Boxing Day

Today is Boxing Day, a day on which servants, tradespeople, and the needy are traditionally presented with gifts. It originated in the United Kingdom, and is primarily celebrated in countries formerly part of the British Empire.

It precedes Kevin the Bold, who might have celebrated it differently.

Panel taken from KEVIN THE BOLD’s third episode (October 15, 1950)

I learned of Boxing Day more as a day to share holiday leftovers and good cheer, and this post will follow that line of thinking. In my more freewheeling younger days, my brother (Brett) and I would often host Boxing Day parties where we’d encourage attendees to dress in boxer shorts and play a few rounds of Rock-em Sock-em Robots.

Brett and I are comics fans from way back but didn’t start throwing Boxing Day Parties until the late ’80s.

Brett was Kreigh Collins’s first grandchild and my brother’s namesake character was a major player in KEVIN THE BOLD from January 1952 until April 1965.

A character named Brian only appeared in a single 1961 sequence and although the characters Brett and Brian both preceded my brother’s and my existence, I can’t help but feel a bit jealous about the discrepancy in those characters’ roles—though I’d be smart to avoid mentioning this to my Uncle Glen (Uncle Kevin’s brother).

At least Brian, the Duke of Duval, was a bad guy and basically shared a name with a tasty Belgian beer.

Speaking of Belgian beer, the painting above, from the Grand Rapids Public Museum’s collection, with its unusual composition, is unlike any other I have seen by Kreigh Collins. Its date (5/14/31) indicates it was produced while Kreigh and his wife Theresa were summering in Europe, shortly after they were married.

Although there were no major characters named Brian in my grandfather’s comic strips, I was bestowed a cool nickname in the Christmas letter he and my grandmother sent out in 1964. (I was born three days before his third grandchild, my cousin Josh).

KTC xmas 64 150

With that, I wish you all a Merry Christmas, a gay holiday season, and that you look forward to 1965 2022 with as much anticipation as I look forward to all of the adventures the year promises to bring.

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

Brett in in the Lions’ Den

At each others’ throats just moments before, Kevin and Karl are now completely aligned.

The short chapter’s quick pace continues, and with Brett’s lion cub/baby switcheroo, the story begins to transition to Kevin’s next adventure.

Before Kevin’s lady friend gets a chance to share it, her story comes alive!

This story line would continue in the pages of the Monomonee Falls Gazette. KEVIN THE BOLD debuted in issue No. 109 (January 14, 1974), which featured Kreigh Collins’ artwork on the cover. For the next six months, KEVIN ran on the gazette’s back cover, and continued inside until the demise of the publication four years later.

In case you can’t get your hands on MFG issues 109–232, the next dozen or so KEVIN THE BOLD chapters are collected in the book Kevin the Bold: Sunday Adventures. The 154-page collection, about 97% of which was compiled from BW syndicate proofs, is available on Amazon.com.

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

The Mountebank’s Lions

This short chapter appeared at the tail end of 1954. Its five episodes were all taken from the Chicago Sunday Tribune, and although they are a bit past that newspaper’s prime years (as far as reproduction and printing of Sunday comics is concerned), they are beautiful examples nonetheless. This early chapter—KEVIN THE BOLD’s 17th—immediately precedes the episodes that ran in the Menomonee Falls Gazette.

As noted in the opening caption, the action is set in 1491. The year is somewhat arbitrary—my feeling is that it just serves to peg the action as occurring just before Christopher Columbus’ first voyage to the New World. It was a busy year for Kevin—the strip’s three previous chapters also took place in 1491. These were the first times a specific date was referenced for KEVIN THE BOLD’s action.

This sequence also kept Kevin busy—quite a bit of action was packed into its five episodes, which lacked the longer exposition normally found at the beginning of a chapter.

Having just arrived, Kevin makes immediate impressions on both the town’s law and order man and his pretty female friend. The jealous Swiss guardsman insults Kevin and moments later they square off to fight. Oh, and there are lions!

As quickly as it started, the fight ends, and the two combatants join forces in a common goal, finding the lioness’s cub. It’s all happened so quickly that I barely had time to look up the definition of mountebank—if he’s a charlatan, the townsfolk don’t seem to mind. Now back to the action!

In an odd form of payback, the lioness kidnaps a baby. Brett emerges as the voice of reason, the lion cub returns and… has Brett lost his mind?

To be continued…

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

Allas Veckotidning—1958

Allas Veckotidning (“Everyone’s Weekly”) is a Swedish weekly first published in 1931. Its general-interest content is typical for a weekly, and it also included several comic strips. Generally running in two colors, a Swedish translation of KEVIN THE BOLD (Falcon Stormfägeln), debuted circa August 1951 and ran for at least 15 years.

