The Last Last Supper

For each episode of “Bible Picture Stories,” Kreigh Collins received a lengthy outline from writer M. C. Wilson. Collins’ first job was to distill the story into six or seven panels, keeping the message intact, a very difficult task. Making it visually interesting was less of a challenge, but still no mean feat. With the Bible as subject matter, the artist had a fine line to walk, so as not to upset his editors or audience. As correspondence between MPH editor Morgan Stinemetz and Collins shows, the artist consistently delivered the goods.

These comics were finished in late summer, 1946, when conversations were just beginning between Collins and his future employer, the NEA syndicate. The appeared in issues of Boys Today and Girls Today in the spring of 1947, during Lent.

The Last Supper was a rare case of the subject matter being spread over two weeks (possibly the only time this happened). Here is part two.

BPS JJ 09 GT 150 QCC

BPS JJ 10 GT 150 QCC

BPS JJ 11 BT 150 QCC.jpg

The Easter story is very familiar, even to a lapsed Episcopalian such as myself. However, I don’t remember Peter’s attack on the guard. The action in the fourth panel foreshadows the swordplay of “Kevin the Bold.”

BPS JJ 12 BT 150 QCC

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


Doing a Number On

Due to their audiences, the MPH publications Boys Today and Girls Today likely contained some unique content. What they definitely had in common were the “Bible Stories Comics,” though the publications ran them in different two-color schemes each week.

Below, the girls’ version is on the left, and the boys’ is on the right.


“Preparing for the Passover” was the seventh installment of the “Jesus in Jerusalem” series, and it appeared on February 2, 1947. It is also labelled as “Bible Picture Story No. 70,” which would seem to indicate that the weekly series was in its second year. However, the “Bible Picture Stories” comics began four years earlier, in 1943. After the first two sequences, set in the Old Testament, a third one began, “The Story of Mary, the Mother of Jesus.” With the action shifting to the New Testament, it was also decided that the comics should start being sequentially numbered. What this all means is that “Bible Picture Story No. 70” is really more like number 174.

BPS JJ 07 GT 150 QCC

The Bible’s passion narrative lends itself well to being told in comics form, with its intrigue, betrayal, and dramatic conclusion. Kreigh Collins was a befitting choice to illustrate these comics, with his background in landscapes, architecture, costumes, and Biblical period illustrations.

BPS JJ 08 GT 150 QCC

For those keeping score at home, “The Last Supper (1),” / “Jesus in Jerusalem No. 8,” / “Bible Story Comic No. 71” is the 175th comic Kreigh Collins did for the Methodist Publishing House. (I wonder if the MPH ever considered having Collins illustrate any of the Book of Numbers?)

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


Boys (and Girls) Today

Boys Today cover Dec 1941 150

Mrs. Stephen Collins was Kreigh’s mother Nora. 

Before his comics career took off with the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA), Kreigh Collins spent about eight years freelancing for the Methodist Publishing House of Nashville, Tennessee. Collins got his start with the MPH writing and illustrating stories for the Sunday School publications Boys Today and Girls Today. As described in an earlier post, he was eventually asked to illustrate stories from the Bible in comic strip form, and this project became known as “Bible Picture Stories.”

Source material for these weekly Bible comics came from both the Old and New Testaments. The first few years featured extended sequences on Paul, Joseph, Mary, and John the Baptist. Two more sequences followed (Jesus in Galilee; Jesus Leaves Galilee), and then came one on Jesus in Jerusalem, which ran from December, 1946 until June, 1947.

The following comics are from the History & Special Collections Department of the Grand Rapids Public Library. Today, these comics are quite rare—even the library’s collection (given to the library by Collins’ widow, Therese) is incomplete. The sequence that follows starts with the third episode of “Jesus in Jerusalem.”

My understanding of the Bible is not very deep—maybe things would have turned out differently if these sweet comics were part of my Sunday School lessons! However, I do recall a certain villain named Judas…

BPS JJ 03 BT 150 QCC

BPS JJ 04 GT 150 QCC

Besides the fine illustrations, aspects of the comics that appeal to me are the speech balloons, with Collins’ distinctive lettering, and the colloquial language, must have been relatable for the young reader. The small introductory illustrations at the tops of the comics are nice touch, too.  The fifth comic in the series opens with a large splash panel, as Jesus dramatically confronts the scribes and Pharisees.

