It’s not exactly love at first sight, but whatever Sari is feeling, Kevin is completely oblivious.
Meanwhile, with Christmas over, the Tribune found room to resume running KEVIN THE BOLD half-page episodes. But in comparing its January 1 episode with that from the Times-Union, a discerning observer (shout out to my friend Dale!) would quickly notice the difference between the two.
I acquired the Times-Union version years before the one from the Tribune, and in my haste to get the new one scanned, I didn’t realize the two were different. The lack of a throwaway panel is one clue—but sometimes Tribune versions from this era eliminated the throwaway by extending an adjacent panel.
Here is an infographic showing how the Tribune’s January 1 episode was cobbled together from three different episodes…
…and in case it’s helpful, here are the three full-size originals.
It’s an interesting case of the story being edited and shortened, and it also leads me to believe that the folks at the NEA knew what the Tribune was going to be doing. The action left on the cutting room floor is all about what was happening in the King’s hunting camp, which was somewhat extraneous to the story’s plot.
Caught in a sticky situation in the French royal hunting preserve, Kevin solves one problem by making friends with the French king. But with Vasco lurking, trouble is in store.
Speaking of trouble, for a second week KEVIN THE BOLD didn’t run in the Chicago Sunday Tribune. (Thanks again to Dale for pointing out this anomaly to me). Beggars can’t be choosers and I suppose I should be happy with my Florida Times-Union KEVIN THE BOLD half page, but it’s a shame this one has so much show-through.
So what’s the funny business in the funnies?
Other than DICK TRACY running on the first page, the Tribune doesn’t seem to have a set order for its comics section.
Chester Gould’s strip is followed by some third-pagers: DAVY CROCKETT, FRONTIERSMAN (Jim McArdle, scripting by Ed Herron; Columbia Features); MOON MULLINS (Frank Willard); and DENNIS THE MENACE (Hank Ketcham; Post-Hall Syndicate). The third page features a mash-up of seven Tribune Syndicate comic strips as a one-off Christmas special: BRENDA STARR, REPORTER (Dale Messick); MOSTLY MALARKY (Wallace Carlson); SMILIN’ JACK (Zack Mosley); SMITTY (Walter Berndt); LOLLY (Pete Hansen); AGGIE MACK (Hal Rasmusson); and THE FLIBBERTYS (Ray Helle). Underneath the holiday greeting was a half-page LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE (Harold Gray). Next up were GASOLINE ALLEY (Bill Perry); WINNIE WINKLE (Martin Branner); AN OLD GLORY STORY/DANIEL BOONE (Rick Fletcher, scripts by Athena Robbins); TERRY AND THE PIRATES (George Wunder); DONDI (Irwin Hasen, script by Gus Edson); JED COOPER, AMERICAN SCOUT (by Dick Fletcher, scripts by Lloyd Wendt); FERD’NAND (Henning “Mik” Mikkelsen, United Features Syndicate); SMOKEY STOVER (Bill Holman); TEXAS SLIM (Ferd Johnson); TINY TIM (Stanley Link); and THE TEENIE WEENIES (William Donahay).
The Trib’s comic section again skipped three of its standards: KEVIN THE BOLD (Newspaper Enterprise Association), CAESAR (William Timyn), and KING AROO (Jack Kent, McClure Newspaper Syndicate). Omitting these and combining seven others into a single half-page opened up space for the Tribune to feature a rendering of Charles Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Credited to Don Sinks (illustrations) and Leon Harpole (text adaptation), the story, distilled into a dozen panels, appeared on the back page of the comics section.
I was unable to come up with any biogrphical information on Sinks, but for Harpole it was easier. From 1924 to 1956, Harpole was employed by the Chicago Sunday Tribune—as editor of the early mail editions, assistant Sunday editor, acting Sunday editor, and rotogravure editor and picture editor of the Chicago Sunday Tribune Magazine. That’s quite a few hats for one head to wear, and points to a successful 32-year career at the Trib.
Harpole’s biographical information appeared in a story from the Friday, April 10, 1959 edition of the Florida Southern College’s daily, The Southern. In fact, Harpole had left his gig at the Tribune for a faculty post in Lakeland, Florida, as Director of Journalism at Florida Southern (where he was an adviser to The Southern). I’m assuming the curriculum included tips on cross-promotion.
