Leaping Lizards, er, Lads!

Six episodes in, and so far two of Heather‘s crew have fallen into the drink. I wonder who’s next?

UA 121568 150 HA qcc

Somewhere in Kreigh Collins’ morgue file, he had an image of a boy playing leapfrog. It was never referenced in “Mitzi McCoy,” but it appeared in Collins’ pre-NEA “Bible Picture Story Comics,” twice in “Kevin the Bold.” and at least once in “Water Lore,” above. Now that’s thrifty!

Leapfrog x3

From left: December 15, 1963; October 30, 1955; and c. 1946.

With the eighth episode of “Up Anchor!”, another recurring character was introduced—Kevin’s friend, Pedro. Pedro had been a mainstay in “Kevin the Bold,” he first appeared in 1958 and continued on and off until the very last episode, a decade later. While Kevin definitely changed when he transitioned between the two strips, Pedro remained essentially the same.

UA 122268 150 HA qcc

Oho! It was Erik that somehow fell in—luckily Pedro was there to lend a hand. He also lets loose with what will become the big fella’s catchphrase.

UA 122968 HA 150 qcc C-BW

Waiting until late December to button up a boat for the winter would be ill-advised in Michigan, but if you factor in the three-month lead time that the production process of these episodes required, doing it in late September (when the artwork was inked) seems appropriate.

Collins also had the advantage of being able to photograph his sailboat in order to create reference images for use in his strip, and it looks like the photo below could have been used for the episode above. I’d guess the younger guy is my uncle Kevin.

Heather cradle Apr 67 r 150


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

Secret Weapon

Heather's Crew

Kreigh: “Teddy, let’s sail the Great Loop with the twins.” Teddy: “Wouldn’t that be grand!”

“Up Anchor!” was narrated by Jane Marlin, who was loosely based on Kreigh Collins’ wife, Theresa. “Teddy” also had a hand in writing the strip, and the the November 24, 1968 episode, she also pitched in a bit with the illustration. I clearly recognize the handwritten labels on the drawings Jane holds from her numerous cards and letters over the years (and there were plenty of years—she lived to be nearly 102!)

UA 112468 HA 150 qcc C-BW

Teddy definitely fit the idiom, “Behind every great man is a great woman.” After all, besides “the Skipper” and eight-year-old twins, she served as Heather‘s only crew during it’s year-long circuit of the 6,000-mile Great Loop. Made plain in the strip, traditional gender roles were largely held, so she was responsible for cooking, cleaning, and all the other typical roles of a mother. The original plan was to home-school (boat-school?) Kevin and Glen during the journey, so teacher could be added to the list, too. Of course, Teddy was used to adventuring with her husband—shortly after their 1929 wedding, they took a steamship to Europe and spent several months exploring the continent (mostly France). She chronicled the Great Loop journey in her diary, and later the material was published in an article that appeared in The World Of Comic Art. The late 1966 article was reprinted and used as part of an NEA promotional push, and some of this material was repurposed as “Up Anchor!” storylines.

UA 120168 HA 150 qcc C-BW

After a bit of self-deprecation, another educational tidbit was dished out regarding alcohol fires.

Generally, the content of “Water Lore” didn’t reflect the action in an episode of “Up Anchor!,” but the December 1, 1968 episode was an exception, with its focus on cooking. Personally, I don’t have a lot of memories of sailing aboard Heather, but I do recall touching her smokestack once and burning my hand.

UA 120868 BH 130

This wouldn’t be the last time Heather went aground.


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

I’d Rather Be Sailing

In late October of 1968, with the final episode of “Kevin the Bold,” our hero made good on something he’d been trying to do for years.

KTB 102768 HA 150 qcc

The end of the trail found Kevin in his friend Pedro’s homeland, Spain, but if he was going to settle down, it would mean more than time travel—a change of scenery was also in the cards.

UA envelope 72

A true measure of local renown is not needing to list a street address on one’s stationery.

Set on Lake Macatawa, in western Michigan (the same place Collins docked his boat, Heather), “Up Anchor!” was Kreigh Collins’ final NEA comic feature. It launched on November 3, 1968 and was an attempt to adapt to changing times—adventure strips like “Kevin the Bold” had fallen out of favor. His new strip was largely based on his family’s real-life experiences aboard their schooner, Heather—but plenty of license was taken with the plot.

