At this point, any reader of “Kevin the Bold” knows Spider is going to get his—but how? Spider himself seems to know the end is near.
Kevin’s keening war cry, busted out only on rare occasions (such as on Sunday, October 24, 1954), startles Spider. Encumbered by gold, he sinks like a stone, much like Sir Guy Thornberry (in an episode from 1956).
While earlier action was reminiscent of action heroes like Indiana Jones, the chapter wraps up with more of a Tom and Jerry/Itchy and Scratchy feel.
Oddly, the chapter ends with Lord Dismore showing a complete lack of gratitude. As the action transitions, King Henry shows off his new armor, with a shout-out to Conrad Seusenhofer, and a factoid that would be repeated several years later.
As for Lord Dismore, perhaps he should become acquainted with Itchy.
At the tail end of 1957, the 37th chapter in the “Kevin the Bold” saga begins with the introduction of a couple of unsavory characters and a sad, naive young lady. Kevin pops up near the end of the episode and story’s framework begins to take shape.
Kevin suspects trouble is in the offing but as usual, doesn’t seem concerned.
Spider describes his poisonous plan and the game is on.
The first and last episodes shown here are third pages combined with BW versions found online from the Allentown (Pa.) Call-Chronicle. While assembling the images, I noticed that the one appearing in newspaper was vertically scrunched, slightly, a few percentage points. I don’t know if that paper purposefully ran scaled-down versions so that they took up less space or if the distortion was just a result of the images being scanned. At any rate, the combined comic shows how the original was cropped to yield the third-page, and what was deemed unnecessary (hint: don’t crop out the ladies!)
Kevin does the honorable thing by dispatching Tom, and is rewarded with an unexpected display from Don Diego, who also acts virtuously (despite his previous handsiness with Inez).
With the cards in your favor, playing by the rules, sometimes you lose.
Holding tight to his principles, the fate of Don Diego (and Kevin) now lies with the flip of a coin.
An interesting question indeed from Dolores—and the men are saved by the wily Inez.
I’d think that there’d be easier ways for these two beauties to catch men, but Ill go along with it. Will Kevin?
Wise old Pepe stalls for time, but Dolores is quick to act. She opts to liberate the foreigner, and with a glance at the throwaway panel, it’s easy to see why Kevin went along with her plan—for one night, anyway.
Kevin leaves, and gets lucky (again?), by bumping into Tom.
In a scene from the comics that would be shocking today, Diego awakens, and sexually harasses his caretaker. It’s kind of a textbook case of an interaction between a powerful man and a powerless female underling. It seems Inez has seen this sort of stuff before and deftly bats away Diego’s advances. Elsewhere, Kevin bravely stands sentinel.
The first eight episodes of this sequence made a compelling first act, and a wonderful second act is made from the next four episodes. The action involves plotting for revenge, building a secret armada, a catfight with flying fish (?!), gorgeous sailing scenes… and is essentially what convinced me rerun this sequence.
Kevin unseals the King’s orders, and a couple of likable “enemies” are introduced.
Also referenced is Catherine of Aragon, yet another historical figure I was inspired to look up thanks to my grandfather’s comic strip. Ah yes, King Henry’s first wife, the spurned Spanish princess who died young, tragically. Yes, I understand Diego’s beef with England.
Moving on, we are introduced to Inez and Dolores, AKA Sheepface. Me-oww! The claws are out!
Yes, the fish are flying! And some beautifully-rendered panels follow, featuring longboats and more of my favorite fishing girls.
The July 26 episode (below) is evidence of Kreigh Collins’ personal experience with and love of sailing. The perspectives shown accurately reflect the imminent collision at sea. At this point Collins mostly sailed aboard a 45-foot schooner, but he still owned a 19-foot Lightning, whose hull pretty closely resembles the boat Kevin is shown sailing. Sailing downwind, the square-rigged boat has less maneuverability than Diego’s lateen-rigged double ender. But pointing into the wind, the Spaniard has no intention of passing port to port, as would be the custom.
That’s right—even sailing solo, acting as a spy in foreign waters, and rammed by an unnamed boat, Kevin is duty-bound to try to rescue his antagonist at sea.
Her interest piqued, Tom Chiswick has made a fine impression on Miss Makepeace, and she’s shocked to see what unfolds.
Tom is bewildered. Jumped by thugs, one of whom was Pedro, and set upon by a master swordsman, revealed to be Kevin. Then, following an explanation, the tables turn as someone makes a strong impression on him.
Things are moving quickly, yet they are about to speed up. And with Spring in the air…
Without a nice half-page for the June 28 episode, a third-page example combined with a black-and-white velox proof will have to suffice—not bad! And it shows how much of the original illustration was lost when it was edited.
With an abrupt answer to his question, Tom is dispatched. Only later does Becky confront the feelings she has for her suitor.
