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..
Following Count Nargyle’s dramatic disappearance is an equally astonishing entrance.
The October 23 episode is a beauty—its two oversized panels showcase some wonderful artwork. The colors are rather unique too—the burgundy in the first frame and the ghostly, almost psychedelic trees looming in the background of the last seem to come from a different palette.
Meanwhile, with his options limited, Count Nargyle makes important concessions to the beggars of the forest.
The reunion between Kevin and Brett inspired Kreigh Collins to employ a favorite pose—a boy playing leapfrog.
It first appeared in an episode of BIBLE STORIES COMICS (far right, c. 1944) and then twice in KEVIN THE BOLD (October 30, 1955 and December 15 1963). Collins used it a final time in his last NEA feature, UP ANCHOR!, where it popped up in a “Water Lore” topper from 1968.
Next week, the story of Brett meting the beggars of the forest continues, and another lovely lass is introduced.
Suddenly, Kevin makes a desperate bid for freedom.
With a second leap, he leaves Count Nargyle and his henchmen behind—only to be caught again!
As for that splash panel, where have I seen it before?
“Kevin the Bold: Sunday Adventures” collects nearly three years’ worth of episodes—including this current chapter; they are presented in a black and white tabloid format, from original proofs (for all but a few episodes). Anyway, back to the story.
The beggars of the forest act quickly in dealing with the “spy,” but lady luck soon smiles upon Kevin.
Oh—to be saved from death by a beautiful girl! Inspired, Kevin quickly hatches an audacious plan.
The chapter continues with three more beautifully-drawn episodes. Of note, each of the ten episodes includes a double-decked splash panel. The September 11 installment features one with a wonderful rendering of the town’s imposing bell tower (possibly inspired by the famous Belfry of Bruges); the rest of the episode’s panels match it in quality and drama. Meanwhile, trapped in the belfry, Kevin’s options are limited.
Kevin’s imitation of the bell-ringer is inspired. Nonetheless, it puts him in danger…
…and time is not on Kevin’s side. Meanwhile, lovely Taka eavesdrops on the soldiers.
Another magnificent splash panel, as arresting as the others, hints at Kevin’s only escape.
Today, a 10-episode chapter—KEVIN THE BOLD’s 22nd—begins. Originally, I had planned on featuring the following sequence, but when I realized it was a continuation of this one, I decided it made sense to run them both consecutively. These 22 half pages came from the Chicago Tribune (August 28, 1955 through January 22, 1956).
Many chapters start slowly, with an episode or two setting the scene, but in this case Kevin rolls into town and quickly inserts himself in its affairs.
It’s also clear who the villain is—Count Nargyle—and that his ruthless ways run counter to Kevin’s code of behavior. But by making himself a target, Kevin realizes he needs a place to hide. He finds a great spot to seclude himself—and if the redhead’s dress is indeed torn, no doubt the chivalrous Kevin would avert his eyes. A wise move, as this lovely lass, named Taka, is one with whom Kevin will be glad to be allied.
Despite his earlier narrow escape, Kevin can’t help himself and again makes waves.
His intentions are honorable, but his rash decisions bode ill of his future…
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.”