A good line worth repeating

At the summit arranged by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, King Francis I of France and King Henry VIII of England tried to outshine the other, with dazzling tents and clothes, huge feasts, music, jousting and games. The days were taken up with tournaments, in which both kings took part. 

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After the joust, Kevin was gracious in victory over his friend De Cagnes — but not everyone was so pleased, as the sourpuss Sir Basa is introduced.

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“The Field of the Cloth of Gold” was the first sequence written by Kreigh Collins after a 13-month stretch of episodes written by Jay Heavilin. In fact, the episode above contains a line (paraphrased) that originally appeared in “Kevin the Bold” a decade earlier. 

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Returning to our current sequence, Kevin has the misfortune of staying at the same inn as his detractor, and he also meets a mute stableboy. 

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

The Field of the Cloth of Gold

Last week I asked readers if their collections included any “Kevin the Bold” episodes that were missing in mine. This week a sequence starts using comic scans sent to me by my man in Rotterdam, Arnaud, with whom I traded a bunch of other “Kevin” scans (Nogmaals bedankt!). These tabloid comics were originally published starting in June, 1962, and were based on a historical event from 442 years earlier—the June, 1520 summit between England’s King Henry VIII and France’s King Francis I. 

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These first few episodes serve as a preamble to the main event, but the June 17 comic shown above is a favorite of mine because I have the original artwork in my collection. 

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In 2010, when I first found an image of the artwork online, it appeared as shown above. Sadly, by the time I saw it listed for sale four years later, the illustration had been cropped so it would fit in an 18″ x 24″ picture frame (below). It might have been damaged goods, but I bought it anyway (frame not included). One interesting detail is found in the panel in the lower left-hand corner, where Brett is holding Kevin’s sword. The sword is a photostat, pasted onto the original art—apparently as a time saver for the artist. 

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Another shameless plug!

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Featuring the complete run of Kreigh Collins’ first NEA comic, “Mitzi McCoy,” The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy can be found here; it’s still available at its pre-order price of $24.95.  


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

Help!

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Once I started collecting my grandfather’s comics, I came up with two goals: publish a book and collect them all. 

Kreighs’ comics appeared in newspapers every Sunday from November 7, 1948 until February 27, 1972, about three and a half decades. Adding it all up—the 23 complete years, the two partial years, and the four times leap years resulted in a year having 53 Sundays (1950, 1956, 1961, 1967)—amounts to 1,217 individual episodes. (Or is it 1,218? Can someone check my math?) However many there are, it’s easy to see why I chose to publish a book first.

Admittedly, I had a great head start with so many of the episodes having been given to me by my uncle. But while my grandfather saved a lot of stuff, I do not have examples of all of his individual comic strips. Since I have all 99 “Mitzi McCoy” episodes and less than half of the “Up Anchor!” comics, what I’m focusing on primarily are the missing “Kevin the Bold” episodes.

Of the 945 or so examples of “Kevin,” there are 45 which I’ve never seen in any form. The first hole in my collection appears about a decade into its run: April 24, 1960

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What happens next? I’d love to know!

A few months later, the October 2, 1960 episode draws a blank. It follows the one shown below, in a tale of two sons—one good and the other bad. Through 1958, I have full-sized (half-page or tabloid) versions of just about every comic, but by 1960, many of my comics are one-third page versions (sigh). But at least these allow the narrative to continue.

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Oh no, Kevin appears mortally wounded! Will he survive?

The next gap in the chronology is found in the first Jay Heavilin-penned sequence (June 25, 1961).

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Lady Goodly? Lady Godiva could be featured on June 25 for all I know.

You know what’s worse than a missing episode? Two consecutive missing episodes! (September 10 and 17, 1961).

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At least the September 3 episode introduced me to the word, “Taradiddle.” I can only imagine the vocabulary featured over the next two weeks.

