The Turkish Cannon

While the next two story arcs contain overlapping characters, there is a pretty significant difference between them. The first sequence has only Kreigh Collins’ byline, whereas the one that follows is the first to carry the additional credit, “Story by Jay Heavilin.”

Sadly, I do not have color half pages for any of the comics, third-page versions seem most common for “Kevin the Bold” at this point in its run. Instead, I will post black and white half-page versions (usually syndicate proofs, with occasional BW downloads from newspapers.com), and supplement them with color third-page versions at the end.

The January 29, 1961 episode, below, is the transitionary episode at the end of one of my favorite sequences, featuring “Hercules.” That story arc ran previously. This sequence references the  then-current competition between Spain and England for trade—here, a fearsome weapon is being imported from Constantinople by a traitorous Dutch mercenary, which the Spaniards hope will give them the upper hand.

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The English spy has stowed away by climbing into an empty barrel, a plot device Collins used by Moya McCoy in his strip’s opening sequence.

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The next two episodes are ones for which I don’t have great examples. (And that hiding in the barrel ploy never seems to work).

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Hans Grommet is certainly arrogant, and his cockiness is decidedly a flaw. As the action shifts to the Netherlands, new characters are introduced.

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That’s a fine spy glass!

I don’t know who added the color—likely one of Kreigh’s grandchildren. I have vague memories of hanging out in my grandfather’s studio, after he had died, reading through stacks of printed comics, but what I remember are the NEA Daily and Sunday Comics publications, not proofs like the one festooned with watercolors above. At this point, my family lived in western New York state, and our trips to Ada, Michigan were sporadic. So I’m guessing either of my cousins Josh or Karen were serving as colorist. No matter, I’ve heard these adornments lend the episodes a certain charm.

Here are the three episodes in color, as third-pages.


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

 

Historical Fiction

Generally set in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Kevin the Bold can be labelled as historical fiction, with its early story arcs and characters being Kreigh Collins’ brainchildren.

After a couple of years, famous historical figures started appearing—sometimes as ancillary characters, and at other times being more integral to the action. The first of these was Leonardo da Vinci, who made a couple of brief appearances in 1952. (Da Vinci would make another memorable cameo in 1967, in one of Kevin’s final adventures).

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The historical figure most appearing frequently was King Henry VIII; in the September 24, 1961 episode he appears along with a mention of a noted portraitist of the era, (Hans) Holbein the Elder .

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In 1964, a young William Shakespeare was a central character, and a few years later Captain John Smith figured prominently.

King Henry first appeared in 1956, and that entire sequence will run over the next few Sundays. The tone of this story arc is different than most of what had preceded it, and it is likely that Kreigh Collins was extensively using other’s scripts for the first time. In between the more historical storylines (with King Henry, Shakespeare, etc.), Collins’ own chapters become easier to spot. This change in direction was caused in part by burn out. According to wife Theresa’s oral history, “Kreigh was always trying to think up the next story. It was the equivalent of writing a full novel every ten weeks.” Giving up the writing likely meant a cut in pay but with the overall ascendance of “Kevin the Bold” and the income it generated, it was a good tradeoff for Collins.

As Henry’s first chapter got off the ground, any time Collins saved by not writing looks like it may have been spent on the illustration. The Florida Times-Union‘s reproduction is mediocre, but the artwork is quite nice, with many compelling scenes and characters.

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To be continued…


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

Escape from the Harem

Just prior to the following sequence, Kevin’s travels took him to Japan. How he got so far east is another story, and because my collection of “Kevin” comics is incomplete, it’s a story I cannot recount at this time.

As this new adventure begins, Kevin is aboard a sailboat near Istanbul, a seemingly unusual place to secure intel on Spain’s plans to invade England.

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Due to the reference to Sultan Murad (III), the events depicted would be occurring c. 1580, the height of the Ottoman Empire. Kevin and tagalong Sir Richard are set to rescue the fetching English spy, Lucia.

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The August 11 episode is a marvel, and Collins’ beautiful line work is fully on display in the NEA Daily. Despite Sir Richard’s timely suggestion to change into less conspicuous clothing, their daring escape is noticed.


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