Matchmaker

With the Regent dead, Rupert’s obstacle to ascending to Rheinstein’s throne has been removed. However, other events conspire to prevent him from achieving true happiness.

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Baroness Vichi is a bitch witch, and of course she resents the virtuous Madeline.

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This current story arc, longer by far than any others in the entire run of the comic strip, was a serious attempt by Kreigh Collins to deepen character development in an attempt to increase its overall impact. Also, a couple of significant characters from two previous sequences have cameo roles in the May 3 episode (above): The Count de Falcon, a knight Kevin bested in an earlier tournament appears near the beginning, and toward the end, Kevin asks a favor of a princess he had rescued. (She is now the Queen of Glaustark).

Meanwhile, the tournament nears, and Kevin’s first opponent will be the ruthless Count de Falcon.

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The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, The Complete Mitzi McCoy

Describing “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy,” Bruce Canwell, of IDW Publishing’s Library of American Comics, had this to say:

Originally a painter and illustrator, artist Kreigh Collins delighted comics readers for a quarter-century with his rich compositions and distinctive characters. Collins’s series Mitzi McCoy has its roots in the small town of Freedom, echoing It’s a Wonderful Life’s Bedford Falls and pre-figuring TV hamlets like Hooterville and Mayberry. Open this collection and delight in Mitzi’s arresting artwork and solid Middle American sensibilities. Highly recommended!

In addition to the complete run of “Mitzi McCoy,” the book contains the first sequence of the comic strip it morphed into, “Kevin the Bold.” There are also never-before published comics and photographs, and the book includes a wonderful introductory essay by Eisner Award-winner Frank M. Young. It is available here.

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

Late Themes

As they sailed away from the New World, Kevin began telling Saigen the story of Robin Hood. While having an adult narrate a story to a youth was a familiar trope for Collins, what was different was the appearance of the comic strip’s logo. A longbow and a quiver of arrows replaced the usual rapier and pistol, Robin Hood’s hat rested on the suit of armor’s helmet, and a chapter heading of sorts, “A Story of Robin Hood” was inscribed at the top.

The October 17, 1965 episode serves as an introduction for the chapter’s new characters.

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The only previous time the comic strip’s logo changed was on April 23, 1961. Ten years into its run, the familiar blocky KEVIN logo adorned with a claymore and shield was replaced by a more elegant version featuring new weapons and an uncial-style font more appropriate for an Irishman. In fact, in its final appearance in print, the old logo is half-obscured by an enormous Spanish galleon, a portent of its imminent departure. The new logo coincided with the onset of Jay Heavilin‘s 13-month stint as writer for the comic strip.

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Yes, those are balls of cheese being used for ammunition!

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A year later, the logo was modified again, this time just by adding the new chapter’s title, “Story of the Norman Conquest.” While the historical timeline  in “Kevin the Bold” can be a bit difficult to follow—the first episode takes place at the end of the 15th century while the final one is dated 1668, about 175 years later—setting the action during the Norman Invasion of Ireland (c. 1170) required a different approach. Here Kevin’s ancestor (also named Kevin) is featured. Making this flashback less confusing to casual readers, the two Kevins appear identical, except for the ancestor being blond.

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Another point of departure is the ancestor’s willingness to chase after women, something later-day Kevin eschews. However, the episode that ran two weeks later portrays the two Kevins as essentially the same character.

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The final time the comic strip’s logo was altered was for one its last sequences, “A True Story of Captain John Smith.” Following this chapter, only four more appeared before the comic strip morphed into Kreigh Collins’ final NEA feature, “Up Anchor!”

Oddly, the July 16 episode introducing the sequence is not labelled as “A True Story of Captain John Smith,” but the 14 comics that follow are. Perhaps adding the title was a late decision made by the NEA, and the fact that it is typeset, rather than hand-lettered, lends credence to the theory.

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Another familiar trope is the damselle in distress! Not that I’m complaining, mind you.

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Nearly all the original art for the final three years of KEVIN THE BOLD  is found in a collection at Syracuse University. The July 23 episode is an exception. (I found this image online).