Six years earlier, Kreigh Collins’ retelling of The Christmas Story was featured in the Tribune; generic half-page MITZI McCOY episodes ran on Saturdays for five weeks. For Collins and his syndicate, it was a feather in their cap—the first time an NEA comic strip had appeared in the Trib. However, despite concerted efforts by NEA, the paper declined to add MITZI McCOY to its roster of Sunday comics. Now, to have KEVIN THE BOLD (his “brainchild”) bumped like this must have stung.
As December drew to a close, perhaps some Tribune readers were also wondering what the new year would bring.
After a nice, long run of half pages from the Chicago Sunday Tribune, there is a hole in my collection—and for good reason, it turns out. Fortunately, I have 105 episodes from the Florida Times-Union for the years 1955-56. These were the first KEVIN THE BOLD episodes I purchased, nearly 20 years ago. Due to the way they had been stored, there was a lot of ink showing through from their reverse sides, and their coloring wasn’t that great to begin with (so much magenta!), so the initial thrill they gave me has subsided to a degree.
But I digress. Kevin, Brett, and Sari have set off for Paris to try to clear up the mystery surrounding Sari’s birth. Kevin was prepared for trouble, and found it soon enough.
The most rewarding part of blogging my grandfather’s comics over the past six-plus years is making the acquaintance of so many of his fans. The insight and knowledge they share is always appreciated, and what has been most surprising to me is how the most passionate fans seem to come from overseas. While my newest comics buddy is from the United States, I include him with the overseas group since he lives in Hawaii. Dale clued me in to the reason for the hole in my run of Tribune episodes—in late 1955, the esteemed comics section actually dropped KEVIN THE BOLD!
I was aware that the paper had dropped my grandfather’s strip for good at the end of the decade, but this development took me completely by surprise. A look at the Trib’s complete comic section for December 18 proves Dale’s point.
Nearly all of the comics were from the Trib’s own syndicate. As usual, DICK TRACY (Chester Gould) leads off. It is followed by a string of third-pagers: TINY TIM (Stanley Link); SMITTY (Walter Berndt); AN OLD GLORY STORY/DANIEL BOONE (Rick Fletcher, scripts by Athena Robbins); BRENDA STARR, REPORTER (Dale Messick); MOON MULLINS (Frank Willard); MOSTLY MALARKY (Wallace Carlson); SMOKEY STOVER (Bill Holman) and a couple of third-page ads (for Pacquins Anti-Detergent Hand Cream and Ben-Gay). Next up are half-page episodes of LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE (Harold Gray) and TERRY AND THE PIRATES (George Wunder). These are followed by more thirds: JED COOPER, AMERICAN SCOUT (by Dick Fletcher, scripts by Lloyd Wendt); WINNIE WINKLE (Martin Branner); and THE FLIBBERTYS (Ray Helle). Beneath a half-page DONDI (Irwin Hasen, script by Gus Edson) is LOLLY (a third-page by Pete Hansen) and the topper ZE GEN’RAL (Bob Leffingwell). Toward the back of the comics section is another raft of third-pagers: SMILIN’ JACK (Zack Mosley); FERD’NAND (Henning “Mik” Mikkelsen, United Features Syndicate); DENNIS THE MENACE (Hank Ketcham; Post-Hall Syndicate); DAVY CROCKETT, FRONTIERSMAN (Jim McArdle, scripting by Ed Herron; Columbia Features); TEXAS SLIM (Ferd Johnson); and THE TEENIE WEENIES (William Donahay). The back page of the section has a vertical half page version of GASOLINE ALLEY (Bill Perry) flanked by an ad for Mennen gift sets.
Tribune comic sections didn’t usually run so many ads, but this was the Christmas season, and something had to give. Besides KEVIN THE BOLD (Newspaper Enterprise Association), the section was also missing CAESAR (William Timyn) and KING AROO (Jack Kent; McClure Newspaper Syndicate).
Recapping: Sari, reputedly an heiress, is pursued by a villain, who to this point is unnamed. He is Vasco, and with a thug doing his bidding, has just abducted Brett.
As Kevin searches for Brett, Sir Fleming speaks with his physician and recounts a sad chapter from his life. Meanwhile, Vasco has plans of his own.