BPS JJ 05 GT 150 QCC

The story told in these comics may be familiar, but check back next week to see how it was told in these mid-1940s comics.

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

Fan Mail

Over the course of his 24-year career illustrating comics for NEA, Kreigh Collins received quite a bit of fan mail. No doubt it was flattering for Collins to read, but the real benefit was more tangible. Fan mail indicated engaged readers, and led to better treatment from the newspapers running the comics—more desirable placement in the comics section, and less chance of running in the unflattering one-third page version. When letters arrived at the NEA offices, staffers wrote back, thanking them, but suggesting they send praise directly to their local paper.

During the “Mitzi McCoy” era, Stub Goodman’s dog Tiny was the inspiration for much of the positive reader response. Tiny was an enormous Irish Wolfhound, and became the favorite of many, especially members of the Irish Wolfhound Club of America. Initially, these letters were encouraged—Lynn thought he could mobilize an enthusiastic base in a letter-writing campaign to help boost “Mitzi” ’s profile. Soon, however, it was decided the amount of energy spent catering to the wolfhound aficionados outweighed any benefit they provided.


After the successful debut of “Kevin the Bold,” one letter writer wondered (correctly) if the the comic strip was created by the same Kreigh Collins he had known who did illustration work for Chicago ad agencies in the early 1930s. (After all, my grandfather wasn’t the only one with that unusual name).

What other letters often had in common, besides praise, was a request. Would Mr. Collins please sent an autographed photo? Could he please send a drawing of Tiny/Mitzi/Kevin? Or would he be able to send a piece of original artwork?

Collins was happy to oblige. In his era, original comic art didn’t hold the cachet it does today. By the time his original illustrations were returned to him, those episodes were ancient history, and Collins would be busy refining layouts for upcoming comics and developing scripts for future ones. Besides mailing art to far flung fans, Kreigh also gave them to friends closer to home. Though it isn’t in fantastic condition, my favorite “Kevin the Bold” original is the one my Grandpa Collins gave to my Grandpa Palmer (my mother grew up in Grand Rapids, about ten miles from my father, who hailed from Ada, Michigan).

KTB 012162 OA 72

Personalized by the artist, top left.

Many letters complimenting Collins’ fine illustrations came due to his dogged research efforts, whether of 16th-century Austrian armorer Konrad Seusenhofer (“my family were armorers for generations going back as far as 1250… would you be so kind to give me the source of the information…”), 16th century sailing ships (“Above all I have enjoyed the lavish details that you put into your caravels…”), or period-appropriate clothing (“the thing I am so very fond of are the gorgeous clothes”).

Features Director Ernest Lynn used the fan mail as a sales tool. A letter sent to Miami Herald brass collected several glowing quotes and a referenced the Chicago Tribune’s use of “Kevin the Bold” in an attempt to persuade them to feature the comic.

1952 0109 Fan IMG_4823

Letters from hobbyists and art students are one thing, but recognition from peers is something else. Another 1952 letter came from comic book artist Edmond Good. I was unfamiliar with his name, but after seeing his telltale signature, I looked him up.

1952 0612 Fan IMG_4828

A new sequence of comics begins nest week, in honor of the season.

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

Kevin’s Realization

Gigi, scheming how to steal Kevin’s treasure, plies him for information. As Kevin starts to explain, he is rudely interrupted.

KTB 080854 HA CST 100 QCC.jpg

Kevin toys with an enraged Bull Blackie, but things soon turn desperate.

KTB 081554 HA CST 100 QCC

From a distance, O’Neil watches as matters escalate, and he sees the horrible spectacle of two men falling to a likely death. Unknown to O’Neil, Kevin survives. As Kevin crawls from the surf, he beholds a beautiful vision. Hopefully, this image stays with him; as far as I know, this is Kevin’s last glimpse of Moya McCoy. (Having not read all of the approximately 740 comics that follow, I certainly hope this isn’t the case).