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How Many Different Logos Were Featured in MITZI McCOY?

That question and more can be answered by picking up a copy of “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy.” It features a wonderful introductory essay by Eisner Award-winner Frank M. Young and is available here.

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

Gone Girl

Wykes has been eliminated but there is still danger afoot.

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After a quick getaway, some liberty appears to have been taken with the geography involved in this tale. The previous action had taken place around Roanoke Island, North Carolina, and yet now Kevin, et al., find themselves at the Jamestown Settlement, located over 100 miles away in Virginia. Or perhaps they paddled their canoe that far. (It’s possible this action was cut when the comic was reformatted as a one-third page!). At any rate, plans are being made for an ocean crossing, and a return to London.

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Saigen admits to abetting Ginia’s escape from the English merchantman, but happily agrees to stay aboard for the voyage across the sea. As a reward, Kevin begins telling the tale of Robin Hood, whose story becomes the next sequence in the comic strip’s narrative. Fittingly, recounting a story to a child is another device used by Collins throughout his cartooning career. It happened several times in “Mitzi McCoy:” the story of the Irish Wolfhound, the Christmas Story, and the McCoy Family Legend (which facilitated the transition of “Mitzi” into “Kevin the Bold”).

 


 

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

Finding a Friend

Kevin is confused by his new acquaintance’s behavior, and their relationship gets off to a rocky start.

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The two develop a certain amount of trust, and the July 25 episode presents Kevin with a couple of surprises.

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Saigen harks back to a character from a September, 1949 “Mitzi McCoy” episode. Tim Graham is saved in a very similar fashion by Mugs, another Native American boy. (This reminds me of a line by David Byrne, “There are a finite number of jokes in the universe.”)

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Although Kreigh Collins portrayed Native Americans as both heroes and villains, their speech was usually presented in the stereotypical fashion common of the era, a broken English where “me” was used instead of “I” and “-um” was appended to words. Kevin also shows some bias in making the mistake of underestimating his new friend Saigen.

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Not only that, but Kevin falls into the same trap as in an adventure from five years earlier…

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…as did Kevin’s dog Rory, in the comic strip’s inaugural 1950 sequence.

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As a kid, I remember digging holes for this type of trap out in the woods behind our house. Or more likely, I recall my brother Brett doing it in hopes of capturing me! We must have learned this trick from our father.


Tiger Traps and Other Comics

The 1950 “Kevin the Bold” episode directly above is featured along with 110+ others in “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy.” It also features a wonderful essay by Eisner Award-winner Frank M. Young and is available here.

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

The Lost Colony

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The following “Kevin the Bold” sequence received quite a promotional push from Kreigh Collins’ syndicate. In addition to several paragraphs of descriptive text, four separate spots were prepared—three with illustrations and one with a photo of Collins at his drawing table.

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The promotional push generated other articles, such as this one from the Atlantic City Press. Placing it alongside an update on pole sitter Dixie Blandy is interesting perhaps only to me (but get a load of this!)

Although the comics came out in the summer of 1965, the required research was started five years earlier. Collins and his family had taken their schooner Heather south in 1959, wintering in Coconut Grove, Florida. This was the first step in their endeavor of sailing the Great Loop, an approximately 6,000-mile journey (quite a feat considering the 45′ sailboat’s crew consisted of Kreigh, wife Theresa, and 9-year-old twins Kevin and Glen.

It is worth mentioning that Collins continued working on his comic strip during this year-long adventure, he arose early in the morning and did his illustrations in the main salon of his sailboat’s cabin. Visits to post offices along the way were required for mailing off his scripts and illustrations, and for receiving feedback from the suits at the syndicate.

In April, the family headed north via the Intracoastal Waterway, eventually sailing through New York Harbor, the Hudson River, and across the Erie Canal. From there, they entered the Great Lakes, sailing through Lake Erie, Lake Huron, and Lake Michigan, making it back to their home port on Lake Macatawa in late August.

Somewhere in North Carolina, a photographer joined the crew (although these photos must have been taken by someone else, since the photographer appears in a couple of the shots).