The tone of the strip changed too, as it was narrated by Jane Marlin. Jane was loosely based on Kreigh’s wife, Theresa; “Teddy” helped develop the strip’s continuity, too. With “Up Anchor!,” Collins had finally figured out how to best deal with dreaded third-page reproductions of his artwork—he added a topper strip, “Water Lore.” (For the last few years of “Kevin,” the bottom tier of panels had been considered expendable—an example is shown at the top of this post). When the new strip ran as a tabloid, the smaller of the two “Water Lore” panels was the throwaway; when it ran in a one-third page format, the topper was lost.

While the tone of the strip was more modern than in “Kevin,” there are still some elements that now seem dated, such as a recurring theme of male chauvinism, and even an awkward joke about a black eye in the strip’s debut.

Nonetheless, with summer here, a voyage under sail sounds wonderful.

UA 110368 Th 150 qcc C-BW

The debut introduced the characters, or crew—in addition to Jane and Kevin (remember, this was supposed to be the same character as from the previous strip), we meet the couple’s sons, Erik and Dave. In real life, Erik was my father and David is my uncle, and their little brothers are Kevin and Glen. Once again, Glen seems to have gotten short-changed, but maybe this was fine with him. For what it’s worth, Glen bears a much stronger physical resemblance to his father than his brothers.

Most of the examples I have are third-pages, but I have recreated the full illustrations with the help of black and white online downloads.

UA 111068 HA 150 QCC C-BW

A rather central component of the strip was education, and it wasn’t just relegated to the topper.

UA 111768 BH 130

This post has some pretty sweet examples of “Water Lore,” particularly the one above dealing with radar’s precursor, and the November 10 example even previews the following week’s edition.

As the episodes themselves indicate, “Continued next week.”


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

 

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.

KTB 012961 BWP 150 cc

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.

KTB 110550 HA 150 QCC

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).

KTB 020561 HB 150 IR qcc

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

KTB 021261 BWP 150 qcc

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.

 

Sunday, September 17, 1950

Presenting a Sunday comic section from the New York Sunday Mirror. Paging through it, I’m struck by the large number of different syndicates represented—by my count, eight.

NYSM 091750 01 qcc 150

As usual, Ham Fisher’s “Joe Palooka” (distributed by McNaught Syndicate, Inc.) ran on the front page, followed by Milton Caniff’s “Steve Canyon” (King Features) and “Mickey Finn” by Lank Leonard (McNaught). Next up are “Kerry Drake,” drawn by Alfred Andriola and written by an uncredited Allen Saunders, and “Rex Morgan, MD” by Bradley and Edgington (both distributed by Publishers Syndicate). Harry Hanand’s silent comic “Louie” (Press Features, Inc.) and  “Superman,” by either Stan Kaye or Wayne Boring (McLure Newspaper Syndicate) are followed by a half-tab version of “The Flop Family” by Swan (King Features), an advertisement for Ben Gay, and Carl Anderson’s “Henry.”

Because the comics came from different syndicates, they had different dimensions, and in some cases filler was needed at the bottom of a page. Trading cards for “Captain Easy” and “Joe Palooka” were hawked beneath the “Mickey Finn” episode, and tiny bills of play money ran beneath  “Henry” ($10) and “Kerry Drake” ($2). “Rex Morgan,” “Louie,” and “Dixie Dugan” had customized footers featuring characters from their strips, and a couple other pages had more generic footers with characters from all of the Mirror‘s lineup.

Next up in the Sunday Mirror section was Kreigh Collins’ “Mitzi McCoy.” Before I bought this section, I owned a couple versions of the September 17 episode, but they were third-page versions—one in color and the other a black and white version from the Saturday edition of the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Press. Despite the awkward spaces added between its frames, I prefer the BW version in large part because the earring Stub finds in the sixth frame is more obvious. (When I first saw this episode I was confused as to what had happened).

MM 091750 Th cc2 150

MM 091650 BW TH qcc2

When I was putting together my book, The Complete Mitzi McCoy, I was stymied by a half dozen episodes like the one above—I only had third-page versions. Eventually, I found a tabloid example from the Free Press Weekly Prairie Farmer (a newspaper from Winnipeg, Manitoba). As a tabloid, it was missing its throwaway panel—which in this case, was not to be missed. So I splurged an bought the entire Sunday Mirror section.

MM 091750 TA 150 qcc

I think it’s an attractive little panel!

