Mistaken Identity

Just in time, Marion arrives.

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In a case of mistaken identity, Kevin suddenly realizes the danger he is in. As with my torn copy of the March 6 episode, it’s always good to have backup.

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While Stephen finds safe harbor, Kevin lands in the Tower. Notorious as a prison, Kevin soon faces questioning from an equally imposing brute, illustrated marvelously by Collins. It seems that only a fool would save Kevin now.

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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.

Historical Fiction

Generally set in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Kevin the Bold can be labelled as historical fiction, with its early story arcs and characters being Kreigh Collins’ brainchildren.

After a couple of years, famous historical figures started appearing—sometimes as ancillary characters, and at other times being more integral to the action. The first of these was Leonardo da Vinci, who made a couple of brief appearances in 1952. (Da Vinci would make another memorable cameo in 1967, in one of Kevin’s final adventures).

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The historical figure most appearing frequently was King Henry VIII; in the September 24, 1961 episode he appears along with a mention of a noted portraitist of the era, (Hans) Holbein the Elder .

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In 1964, a young William Shakespeare was a central character, and a few years later Captain John Smith figured prominently.

King Henry first appeared in 1956, and that entire sequence will run over the next few Sundays. The tone of this story arc is different than most of what had preceded it, and it is likely that Kreigh Collins was extensively using other’s scripts for the first time. In between the more historical storylines (with King Henry, Shakespeare, etc.), Collins’ own chapters become easier to spot. This change in direction was caused in part by burn out. According to wife Theresa’s oral history, “Kreigh was always trying to think up the next story. It was the equivalent of writing a full novel every ten weeks.” Giving up the writing likely meant a cut in pay but with the overall ascendance of “Kevin the Bold” and the income it generated, it was a good tradeoff for Collins.

As Henry’s first chapter got off the ground, any time Collins saved by not writing looks like it may have been spent on the illustration. The Florida Times-Union‘s reproduction is mediocre, but the artwork is quite nice, with many compelling scenes and characters.

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To be continued…


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

Change of Heart

Injured in the explosion that knocked the treasure loose, Kevin tries to get help for Brett. He is delayed first by Stabb, then by falling debris.

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Regaining consciousness, Brett (and the reader) are left to figure out what’s just happened…

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…and the townspeople are surprised to hear Stabb’s decree.

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On the first day of spring, one sequence concludes, and another begins—and we learn it is not only a young man’s fancy that lightly turns to thoughts of love.


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

Hidden Treasure

Because my collection has only one-third page versions of the next three episodes of this story arc, they have been supplemented with BW versions I found on Newspapers.com. Quality varies considerably from one newspaper’s archives to another, but sometimes hidden treasure is found.

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While the Carbondale (IL) Southern Illinoisian‘s half-page isn’t as fine as those above, it does have the prestige of featuring “Kevin” as its lead comic strip.

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Count Stabb might have visions of swimming Scrooge McDuck-style in his newfound wealth, but I have a feeling that the outcome might be a bit different. This sequence concludes next week.


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

Powder Keg

Defending a flower girl leads to a world of pain for Kevin.

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I only have a one-third page version of the January 31, 1960 episode, which features a soldier riffing on a quote attributed to Mark Twain: “The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog.”

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After discovering what’s been stored in the wine cellar, Kevin and Brett know they have to escape their predicament.

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To be continued…


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

End of an Era

In this next story arc, from the beginning of 1960, the villain is Count Stabb. Another, more minor villain would be the Chicago Tribune. After nearly a decade, it dropped “Kevin the Bold” from its pages. Kreigh Collins had lost his early champion, but he would soldier on for for the NEA for another dozen years. The transitional episode below appeared in the Detroit News, but like most of Kevin’s contemporary clients, it only ran a one-third page version. The print quality is quite mediocre, generally out of register, and uses a very basic palette (Brett’s hair has even gone white in the last panel), Fortunately, I have black-and-white proofs of most of the sequence’s episodes.

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The one-third page versions don’t hold a candle to the black and white proofs, and they reveal how much each panel was cropped. Toward the end of Kevin‘s run, Collins would lay out his pages so that the entire third tier of panels was expendable. The small silver lining was that the resulting third-pages had a better-looking composition.

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I recently read that the NEA developed its third-page format in 1937. As Leo Bock would say, “it was a black day.”

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One paper running Kevin half-pages at this time was the Fort Meyers News-Press. The next episode is from the comics section that appeared here last week.

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The print quality of the News-Press surpasses that of the News (excepting the flower girl’s pink coiffure).



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

Wild Night

While the entire Count del Morte story is short, its episodes are very graphic, and have a storyboard quality—the sequence seems as if it would translate very nicely to live action. Near the end of the comic strip’s run, plans were afoot for a television adaptation; sadly, this never came to fruition.

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Now back to our story!

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With one of his pursuers no longer a threat, Brett is not yet out of danger.

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The story ends with Kevin admonishing Brett for his carelessness, and neatly segues into a new adventure.


Need a great gift idea?

Call me biased, but I think you’d be hard pressed to find a more charming collection of Golden Age comics than The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins: The Complete Mitzi McCoy. 

Drawn as well as scripted by Collins, Mitzi McCoy showcased the artist’s 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 here 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.

Edited and restored by the artist’s grandson, Brian E. Collins, with an introduction by Eisner Award-winning author Frank M. Young, an Afterword by comics columnist Ed Catto, and a recently-inked tribute illustration of Mitzi by Butch Guice

Available HERE from Lost Art Books.

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

The Count del Morte

In Kreigh Collins’ NEA career, his typical story arcs contained 12–15 episodes. The previous sequence, featuring Prince Rupert, was an extremely lengthy exception, running for 33 weeks. Basically a horror story, “The Count del Morte” was another outlier—it had only five episodes. Each of these is a illustrated with nice half-page examples from the Chicago Tribune.

The action begins with Kevin and Brett sailing into port, where they will be laid up for a short while. As they take note of a foreboding local landmark, the episode’s throwaway panel provides crucial foreshadowing that a tabloid version of this comic would lack.

Kevin has to take care of business aboard the ship, while Brett is feeling stir crazy and needs to go ashore.

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Brett quickly finds himself in quite a predicament, and the episode’s final caption hammers the point home in a scolding tone.

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Out of the frying pan and into the fire, things look especially grim for poor Brett!


The Complete MITZI McCOY

During the short run of Kreigh Collins’ “Mitzi McCoy,” its 11 story arcs featured various overall moods or themes—among them goofball, noir, adventure, and historical reënactment—but never horror. The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins: The Complete Mitzi McCoy collects them all and is available here. Pick up a copy and see for yourself!

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

The King’s Champion

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For this Australian comic book, the cover artwork was completely recreated.

 

As the tournament begins, the competition heats up—between the men, jousting, and the women, in the grandstand.

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As the lengthy tale of Rupert draws to a close, the threads begin wrapping up.

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Though he is honorable to his core, Brett realizes Kevin has thrown the match.

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The final episode of the 33-week epic is completely in character for Kevin, champion of children. The episode is also one of Collins’ best efforts, with a dramatic, final splash panel.


The Complete MITZI McCOY

A collection of his first syndicated comic strip, “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy” features previously unpublished photographs and comics and includes wonderful introductory essay by Eisner Award-winner Frank M. Young. The book is available here.

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