Sari narrowly escapes danger, Brett is freed, and things seem to take a turn for the better.
The physician is called on to check on Sari. I’m no doctor, but I think she looks fine. Each time Collins draws her character, she is absolutely lovely. However, danger lurks, and next week the story takes a very unexpected twist..
Apu is a weekly magazine from Finland. Like similar publications in Denmark (Hjemmet) and Sweden (Allas Veckotonig), its content was typical—human interest stories, short fiction, photos of pretty girls, horoscopes, etc.—and comics. And like the other Scandinavian weeklies, it carried a translated version of KEVIN THE BOLD—in Finnish, Kreigh Collins’ creation was known as “Haukka Temmeltäväin Tuulten Kasvatti,” which translates very roughly to “The Hawk Grew the Breezes.” Another translation I found online is likely more accurate: “Hawk—The Most Uplifting of the Winds.” (It is interesting to see that the title references a bird of prey, much like the Swedish version, “Falcon Stormfågeln”). The covers printed in two colors, blue and red; the text pages ran in black with red as an occasional spot color.
Apu didn’t include any advertising, which made for a shorter publication. (44 pages, including covers).
One feature was called Viikon Tyttö (“Girl of the Week”). I think this works in any language. Here, it shared a page with a single-panel gag cartoon (plenty of these were found throughout the magazine). Had I been alive, my horoscope (Gemini) said Tällä viikolaei työ oikein… (“This week does not work properly…” I don’t want to know the rest!)
Appearing near the middle of the magazine was Haukka Temmeltäväin Tuulten Kasvatti. The episide originally appeared in Sunday comics sections on February 10, 1952; this Finnish version ran in mid-July, meaning it had a shorter lag than other similar weeklies’ episodes (which typically ran about a year after their original publication date).
This was part of the sixth KEVIN THE BOLD story arc, and was based on the 19th century short story A Terribly Strange Bed by the English novelist Wilkie Collins. (For more details, read here). Among all of KEVIN THE BOLD’s chapters, it is the shortest—its duration was only four weeks.
A few pages later was the King Features Syndicate title Viidakko Bill (“Jungle Bill”), which seems in fact to have been JUNGLE JIM. (Later, I think it becomes apparent why “Jim” became “Bill”). With the added red tint, it was given the most prominence of Apu’s interior comics.
invalideja (“Disabled”)—a couple photos of cute but disabled animals—was followed by a full-page version of Väiski Vemmelsääri (“Bugs Bunny”). Another full-page comic followed (Luola-Lennu/“Cave Flight”). My guess is that this unsigned comic was a Finnish original.
I love doing crossword puzzles, but because this one is just a bit out of my league, I don’t mind that someone already did most of it. It faces another King Features title, Pipsa Pippuri pürt. Jimmy Hatlo (Jim #2 for those keeping track; originally titled “Little Iodide”), which ran in two colors on the inside back cover.
Of all of Apu’s commics, I’m obviously most interested in Haukka Temmeltäväin Tuulten Kasvatti., but Taika-Jim (Jim #3, originally King Features Syndicate’s “Mandrake the Magician”) gets my vote as weirdest. I ran the words through an online translator to try to follow the action—see below for what I found.
1. Raivostuneiden villien hyökättyä jättiläisflyygeliä vastaan ja sytytettyä sen tuleen (After an enraged wild man attacked a giant grand piano and set it on fire)
2. Syöksyy eriskummallinen musiikin mestari turvaan pianistinorsujensa kanssa (A strange maestro rushes to safety with his piano-playing elephants
3. Jättiläisflyygelin sisällä juoksevat taika-jim tovereilleen (Inside the giant grand piano runs magic Jim with his comrades)
4. Liekkejä uhmaten saattaa prof. metro norsunsa turvaan maanpinnalle (Defying flames, prof. Metro safety lowers his elephant on the ground
5. Alas päästyään käy hän villien kimppuun salaperäisen äänettömän aseensa avulla. villit pakenevat kauhuissaan! (When he gets down, he attacks the wild with his mysterious silent weapon. the wild flee in horror!)