 Perhaps even more interesting to me are a couple elusive mid-1963 episodes—June 23, 1963 and July 7, 1963. Kevin has made it all the way to Japan. I wish I had the entire sequence of comics to share that adventure with you. Here is part of it—the two comics that precede the two missing ones.

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I’m going to see if I can verify that translation in the throwaway panel.

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Here are the dates of the comics  listed above: 
April 24, 1960
October 2, 1960
June 25, 1961
September 10, 1951
September 17, 1961
June 23, 1963
July 7, 1963

For the last three years of “Kevin the Bold,” I need quite a few: 
January 2 & 16, 1966
May 29, 1966
June 26, 1966
July 10, 17 & 24, 1966
August 21 & 28, 1966
September 4 & 11, 1966
October 2 & 9, 1966
December 25, 1966

January 29, 1967
February 5, 12 & 19, 1967
March 5, 12, 19 & 26, 1967
April 9, 23 & 30, 1967
May 21 & 28, 2967
June 11, 1967
August 27, 2967
October 22, 1967
November 12 & 19, 1967

April 7, 14, 21 & 18, 1968
May 5, 1968
September 15, 1968

Do you have any of these in your collection? I’m more than willing to trade scans. Please leave a message on my blog or contact me directly at brianedwardcollins1(at)gmail.com

Thank you very much.


The Complete Mitzi McCoy

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To read the complete run of “Mitzi McCoy” comics, The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy can be found here; it’s still available at its pre-order price of $24.95.  


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

The Christmas Story, Continued

While recycling the 1949 version of the Christmas Story comics, usually only one or two panels had to be recreated, as above. The following comic required a bit more work—nearly half the panels were new (Nos. 1, 3, 5 & 10).

Because Art Sansom, who did the lettering for both the original “Mitzi McCoy”-era version and this new one was still working for NEA, any text changes would go unnoticed. 

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to dig up any relevant information on “Bielefeld Studios,” although it is the name of a television broadcasting operation in northwestern Germany. Somehow I think these comics were prepared for a different entity.

While some new panels were created for the 1953 version, these “throwaway panels” were lost when the comics were reformatted into tabloids.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year! (Or, as they say in Bielefeld, Fröhliche Weihnachten!)

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Speaking of Christmas…

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The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy is available here, and can be shipped to international locations (including Bielefeld, Germany). 


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

Christmas (Re)Packages

Any good story is worth telling more than once. That is certainly the case of the Christmas Story, and it was certainly the opinion of Kreigh Collins and the folks at his syndicate, Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA).

In 1949, Collins used his “Mitzi McCoy” comic strip as a vehicle to tell the Christmas Story. Although some panels showed Stub Goodman narrating the story to a young boy (Dick Dixon), most of the visuals consisted of the Christmas Story itself—Stub and Dick generally only appeared once or twice in each episode. Those comics appeared last year on this blog and can be seen here.

Four years later, with a new comic strip (“Kevin the Bold”) and a proven gimmick, the story was recast with Kevin and his ward Brett substituting for Stub and Dick. Only this time, the comics didn’t run in Sunday papers, they served as NEA promotional material. I’m not sure if any other versions appeared, but the following comics were sponsored by an outfit called “Bielefeld Studios.” 

The five original comics, in tabloid format, were supplemented by newly-created front and back covers and an introductory comic, and the result was an eight-page version tucked inside a portfolio of white card stock. No comic strip logo appeared in the stand-alone package. In fact, Kevin and Brett were introduced as if the reader had never met them. 

The artwork was picked up from the original 1949 version. Occasionally, new artwork replaced an old biblical scene, but usually the only changes were swapping out Stub and Dick for Kevin and Brett.

The Christmas Story continues next week. 

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Speaking of Christmas Presents…

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It probably won’t be delivered in time for Christmas, but The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy is available here. International shipping now available! Forthcoming volumes in the series will feature Kreigh Collins’ mid-1940s “Bible Picture Stories” comics (due in 2019), and “Kevin the Bold” (tentatively scheduled for 2020). 


