Do You Know–

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To commemorate Michigan’s centennial, Kreigh Collins illustrated a daily feature called “Do You Know.” A collaboration with writer Willis Atwell, it appeared in eight Michigan newspapers and ran from September 2, 1935 to January 26, 1937 (the 100th anniversaries of Michigan first becoming a U.S. territory and then a member of the Union).

Because each panel was comprised of three separate illustrations and historical accuracy was paramount, the project required a great deal of research. The hard work paid off and the feature became a hit in Collins’ home state. Due to popular demand, Booth Newspapers, Inc. compiled these 441 panels into a book, allowing Collins’ reputation as an illustrator to spread.

 

“Do You Know” was quite similar in style to “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.” While “Ripley” will celebrate its 100th anniversary this October, at the time it was a relatively new feature, having debuted 16 years earlier. In fact, another comic feature, illustrated by Art Krenz, appeared around the same time. It was also titled “Do You Know,” and was put out by the syndicate that would hire Collins 13 years later, Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA). The two like-named features coexisted, and it is unclear to me which came first. Even if the Booth Newspapers concept was not entirely original, the illustrations are both entertaining and educational, qualities that would also describe Kreigh Collins’ future comic strips, especially “Kevin the Bold” and “Up Anchor!”

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The March 18, 1936 installment has a very informative diagram showing the relative depths of the Great Lakes, most of which Collins would later sail on extensively (all but Lake Superior). The earliest installments (below) describe a border skirmish between Ohio and Michigan, the results of which are a bit embarrassing for someone whose family hails from the Great Lakes State. 

The illustrations are filled with interesting details, like the reverse lettering on the ink stamp (October 4, 1935), clever political cartooning (October 30, 1935), and despite the time period in which they were published, not only highlight the accomplishments of men, but those of women and native Americans too (November 14 and 1, 1935).


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

The voiceless speak

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Kevin’s tournament skills paid off in the first round of the joust, but by taking the high moral ground he is setting himself up for possible failure.

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Kevin’s virtue is matched by Basa’s treachery, but while Kevin is saved by Hugo’s unexpected confession, Basa meets his end at the hands of the angry mob. 

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As the story of the Field of the Cloth of Gold ends, another adventure begins.


The Complete Mitzi McCoy

Mitzi cover final

To read the complete run of “Mitzi McCoy” comics, The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy can be found here; it’s still available at its pre-order price of $24.95.  


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

Foul Play

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Sir Basa sets his nefarious plan in motion, and De Cagnes smells a rat. As usual, Kevin remains calm.

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Evil to the bone, Sir Basa reneges on his promise to pay Hugo—and he confuses the stableboy’s inability to speak with stupidity. Perhaps Hugo isn’t the only one Basa has underestimated.  

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In the August 26 episode, the “Ancient Code” is spelled out once again. From the beginning of his time with NEA, Collins had been instructed to repeat information critical to a story’s plot so that newspapers could pick up the strip at any time and start running it—and the same was true for readers. If they’d missed a sequence’s earlier episodes, they could be brought up to speed. The repetition might help newcomers, but to those following the action each week, the practice was no doubt a bit tedious.


The Complete Mitzi McCoy

Mitzi cover final

To read the complete run of “Mitzi McCoy” comics, The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy can be found here; it’s still available at its pre-order price of $24.95.  


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

The Predator

The past six weeks’ Sunday comics set the scene in a historical context, taking place during the Field of the Cloth of Gold, and now the action settles into a more local, intimate setting. 

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Surely there could be no harm in offering to stage a joust for an enthusiastic, convalescent child.

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Having demonstrated his brute strength, Basa also shows he is a louse, and worse.

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The Complete Mitzi McCoy

Mitzi cover final

To read the complete run of “Mitzi McCoy” comics, The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy can be found here; it’s still available at its pre-order price of $24.95.  


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

A good line worth repeating

At the summit arranged by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, King Francis I of France and King Henry VIII of England tried to outshine the other, with dazzling tents and clothes, huge feasts, music, jousting and games. The days were taken up with tournaments, in which both kings took part. 

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After the joust, Kevin was gracious in victory over his friend De Cagnes — but not everyone was so pleased, as the sourpuss Sir Basa is introduced.

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“The Field of the Cloth of Gold” was the first sequence written by Kreigh Collins after a 13-month stretch of episodes written by Jay Heavilin. In fact, the episode above contains a line (paraphrased) that originally appeared in “Kevin the Bold” a decade earlier. 

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Returning to our current sequence, Kevin has the misfortune of staying at the same inn as his detractor, and he also meets a mute stableboy. 