Actress Elsa Martinelli graced the cover of 1958’s issue No. 17. Defaced slightly by a bit of doodling from a blue ballpoint pen, at least the culprit didn’t give the young actress a mustache or a missing tooth. But as they say, it’s what’s inside that is important.

Inside was the explosive episode originally appearing on May 26, 1957. In 1958 issues of Allas Veckotidning, Falcon Stormfägeln often ran opposite CAROL DAY, by David Wright, a relatively new British soap opera comic strip. However, it wasn’t given as much space as Kreigh Collins’ strip, and although its title was printed in a second color, the artwork only appeared in black and white.

The original KEVIN episode is even more dramatic in full color, although its explosive subject is a bit incongruous for a late-1950s general interest women’s magazine.

Issue No. 23 featured a lovely lass enjoying an all-day sucker, and its cover beckoned its audience to read about Esther’s escapades.

Since the only word in Swedish that I remember is farfar (paternal grandfather), I’ll stick with what I know and skip right to page 39.

A better fit for the magazine, the episode shows a nervous Pierre Van Arden proposing marriage. The original episode, from July 7, 1957, is shown below. This episode is from a chapter whose villain is Count Noir.

Issue No. 27, with an attractive model enjoying some time at the beach, also featured some nice art direction—though if there was ever an occasion for a polkadot bikini, this was it.

Again appearing on page 39 was another episode in the sequence with Count Noir.

As it appeared in the Detroit News, here is the August 4, 1957 episode.

Issue No. 30 featured another beautiful cover model, and an even more attractive cover. I might be a sucker for polka dots, but I think this is stunning. But it’s something else that leads this to be my favorite issue of Allas Veckotidning.

For the only time in my limited collection of Allas Veckotidning magazines, Falcon Stormfägeln ran on the back cover, and in full color. The action from the Count Noir chapter continues.

The episode looks splendid. I don’t mean to badmouth these half-page examples from the Detroit News—after all, by this time, the Chicago Tribune was only running third-page versions—but the reproduction of Falcon Stormfägeln from Allas Veckotidning far surpasses the original episode (I guess using a paper stock better than newsprint is a bit of an unfair advantage).

(A sincere thank you to my friend Roger for sending me these copies of Allas Veckotidning).

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

Roland den Djärve

In Sweden, installments of KEVIN THE BOLD first appeared in the weekly magazine Allas Veckotidning. These tabloid versions, called FALCON Storm fägeln, started running in the summer of 1951. Two years later, Kreigh Collins’ Sunday comics feature found another Swedish outlet, this time as a component of the TOM MIX comic book series.

This incarnation, retitled ROLAND DEN Djärve, initially ran in full color, with three or four original episodes spread across six or seven pages. As was the case in some of KEVIN’s other comic book appearances, the panels’ sequence could be changed, and sometimes panels (other than the throwaways) were eliminated. These edits were necessary to squeeze the art into the smaller confines of the comic books’ pages. Additionally, the color schemes could change compared to he original Sunday versions, and panels originally rendered in a two- or three-color scheme now appeared in full color throughout.

The full-color reproductions are rather unique, as far as comic book presentations of Kreigh Collins’ comics are concerned. KEVIN THE BOLD would appear in color when reprinted in weekly magazines (e.g., Tit-Bits, Hjemmet, and Allas Veckotidning), but comic books from countries such as Australia, France, Italy, and Bosnia were all printed in black and white.

A huge “Thank you” to my friend Roger—all of this artwork originally appeared on his amazing site, RogersMagasin.com. TOM MIX No. 1, which would contain KEVIN’s first four episodes, is missing from that site but we can pick up the action in No. 2.

Here are the corresponding original Sundays.

The action continued in TOM MIX No. 3.

The covers generally featured Tom Mix, but occasionally new illustrations were commissioned referencing KEVIN THE BOLD .

Here are the corresponding original Sundays.

The action continued in TOM MIX No. 4.

Here are the corresponding original Sundays.

The action continued in TOM MIX No. 5.

Another ROLAND-inspired cover, illustrated by Camitz.

Here are the corresponding original Sundays.

The action continued in TOM MIX No. 6.

A compelling TOM MIX cover with a scene pulled from ROLAND, but without the illustrator’s signature.

Here are the corresponding original Sundays.

Next week, a special anniversary.

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

Turning the Tables

The chapter wraps with scans of three more black and white bromide proofs. Poor Pedro—he is facing death, yet what he fears more is facing his wife.

As Norfolk defies his Queen and sets his plot in motion, the episode ends as a donnybrook begins, with what looks like an ornate brass teapot situated prominently in the foreground of the final panel.

Queen Elizabeth springs into action, conking one of Norfolk’s henchmen with the flying brass teapot, Kevin is able to retrieve his rapier in the commotion, and the rebellion is quashed.

