Princess Lea Pursued

In preparation for his confrontation with Baron Von Blunt, Kevin musters some forces and makes plans to arm them. His past good deeds help as he calls in a favor. Meanwhile, his antagonist continues his brutal ways.

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About that armor refurbished by Seusenhofer… it looks familiar…

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Rebuffed by beautiful Princess Lea again, Baron Von Blunt seethes with anger. Vowing to destroy Glaustark, the stage is set for conflict. In an extraordinary final splash panel, Kevin arrives at last. As usual, Stub and Kevin are confident. First, Kevin and his men face an arduous journey just to reach Von Blunt. Then, will they be strong enough to overcome the Baron?


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

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Special Man Is Wanted

Artists and illustrators often have models pose for them — Kreigh Collins frequently enlisted his family with the task. Occasionally, a special situation would call for a hired model, and such was a case for an early “Kevin the Bold” sequence. Getting a help wanted ad on the front page of the local paper was helpful, and the Grand Rapids Herald provided some nice promotion for Collins’ year-old comic.

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The “special man” needed to be of a specific stature, as he would be donning a centuries-old suit of armor recently donated to the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Since historical authenticity was important to Collins, having a live model for reference would be very useful, as knights in armor were a staple of his comic strip.

The newspaper page was trimmed so that no publication date showed, but an article on the page had some information that placed it in late July of 1951. The NEA’s production schedule required comics to be inked two to three months ahead of their publication date, and with this sequence appearing in September, the timing of the newspaper article made sense.

The fifth “Kevin the Bold” sequence introduced a new villain, Baron Von Blunt. Was his new Flemish armor modeled after the set from the Grand Rapids Public Museum?

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Most of the early “Kevin” comics in my collection are from the Chicago Sunday Tribune, but the September 30, 1951 comic shown above ran in the Detroit News. (Most likely, the comic had debuted in the News with this sequence). Collins’ artwork is especially strong in this period, but the printed results from the News are no match for those of the Tribune.

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Kevin and his squire, Stub, had been separated during the previous sequence, in which Kevin was gravely injured. Once reunited, Stub fills his knight in on the details of the task he has been assigned — training an army of men to face Baron Von Blunt, the same ruthless man that had already made an enemy of Kevin. The October 7 comic is another beauty from the Trib, with more to follow.

Of note: The Grand Rapids Public Museum has a rather impressive collection of Kreigh Collins’ original artwork.


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

Navel Battle

After several weeks of setup and conflict, this sequence is primed for some classic “Kevin the Bold” ingredients — beautiful women, creepy villains and combat.

Last week’s comic teased with a beautiful drawing of Estrella in its final, double-decked splash panel, and as the sequence continues, Estrella remains prominent. Like many cartoonists, Kreigh Collins used lovely women to help attract readers. However, there were rules, and lines that could not be crossed. As described in this fine article from Vanity Fair about Connecticut cartoonists of the era, you could draw a girl in a bikini but you couldn’t show a navel. Gaze upon Estrella’s tummy and you will notice this to be the case.

With sex appeal now part of the sequence’s mix, it was now time for a new band of villains — this time, cannibals.

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Good fortune has Kevin being saved by Estrella. Despite his brush with death after being kicked off the Polaris, Kevin is quick to go to the aid of the cannibals’ victim, with a creative and dramatic display.

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Another chance encounter reunites Estrella and Diego, but our friends are not out of hot water yet — the cannibals are still in pursuit.

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Kevin’s bluff is enough to deter the savages, and after a final plot twist, the sequence is completed. The story continues with some comics previously featured on this blog — click here to continue following the action.


This Date in Comics History:

Sunday, October 1 (1950) — “Kevin the Bold” debuts in the Chicago Sunday Tribune, and in papers across the U.S. and Canada.

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“Continued” indeed. The strip ran for 18+ years. 