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

The Field of the Cloth of Gold

Last week I asked readers if their collections included any “Kevin the Bold” episodes that were missing in mine. This week a sequence starts using comic scans sent to me by my man in Rotterdam, Arnaud, with whom I traded a bunch of other “Kevin” scans (Nogmaals bedankt!). These tabloid comics were originally published starting in June, 1962, and were based on a historical event from 442 years earlier—the June, 1520 summit between England’s King Henry VIII and France’s King Francis I. 

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These first few episodes serve as a preamble to the main event, but the June 17 comic shown above is a favorite of mine because I have the original artwork in my collection. 

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In 2010, when I first found an image of the artwork online, it appeared as shown above. Sadly, by the time I saw it listed for sale four years later, the illustration had been cropped so it would fit in an 18″ x 24″ picture frame (below). It might have been damaged goods, but I bought it anyway (frame not included). One interesting detail is found in the panel in the lower left-hand corner, where Brett is holding Kevin’s sword. The sword is a photostat, pasted onto the original art—apparently as a time saver for the artist. 

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Another shameless plug!

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Featuring the complete run of Kreigh Collins’ first NEA comic, “Mitzi McCoy,” The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy can be found here; it’s still available at its pre-order price of $24.95.  


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

Help!

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Once I started collecting my grandfather’s comics, I came up with two goals: publish a book and collect them all. 

Kreighs’ comics appeared in newspapers every Sunday from November 7, 1948 until February 27, 1972, about three and a half decades. Adding it all up—the 23 complete years, the two partial years, and the four times leap years resulted in a year having 53 Sundays (1950, 1956, 1961, 1967)—amounts to 1,217 individual episodes. (Or is it 1,218? Can someone check my math?) However many there are, it’s easy to see why I chose to publish a book first.

Admittedly, I had a great head start with so many of the episodes having been given to me by my uncle. But while my grandfather saved a lot of stuff, I do not have examples of all of his individual comic strips. Since I have all 99 “Mitzi McCoy” episodes and less than half of the “Up Anchor!” comics, what I’m focusing on primarily are the missing “Kevin the Bold” episodes.

Of the 945 or so examples of “Kevin,” there are 45 which I’ve never seen in any form. The first hole in my collection appears about a decade into its run: April 24, 1960

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What happens next? I’d love to know!

A few months later, the October 2, 1960 episode draws a blank. It follows the one shown below, in a tale of two sons—one good and the other bad. Through 1958, I have full-sized (half-page or tabloid) versions of just about every comic, but by 1960, many of my comics are one-third page versions (sigh). But at least these allow the narrative to continue.

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Oh no, Kevin appears mortally wounded! Will he survive?

The next gap in the chronology is found in the first Jay Heavilin-penned sequence (June 25, 1961).

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Lady Goodly? Lady Godiva could be featured on June 25 for all I know.

You know what’s worse than a missing episode? Two consecutive missing episodes! (September 10 and 17, 1961).

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At least the September 3 episode introduced me to the word, “Taradiddle.” I can only imagine the vocabulary featured over the next two weeks.

 Perhaps even more interesting to me are a couple elusive mid-1963 episodes—June 23, 1963 and July 7, 1963. Kevin has made it all the way to Japan. I wish I had the entire sequence of comics to share that adventure with you. Here is part of it—the two comics that precede the two missing ones.

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I’m going to see if I can verify that translation in the throwaway panel.

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Here are the dates of the comics  listed above: 
April 24, 1960
October 2, 1960
June 25, 1961
September 10, 1951
September 17, 1961
June 23, 1963
July 7, 1963

For the last three years of “Kevin the Bold,” I need quite a few: 
January 2 & 16, 1966
May 29, 1966
June 26, 1966
July 10, 17 & 24, 1966
August 21 & 28, 1966
September 4 & 11, 1966
October 2 & 9, 1966
December 25, 1966

January 29, 1967
February 5, 12 & 19, 1967
March 5, 12, 19 & 26, 1967
April 9, 23 & 30, 1967
May 21 & 28, 2967
June 11, 1967
August 27, 2967
October 22, 1967
November 12 & 19, 1967

April 7, 14, 21 & 18, 1968
May 5, 1968
September 15, 1968

Do you have any of these in your collection? I’m more than willing to trade scans. Please leave a message on my blog or contact me directly at brianedwardcollins1(at)gmail.com

Thank you very much.


The Complete Mitzi McCoy

Mitzi cover final

To read the complete run of “Mitzi McCoy” comics, The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy can be found here; it’s still available at its pre-order price of $24.95.  


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

Stand Alones

The last two comics of this sequence are humorous affairs that, unlike the majority of “Mitzi McCoy” episodes, can stand alone. Grouped with the previous five, they help better describe the goings on in the little town of Freedom and flesh out the characters that live there.