6. Tämä oli raskas isku hänelle, lausuu taika-jim, mutta villejä tuskin voi syyttää. Professorin jättiläismusiikki sai koko tienoon järkkymään joten villien tunteet ymmärtää! (This was a heavy blow to him, says magic-Jim, but the wild can hardly be blamed. The professor’s giant music made me all upset so the wild feelings are understood!)
Perhaps something was lost in translation!
Thank you to the readers whose comments identified “Little Iodide” and “Mandrake the Magician.”
As the chapter with Cecil the Musketeer neared its conclusion, Bob Molyneux lauded Collins’ efforts on the ninth episode, and especially the tenth (shown below).
A veteran of World War II, “Moly” especially appreciated Collins’ renderings of the battle scenes.
As Kevin is accused of desertion, Cecil wins over sergeant Stubbs and makes a daring effort to silence the fort’s cannons.
The plot points of having Cecil using a grappling hook to scale the walls and open the gates were discussed as the script developed, but weren’t actually shown—the dialog helped fill in the blanks. This situation was likely the result of the changes happening at NEA, both in staffing and procedures.
After having mentored Cecil through his Musketeer training, the lad now has a chance to repay Kevin in his moment of need.
With the June 21 episode, the chapter ends rather abruptly—Mary’s father is now happy to have Cecil as his daughter’s suitor. The following week offered a completely new chapter, without the usual sort of transition.
Next week, a new market for KEVIN THE BOLD is revealed.
As they approach their destination—one of the Channel Islands—the musketeers hear details about their risky mission. (Based on the appearance of the model of the island, it seems their destination is Jersey).
Behind the scenes, the working relationship between Molyneux and Collins was still being established, with Molyneux taking pains to accommodate his artist. A late February letter from “Moly” indicates the two have already had a face-to-face meeting, and while their wives hadn’t met each other yet, they had been corresponding too. In late spring, a trip through the Great Lakes would bring Collins and his family east, and when they reached Cleveland, Collins offered to take Molyneux out for a sail aboard Heather.
The smudges on the letter are evidence of Collins breaking out his watercolors for the purpose of creating color guides on the bromide proofs he received from NEA (like the one below).
Despite the kinks in the story’s development, Collins’ artwork has turned out rather nicely, showing the grittiness of war. While the story’s main characters have survived, others weren’t so lucky.
Meanwhile, the relationship between Collins and Molyneux has become more relaxed, with “Moly” often eschewing his secretary’s help in firing off notes to Collins. Here, he reacts to a story written and illustrated by Collins that had been published in Yachting, a monthly sailing magazine.
Cecil and Kevin continue to hang tough in their difficult assignment, but an unexpected problem soon arises.
For these next three episodes, color half-pages stand in for last week’s black-and-white bromide proofs. Meanwhile, Sergeant Stubbs assembles Captain Martinet’s new musket company.
There is a bit of tension among the troops, but in this case I’m talking about writer Dave Ward and new recruit, Bob Molyneux.
This tension is illustrated in a pair of letters Collins received, both written on Thursday, January 30. Molyneux (perhaps doing Ernest Lynn’s bidding), complains about the trajectory of Ward’s story, and asks for some clarity regarding a plot point involving a gun’s rifled barrel. Feeling defensive about criticisms to his work (again), Ward digs into some minutiae, and takes a potshot at Molyneux (“Maybe Moly should practice on something else — maybe VIC FLINT or BEN CASEY”, referring to two other NEA comic strips, both of which were on the downward arc of their popularity.
Around this time, Collins had his own complaints, more of a physical nature—a sore wrist—no small matter. A letter from Moly reveals another long-time NEA artist was having serious health problems—the business seemed to take its toll on many of its practitioners. In the same letter, Molyneux tells Collins that he sells himself short as a writer (a common refrain in other correspondence between the two).
As for the plot of this KEVIN THE BOLD chapter, I might be inclined to agree with the suits at NEA—it’s a bit contrived. Since I tend to root for the underdog, seeing the high-born Cecil succeed through luck rubs me the wrong way.
In a memo sent to Collins the following Monday, Moly (pronounced “Molly”) addresses the KEVIN story that follows the Musketeers (Hispaniola), and updates Collins on how he traffics scripts and revisions back at the office.
Despite his connections and flukey luck, Cecil is committed to the cause, and Captain Martinet’s musketeers shove off.