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

Navigation Secrets

The source material for last week’s comics were proofs that my grandfather was sent by the NEA midway through the production cycle — I’m not sure how they were printed, but they are on nice heavy stock. Kreigh would paint on them with water colors and they would be used by the syndicate to generate the color films used in printing the comic.

This week, the comics come from other NEA proofs, but these ones would arrive just prior to the comics coming out in the Sunday funnies, and they included the syndicate’s other comic features, as well. The only disadvantage to these ones is the tabloid format, and the missing throwaway panels. Nonetheless, they are crisp reproductions of the original artwork.

Meanwhile, aboard the Polaris, Kevin is discretely trying to uncover the Spaniards’ secrets to navigating to the West Indies. Surprisingly, he is not alone.

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Marco, also trying to uncover the navigational secrets, is on edge. The Polaris sails westward, and loyalties become blurred.

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Enraged, Marco worries that Kevin has found his notes, which would lead to his certain death. However, the tension is cut momentarily, with a lovely illustration of a forlorn Estrella, much like a siren, beckoning the readers to stay tuned.


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

Sailing for Hispaniola

Unbelieving that his fiancée has been has been lost at sea, Diego has stowed away in a ship bound for Haiti, in a valiant search for her. And what do you know…

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Estrella’s desperate plea for help is on target, but in vain.

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Pedro is able to make quick work of his task after spending most of his time eating. This is a running joke that continues whenever Pedro appears — even after the comic strip morphs into “Up Anchor!,” in which the characters Kevin and Pedro are again prominent.

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While Pedro wraps up some loose ends, Kevin starts snooping around for knowledge of the Spaniards’ navigational secrets.


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

Best-laid plans

To follow last week’s post, which dealt with travel and this blog’s far-flung visitors, I had the idea to run a “Kevin the Bold” sequence with comics from my collection that appeared in a Québec newspaper. Because they had been translated into French, it seemed appropriate — most of my blog’s visitors were from France. I planned to run English versions, too.

After I started collecting my grandfather’s comics, these were the second batch I acquired — some one-third pages covering most of 1964. I hadn’t looked at them in a while, and I remembered them being rather sub-standard reproductions. Nonetheless, after two years of posting, and with this blog’s rather limited scope, I’m willing to try any angle.

The following sequence featured the young Spanish lovers Estrella and Diego. Since I didn’t have the French version of the opener, this printer’s proof of the English version would have to suffice. (I had French versions of the sequence’s remaining episodes).

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However, once I dug out the French-Canadian comics, mon dieu! I realized it would be a misguided attempt to honor my French readers — the tops were sheared off the comics and much of the dialog was lost. Adding insult to injury, this week the U.S. nosed past France as far as blog visitors are concerned. So I guess there is some justification in continuing the comics in English.

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Following the exposition, Kevin and Brett finally appear. Kevin’s friend Pedro turns up, and he brings word of what will become Kevin’s next quest. To be continued…

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

 

Travel

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In each of Kreigh Collins’ three NEA comics, travel is a frequent theme.

Mitzi McCoy flew her private airplane into the northern Canadian wilds, and later to Chicago. She also spent time in Florida. Kevin originated in Ireland but traveled widely throughout Europe, Northern Africa, the Middle East — he even visited the New World toward the end of his run (c. 1967). The Marlin family’s travels in “Up Anchor!” mirrored Collins’ own — besides sailing the Great Lakes and the Great Loop, the schooner Heather also called New England and Maine home for two seasons. A change of scenery provides a cartoonist an opportunity for varied tableaux, new storylines, and a chance to meet new characters.

Two years ago, I started this blog with the goal of raising awareness of my grandfather’s career (in advance of the publication of the collected “Mitzi McCoy” comics). While I’m not sure how successful I’ve been, I do know that my blog has done a fair bit of traveling too. According to its statistical data, it has been viewed by people in 55 countries across the world, amazing! I wish I could thank each visitor, I’m sure I’d also meet some characters.