Up in the bell tower, Gigi gets a shock of her own.

KTB 082254 HA CST 100 QCC.jpg

The astute Toto explains things to an embittered Gigi. Determined to lay waste to Kevin’s budding romantic relationship with her rival, Gigi smears Kevin’s reputation. While Moya is nonplussed, Kevin is taken aback, afraid that she will misunderstand his intentions. When O’Neil briefs Moya on what he has seen, things get even bleaker.

KTB 082954 HA CST 100 QCC

Toto arrives and sets the record straight, but Kevin has already departed, seeking the fortune he believes he needs to woo Moya.

To follow Kevin’s next adventure, as he heads east to the Baltic, pick up a copy of “Kevin The Bold: Sunday Adventures, September 5, 1954 to June 2, 1957,” available on The book features the fourteen sequences that immediately followed this one. Black and white syndicate proofs are the source for 98% of the book’s comics. Highly recommended!


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

Love’s Fool(s)

The outcome of Kevin’s battle against Grudja is unclear, but Gigi believes she will pick the winner, regardless.

KTB 071154 HA CST 100 QCC.jpg

As it turns out, Kevin has won, with Grudja’s actions leading to his own demise. While this war is over, the jousting between Gigi and Moya continues. Moreover, further confrontation between Grudja’s men and the McCoy clansmen is averted by Toto, in a funny denouement.

KTB 071854 HA CST 100 QCC

Everyone but Kevin seems aware of Gigi’s machinations, and they are all on the side of kind-hearted Mistress McCoy. Brett tries to take control of the situation, coercing Toto to help him with his plan. Little does he realize, he is giving aid to the enemy.

KTB 072554 HA CST 100 QCC.jpg

In the July 25th comic, Brett reveals part of Kevin’s origin story. The second and sixth panels show the orphaned Kevin as a boy, with a younger MacTavish Campbell MacGregor, and as a young man, showing valor in battle. Gigi, eavesdropping, is undeterred when Toto describes her perfectly, and in unflattering terms.

The marvelously-scripted sequence continues, and while it seems Kevin’s troubles are over, more peril awaits.

KTB 080154 HA CST 100 QCC

Coming ten days before Valentine’s Day, the action in the August 1, 1954 comic suits the season grandly. Unfortunately, only Kevin fails to see Gigi’s contriving ways.

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

Jinni in a Bottle

KTB 061354 HF 100 QCC.jpg

Cowardly Grudja is only willing to battle noble Kevin with the unfair advantage of his new “shooting shield.” At the same time, battle lines are being drawn between the manipulative blonde Gigi, who brashly proclaims that Kevin is hers for the taking. Gigi may be correct in calling Moya a lady, but perhaps she underestimates the fight and determination of her raven-haired counterpart.

KTB 062054 HF 100 QCC

Tension rises in the run-up to the upcoming battle(s). While Kevin trains for his fight with Grudja, Moya is sharpening up, too. Grudja himself shows signs of unease, taking out his wrath on the poor beggar Toto, who has suddenly appeared in Ireland.

KTB 062754 HF 100 QCC

Loyal to the knight who had previously showed him kindness, Toto plays a trick on Grudja’s soldiers. This gives Toto an opportunity to play mind games with the malleable brutes, in an attempt at unsettling them. It also gives Kreigh Collins a chance to use another alternative spelling (Jinni vs. Genie) and to illustrate Toto’s magic trick. Prior to settling on “artist” as a career choice, Collins had been keenly interested in magic. In 1937, he had written and illustrated a book on the subject, “Tricks Toys and Tim, A Book on Model-Making and Magic.” Flap copy for the unique book, published by D. Appleton-Century, reads:

Here is an unusual and fascinating how-to-do-it book, containing original and unhackneyed material. The unique presentation, the clear and understandable directions for making things, and the delightful bits of humor which run through its pages make this a most practical and readable book.

To some extent, these same words can be applied to the comics of Kreigh Collins.

