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.

 

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.

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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).

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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.

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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).

 

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Catch Her if You Can!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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).

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

Tit-Bits No. 2238

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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).

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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November 24, 1957

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Next week, the action begins in earnest.


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

 

The Four Corners

Kreigh Collins truly had a wanderlust, and his comic strips’ settings reflected this as well. “Mitzi McCoy” was set in Freedom, Michigan, but in its short run, Mitzi traveled to Canada’s North Woods (in her own plane), Miami Beach, New York City, and Chicago; action also took place in ancient Rome and Ancient Israel.

“Kevin the Bold” had an 18-year run, and its protagonist travelled much more extensively—to the four corners of the Earth.

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This dramatic Irish cliff seems at least party inspired by the Cliffs of Moher.

Although Kreigh Collins never visited Ireland, he did travel to Morocco as a young man, and his classic Sadea sequence from 1952 featured the North African country.

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Situated as close to Ireland as it was, much action took place in the Netherlands, as in this episode from 1961. Bruges (Belgium), was also a relatively short trek for Kevin.

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Often, action was taking place in several distant lands in a single comic. The March 16, 1952 episode features Switzerland, northern Italy, and Byzantium (aka Constantinople).

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In a sequence that has yet to run on this blog, Kevin travels to Venice and eventually sails to the eastern Mediterranean in pursuit of the pirate Zyclos.

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Much of the action from the mid-50s episodes of “Kevin the Bold” took place in London and other locations in England; fictitious German towns were also a frequent setting. In Firenze, Kevin nearly bumped into Leonardo Da VInci.

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On an adventure that was published in the summer of 1953, Kevin traveled as far east as the Caucasus Foothills (Georgia, Asia). By the end of that chapter, he was back in the south of France.

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The next year, Kevin rode to Muscovy (modern-day Moscow). And of course, Kevin’s travels were generally in the name of fighting injustice. KTB 090554 HA CST 150 qcc

In 1955, Kevin set sail for Suez, Egypt, in order to return a princess to father. For this episode, Collins prepared a customized layout for the Chicago Tribune, featuring fewer panels and the addition of a nicer rendering of Kevin’s storm-tossed ship.

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A later sequence took place in Norway, again featuring one of the artist’s specialties, beautifully-drawn boats.

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In early 1962, Kevin’s adventures to him to the New World, the first of several trips he would make across the Atlantic.

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The following year, a storm struck Kevin’s ship and blew him off course—apparently around Cape Horn and into the Pacific, where he eventually beached in Japan. Unfortunately, and not so surprisingly, given the era in which this episode was published, the Japanese are shown with a skin tone beyond caricature. (However, by the time the sequence had wrapped, this travesty was corrected).

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In the mid-60s Kevin again crossed the Atlantic, reaching the North America mainland. He saw the location of the ill-fated colony of Roanoke, Niagara Falls, and the California coast.

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Near the end of its run, Kevin’s journey takes him furthest from his Irish beginnings, to the other side of the world, the South Sea Isles.

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Although Kevin’s journey seemingly brought him to the four corners of the world, this blog’s readers hail from an even more diverse list of exotic lands:

Estonia, Slovakia, Bolivia, Bahrain, Vietnam, Iceland, Malta,
the Bahamas, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Albania, Honduras,
Luxembourg, Greenland, Ecuador, Singapore, Qatar, Tunisia,
American Samoa, Costa Rica, Bulgaria, China, Egypt, Peru, Romania,
Japan, Guam, Malaysia, Taiwan, Russia, Macedonia, Puerto Rico,
Latvia, Myanmar, Poland, Greece, Indonesia, Uruguay, Panama,
Pakistan, Austria, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Belgium, South Africa,
Nigeria, South Korea, Ukraine, Mexico, Switzerland, Hong Kong,
Ireland, Norway, Turkey, New Zealand, Bosnia & Herzegovina,
Philippians, Finland, Hungary, Chile, Australia, India, Argentina,
Thailand, Colombia, United Kingdom, Germany, Serbia, Denmark,
Canada, Sweden, Netherlands, Brazil, Croatia, Portugal, Spain,
Italy, France, and (not as exotic to me), the United States

In commemoration of this blog’s fourth anniversary, I thank its readers for their continued interest in my grandfather’s comics career.