At this blog’s onset, I didn’t have a clear plan, other than the general idea of trying to raise my grandfather’s profile. The firstseveralposts introduced Kreigh Collins’ three NEA Service features, and the nextfewentries covered some generalities. I was fortunate to stumble upon the (rather obvious) idea of posting on Sundays, and I soon learned that one weekly post would be plenty. Eventually it dawned on me to post complete story arcs over the span of several weeks. With an ample inventory from which to pick, I decided on a lengthy chapter near the midpoint of Kevin the Bold‘s run.
At the time, the only examples I had of this particular chapter were one-third page versions, but I proceeded anyway—it seemed like a solid example of one of Kevin’s adventures. Five-plus years later, I’ve run about half the episodes my grandfather created, and there’s still plenty to choose from. Nonetheless, I thought revisiting this particular sequence might be a good idea, since I recently acquired half page examples of 16 of the 19 episodes.
As the prior episode transitions to a new story, two new characters are introduced—wealthy shipbuilder Thatcher Makepeace and his Becky, his lovely daughter.
The chapter shows hallmarks of not being written by Collins, but there is plenty of fantastic artwork to come.
Alas, Mr. Makepeace doesn’t realize the spunkiness of his gently-raised little girl. They grow up so fast!
Here is another Sunday Times Mirror section I acquired while putting together The Complete Mitzi McCoy. There are fewer ads than usual—if the Mirror’s ad sales department was slacking off, that just meant more full-page episodes and fewer half-tabloids. As usual, Ham Fisher’s “Joe Palooka” leads off, followed by Milt Caniff’s “Steve Canyon” and “Mickey Finn,” by Lank Leonard. Next up is “Kerry Drake,” by Alfred Andriola/Allen Saunders and Frank Miller’s “Barney Baxter in the Air,” with each page filled out with a few $2 bills of play money. Harry Hanand’s silent comic “Louie,” and “Superman” by Wayne Boring (and likely Stan Kaye) follow.
Next, Merrill Blossar’s “Freckles and His Friends” shares a page with an ad for Camel filtered cigarettes—the ad features the then-famous aerialist Antoinette Concello. Ms. Concello offers a testimonial to the mild, good-tasting cancer sticks, but I think she likes them because they soothe her nerves. (I don’t care if she performed over a net, I’d need something at least as strong to calm down after running through that routine!). The facing page features the comic strip that inspired me to plunk down my money for this section—a full page “Mitzi McCoy” episode (a nice change from the usual half-tabloids that ran in the Mirror). This August 14 episode is the penultimate installment of the fifth chapter of “Mitzi” and features the NEA’s typical footer—mugshots of the syndicate’s lead characters.
Next up, “Rex Morgan, MD” by Bradley and Edgington (with a nice, custom footer), and “Boots” by Martin, sharing the page with an ad for Colgate Dental Cream. Sometimes the ads in these old sections are charming, but this one is pretty obnoxious (and typical of the era). Roy Crane’s “Captain Easy” (drawn here by Walt Scott?) and V.T. Hamlin’s “Alley Oop” share the next page, followed by “Henry” by Carl Anderson. While “Captain Easy” and “Alley Oop” get the NEA footer, “Henry” features more play money, this time it’s big money—sawbucks! (I wonder if any kids ever cut these out? If so, then “Mickey Finn,” “Louie,” and “Bobby Sox” paid the price by being on the flip side). Two more split pages follow, “The Flop Family” by Swan with “Bobby Sox” by Marty Links, and “Out Our Way featuring the Willets,” by J.R. Williams, and “Our Boarding House.”
Taking its usual spot on the back cover is “Lil’ Abner” by Al Capp.
“The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, the Complete Mitzi McCoy,” is available for immediate delivery at a reduced price; it features the entire run of Kreigh Collins’ first NEA feature .
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 $30only $20! For domestic shipping, add $4; for international orders, add $25 for first class shipping. To place an order, email me at BrianEdwardCollins1[at]gmail.com, and I will give you PayPal or Venmo information.
The Christmas story is indeed filled with glorious drama, so much so that Kreigh Collins was happy to tell it more than once. His artistic rendition received its first major promotional push when it appeared as a story arc in 1949, midway through the run of “Mitzi McCoy,” but this wasn’t the first time his depiction of the Nativity appeared in print.
Prior to joining NEA Service, one of Collins’ steadiest clients was the Methodist Publishing House of Nashville, Tennessee. Among other projects, Kreigh illustrated a weekly, full-page comic in 1945 that appeared in Sunday school bulletins the company produced called “Boys Today,” and “Girls Today.”
The comics appeared in these bulletins during Advent, and a portion of them can be found in this earlier post.
Although it never ran in newspapers as part of the usual NEA fare, the Christmas story was reprised in 1953, in a special offering under the guise of a “Kevin the Bold” narrative. This time, most of the artwork from the “Mitzi McCoy” version was simply picked up and reused, with panels that showed Mitzi‘s characters (Stub Goodman was shown explaining things to his young friend Dick Dixon once or twice in each episode) being replaced by similar ones featuring Kevin and his ward, Brett.
Merry Christmas, and best wishes for a healthy New Year!