Kevin the Mole

When I first starting collecting Kreigh Collins’s comics, I wasn’t aware of many fruitful places to look for them. I knew of ebay’s existence, but I didn’t think to look there. I can’t remember where I found the listing for my first purchase, but it was printed rather than online. Around this time, I was also collecting books my grandfather illustrated—I found these on a couple used booksellers’ websites.

One 2009 search on abebooks turned up a hit for 37 color KEVIN L’AUDACIEUX third-pages—from a newspaper Québeçois. They weren’t expensive, so I made the purchase—my second, comics-wise. The plan was to translate them back to English, set all the type on my computer, and digitally combine everything—and plug a hole in my collection.

Soon after the comics arrived, my ambitious bubble burst. Their color wasn’t great, most were cropped so tightly that edges were missing, and I realized I’d vastly overestimated how much French I remembered. I soured on the whole deal and changed my mind about buying another similar lot. (The irony is that now I’m most interested in foreign translations). Years later, the item was still listed—as I recall, PRINCE VALLIANT was on the other side—but no longer.

Later, when my “discovery” of ebay made collecting easier, I considered these episodes in French nearly worthless. But recently, through emails exchanged with a friend from Spain, I learned that these unloved thirds did have value. Gregorio graciously offered to combine them with the corresponding bromide proofs, replace le dialogue française with the English from the proofs, and return them. I found his method amazing, and was very impressed with the results. Gregorio also extended the color from the third-pages to the edges of the bromides’ frames, giving them a distinct appearance.

I offer a sincere thank you—this sequence’s remaining color episodes were all produced by Gregorio. Now, picking up where we left Kevin, he has just agreed to infiltrate a gang of conspirators plotting against Queen Elizabeth.

In the last panel, I’m assuming Kevin also has his fingers crossed.

Once Kevin sees Pedro, it seems he’s having second thoughts about his role as a mole.

To be continued…

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

An Agent of the Queen

Even a most preliminary investigation of KEVIN THE BOLD reveals that he spent time as an Irish agent of King Henry VIII—indeed, in early 1956 the English king became a featured character and appeared regularly. But as the years passed, Henry aged out and was eventually succeeded by Queen Elizabeth I. She first appeared in the December 22, 1963 episode of Kreigh Collins’ feature. 

Taken as historical fiction, time is rather fluid in KEVIN THE BOLD. A sequence that ran five months earlier placed the action in 1580. While Queen Elizabeth I’s reign began in late 1558, the events described in the following chapter (based on the Ridolfi Plot), would place the action back in 1571. With that in mind, let’s back up and see why Kevin was meeting the Queen in the first place.

As the previous adventure segues into the next, Pedro delivers a message to his friend that he is to report to the Queen immediately. Kevin is about to learn that her majesty does not like to be kept waiting.

For KEVIN episodes from this time period, I don’t have too many color half-pages, but I do have a pretty solid collection of black and white proofs, which I recently learned are called bromides. (Although the term was familiar, I guess much of the material I learned in my Reproduction Processes class at SUNY-Buffalo circa 1985 is starting to fade). These bromides are photographic reproductions printed on heavy matte paper, similar to watercolor paper. Besides serving as nice keepsakes, they were used as color guides for the separators—illustrators such as Collins would paint them with watercolors to indicate the colors of clothing, interiors, etc.

When I have the time and resources, I combine them with color third-page copies to give a better idea of how the episodes looked in their intended format. In the hybrid episode below, Kevin learns the Queen is not so unreasonable after all…

Kevin is about to reprise his role as an agent of the monarchy, and as usual, it’s a dangerous situation.

While I have a color half-page for the January 5, 1964 episode, the adventure continues next week, with some even more creatively combined BW-color examples…

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