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The June 19 comic reveals a bunch of sailing terminology, most of which I was familiar with, having grown up on boats. One term was new to me, yet sounded familiar. What are “the Henty Books?” A quick google search revealed the answer, as well as a short nsfw distraction when I misspelled the term. You have to be careful with those google searches!

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The June 26, 1949 episode, above, is one of a handful of “Mitzis” for which I don’t have a half-page or tabloid version. Luckily, I was provided with a half-page version by Frank Young, the comics historian who wrote the fine introduction to my recent Mitzi McCoy book.

The action revolves around the model plane Dick Dixon built, and with which Stub is dying to lend a hand. Model building was a frequent pastime in Kreigh Collins’ household (both boats and planes), and the Stub’s comment about box kites is likely autobiographical. 

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Here’s my father, Eric, with his model plane. My dad modeled for Dick Dixon, and this photo was taken at approximately the same time the episode above was being developed. Around the time I was this age, I recall my father still goofing around with gasoline-powered model airplanes in our back yard.

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In this childhood water color of Kreigh’s, I assumed it shows his father at left, with his mother and Kreigh (with a box kite) to the right.


The Complete Mitzi McCoy

Mitzi cover final

To read the complete run of “Mitzi McCoy” comics, The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy can be found here; it’s still available at its pre-order price of $24.95.  


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

The Escapee

What was that noise in the attic?

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Suspense yields to hard-boiled interrogation, and soon enough, the perpetrator cracks. It it is revealed that Dick Dixon’s family lives in Grand Rapids (Michigan), which is a short drive away from the town “Mitzi” is set in (Freedom), as well as from Kreigh Collins’ actual home, in Ada.

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Having made a work arrangement with Mr. Dixon, Stub welcomes Dick back into his home (above the offices of the Freedom Clarion). Shortly, Stub puts his new employee to work.

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The June 12, 1949 comic is perhaps my favorite episode of “Mitzi McCoy.” Despite lacking a single appearance of the strip’s namesake, it has plenty of color and lovely illustrations—several of which feature strikingly pretty women situated prominently in panels 4, 7, 8, and 9. As Dick rattles off a startling amount of boating knowledge (for which Collins likely needed no research), Tim is taken aback and shoots a fourth wall-breaking look at the reader. The episode also references an upcoming “Mitzi” sequence—Dick will meet his hero Notty Pine under unusual circumstances in an episode eight weeks hence. Here, Stub has furnished a wonderful room for the lad. Note the decor: snow shoes, boxing gloves, hockey stick, rifle, books, a radio—and a sailboat model. Kreigh Collins had many outdoor interests, but none that he was more passionate about than boating. 

Most of my grandfather’s boats are shown below. He started small, but as he prospered in his career, his boats followed suit. As a newlywed, Kreigh had a small powerboat, and by the mid-’30s, he owned his first daysailer, a catboat christened “Stub” (a name he was fond of). Around 1950, he was given a 19′ Lightning by his syndicate (NEA)—possibly a bonus for the successful launch of “Kevin the Bold.” In 1952, Collins purchased a 28′ yawl formerly berthed across the “big lake” in Racine, Wisconsin; three years later he upgraded again with Heather, a 45′ schooner. Heather was the boat on which Collins traveled extensively with his family—through most of the Great Lakes, Lake Huron’s North Channel, the Mississippi River, the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, the Intracoastal Waterway, the Hudson River, the Erie Canal, and as far north as Maine.

 


Podcast

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To learn more about Kreigh Collins, “Mitzi McCoy,” and how my recent book on Mitzi came together, check out this recent interview: “Anatomy of a Comic Strip,” with host John Siuntres, on his long running pop culture audio podcast, Word Balloon.


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

The Christmas Story, Continued

While recycling the 1949 version of the Christmas Story comics, usually only one or two panels had to be recreated, as above. The following comic required a bit more work—nearly half the panels were new (Nos. 1, 3, 5 & 10).

Because Art Sansom, who did the lettering for both the original “Mitzi McCoy”-era version and this new one was still working for NEA, any text changes would go unnoticed. 

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to dig up any relevant information on “Bielefeld Studios,” although it is the name of a television broadcasting operation in northwestern Germany. Somehow I think these comics were prepared for a different entity.

While some new panels were created for the 1953 version, these “throwaway panels” were lost when the comics were reformatted into tabloids.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year! (Or, as they say in Bielefeld, Fröhliche Weihnachten!)

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Speaking of Christmas…

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The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy is available here, and can be shipped to international locations (including Bielefeld, Germany). 


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