When I started collecting my grandfather’s Sunday comics, I had no idea they had been repackaged as comic books. I soon learned differently, seeing occasional listings of “Australian edition” comics on eBay, usually featuring KEVIN THE BOLD. Atlas Publications seemed to have the longest run, and other titles were published by both Tip-Top Comics and Thriller Comics.
Because I was working on my Mitzi McCoy collection, the comic book that really caught my eye was Tip-Top’s “Special No. 3,” published by Southdown Press of Melbourne, Australia. Until recently, I never saw it listed for sale, only in google image search results.
The copy I snagged isn’t in very good condition, but I couldn’t resist. I wonder what these comics looked like when they were new, because after laying around for 70 years or so, the ones I have managed to collect are a bit beat up. My copy of “Special No. 3” has some other minor problems—the cover has a crease running horizontally near the bottom, and the pages are torn slightly where they were stapled—but otherwise, it’s intact. It runs 24 pages plus cover, and seems to be printed on both pink and white paper stock (the middle eight pages being white).
Inside, it features three of MITZI’s 12 story arcs; they come near the end of the strip’s run, and include a couple of my favorites. They inside front cover has a brief description of Kreigh Collins’ creation; it includes an error which I find amusing. Introducing the comic strip’s characters, it mentions that the dog is “part wolf.” Tiny is, in fact, an Irish wolfhound—a breed specializing in protection against and for the hunting of wolves. “Special No. 3” kicks off with a story where Tiny, a readers’ favorite, plays a major part. It starts with the sequence’s third episode, and while some of the preamble is lost, the story is still coherent. It begins with the episode that originally appeared on January 15, 1950. (This sequence was also featured in the French comic book P’tit Gars No. 1).
Next up is “Living Pinups,” packed with action. Interestingly, one of the original episodes is omitted (for those keeping score at home, its date is March 19, 1950), and another episode appears minus an entire page-wide panel—most unfortunately. In place of this wonderful example of good girl art is a small fractional ad for RED RYDER (another Tip-Top title). To see both the missing episode and the excised panel, please consider purchasing a copy of my book “The Complete Mitzi McCoy,” details at bottom.
The third and final story arc appearing in “Special No. 3” is “The Counterfeiters,” another great sequence that has more of a noir-ish feel to it than any other found in MITZI McCOY. The comic book’s cover art features redrawn art from the story’s penultimate episode (and the final episode contains the panel I used for the cover of my MITZI book). On the inside back cover are four dailies of a comic called VIRGIL, by Len Kleis.
Strangely, the first episode runs without several panels (and crops and scrunches those that remain) in order to squeeze in the same RED RYDER that appeared a few pages back.
The back cover has an ad for three of the titles on Tip-Top’s roster, RED RYDER, BUCK ROGERS, and HURRICANE HAWK. It makes me wonder if MITZI was a part of the gang on the ads that ran on those comic’s back covers—I can dream!
Don’t Miss an Episode!
“The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, the Complete Mitzi McCoy,” features the entire run of Kreigh Collins’ first NEA feature, and is available for immediate delivery.
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 $30. 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.
For more information on the career of Kreigh Collins, visit his page on Facebook.