recent addition to my comics compilation library is the massive, second volume of “Kevin den Tapre,” from publisher Anders Hjorth-Jørgensen and his company, Forlaget desAHJn. Like its companion volume, the comics were sourced from the Danish weekly magazine Hjemmet. From 1955-1960, Hjemmet ran the episodes in an interesting three-color scheme; the collection is available here.

The book has an impressive front matter section highlighting various aspects of Kreigh Collins’ heroic protagonist.

In many instances, the original, full-color episodes precede their corresponding three-color Danish versions for easy comparison. When King Henry VIII enters Kevin’s world, a full-page sidebar offers some background of the English monarch. Considering the book’s 218 Danish episodes, plus all the extras, it results in a rather hefty volume—364 pages in all.

The spread on pages 156-157 shows a prime example of one of the lovely ladies my grandfather featured—Gertie reproduces nicely in any number of colors! And speaking of lovely ladies, if your preference runs toward more wholesome lasses, pages 300-301 and beyond feature Becky Makepeace, whose story just ran on this blog. (Speaking of which, this is post No. 300! Woo-hoo!).

Following the complete run of three-color Hjemmet episodes, there is a lengthy section of back matter. It touches on some of Kevin’s later adventures, including the transition to “Up Anchor!” and how “Kevin” was repackaged into comic books for numerous foreign markets.

Further spreads highlight Collins’ pre-comics work as an illustrator, the start of his NEA comics career, and the Bible Stories Pictures he created in the mid-1940s for the Methodist Publishing House (among other subjects). The book is very thorough.

While reviewing the book gave my translation app quite a workout, certain words required no explanation, such as “Research,” a bibliography. I will vouch for the source material!


Danish Originals

While researching Kevin’s Danish incarnation, I came across an auction site with 30+ episodes of “Kevin den Tapre” listed, check it out! (Though I’m not sure if they do international shipping). These are the same episodes appearing in the Danish collections. All but one of the listings are for the full-color examples that appeared in Volume 1.


Attention Bibliophiles

The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, the Complete Mitzi McCoy,” is available for immediate delivery at a reduced price; it features the entire run of Kreigh Collins’ first NEA feature.

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 costs $30 ONLY $20! 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.

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

Honor among Foes

The first and last episodes shown here are third pages combined with BW versions found online from the Allentown (Pa.) Call-Chronicle. While assembling the images, I noticed that the one appearing in newspaper was vertically scrunched, slightly, a few percentage points. I don’t know if that paper purposefully ran scaled-down versions so that they took up less space or if the distortion was just a result of the images being scanned. At any rate, the combined comic shows how the original was cropped to yield the third-page, and what was deemed unnecessary (hint: don’t crop out the ladies!)

Kevin does the honorable thing by dispatching Tom, and is rewarded with an unexpected display from Don Diego, who also acts virtuously (despite his previous handsiness with Inez).

With the cards in your favor, playing by the rules, sometimes you lose.

Holding tight to his principles, the fate of Don Diego (and Kevin) now lies with the flip of a coin.

An interesting question indeed from Dolores—and the men are saved by the wily Inez.

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

Gift of the Sea

Washed up and nearly dead, Kevin and Diego are discovered. 

I’d think that there’d be easier ways for these two beauties to catch men, but Ill go along with it. Will Kevin?

Sign me up for #TeamDelores

Wise old Pepe stalls for time, but Dolores is quick to act. She opts to liberate the foreigner, and with a glance at the throwaway panel, it’s easy to see why Kevin went along with her plan—for one night, anyway.

Kevin leaves, and gets lucky (again?), by bumping into Tom.

In a scene from the comics that would be shocking today, Diego awakens, and sexually harasses his caretaker. It’s kind of a textbook case of an interaction between a powerful man and a powerless female underling. It seems Inez has seen this sort of stuff before and deftly bats away Diego’s advances. Elsewhere, Kevin bravely stands sentinel.

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

Maritime Hazards

The first eight episodes of this sequence made a compelling first act, and a wonderful second act is made from the next four episodes. The action involves plotting for revenge, building a secret armada, a catfight with flying fish (?!), gorgeous sailing scenes… and is essentially what convinced me rerun this sequence.

Kevin unseals the King’s orders, and a couple of likable “enemies” are introduced.

Also referenced is Catherine of Aragon, yet another historical figure I was inspired to look up thanks to my grandfather’s comic strip. Ah yes, King Henry’s first wife, the spurned Spanish princess who died young, tragically. Yes, I understand Diego’s beef with England.

Moving on, we are introduced to Inez and Dolores, AKA Sheepface. Me-oww! The claws are out!

