A Close Shave

“Mitzi McCoy” was designed to have plot lines that could be carried by any of its main characters — Mitzi, Stub Goodman or Tim Graham. In this case, Tim grabs the spotlight, as he is the only regular character appearing in a string of four episodes. “Mitzi” also promised lively adventure, romance and human interest, and with Tim leading the way, the action veers into violence for the first time since Stub Goodman bounced Phil Rathbone from the offices of the Freedom Clarion.

Another strategy “Mitzi”used was to create new characters that would reflect various demographics it was trying to reach as it tried to grow its audience. A previous sequence had brought aboard young Dick Dixon, and Lynn and Collins had discussed the possibility of adding a girl to the Bow and Arrow Bear Hunt chapter. It was decided that a later sequence would feature a schoolgirl, and last week’s comic introduced Mugs, a native boy defended by Tim.

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Fortunately for Tim, his unlikely ally Mugs returns the favor… in spades. Mugs saves Tim once and after being warned away, the boy lingers long enough to save Tim yet again. Later, while setting up camp, stereotypes are shattered and his bond with Mugs is sealed.

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Perhaps reminding readers of the reason he had come to the north woods in the first place, Tim puts on an exhibition of his archery skills for his young friend. The October 2, 1949 comic also features some clever survival skills employed by Mugs. This comic proved to be very popular with Kreigh’s test audience (sons Erik and David, ages eleven and nine). In the final panel, an attractive young native woman heralds the return of the comic’s usual eye appeal, as Mitzi and her father have been summoned to Roaring Fork.

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The Bow and Arrow Bear Hunt

Working with his usual three-month lead time, Kreigh Collins sent his initial story outline to NEA features director Ernest Lynn in mid-May. By this time, after having worked so closely over the past year, the two men had become good friends. Having heard that Ernest’s wife was sick, Kreigh’s wife Teddy had sent her a pair of gloves. By now, Ernest used his nickname, “East,” to sign his letters to Collins.

“Mitzi McCoy”’s sixth sequence was timed to conclude during hunting season, in a bid for more traction with readers. It followed a very successful chapter on the history of the Irish Wolfhound, and wanting to keep his momentum, Kreigh led off with his most alluring illustration of Mitzi to date. Smiling broadly and showing more leg than would fit in the double-decker panel, Mitzi was ready for her close-up.

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The August 28, 1949 offering is a pretty typical transitional comic, in that it’s light-hearted, humorous fare. True to his name, Stub Goodman stubbornly insists he knows all about archery — and of course he finds trouble.

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In the following comic, Tim gets a chance to show off his skills; no doubt these will come in handy soon enough. Mr. McCoy proposes a bet and the stage is set for a change of scenery, including some new, rough-looking characters.

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There are also some other, more attractive characters shown, such as the “squaw” suggested by Lynn who is seen in the third panel. But where there is beauty, there is often ugliness, and Tim’s good intentions have placed him in danger.

As Seen on TV?

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Most of my Kreigh Collins-related comics and clippings were given to me by my uncle Kevin, one of Kreigh’s four sons. One of the more interesting items I received appears above. It ran in the Grand Rapids Press in May, 1966. I have seen no other mention of this project. Perhaps it was an attempt to clear Collins’s path for doing a new comic. The final installment of “Kevin the Bold” ran a couple years later, on October 27, 1968, and the comic morphed into “Up Anchor.”

Earning His Epithet

In this last part of the Moorish Pirates sequence, Kevin is determined to go down swinging, and he waits for the proper moment to make his move.

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It’s a life and death situation on deck and overboard. Captain Zinbad is dispatched, but Bull Blackie’s life is spared. According to his code of honor, Kevin’s primary responsibility is to save those in danger. It’s unclear how the traitorous Bull Blackie escaped, and it seems he may have been spared in order to appear in future episodes of the comic.

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Meanwhile, Rory took care of business aboard the pirate ship and cleared the decks of her crew. Moya’s grateful countrymen are freed as Kevin remains humble. As a reward for his bravery, the lord of  McCoy Castle presents Kevin with both an impressive trophy and a catchy moniker.