Accompanying Kreigh Collins’ “Mitzi McCoy” (NEA) was Marty Links’ “Bobby Sox,” (about a year before she changed its title to the better-known “Emmy Lou” (distributed by Consolidated News Features).

Most of the remaining comics are more NEA features, Merrill Blossar’s “Freckles and His Friends” (plus the topper “Hector”), Roy Crane’s “Captain Easy,” probably drawn here by Walt Scott, V.T. Hamlin’s “Alley Oop,” “Boots” by Martin, “Out Our Way featuring the Willets,” by J.R. Williams, and “Our Boarding House”. The other strips rounding out the section were McEvoy and Strieber’s “Dixie Dugan” (McNaught), ads for Colgate toothpaste and Philip Morris cigarettes, and “Lil’ Abner” by Al Capp (United Features Syndicate).

 

NYSM 091750 16 qcc 150

 


Catch Her if You Can!

Mitzi McCoy Cover 150

I’m sorry to report that purchasing a copy of The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, The Complete Mitzi McCoy, can be a bit of a challenge. I’d heard there were problems with orders placed on my publisher’s website; sadly, I can confirm that this is true (I’m still waiting for the copy I ordered in November <frown emoji>) .

I would recommend checking out other vendors: Amazon, AbeBooks.com, or Alibris.com.


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

Jealousy

My collection of my grandfather’s comics began when I acquired two complete years of Florida Times-Union Sundays half pages (1955–56), thanks in part to a leap year, there were 105 episodes in all. That bit of good news was offset slightly by the middling print quality of many of the episodes. Below, the opening splash panel shows quite nicely, but by the third panel, skin tones are represented by near-solid patches of magenta ink. Whenever possible, I will post comics from other sources.

In last week’s introductory episode, the stage was set—London, 1515. Among a large crowd, Kevin witnessed the arrival by boat of a delegation from Venice, bound for a meeting with King Henry VIII. However, other business had brought Kevin to the city.

KTB 020556 HF 150 QCC

Kevin’s friend Stephen Moore is introduced; the handsome, friendly painter is obviously one of the  good guys. On the other hand, we meet the conniving Sir Guy Thornberry. The two have the same intention, marrying the beautiful Marion Drake.

KTB 021256 HF 150 QCC

With King Henry having given his blessing to Thornberry, and Queen Catherine approving Marion’s own choice of a husband, quite a dilemma has been established. The Queen, Catherine of Aragon, was Henry’s first wife, but obviously not his last. This disagreement is a portent of real-life marital trouble down the road for the royals, and while Catherine’s demise is tragic, at least she did not suffer the fate of wives No. 2 and 5!

KTB 021956 BWP 300 qcc combo

As the plot thickens, we learn that Thornberry’s vanity and jealousy is matched only by his ruthlessness. As with several other episodes from this story arc, the visual is upgraded to a crisp NEA proof—which in this case has a hole cut into it—likely the casualty a craft project undertaken by one of Kreigh Collins’ younger children or grandchildren (moi?). I guess those Times-Union halves come in handy after all.


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

January 17, 1960

This 60-year-old comic section was a souvenir from my grandparents’ southern journey aboard their schooner, Heather. In late 1959, they left their west Michigan home port on Lake Macatawa and set sail for Chicago. The Illinois River led to the Mississippi, and eventually to Florida’s west coast—a favorite wintertime destination (In the ’40s, the Collins clan often rented on Anna Maria Island). Besides his wife, Teddy, Kreigh’s only crew was his eight-year old twins, Kevin and Glen. Heather and her crew wouldn’t return to Michigan until August, 1960.

FMNP 011760 1 150 qcc.jpg

The Fort Meyers News-Press‘ Sunday edition included an eight-page comic section, led off by Milt Caniff’s popular strip Terry and the Pirates, handled since 1946 by George Wunder. Joining Terry on page one was Mary Worth, written by Allen Saunders and illustrated by Ken Ernst.

Scanning the outside pages of an old comic section is relatively easy with a tabloid scanner, but getting the inside pages presents more of a challenge. Despite having already shrunk from their enormous dimensions from earlier in the 20th century, these pages still measure 29″ x 21.5″ when unfolded. Pages 2-3 feature largely feature run-of-the-mill NEA titles: Boots, by Edgar Martin; Dick Turner’s Carnival; Roy Crane’s Captain Easy (handled on Sundays by Leslie Turner); Vic Flint (written by Jay Heavilin and drawn by Dean Miller); and Our Boarding House, likely illustrated by Bill Freyse. The only non-NEA comic on this first inside spread was Warner Bros.’ Bugs Bunny.

