The Deadfall

Mitzi continues to wander, realizes the great mistake she’s made, and starts to seek shelter.

Inches from certain demise, Mitzi is saved by Tim’s quick thinking.

Tim’s shouted warning has also put Mitzi in an eye-catching position! Seeing a familiar face seems to have brought her back to her senses, and Tim has landed a major scoop for the Freedom Clarion.

Mitzi was fortunate not to have gotten caught in the deadfall trap. Several years before turning up in MITZI McCOY, Collins illustrated one of the devices for the book “The Lone Woodsman,” by Warren H. Miller (1943). Though unfortunately printed on cheap wartime paper, the book contains numerous lovely illustrations and comes highly recommended.

MITZI’s introductory chapter ends with a humorous denouement. The dialogue brings a smile to my face due to a phrase my father often used in lieu of cursing—“Blankety Blank!” (sixth panel). Although Erik and Kreigh weren’t close, the two shared plenty of idioms. I think their estrangement is one of the main reasons I am so interested in my grandfather’s career. Growing up, iIt’s not like I was unaware of my grandfather’s work, I just wish there was more dialog about it when Kreigh and Erik were still alive. Of the few comments my father made on the subject was a bemused remark when I switched my college major from engineering to graphic design—“a commercial artist, that’s what my dad was.” Although Kreigh died young (shortly after his 66th birthday), my grandmother lived into her eleventh decade, and I’m proud that she lived long enough to see I had started collecting Kreigh’s comics, and had taken the first steps to start raising his profile. As his wife, muse, frequent model, and champion, I know she took pride in that.

To read more about the return of Mitzi’s ex-fiancé, and the other goings-on in the little town of Freedom, order a copy of “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, the Complete Mitzi McCoy.”

_________________________________________________________________________

An Overlooked Classic

The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, the Complete Mitzi McCoy” features the entire run of Kreigh Collins’ first NEA feature, and is available for a limited time at a reduced price.

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 is available for $30 ONLY $20! For domestic shipping, add $4; for international orders, please add $25 to cover 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 or Venmo information.

______________________________________________________________________

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

Mitzi, You’re Lost

Meeting Pemican, Tim has lucked out. Mitzi too, but she is blind to her good fortunate.

Perhaps you could chalk it up due to stress, but Mitzi’s reaction to her benefactors certainly hasn’t aged well. Then again, bolting does seem second nature for Miss McCoy.

Appearing for the first time in MITZI’s seventh episode was a new title logo. It’s possible that this graphic was executed by an NEA staff artist, following Collins’ original. At this point, Collins still handled the lettering of all the balloons and captions. (Art Sansom would take over in episode number 25, on April 24, 1949).

OK, clearly I’m a Mitzi McCoy apologist. That’s a pretty vile thought running through her head, but remember—this is 1948. Sadly, many others besides Mitzi harbored such feelings. I’ve got my fingers crossed that Mitzi redeems herself before this chapter ends!

The final MITZI McCOY episode from 1948 was used as a promotion, sent to newspapers as an enticement to carry Collins’ strip. I’m lucky to have a copy of this slick reproduction, one of two in my collection. If I was the comics editor of a newspaper, the first panel would have sold me. And maybe that sweet visage would’ve distracted me from Tim mansplaining in the following two panels.

It’s s visually arresting episode—it even reintroduces Phil Rathbone. In a bit of foreshadowing, Mitzi’s ex-fiancé is razzed by some young ladies—Phil won’t appear again until MITZI’s second chapter, when he’ll play a more memorable part.

_________________________________________________________________________

An Overlooked Classic

The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, the Complete Mitzi McCoy” features the entire run of Kreigh Collins’ first NEA feature, and is available for a limited time at a reduced price.

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 is available for $30 ONLY $20! For domestic shipping, add $4; for international orders, please add $25 to cover 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 or Venmo information.

______________________________________________________________________

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

Wild Goose Chase

A news item from Stub Goodman’s Freedom Clarion has reached the big city papers, and the little guys move quickly, trying to stay on top of the story of Mitzi’s disappearance.

MITZI’s third episode is again densely packed with figures and action as the narrative picks up speed. My knowledge of comics history is somewhat limited, but MITZI reminds me of CONNIE, an earlier strip by Frank Godwin. Like Collins, Godwin’s background was in illustration, and both strips’ protagonists were female aviators. A connection between the two artists first happened in the early 1940s, when the two produced illustrations for Hermann Hagedorn’s “The Book of Courage,” published by The John C. Winston Company in 1943.

Near the onset of his professional career (late 1920s), while summering in a rural northern Michigan cottage with his new wife Theresa, Kreigh Collins came across a discarded old birch bark canoe. He set about restoring it, and it became a frequently-used prop in his artwork. It first appeared in paintings, then as a magazine cover, and later as a part of the “Do You Know—” series (a 16-month, daily newspaper feature Collins illustrated from 1935–1937).