Among their many stops was Hatteras Island on North Carolina’s Outer Banks—the location of the lost colony of Roanoke, and the mystery and disappearance of its settlers, including Virginia Dare. No one knows what happened, but as Collins said in the newspaper article about the sequence, he had his theory.

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A souvenir from an annual stage show about “America’s greatest mystery” (now in its 82nd season)

The action begins with Kevin about to sail for the New World, and with his amigo Pedro determined to join the crew.

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As usual, the comics’ tone is lighthearted at the beginning of the story arc, but soon the real action begins.

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

Tit-Bits No. 2232

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Tit-Bits was a British weekly with origins in the late 19th century. An Argentinian version was created in 1909, and among its pages, Spanish translations of American comics were featured.

Measuring 10.5″ x 13.5″, the 24-page, tabloid-sized magazine had full-color covers, and the interior was a mixture of black and white and color pages.

“Kevin the Bold” made its Tit-Bits debut in issue No. 2232, published on April 1, 1952. Retitled Kevin el Denodado, its adventure theme fit in nicely with the other comics the magazine featured. In addition to appearing on the cover, “Kevin” also ran on the inside spread. The other comics in this issue were Spanish versions of “Big Ben Bolt,” by John Cullen Murphy (Ben Bolt Campeón), “Rusty Riley” by Frank Godwin (Rusty Riley, Aprendiz de Jockey), “Terry and the Pirates” by Milt Caniff (Terry, el Piloto), and Dr. Nicholas P. Dallis’ “Rex Morgan, MD” (Rex Morgan, Médico). Sometimes the comics ran on full pages, and in other cases there was editorial content wrapping around them.

In all the copies I have seen of Tit-Bits, comics were featured on both the second page and facing the table of contents (page 3). The other comics appeared at random intervals throughout and generally ran in black and white.

On the other hand, the new comic found on the magazine’s center spread ran in color. Not only that, but this massive 21″ x 13.5″ image was made by combining three separate episodes into one.

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It actually begins with the final episode of “Mitzi McCoy,” and continues with the first two episodes of “Kevin the Bold.” This composite comic was constructed from tabloid versions of the original—each of the three throwaway panels are missing—and the visuals of the third and fourth panels are reversed, with the dialog remaining in its original position (I guess the NEA’s Ernest “East” Lynn wasn’t the only fussy comics editor in the western hemisphere!)

As a comparison, here are the original versions of the spread’s three comics (September 24, October 1, and October 8, 1950).

Tit-Bits continued running episodes of Kevin el Denodado for at least three years. A single episode ran in each of the five issues following No. 2232, and then another three-comic combination graced the center spread of issue No. 2238, dated May 13, 1952. As was the case with the Menomonee Falls Gazette, the Tit-Bits cover images rotated based on the comics featured inside. From what I can tell from my small collection, Tit-Bits kept publishing “Kevin” episodes sequentially, possibly skipping a story arc, or occasionally running them in a different order.

“Mitzi McCoy” does not seem to have been featured in Tit-Bits, and the only case I have seen of that comic strip having been translated into Spanish appeared in Havana, Cuba’s “El Mundo” Sunday edition.

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“El Mundo de Mitzi McCoy,” May 21, 1950.


Lost in Translation

The action featured in the epic “Kevin the Bold” comic above appears near the tail end of my book, “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy.” The book features all 99 episodes of “Mitzi McCoy” as well as the ensuing 12 “Kevin the Bold” adventures that following the “Mitzi”‘s transition to “Kevin”. While there are no immediate plans to translate the book into Spanish, it’s pretty awesome in its original English, if I do say so myself.

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“The Complete Mitzi McCoy” can be ordered here.


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

Sunday, May 22, 1949

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When I was working on my book, The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1, The Complete Mitzi McCoy, a late stumbling block was finding replacement comics for episodes of which I only had third-page examples. Ironically, after searching far and wide for several years, I located them in a comic book shop about a dozen miles from my home. The catch was that I had to purchase them in complete comic sections. I left the shop with five 16-page New York Sunday Mirror Sunday comic sections and while I spent far more than I hoped to, my quest was over. The Mirror carried “Mitzi” for the duration of its run—usually in a half-tabloid format, but occasionally as a full tabloid page. I chose this particular section because its 70th anniversary is imminent.

