Vanishing Harbor Gates

Expecting a fight, Kevin is in for a surprise.

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While half-page examples of “Kevin the Bold” are obviously preferable to any other format, it is interesting to see how the strip appeared in other configurations. As in earlier examples, tabloid versions excised a single panel, but in these latter-day episodes, the throwaway wasn’t a small panel in the second tier but a larger one from the bottom.

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Because so many newspapers were running third-page examples of the comic strip, Collins began producing his layouts so that the entire third tier could be deleted. The benefit was that his artwork wouldn’t suffer from having all of its panels cropped, but the drawback was obvious. For this post’s first episode, this would be quite unfortunate. For the following pair of episodes, the results wouldn’t be quite as tragic—but a key plot element’s concise description would be lost.

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Lightly showing through the third-page above is another NEA feature, Jim Berry’s “Berry’s World.” Berry and Collins were friends; Kreigh was gifted a signed original. Its date is unknown, but its subject (president Lyndon B. Johnson) makes it about the same vintage as these episodes of “Kevin.”

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The August 20, 1967 episode revisits the workings of the harbor’s pontoon gates.

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A year later, when “Kevin” morphed into “Up Anchor!”, this problem would be solved more diplomatically. Instead of an expandable third tier, a topper strip (“Water Lore”) would appear. While this solution had less effect on the presentation of the feature comic, it resulted in very few papers running “Up Anchor!” as a half page.

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Need a great holiday gift idea?

I think you’d be hard pressed to find a more charming collection of Golden Age comics than The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins: The Complete Mitzi McCoy. 

Drawn and scripted by Kreigh Collins, Mitzi McCoy showcased the artist’s 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 here 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.

Edited and restored by the artist’s grandson, Brian E. Collins, with an introduction by Eisner Award-winning author Frank M. Young, an Afterword by comics columnist Ed Catto, and a new tribute illustration of Mitzi by Butch Guice

Available HERE from Lost Art Books.

Mitzi cover final


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

A True Story of Captain John Smith

Among the late themes that ran in “Kevin the Bold” was one featuring Captain John Smith. Despite continued pop culture references, I had mostly forgotten his story (which is very much worth revisiting.)

Of course, Pocahontas is the main story now, but her relationship with Smith was mentioned  Peggy Lee’s 1958 smash, and again in the the Disney film from 1995 (and elsewhere, no doubt). As a young girl, Pocahontas even appeared in a 1965 episode of “Kevin.”

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But here the story is Smith. When he conjured up the world of “Kevin the Bold,” Kreigh Collins must have been familiar with Smith’s life—there are several notable parallels. Here, a chapter of the English adventurer’s life is retold with the inclusion of Kevin and his friend Pedro.

This 14-episode story arc comes from near the end of the storied strip’s run—only four more sequences would follow. These 1967 episodes ran from July 16 through October 15. Most of the examples are half pages, but there are also some third pages, a couple of tabloids, and two images of Collins’ original artwork. This arc’s introductory episode uses the strip’s standard logo, but for those that followed, the typeset copy “A True Story of CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH” was appended.

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For a late-period episode of “Kevin the Bold,” July 16 stands out with its compelling opening and closing panels. The throwaway charmingly shows Notre Dame in the distance, and helps to situate the action on Paris’ left bank. (The Pont de l’Archevêché appears in the foreground).

As the scene shifts to Morocco, a country that Kreigh Collins had visited is featured. After his first ocean crossing, his steamship docked in Tangier. The duration of Collins’ stay in the north African country is unclear, but it was long enough for him to produce some illustrations—and be knifed by a would-be robber late one night. However, Collins was a large man, and at 6’3″ and over 200 pounds, he was able to defend himself. He returned safely to his quarters aboard the ship and only then noticed his head wound, which was still bleeding. He was 21 years old.

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I don’t own a physical copy of the July 23, 1967 episode; fortunately, I was able to track down an example from an online auction.

As they approach their destination, the competing desires of the two men are revealed: For Kevin, it’s the “local scenery,” and for Pedro (as usual), it is food.

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Kevin’s first order of business is to show a rogues’ gallery of men who is in charge, and he is ready to use any powers of persuasion to accomplish this goal.


Need a great gift idea?

OK, I’m biased, but I think you’d be hard pressed to find a more charming collection of Golden Age comics than The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins: The Complete Mitzi McCoy. 

Drawn and scripted by Kreigh Collins, Mitzi McCoy showcased the artist’s 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 here 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.

Edited and restored by the artist’s grandson, Brian E. Collins, with an introduction by Eisner Award-winning author Frank M. Young, an Afterword by comics columnist Ed Catto, and a new tribute illustration of Mitzi by Butch Guice

Available HERE from Lost Art Books.

Mitzi McCoy Cover 150


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

Tit-Bits No. 2238

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In April 1952, the Argentinian weekly Tit-Bits added “Kevin the Bold” to its lineup. Among other stories and features, Tit-Bits reprinted American comics with Spanish translations. The magazine’s cover art was provided by the comic strips it featured inside (as would be the case with the Menomonee Falls Gazette two decades later).