The statistics are interesting, and I am pleased to note surprises. There have been slightly more viewers from France than from the United States, and there have been no visitors whatsoever from mainland China or Russia. Punching above their weight class are #4 Portugal and #6 Croatia (the 88th- and 129th-most populous countries in the world). The top twelve countries make up about 96% of my traffic, and while this is great, it’s more exciting to reach especially distant and smaller places. To my singular readers from Luxembourg, Uruguay, Greece, Guam, Romania, Slovenia, Qatar, the Philippines, Indonesia, Tunisia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Taiwan, Ukraine, European Union (is that even a country?), Singapore, and Greenland (population 56,412), thank you!

 

The Tournament

Tournament preparations are completed; it is time for the show. The few rules are explained. The dramatic sequence of the Chicago Sunday Tribune’s new comic feature begins.

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With a lot less color and not as much fanfare, the action also unfolded in another recent subscriber to the NEA’s new comic. Kreigh Collins had a longstanding business relationship with a local paper, the Grand Rapids Press, for whom he had previously done illustrations. Like many cities of the era, Grand Rapids had several daily newspapers, but It took a while before any of them started running his comic. (A few months ahead of the strip’s transition to “Kevin,” the Press started running “Mitzi McCoy” in July of 1950).

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Now, with the Trib’s vivid reproduction.

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Kevin followed Stub’s plan to slide off his mount in order to try to lure De Falcon into combat on foot. The only problem — De Falcon is still astride his warhorse, Satan. However, playing possum proves effective, and Kevin avoids the Baron’s coup de grâce.

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Kevin’s own quick thinking leads to his desired outcome of mano a mano, where Stub declared, “On foot, ye’re his better.”

Stub is absolutely correct, as Kevin makes quick work of De Falcon. Claiming the Count’s horse, but sparing his life, Kevin realizes he has done well to allow him to live. He discovers the fallen man’s humanity, and is about to set out on another quest.


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

Training

From its onset, “Kevin the Bold” had much going for it. Kreigh Collins was bursting with enthusiasm for its subject matter, he had the experience and artistic chops to pull of such a period comic, and he had the backing of the Chicago Sunday Tribune to give his work a wider audience. Collins also had a compelling collection of original storylines to illustrate.

The result was some exceptional work. These next three comics neatly distill the essence of the comic strip and its protagonists. Kevin is honorable and humble, yet invincible; MacTavish Campbell MacGregor (“Stub”) is steadfast and loyal; and Moya is cheerful, smart, and beautiful. It’s important to note that as Mitzi McCoy’s ancestor, Moya more closely resembles the heroine of Collins’ earlier comic feature than Kevin and his squire resemble their forebearers, Tim and Stub (despite the older man’s familiar sobriquet). Sadly, Moya does not last long as a prominent character in “Kevin”.

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With the date of his fight against De Falcon looming, Kevin starts training, and he also begins to upgrade his gear. In addition to his Claymore, he now has chain mail. With Stub as his tactician, Kevin gets to work.

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Acknowledging his past heroism, one of Moya’s father’s subject presents Kevin with a horse more suitable for his tournament date. Appropriately, she is mare, leading to a false sense of confidence in Kevin’s opponent. Like Kevin, she is not to be underestimated, an error made by many of Kevin’s adversaries.

The comics also contrast the two sides in the upcoming battle. Despite the obvious differences, maybe Kevin and the Baron have more in common than they realize.

The Count de Falcon

There is trouble in town, as someone has rung the bell at the village tower. Kevin and Stub arrive and are surprised to find out who was calling for help. Also arriving on the scene is the squire for a formidable German, the Count de Falcon.

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The light-hearted atmosphere of the previous comics dissipates quickly as the tension builds, and matters escalate quickly. The Baron throws down the gauntlet, and formally challenges Kevin to a duel.

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Making matters worse, Stub realizes the terms of battle are not negotiable. As his trainer, the squire knows Kevin’s abilities well, but is worried about the advantages the Count will have. We shall see if Kevin’s strongest suit, his sense of honor, will somehow help him prevail.