From my perspective, things improve on page 4. There are two contrasting half-page features, Chris Welkin, Planeteer, by Art Sansom and Russ Winterbotham, and Kreigh Collins’ Kevin the Bold. (This episode is one midway through a tale of buried treasure and tyranny, with the villain being Count Stabb). Page 5 has two King Features Syndicate titles (Chic Young’s Blondie and Mort Walker’s Beetle Bailey) and another by McNaught (Joe Palooka, likely handled at this point by Tony DiPreta and Morris Weiss). 

The final inside spread has a raft of third-page NEA comics, (Pricilla’s Pop by Al Vermeer, Tom Trick by Dale, Out Our Way by J.R. Williams, Rolfe’s Brenda Breeze, Merrill Blossar’s Freckles and His Friends and Walt Scott’s The Little People.

The back page of the comic section had two more McNaught titles (Lank Leonard’s Mickey Finn and McEvoy and Stribel’s Dixie Dugan), as well as the the NEA’s popular feature Alley Oop, by V.T. Hamlin.

FMNP 011760 8 150 qcc.jpg

By far, most of my comics are single sheets cut from sections, but I’m glad that my grandparents kept this section intact. (Maybe they forgot to bring scissors when they went south).

Happy New Year! (January 1 was Kreigh Collins’ 112th birthday).

KTC New Year 200


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

Tit-Bits No. 2238

Tit-Bits 2238 01 150 qcc.jpg

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).

Tit-Bits 2238 12-13 150 qcc

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.

Mitzi cover final

“The Complete Mitzi McCoy” can be ordered here.


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

Facing the Storm

Kevin manages to escape with the drugged prince, but when he comes to, Rupert’s confusion quickly changes to fear.

KTB 113052 HF 150 QCC

The November 30 and December 7 episodes are beautifully-printed examples Chicago Sunday Tribune, but Rupert’s fear is somewhat overstated in the second panel below, with his overly worried expression and his jaundiced complexion—indeed, he is yellow.

KTB 120752 HF 150 qcc

A casual reader might see Kevin or Rupert sailing the longboat into the ferocious storm, but what they were doing was trying to keep the boat’s bow pointed into the wind until the storm blew over. A quick check of the term “broach” yields the rightfully scary-sounding definition “[broaching] can cause the boat to enter a death roll… and if not controlled may lead to a capsize or pitchpole and turning turtle.” Knowing how to utilize a sea anchor is useful information to a sailor, and events in “Kevin the Bold” called for the device every four or five years.

ktb-112457-hf-200-qcc

November 24, 1957

KTB 040961 TH 150 qcc.jpg

April 9, 1961

I’m sure a sea anchor is mentioned once or twice in Collins’ final NEA comic strip, “Up Anchor!” I also remember my father describing them while we sailed together—I guess they were part of regular conversation in the Collins household.

KTB 121452 HF 150 qcc.jpg

Meanwhile, things are grim in Lutenberg, and as Kevin and Rupert approach England, Kevin ponders how to help the young prince overcome his fears.

 


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

Prince Rupert and the Legend of the Sword of Courage

For a serial adventure like “Kevin the Bold,” NEA believed that the proper number of episodes in a given sequence was about a dozen. Kreigh Collins had shown interest in developing a longer and more complicated story, but for the first several years he produced comic strips for NEA, these stories rarely exceeded 15 episodes.

In late 1952, following the conclusion of his first sequence featuring Leonardo Da Vinci, Collins unveiled an epic adventure. It would run for 33 weeks. This chapter is another classic, with action, heroism, and a grand climax. But first, the scene is set.

KTB 101952 HF 150 QCC.jpg

An enormous illustration of a galley ship is the payoff of the transitional October 19 episode. The one-third page version severely crops the illustrations, and omits a unusual panel showing Brett breaking character—he’s trying to impress a young lady, for once.

KTB 101952 TH 72 qcc

KTB 102652 HF CST 150 qcc.jpg

The conniving Regent (Sire da Maxavelli) is introduced, and in the following comic, so is his henchman, Torre Hemlar.

KTB 110252 HF 150 QCC.jpg

Next week, the action begins in earnest.


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