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

The Ghost Ship

A nice feat of engineering reveals what Kevin and Brett hope will be their ticket off the island. 

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Luckily for Kevin and Brett, the islanders had a nice supply of white cloth for their ruse. 

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Most gratefully, Maria offers Kevin a kiss in lieu of marriage. Perhaps more than one, as Kevin and Brett don’t disembark until several days later.  

Finding a drowning sailor provides an interesting denouement as the sequence transitions swiftly.  

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Perhaps the reason for the abrupt change is that the next sequence would be Jay Heavilin’s last — his 13-month run as  the writer for “Kevin the Bold”  was ending.

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Now being shipped!

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I’m not sure how long delivery takes, but pre-sale orders of the book The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy have started to be shipped. Apologies for the delay. Presently, I am trying to find out what arrangements can be made for the publisher to fulfill overseas orders. The book is available at the publisher’s website.


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

The Catch

As Brett and Kevin get settled on the New World Island, Maria thinks she has landed a trophy fish in her net (in this case, a hammock). The next episode originally ran just before Valentine’s Day in 1962, yet Kevin seems to have missed the memo—he rejects Maria’s playful and romantic overtures.

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Although this adventure of Kevin’s was written by Jay Heavilin, Jay seems to have cribbed some of Kreigh’s plot devices. Norse mooring pegs were shown in a sequence from four years earlier (although it ran just last month on Kreigh’s Comics).

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As Kevin labors away in an attempt to raise the long-sunken boat, Maria continues to work on finding a husband. Soon, an even more series dilemma appears on Kevin’s horizon.

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In Kevin’s situation, few men would be able to resist Maria’s overtures. However, Kevin’s prime directive is to travel the world, undoing injustices, and helping those in need, and he is determined to stay true to those ideals.


Now being shipped!

Mitzi cover final

I’m not sure how long delivery takes, but pre-sale orders of the book The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy have started to be shipped. Apologies for the delay. Presently, I am trying to find out what arrangements can be made for the publisher to fulfill overseas orders. The book is available at the publisher’s website.


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

Jay Heavilin

For nearly all of “Kevin the Bold” ’s 18-year run, Kreigh Collins handled the comic strip’s continuation. The lone exception (credited, anyway) was the period from April 30, 1961 through May 27, 1962, when the comic strip carried the additional byline, “Story by Jay Heavilin.”

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Jay was a young NEA staffer of whom I know little, but I did manage to track down an NEA headshot. What is even more interesting than an old photograph is the dirt I discovered in a couple of letters (c. 1961) that NEA Vice President/Features Director Ernest Lynn sent my grandfather.

Lynn was responding to Collins’ query, was Jay dependable? Kreigh was looking for a writer for an unnamed book project, and Lynn didn’t mince words. “He’s a mixed-up kid without much, if any, conscience.” Lynn’s low opinion was apparently due in part to Heavilin having recently quit, leaving Cleveland for New York. And there was obviously a personality clash, “For one thing, he kept me tense. His utter contempt for office rules and the rights of others bothered me more than I care to admit. He has an ungovernable temper. The rules are for the other fellow, not Jay.” Because I don’t know the entire context, I won’t repeat anything else. At any rate, the letter sheds some light on the type of person Lynn was. too.

The next episode in the sequence currently being featured is one with which I am especially familiar. It has some lovely illustrations and action, and a particular detail that I find quite charming. In its last panel, Kevin and Brett have decided to swim for shore, and are shown jumping off the ship. When your sobriquet is “The Bold,” you don’t jump, you dive. As the faithful young ward of such a man, Brett also dives, but with only one hand outstretched — the other is holding his nose.

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The reason I’m so familiar with this particular episode is that for years, the original artwork hung on my older brother’s bedroom wall. My brother’s name was also Brett, and despite being Kreigh Collins’ oldest grandchild, this was a coincidence. Originally, Brett and I assumed the character had been named for him, and only later did we realize that the character in fact preceded Brett by nearly a decade.