From the start, Ernest “East” Lynn proved to be a rather persnickety boss for Kreigh Collins at NEA. After fifteen years, their once cordial relationship had cooled considerably, and when Lynn handed off KEVIN THE BOLD to Robert Molyneux, Collins must have felt some sense of relief.
Because of the nature of doing a weekly strip, with different stages of development happening on several storylines simultaneously, it wasn’t a simple turnkey situation. While Molyneux was introducing himself and learning the ropes, Collins was busy wrapping up existing storylines and scripts with Dave Ward. An erstwhile employee at the Newspaper Enterprise Association’s Cleveland office, Ward was now working on a freelance basis out of Ann Arbor, Michigan. This information comes from Collins’ correspondence with Lynn, Molyneux, and Ward, and with the exception of the new guy, there is plenty of sniping going on. As most acknowledged, Collins was caught in the middle.
It’s a shame that I don’t have copies of Collins’ letters—his tended to be entertaining reads too.
It’s bewildering trying to keep track of who was doing what, with all the different things happening simultaneously. While Kreigh Collins no longer handled all of KEVIN’s writing, he did provided outlines for upcoming chapters. He also collaborated on plot developments, and he was inclined to contribute to the scripts he received.
Both Molyneux and Ward played parts in the development of the sequence running below, featuring young Cecil Rochester. (In order to collect a sizeable inheiritance, Cecil must become a soldier). Ward was the writer and Molyneux handled the back end of its development. Correspondence shows that Collins generally gets along with Ward, Ward was resented by Lynn (whose demeanor had caused Ward to quit in the first place), and Ward resented Molyneux (who appears positioned as Ward’s replacement). Meanwhile, Molyneux and Collins start figuring out how to work together.
Here is a selection of these parties’ correspondence. The oddly-cropped images were the result of photos taken in haste as I plowed through the Grand Rapids Public Library’s Special Collection #56.
In this letter (or separate letters) from Dave Ward, Ward approves of Colllins’ original story outline and makes some suggestions for plot developments. One is to have the regiment of Musketeers let by the historical figure Jean Martinet (which requires bending time in order to fit him into Kevin’s 16th-century world). The story introduces a new guy, Cedric, whose name eventually becomes Cecil.
Meanwhile, Molyneux introduces himself, tells Collins that he has boned up on some episodes already in the pipeline (#69 – “Queen Elizabeth,” and “#71 – “Hispaniola;” Cecil’s story is #70); he also admits to being new to the game of comics continuations. Yet a few days later, he asks for Collins’ permission to write a story for KEVIN.
Molyneux settles in to the routine of handling Collins, but is getting pushback on some of his suggestions. Nonetheless, he includes an interesting anecdote from his WWII Army background with a reference to Mort Walker’s BEETLE BAILEY character, Cosmo. No doubt Collins was relating some doozies of his own in the return mail.
Another missive from Ward reveals how defensive he is toward his story, and below, he starts nitpicking at things Molyneux is doing (interestingly, also one of Lynn’s bad habits). But it’s also clear that Ward knows his stuff.
So many words! Enough! Now for some pretty pictures.
The April 5 episode is transitionary; Cecil is introduced in the final panels. Here is an early version of the episode’s script.
Lord Sanford has made it known that Queen Elizabeth wants Kevin to serve secretly as Cecil’s chaperone.
A round peg for a square hole, Cecil makes poor first impressions on both Sergeant Stubbs and Captain Martinet. Kevin has his hands full!
A really cool thing about the beautiful April 19 episode (what a splash panel!), is that I have its Finnish version, where it was titled Haukka – temmeltäväin tuulten kasvatti, which translates to “Hawk—The Most Uplifting of the Winds” (a rather romantic take on the usual sort or rebranding the strip received for foreign markets).
Incidentally, I hope to receive a couple physical examples of HAUKKA in the coming months.
“The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, the Complete Mitzi McCoy” features the entire run of Kreigh Collins’ first NEA feature, and is available for a limited time at a reduced price.
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 is available for $30ONLY $20! For domestic shipping, add $4; for international orders, please add $25 to cover first class shipping. To place an order, leave a comment below or email me at BrianEdwardCollins1[at]gmail.com, and I will give you PayPal or Venmo information.