KTB 070454 HA 100 CST QCC.jpg

The July 4, 1954 comic makes clear the differences between Grudja and Kevin (and between Gigi and Moya). The battle begins, but its outcome is clouded. Will good triumph over evil?

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

New Toy

Even fierce Grudja fears Kevin, but beware, the Norse invader has a new toy. Meanwhile, Kevin, Moya, and her clansmen are under siege.

KTB 051654 HF 150 QCC

KTB 052354 HF 150 QCC.jpg

Grudja’s counsel has advised him to face Kevin one on one, in public combat. Thus, the Norseman reacts angrily when he learns of Bull Blackie’s actions in pursuit of Kevin. The traitorous Black Irishman has a personal vendetta against the McCoys, but Grudja has other plans to quell these nettlesome Irish resisters.

The May 23 comic is notable for its dramatic twists, varied visual perspectives, Kevin’s very boldness, and to a lesser extent, dated language.

KTB 053054 HF 150 QCC

Making the classic bad guy mistake of letting his prey get away while planning his more appropriate demise, Grudja lets Kevin off the hook. Soon enough, Kevin finds himself in the center of another conflict, as the tenor of the extended sequence shifts.

KTB 060654 HA 150 CST QCC

A particular aspect of Kreigh Collins’ comics that especially appeals to me is the wonderful throwaway panels that appear whenever the comic ran in a half-page or half-tabloid format. One-third page comics are undoubtably atrocities, suffering from severe cropping, yet even full-page tabloid comics lacked Kreigh’s charming throwaways.

The throwaways’ use was flexible: they could function as visual footnotes, with further explanation of plot device; they could show additional views of a comic’s scenery; or they presented another opportunity to show a pretty girl. In some cases the information in the “visual footnotes” could be recycled — with an adjustment for inflation, if necessary. (Note the difference in a suit of armor’s value between 1954 and 1962!)

Grudja etc Throwaways1

KTB 061762

(You remember the story behind that armor of Kevin’s, don’t you?)


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


KTB 041154 panel 150 QCCKevin is excited to return to Ireland, and especially so to return to Castle McCoy. After a long absence, he misses much about his homeland. Longing to settle down, imagining a peaceful life as a farmer, Kevin’s high hopes for a joyful reunion are quickly dashed. Evil Grudja is menacing Ireland, and at his side is none other than Bull Blackie, the villain in the inaugural sequence of “Kevin the Bold.”

KTB 041854 HF 150 QCC

KTB 042554 HF 150 QCC

With Bull Blackie on her trail, Moya escapes, her beauty belying her ferocity. To her horror, Moya is shocked to realize the man she has knocked cold is her champion, Kevin. However, Moya is not the only one who will be startled by the reappearance of the legendary knight.

KTB 050254 HF 150 QCC

Despite the effects of his nasty knock on the head, Kevin’s primal instincts kick in. So do those of Kevin’s creator, as the sequence continues with more beautifully drawn comics and a plot line with multiple dramatic arcs.

KTB 050954 HF 150 QCC


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


KTBCB 13 01 cover

On April 4, 1954, a new adventure began for Kevin. It featured characters old and new, with battles between Kevin and Norse sea raiders, and between two beautiful women vying for Kevin’s attention. Besides serving as historical fiction and name dropping people and events of the times, the sequence featured examples of one of Kreigh Collins’ hallmarks: illustrated and labelled examples of 15th-century tools and technology. It also revealed more of Kevin’s shrouded back story.

En route to Cagnes on the French Riviera, Kevin encounters Toto in northern Italy. Their meeting is brief, but before parting, the clownish trickster tells Kevin’s fortune. He sees danger ahead, which should come as no surprise to either Kevin or the seasoned Sunday comics reader.

Two points if anyone has heard of Till Eulenspiegel or François Villon.

KTB 040454 HF 150 QCCKTB 041154 HF 150 QCC

The “Australian Edition” comic book featuring this sequence used the splash panel from the April 11 strip for its cover, and as usual, redrew it to better serve the new format.

Upon being reunited with his ward, Kevin learns that Brett also seems able to predict the future. Little does Brett realize how necessary Kevin’s weapons will become.

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