Yes, the fish are flying! And some beautifully-rendered panels follow, featuring longboats and more of my favorite fishing girls.

These gals have a much more intense rivalry than my other favorite blonde/brunette duo, Betty and Veronica!

The July 26 episode (below) is evidence of Kreigh Collins’ personal experience with and love of sailing. The perspectives shown accurately reflect the imminent collision at sea. At this point Collins mostly sailed aboard a 45-foot schooner, but he still owned a 19-foot Lightning, whose hull pretty closely resembles the boat Kevin is shown sailing. Sailing downwind, the square-rigged boat has less maneuverability than Diego’s lateen-rigged double ender. But pointing into the wind, the Spaniard has no intention of passing port to port, as would be the custom.

That’s right—even sailing solo, acting as a spy in foreign waters, and rammed by an unnamed boat, Kevin is duty-bound to try to rescue his antagonist at sea.

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

A Young Man’s Fancy

Her interest piqued, Tom Chiswick has made a fine impression on Miss Makepeace, and she’s shocked to see what unfolds.

Tom is bewildered. Jumped by thugs, one of whom was Pedro, and set upon by a master swordsman, revealed to be Kevin. Then, following an explanation, the tables turn as someone makes a strong impression on him.

Things are moving quickly, yet they are about to speed up. And with Spring in the air…

Without a nice half-page for the June 28 episode, a third-page example combined with a black-and-white velox proof will have to suffice—not bad! And it shows how much of the original illustration was lost when it was edited.

With an abrupt answer to his question, Tom is dispatched. Only later does Becky confront the feelings she has for her suitor.

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

Kevin vs. the Spanish Armada Redux

At this blog’s onset, I didn’t have a clear plan, other than the general idea of trying to raise my grandfather’s profile. The first several posts introduced Kreigh Collins’ three NEA Service features, and the next few entries covered some generalities. I was fortunate to stumble upon the (rather obvious) idea of posting on Sundays, and I soon learned that one weekly post would be plenty. Eventually it dawned on me to post complete story arcs over the span of several weeks. With an ample inventory from which to pick, I decided on a lengthy chapter near the midpoint of Kevin the Bold‘s run. 

At the time, the only examples I had of this particular chapter were one-third page versions, but I proceeded anyway—it seemed like a solid example of one of Kevin’s adventures. Five-plus years later, I’ve run about half the episodes my grandfather created, and there’s still plenty to choose from. Nonetheless, I thought revisiting this particular sequence might be a good idea, since I recently acquired half page examples of 16 of the 19 episodes.

As the prior episode transitions to a new story, two new characters are introduced—wealthy shipbuilder Thatcher Makepeace and his Becky, his lovely daughter.

The chapter shows hallmarks of not being written by Collins, but there is plenty of fantastic artwork to come.

Alas, Mr. Makepeace doesn’t realize the spunkiness of his gently-raised little girl. They grow up so fast!

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

Crawling from the Wreckage

A hasty plan has placed Kevin and Pedro in peril.

Both Kevin and Pedro appear doomed in their rescue effort, as Kevin is attacked and Pedro nearly crushed. While supporting the crumbling pier, somehow Pedro is able to cut Glenn loose, allowing him to crawl away.

In his attempt to avoid Kevin, Captain Steele’s carelessness brings the whole wharf down, entombing him. It’s a familiar way for Kevin’s enemies to go, victims of their own demise.

The story ends abruptly, without showing a mother-child reunion, and quickly transitions to the next chapter.

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

A Cry for Help

While Glenn is still held captive, his worried mother calls on Kevin to help find him.

I don’t have a color half-page example of the October 26, 1958 episode, but the reverse side of this black and white proof has an interesting detail. Normally, pencilled on the back of these prooofs were instructions from NEA boss Ernest Lynn for his secretary (e.g., “Kreigh Collins Airmail”), but this one reads “Kreigh Collins Airmail – Macatawa,” indicating that Collins and his family were spending the summer sailing in northern Michigan—Lake Macatawa was a favorite spot, and Collins used local Post Offices for general delivery during summers spent aboard his boat, as he continued his work assignments. With episodes readied about three months before publication, that meant that delivery of this proof took place in late July, 1958, the third summer Collins and his family sailed aboard their schooner Heather.

Poor, frightened Glenn cries out again, but this time Kevin and Pedro are within earshot.

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

Glenn Enclosed

The September 28, 1958 episode has a rare example of Kevin boldly demonstrating the facepalm.

Glenn is shown to be quite a precocious young fella, but his curiosity poses some risk.

As Pedro’s character develops, he is shown indulging in his favorite pastime; meanwhile, poor Glenn is out of the frying pan but into the fire.

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