“Kevin el Denodado” ‘s debut, in issue No 2232, was appropriately bold—in addition to landing on the magazine’s cover, its center spread was comprised of the strip’s first three episodes. For the next five issues of Tit-Bits, other comic strips appeared on the cover, and only a single, tabloid version of “Kevin the Bold” appeared inside. For No. 2238, Collins’ comic regained its spot on the cover, and another three-episode spread appeared inside. (Eventually, “Kevin” ‘s appearance on the cover no longer signified a triple-episode spread inside—later issues only had single tabloid episodes. Unlike some other Tit-Bits comics, “Kevin” continued to run in color).

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This spread cobbled together the November 19, November 26, and December 3, 1950 episodes (shown in English, below).

As in Issue No. 2232, the front of the magazine featured black and white versions of “Big Ben Bolt,” by John Cullen Murphy (Ben Bolt Campeón), and “Rusty Riley” by Frank Godwin (Rusty Riley, Aprendiz de Jockey).  

The back of the issue had Spanish versions of “The Phantom” (by Ray Moore?), “Terry and the Pirates” by Milt Caniff (Terry, el Piloto), and Dr. Nicholas P. Dallis’ “Rex Morgan, MD” (Rex Morgan, Médico).

 


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.

Wild Night

While the entire Count del Morte story is short, its episodes are very graphic, and have a storyboard quality—the sequence seems as if it would translate very nicely to live action. Near the end of the comic strip’s run, plans were afoot for a television adaptation; sadly, this never came to fruition.

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Now back to our story!

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With one of his pursuers no longer a threat, Brett is not yet out of danger.

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The story ends with Kevin admonishing Brett for his carelessness, and neatly segues into a new adventure.


Need a great gift idea?

Call me biased, but I think you’d be hard pressed to find a more charming collection of Golden Age comics than The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins: The Complete Mitzi McCoy. 

Drawn as well as scripted by Collins, Mitzi McCoy showcased the artist’s 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 here 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.

Edited and restored by the artist’s grandson, Brian E. Collins, with an introduction by Eisner Award-winning author Frank M. Young, an Afterword by comics columnist Ed Catto, and a recently-inked tribute illustration of Mitzi by Butch Guice

Available HERE from Lost Art Books.

Mitzi McCoy Cover 150

 


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

The Count del Morte

In Kreigh Collins’ NEA career, his typical story arcs contained 12–15 episodes. The previous sequence, featuring Prince Rupert, was an extremely lengthy exception, running for 33 weeks. Basically a horror story, “The Count del Morte” was another outlier—it had only five episodes. Each of these is a illustrated with nice half-page examples from the Chicago Tribune.

The action begins with Kevin and Brett sailing into port, where they will be laid up for a short while. As they take note of a foreboding local landmark, the episode’s throwaway panel provides crucial foreshadowing that a tabloid version of this comic would lack.

Kevin has to take care of business aboard the ship, while Brett is feeling stir crazy and needs to go ashore.

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Brett quickly finds himself in quite a predicament, and the episode’s final caption hammers the point home in a scolding tone.

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Out of the frying pan and into the fire, things look especially grim for poor Brett!


The Complete MITZI McCOY

During the short run of Kreigh Collins’ “Mitzi McCoy,” its 11 story arcs featured various overall moods or themes—among them goofball, noir, adventure, and historical reënactment—but never horror. The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins: The Complete Mitzi McCoy collects them all and is available here. Pick up a copy and see for yourself!

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

Hey Bartender!

If you’re reading this on November 7, Happy International Stout Day!


Following the lengthy story of Kevin, Rupert, and Madeline, here is something of a palate cleanser. Presenting… Kevin the Bold Imperial Stout. It’s debatable how well a rich, heavy brew like this would work as an entremet, but until someone comes up with a Mitzi McCoy Blonde Lager, this will have to do.

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For most of his life, Kreigh Collins called Ada, Michigan, his home and it is only fitting that the beer was produced by Ada’s Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery.

Three varieties were produced to celebrate the company’s sixth anniversary. Using both original comic strip art and scanned newspaper comics, I worked with head brewer Nick Roelofs in designing the labels, and I’m pleased with the results.

 

The base version of the beer (“Kevin the Bold”) is a barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout, and the other two have added flavorings. “Kevin Goes to the Beach” uses coffee, coconut, and vanilla, and “Kevin Goes Camping” has a “smores” theme, and uses chocolate and graham flavor. These were the first bottled beers that Gravel Bottom has released.

I searched through my library of comics to find images that coordinated with the beer varieties, and paired them with the recurring image of Kevin. Initially, Gravel Bottom was going to make T-shirts with the bottle artwork—unfortunately, this idea has been moved to the back burner. However, the brewery has featured the artwork in some of their advertising.

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I have yet to taste the beer (I’m hoping they are still holding the bottles they promised me), but others seem to like it, according to online beer reviewing sites.