Flipping through it reveals both big name features and comics now forgotten.

As usual, Ham Fisher’s “Joe Palooka” ran on the front page, followed by Milton Caniff’s “Steve Canyon” and “Mickey Finn” by Lank Leonard. Next up are “Henry” by Carl Anderson, “Kerry Drake,” “Superman” (neither credited, but by Alfred Andriola/Allen Saunders and Stan Kaye/Wayne Boring respectively), “The Flop Family” by Swan, an advertisement for Rinso, and Frank Miller’s “Barney Baxter in the Air.”

What was the main event for me likely falls into the category I mentioned earlier, “comics now forgotten.” This early episode, “Mitzi” ‘s 29th, is at the beginning of the strip’s fourth story arc. Half-tabloids are pretty small, but at least they include the throwaway panel, which full-page tabloid versions do not.

As a young man, Kreigh Collins worked as an illustrator at an ad agency in Chicago. This gig lasted about a year, and the primary reason it ended is that Collins despised having to produce commercial illustrations like the one in the Pepsi ad. At this point in time, I find the the ad’s style quite charming, but maybe I’m just biased because I drank so much Pepsi as a kid. On the facing page, Frank Godwin’s “Rusty Riley” has a style similar to “Mitzi” —leaning more toward illustration than cartooning. In fact, illustrations by Godwin and Collins appeared in Hermann Hagedorn’s The Book of Courage, published by the John C. Winston Company six years earlier.

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Now back to the comics… and advertisements.

Roy Crane’s “Captain Easy,” drawn here by Walt Scott, and V.T. Hamlin’s “Alley Oop” face a couple of nondescript advertisements for Dr. Lyon’s Tooth Powder and Danderine. Next up are “Bobby Sox” by Marty Links, “Rex Morgan, MD” by Bradley and Edgington, “Boots” by Martin, and Merrill Blossar’s “Freckles and His Friends” (plus the topper “Hector”).

The last full spread in the section features Harry Hanand’s silent comic “Louie,” “Out Our Way featuring the Willets,” by J.R. Williams, “Our Boarding House,” and an ad. The ad might be my favorite part of the entire section. It features the type of male chauvinism so common of the era, but it’s quite hysterical (in my reading, anyway).

Taking its usual spot on the back cover is “Lil’ Abner” by Al Capp.

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Patience Is a Virtue

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According to recent reports, there continues to be occasional delays with order fulfillment, but eventually your book will come, that is, if you order The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy. This first-ever collection of Kreigh Collins’ debut NEA Sunday comic strip can be ordered here.


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.

Stand Alones

The last two comics of this sequence are humorous affairs that, unlike the majority of “Mitzi McCoy” episodes, can stand alone. Grouped with the previous five, they help better describe the goings on in the little town of Freedom and flesh out the characters that live there.

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The June 19 comic reveals a bunch of sailing terminology, most of which I was familiar with, having grown up on boats. One term was new to me, yet sounded familiar. What are “the Henty Books?” A quick google search revealed the answer, as well as a short nsfw distraction when I misspelled the term. You have to be careful with those google searches!

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The June 26, 1949 episode, above, is one of a handful of “Mitzis” for which I don’t have a half-page or tabloid version. Luckily, I was provided with a half-page version by Frank Young, the comics historian who wrote the fine introduction to my recent Mitzi McCoy book.

The action revolves around the model plane Dick Dixon built, and with which Stub is dying to lend a hand. Model building was a frequent pastime in Kreigh Collins’ household (both boats and planes), and the Stub’s comment about box kites is likely autobiographical. 

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Here’s my father, Eric, with his model plane. My dad modeled for Dick Dixon, and this photo was taken at approximately the same time the episode above was being developed. Around the time I was this age, I recall my father still goofing around with gasoline-powered model airplanes in our back yard.

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In this childhood water color of Kreigh’s, I assumed it shows his father at left, with his mother and Kreigh (with a box kite) to the right.


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.