The Perfect Anniversary Gift!

Forget those traditional and modern gift lists—click here to place your order for The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy. In addition to the entire run of “Mitzi McCoy,” the book includes the opening sequence of the comic strip “Mitzi” evolved into, “Kevin the Bold.”

The book also features an extensive introduction by Eisner Award-winner Frank M. Young and previously unpublished artwork and photographs.

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

 

Late Themes

As they sailed away from the New World, Kevin began telling Saigen the story of Robin Hood. While having an adult narrate a story to a youth was a familiar trope for Collins, what was different was the appearance of the comic strip’s logo. A longbow and a quiver of arrows replaced the usual rapier and pistol, Robin Hood’s hat rested on the suit of armor’s helmet, and a chapter heading of sorts, “A Story of Robin Hood” was inscribed at the top.

The October 17, 1965 episode serves as an introduction for the chapter’s new characters.

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The only previous time the comic strip’s logo changed was on April 23, 1961. Ten years into its run, the familiar blocky KEVIN logo adorned with a claymore and shield was replaced by a more elegant version featuring new weapons and an uncial-style font more appropriate for an Irishman. In fact, in its final appearance in print, the old logo is half-obscured by an enormous Spanish galleon, a portent of its imminent departure. The new logo coincided with the onset of Jay Heavilin‘s 13-month stint as writer for the comic strip.

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Yes, those are balls of cheese being used for ammunition!

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A year later, the logo was modified again, this time just by adding the new chapter’s title, “Story of the Norman Conquest.” While the historical timeline  in “Kevin the Bold” can be a bit difficult to follow—the first episode takes place at the end of the 15th century while the final one is dated 1668, about 175 years later—setting the action during the Norman Invasion of Ireland (c. 1170) required a different approach. Here Kevin’s ancestor (also named Kevin) is featured. Making this flashback less confusing to casual readers, the two Kevins appear identical, except for the ancestor being blond.

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Another point of departure is the ancestor’s willingness to chase after women, something later-day Kevin eschews. However, the episode that ran two weeks later portrays the two Kevins as essentially the same character.

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The final time the comic strip’s logo was altered was for one its last sequences, “A True Story of Captain John Smith.” Following this chapter, only four more appeared before the comic strip morphed into Kreigh Collins’ final NEA feature, “Up Anchor!”

Oddly, the July 16 episode introducing the sequence is not labelled as “A True Story of Captain John Smith,” but the 14 comics that follow are. Perhaps adding the title was a late decision made by the NEA, and the fact that it is typeset, rather than hand-lettered, lends credence to the theory.

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Another familiar trope is the damselle in distress! Not that I’m complaining, mind you.

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Nearly all the original art for the final three years of KEVIN THE BOLD  is found in a collection at Syracuse University. The July 23 episode is an exception. (I found this image online).

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How Many Different Logos Were Featured in MITZI McCOY?

That question and more can be answered by picking up a copy of “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy.” It features a wonderful introductory essay by Eisner Award-winner Frank M. Young and is available here.

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

Gone Girl

Wykes has been eliminated but there is still danger afoot.

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After a quick getaway, some liberty appears to have been taken with the geography involved in this tale. The previous action had taken place around Roanoke Island, North Carolina, and yet now Kevin, et al., find themselves at the Jamestown Settlement, located over 100 miles away in Virginia. Or perhaps they paddled their canoe that far. (It’s possible this action was cut when the comic was reformatted as a one-third page!). At any rate, plans are being made for an ocean crossing, and a return to London.

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Saigen admits to abetting Ginia’s escape from the English merchantman, but happily agrees to stay aboard for the voyage across the sea. As a reward, Kevin begins telling the tale of Robin Hood, whose story becomes the next sequence in the comic strip’s narrative. Fittingly, recounting a story to a child is another device used by Collins throughout his cartooning career. It happened several times in “Mitzi McCoy:” the story of the Irish Wolfhound, the Christmas Story, and the McCoy Family Legend (which facilitated the transition of “Mitzi” into “Kevin the Bold”).

 


 

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