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 After a short courtship by the Cleveland-based syndicate, and a one-off feature proposal by Collins (the unpublished TOM MATCH AND STUB), the two sides settled on a weekly serial named for a headstrong daughter of wealth, and featuring a cast of characters that took turns in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.

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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.

El Diario

May 11, 1952

Over the summer, I came across a new outlet for KEVIN THE BOLD—El DIario, a newspaper that featured a Spanish translation called KEVIN EL AUDAZ. I wasn’t immediately able to find any publishing information for El DIario, and I wondered if it could be from Mexico City.

I’ve been collecting my grandfather’s comics for quite some time, and the related digital files on my computer are fairly organized, yet with all their different sources, sometimes things get… well not quite lost, but it’s a great feeling when they’re rediscovered (“so that’s where I saved it!”). That was how I felt when I came across a couple images from El Mundo (Havana, Cuba), also featuring KEVIN EL AUDAZ. OK, so these newspapers both ran the Spanish version of KEVIN.

Episode 2 — October 8, 1950

While doing further research on El Diario, I learned it was originally published in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and a New York City edition appeared sometime after the end of World War II. A tip from a colleague led to my acquisition of a couple El Diario comic sections.

June 8, 1952

Because of the Spanish, It brought to mind KEVIN EL DENODADO (from Argentina’s Tit-Bits magazine), but I soon noticed differences between the two. For one thing, Tit-Bits ran KEVIN episodes about 15 months after their original publication date, whereas El Diario’s episodes appeared in a newspaper and were current. Not only that, but the translations differed, as the corresponding Tit-Bits version (below) shows.

A spread from Tit-Bits issue No. 2311, published on October 6, 1953
The original version of the June 8, 1952 episode.

The rest of the June 8, 1952 comic section follows. While I don’t have the entire section from Havana’s El Mundo, it also features the United Features Syndicate’s title FERD’NAND on the second page, behind KEVIN. Silent comics such as this were an obvious choice for markets with different languages, and it’s interesting to note that the window advertisement in the first panel wasn’t translated (especially since the strip originated in Denmark, and was created by Mik, AKA Henning Dahl Mikkelsen).

Page 3 featured another United Features Syndicate title, DORITA, originally Ernie Bushmiller’s FRITZI RITZ.

On Page 4 was NEA’s Spanish version of CHRIS WELKIN, PLANETEER (written by Russ Winterbotham and drawn by Art Sansom), and more NEA material followed, with Vic Flint on page 5.

Two more features from Unite Features were up next, the Spanish version of ABBIE AN’ SLATS (Raeburn Van Buren) and Al Capp’s EL CHIQUITO ABNER.

Running on the back page of the section was Warren Tufts’ CASEY RUGGLES, another United Features Syndicate title.

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

Flash News

The outline ends. As before, it accurately describes the final episode of the chapter—another graphically-appealing example of Collins’ work. The example I have, like many of the MITZIs in my collection, is a half-page from The Pittsburgh Press. For nearly its entire run, MITZI McCOY was the Press‘ lead comic feature (though as you may have noticed, my examples from this sequence also included tabloids, half-tabloids, a third-page, an NEA promotional slick, and a photo of one of the original pieces of artwork).

This final episode includes several interesting panels. One is an interior of the Freedom Clarion’s work space (note the metal type being composed on the make-ready table, and the first and last panels of the second row both show exterior scenes of the little town of Freedom that very closely resemble those shown in the proto-episode Collins created for NEA that became MITZI. These exterior scenes were modeled after Fishtown, the commercial lakefront district of Leland, Michigan, where Collins spent much time in his career, both at leisure and painting.

As the outline came together in March-April, 1949, Collins was able to sneak in a teaser reference to the upcoming chapter in the one he was currently inking. In the June 12, 1949 episode, from the prior sequence that introduced Dick Dixon, the boy notices a poster for the Notty Pine show that was central to the chapter just featured. (Incidentally, this one is one of my favorite MITZI episodes—along with the Notty Pine reference, DIck stuns Tim Graham with his knowledge of various sailboats’ histories, and there are several beautiful examples of good-girl art—typical hallmarks of Collins’ work.


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Speaking of Mitzi…

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, 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.

Search and Rescue

The outline continues.

An aspect that was simplified was the omission of Billy telling Stub his troubles, and Billy’s plan to leave the cave and spread the word about Dick being safe.

Also, no reason was given in the finished episode for Tiny jumping overboard, but otherwise, the episodes neatly match the outline.

This MITZI McCOY chapter will wrap next week with the final episode in the sequence.

___________________________________________________________________________________

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