 

Gravel Bottom Brewery’s website is at gravelbottom.com


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

The King’s Champion

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For this Australian comic book, the cover artwork was completely recreated.

 

As the tournament begins, the competition heats up—between the men, jousting, and the women, in the grandstand.

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As the lengthy tale of Rupert draws to a close, the threads begin wrapping up.

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Though he is honorable to his core, Brett realizes Kevin has thrown the match.

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The final episode of the 33-week epic is completely in character for Kevin, champion of children. The episode is also one of Collins’ best efforts, with a dramatic, final splash panel.


The Complete MITZI McCOY

A collection of his first syndicated comic strip, “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy” features previously unpublished photographs and comics and includes wonderful introductory essay by Eisner Award-winner Frank M. Young. The book is available here.

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

Matchmaker

With the Regent dead, Rupert’s obstacle to ascending to Rheinstein’s throne has been removed. However, other events conspire to prevent him from achieving true happiness.

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Baroness Vichi is a bitch witch, and of course she resents the virtuous Madeline.

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This current story arc, longer by far than any others in the entire run of the comic strip, was a serious attempt by Kreigh Collins to deepen character development in an attempt to increase its overall impact. Also, a couple of significant characters from two previous sequences have cameo roles in the May 3 episode (above): The Count de Falcon, a knight Kevin bested in an earlier tournament appears near the beginning, and toward the end, Kevin asks a favor of a princess he had rescued. (She is now the Queen of Glaustark).

Meanwhile, the tournament nears, and Kevin’s first opponent will be the ruthless Count de Falcon.

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The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, The Complete Mitzi McCoy

Describing “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy,” Bruce Canwell, of IDW Publishing’s Library of American Comics, had this to say:

Originally a painter and illustrator, artist Kreigh Collins delighted comics readers for a quarter-century with his rich compositions and distinctive characters. Collins’s series Mitzi McCoy has its roots in the small town of Freedom, echoing It’s a Wonderful Life’s Bedford Falls and pre-figuring TV hamlets like Hooterville and Mayberry. Open this collection and delight in Mitzi’s arresting artwork and solid Middle American sensibilities. Highly recommended!

In addition to the complete run of “Mitzi McCoy,” the book contains the first sequence of the comic strip it morphed into, “Kevin the Bold.” There are also never-before published comics and photographs, and the book includes a wonderful introductory essay by Eisner Award-winner Frank M. Young. It is available here.

Mitzi McCoy Cover 150


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

The Drowned Rat’s Revenge

With the Regent dead of natural causes, a new villain(ess) appears. Baroness Vichi’s scheming causes heartache for poor Madeline. Elsewhere, Kevin deals with his own problems.

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After an overdue reunion with Brett and the recently coronated King Rupert, Kevin makes plans to rectify some things in Rheinstein.

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

Tree Tunnel

A recent trip to Ireland brought back a childhood memory of a road trip taken in my parents’ old Ford Fairlane 500, c. 1966. In Ireland, I saw many narrow roads covered by canopies of trees, or what my brother Brett and I excitedly called (and chanted from the back seat), “Tree tunnel, tree tunnel!” Likely on our way from our apartment in Ann Arbor to Ada, off to visit Grandma and Grandpa Collins. Maybe we’d heard the phrase mentioned previously…

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Me, Brett, and the Ford Fairlane. And of course, a Sunday comics section.


Despite last week’s flogging, Brett has recovered enough to get back in the game.

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Rupert might not have caught on to Madeline’s act, but Brett certainly has.

22 weeks into the story arc, the action in the March 15 episode, above, is a bit contrived. While Brett seems nauseated by the turn of events, Madeline’s reaction is perhaps best described by Newton’s third law. Despite this interlude, trouble is imminent—and fortunately, Brett is focused on his plan.

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The old, hollowed out tree provides access to an escape route (Tree tunnel!), but it’s a bit difficult to make out in the comic’s rendering. Nevertheless, it works, and now Rupert has a plan.

When we last saw Kevin (three episodes back) he had been overwhelmed and captured by the Regent’s guards as Prince Rupert escaped. Meanwhile, Rupert heads back to the palace and overhears a startling confession.

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No longer the weakling he remembered, Rupert literally scares the Regent to death.



The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, The Complete Mitzi McCoy

Describing “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy,” Bruce Canwell, of IDW Publishing’s Library of American Comics, had this to say:

Originally a painter and illustrator, artist Kreigh Collins delighted comics readers for a quarter-century with his rich compositions and distinctive characters. Collins’s series Mitzi McCoy has its roots in the small town of Freedom, echoing It’s a Wonderful Life’s Bedford Falls and pre-figuring TV hamlets like Hooterville and Mayberry. Open this collection and delight in Mitzi’s arresting artwork and solid Middle American sensibilities. Highly recommended!

In addition to the complete run of “Mitzi McCoy,” the book contains the first sequence of the comic strip it morphed into, “Kevin the Bold.” There are also never-before published comics and photographs, and the book includes a wonderful introductory essay by Eisner Award-winner Frank M. Young. It is available here.

Mitzi McCoy Cover 150


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