Pedro is fortunate to have a wife as forgiving as she is beautiful, and the action transitions to a new chapter. Look for the story of Cecil Rochester, musketeer, at some point in the future!

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

The Missing Ring

Pedro’s wife has popped over for a surprise visit, but it is Carmine who is in for the bombshell revelation.

Rumors of the plot to kill Queen Elizabeth had been swirling around, and Pedro is swept up, improbably.

As the dramatic confrontation nears, my friend Gregorio’ re-colored half pages end. (I had no color examples of the remaining episodes in this chapter to use as color guides). Thanks again for your efforts!

Even minus the color, the quality of these bromide proofs is pretty sweet. But poor Pedro, he feels so badly about losing his ring that he cannot bear to see his wife, even with his punishment nigh!

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

Kevin’s Conundrum

Kevin is shocked to find himself under arrest.

As he realizes he must tell the Queen about Pedro’s involvement in the affair, Kevin’s agony deepens—and it’s about to get worse!

Kevin is so tormented that he doesn’t notice the pretty flower girl, and now he has to face Pedro’s wife, Carmine.

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

Kevin the Mole

When I first starting collecting Kreigh Collins’s comics, I wasn’t aware of many fruitful places to look for them. I knew of ebay’s existence, but I didn’t think to look there. I can’t remember where I found the listing for my first purchase, but it was printed rather than online. Around this time, I was also collecting books my grandfather illustrated—I found these on a couple used booksellers’ websites.

One 2009 search on abebooks turned up a hit for 37 color KEVIN L’AUDACIEUX third-pages—from a newspaper Québeçois. They weren’t expensive, so I made the purchase—my second, comics-wise. The plan was to translate them back to English, set all the type on my computer, and digitally combine everything—and plug a hole in my collection.

Soon after the comics arrived, my ambitious bubble burst. Their color wasn’t great, most were cropped so tightly that edges were missing, and I realized I’d vastly overestimated how much French I remembered. I soured on the whole deal and changed my mind about buying another similar lot. (The irony is that now I’m most interested in foreign translations). Years later, the item was still listed—as I recall, PRINCE VALLIANT was on the other side—but no longer.

Later, when my “discovery” of ebay made collecting easier, I considered these episodes in French nearly worthless. But recently, through emails exchanged with a friend from Spain, I learned that these unloved thirds did have value. Gregorio graciously offered to combine them with the corresponding bromide proofs, replace le dialogue française with the English from the proofs, and return them. I found his method amazing, and was very impressed with the results. Gregorio also extended the color from the third-pages to the edges of the bromides’ frames, giving them a distinct appearance.

I offer a sincere thank you—this sequence’s remaining color episodes were all produced by Gregorio. Now, picking up where we left Kevin, he has just agreed to infiltrate a gang of conspirators plotting against Queen Elizabeth.

In the last panel, I’m assuming Kevin also has his fingers crossed.

Once Kevin sees Pedro, it seems he’s having second thoughts about his role as a mole.

To be continued…

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

An Agent of the Queen

Even a most preliminary investigation of KEVIN THE BOLD reveals that he spent time as an Irish agent of King Henry VIII—indeed, in early 1956 the English king became a featured character and appeared regularly. But as the years passed, Henry aged out and was eventually succeeded by Queen Elizabeth I. She first appeared in the December 22, 1963 episode of Kreigh Collins’ feature. 

Taken as historical fiction, time is rather fluid in KEVIN THE BOLD. A sequence that ran five months earlier placed the action in 1580. While Queen Elizabeth I’s reign began in late 1558, the events described in the following chapter (based on the Ridolfi Plot), would place the action back in 1571. With that in mind, let’s back up and see why Kevin was meeting the Queen in the first place.

As the previous adventure segues into the next, Pedro delivers a message to his friend that he is to report to the Queen immediately. Kevin is about to learn that her majesty does not like to be kept waiting.

For KEVIN episodes from this time period, I don’t have too many color half-pages, but I do have a pretty solid collection of black and white proofs, which I recently learned are called bromides. (Although the term was familiar, I guess much of the material I learned in my Reproduction Processes class at SUNY-Buffalo circa 1985 is starting to fade). These bromides are photographic reproductions printed on heavy matte paper, similar to watercolor paper. Besides serving as nice keepsakes, they were used as color guides for the separators—illustrators such as Collins would paint them with watercolors to indicate the colors of clothing, interiors, etc.

When I have the time and resources, I combine them with color third-page copies to give a better idea of how the episodes looked in their intended format. In the hybrid episode below, Kevin learns the Queen is not so unreasonable after all…

Kevin is about to reprise his role as an agent of the monarchy, and as usual, it’s a dangerous situation.

While I have a color half-page for the January 5, 1964 episode, the adventure continues next week, with some even more creatively combined BW-color examples…

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