Eventually, the canoe made its way into the fourth episode of MITZI McCOY, reproducing beautifully in the nascent comic strip’s first splash panel.

The episode is packed with more arresting content—a racing canoe, a suggestively posed and unconscious Mitzi, her burning aircraft, and some stereotypically-depicted Indigenous people (whose conversation quickly brings Mitzi back to consciousness). Collins availed himself to his “Do You Know—” canoe reference material a second time for this episode. Having launched his career as the Great Depression began, Kreigh had learned the virtues of thriftiness.

Meanwhile, back in the jungle, er, Canada’s Great North Woods, Tim has made tracks in his pursuit of Mitzi. His 1,000-mile trip from Freedom, Michigan would likely situate him near the northern boundary of Manitoba, on the western shores of Hudson Bay. While the Great North Woods might be sparsely populated, folks tend to be friendly—lucky for Tim.

The chase continues (as do the plugs for my book).

An Overlooked Classic

The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, the Complete Mitzi McCoy” features the entire run of Kreigh Collins’ first NEA feature, and is available for a limited time at a reduced price.

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 is available for $30 ONLY $20! For domestic shipping, add $4; for international orders, please add $25 to cover 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 or Venmo information.

______________________________________________________________________

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

The Runaway Bride

Seventy-three years ago today, Kreigh Collins’ first NEA-syndicated Sunday comic was published. After a short courtship by the Cleveland-based syndicate, and a one-off feature proposal by Collins (the unpublished TOM MATCH AND STUB), the two sides settled on a weekly serial named for a headstrong daughter of wealth, and featuring a cast of characters that took turns in the spotlight.

Elements of Collins’ proposed comic strip remained, but were reshuffled significantly. Much of the action revolved around the employees of a small-town weekly newspaper, but unlike TOM MATCH AND STUB, where a younger man was the boss of his older employee, in MITZI McCOY the employees operate under a more traditional arrangement, with the young reporter (Tim Graham) working for the grizzled publisher (Stub Goodman). These changes were no doubt strong-armed by NEA Features director Ernest “East” Lynn—and in hindsight, it seems to be a case of Lynn trying to remind the freethinking Collins of who was in charge.

Despite their differences, the pair worked well together, and the result was a long and fruitful relationship for Collins and the NEA. MITZI McCOY takes off immediately, with our heroine abruptly cancelling her own wedding. Before long, Mitzi is airborne too.

While the strip would continue to evolve over its short lifespan (23 months), it started strongly, featuring many elements typical of Collins’ style. There was action, scenes rendered from multiple viewpoints, beautiful illustrations, and lovely women. Collins modeled the strip’s titular character after Rita Hayworth, a lovely choice, but it is unclear if this was his decision or Lynn’s—TOM MATCH AND STUB had introduced a sultry brunette in its lone episode.

Rita Hayworth, circa 1940

Regardless, basing Mitzi on the woman who was arguably the most popular pin-up girl of the WWII era was a fine idea.

Collins worked hard on his new project, as MITZI’s expertly-composed and detailed panels make clear. Each one was packed with visual information; Collins initially handled the lettering as well. The Grand Rapids Public Library has a large collection of original MITZI McCOY artwork in its local history collection, and these oversized pieces of original artwork are a marvel to behold.

In the strip’s second episode, regulars Stub and Tim make several appearances, but so do Mitzi, her father, and a smattering of the small town’s residents. Also included are Stub’s jalopy, Mitzi’s convertible, Mr. McCoy’s Packard, a couple of the McCoy family’s boats, Mitzi’s seaplane, and different setting or viewpoint for each of the episode’s ten panels.

November 14, 1948. From the collection of the Grand Rapids Public Library

Nice details from this episode include the third panel, with Mitzi running down the dock to her seaplane (shown in the foreground, with her convertible parked up high in the background), the realistically-rendered printshop interior shown in the panel directly below, the body language shown by Stub as he takes an earful from Mr. McCoy bottom left, and the gossipy townsfolk shown in the final panel, all hunched over and peaking at the scene playing out on the street corner, as they learn the scandalous news of the McCoy family.

When in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I highly recommend paying a visit to the city’s main library in order to view the MITZI originals up close. If a visit to Beer City is not in your travel plans, a nice fallback option is to acquire a copy of the book, “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins: The Complete Mitzi McCoy,” with details (you guessed it!) provided below.

An Overlooked Classic

The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, the Complete Mitzi McCoy,” is available for a limited time 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, please 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 or Venmo information.

______________________________________________________________________

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.