The artwork was originally given by my grandfather to my Grandpa Palmer, and it’s inscribed in the upper left corner. Only later did the piece end up in my collection, though that’s an interesting story too. Brett kept the illustration all through college, and for several years afterward it hung prominently in his apartment. Eventually, he gave it to our father, because he would no longer have anywhere to hang it. Following the family tradition, he was moving aboard his sailboat, a 43′ ketch. Later, after I’d begun researching my grandfather in earnest, my father gave the artwork to me.

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Once ashore, Kevin and Brett make a shocking discovery.

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They warn Maria of Captain Moniz’s intentions, and help them escape enslavement. However, Maria has plans of her own for Kevin.

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Now being shipped!

Mitzi cover final

I’m not sure how long delivery takes, but pre-sale orders of the book The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy have started to be shipped. Apologies for the delay. Presently, I am trying to find out what arrangements can be made for the publisher to fulfill overseas orders. The book is available at the publisher’s website.


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

 

Brett the Bold

After thirteen plus years of writing the continuity for “Mitzi McCoy” and “Kevin the Bold,” Kreigh Collins was either a bit burned out or looking to free up time to pursue other projects. In any event, starting in mid-1961 and lasting for slightly over a year, Kevin’s adventures were dreamed up by NEA staff writer Jay Heavilin.

When I started collecting my grandfathers’ comics, I paid less attention to Jay Heavilin’s sequences because they weren’t Collins’ own brainchild (to use Kreigh’s phrasing). On more recent reflection, I notice these comics contain some fine illustrations even if the action is slightly out of character—e.g., Kevin attempting to visit his sickly mother, as shown in the December 17, 1961 comic that ran last week. (My theory on that episode: an excuse to introduce a gypsy woman who resembled Moya McCoy, who hadn’t appeared in the strip for over six years. Moya’s absence can be explained by the fact that she was the only woman Kevin ever loved, and removing her from the story helped ensure that our hero would never settle down, and would keep on moving.)

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August 15, 1954

Of note, Moya’s very last appearance (as far as I know) also involves a fortune teller.

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August 29, 1954

Now, back to our current sequence… where Kevin’s situation takes take a sudden turn for the worse.

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Brett’s well-aimed dagger saves the day, but as the ship’s provisions dwindle, so does their time.

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Mitzi book update!

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After receiving a few inquiries as to where the book they’d ordered was, I heard today from someone who said they’d finally received their copy! My apologies for the delay, and I hope you think it was worth the wait. November 7 was the 70th anniversary of the comic strip’s debut.

For those who haven’t ordered it yet, The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy can be found at the Lost Art Books website. 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.


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

Bound for the New World

As a young lad, I recall sitting in my grandfather’s studio and poring over stacks of comics—bound copies of the “NEA Daily and Sunday Comics.” At some point after my grandfather died, the covers (conveniently featuring “Kevin the Bold”) were cut off and the rest discarded. It’s a shame so much was lost, but I’m lucky to possess what remains.

The prominent date at the top of the page was the Monday of that issue’s week, and the publication contained the six daily comics (plus a Sunday comic, in some cases) for a given NEA strip. Since “Kevin the Bold” was a Sunday, these publications only featured one comic, whose publication date would be six days after the date shown for each issue.

The year is 1520, and the following sequence starts with Brett trying to sign onto a Portuguese ship headed for the New World. The ship is being financed by King Henry, and because he has heard bad news about its crew, he calls on an old friend to keep an eye on things.

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Shockingly, Kevin, an agent to the King, is about to refuse his request.

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According to Kevin’s back story, he was an orphan and knew nothing of his parents, so the the action at the beginning of this sequence is quite unexpected (and is abandoned abruptly). Kevin and Brett soon are reunited and about to set off on another adventure.

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As for those stacks of comics in my grandfather’s studio, it appears a young reader was inspired by the publication’s masthead to try his hand at cursive writing. The culprit was likely myself, my brother, or one of my cousins.