Moab

While journeying past the Alps, and on their way to certain adventure — finding a lost treasure! — Kevin and Brett pause for an archery lesson. Who better to have as a teacher than Kevin? Surely he’s the finest archer in the land…

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An impromptu contest between Kevin and a local hotshot ends with the expected result. Speaking of expected results, what did Kreigh Collins have against raptors? (In an October 1949 “Mitzi McCoy” sequence, Tim Graham had made a pin cushion of an osprey. Although it’s a similar stunt, it’s nice to see the differences in perspectives between the two illustrations.)

Their land journey over, Kevin and Brett set sail for the exotic East — to Byzantium (which is sometimes referred to as Istanbul or Constantinople).

Note the cute advertisement for the (second) re-release of Walt Disney’s 1937 feature Snow White at the bottom of the page. And speaking of treasure, it turns out that our heroes aren’t the only ones digging around for it.

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Moab demonstrated that he had honorable principles as a youth, when he first saw the jewels being hidden; what about now, when he seeks them as an adult?

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Brett’s Backstory

Kevin has decided to take Brett as his ward, and they set off together. Brett’s tragic backstory is revealed in these handsomely-printed and concisely-scripted comics. The impressive variety of settings, exotic locales, archery and wildlife were all hallmarks of Collins’ style.

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In what must have been a rare case of transposed films, the Chicago Tribune’s March 9, 1952 comic printed badly. (It seems the magenta and cyan plates were switched — similar to a different instance, involving yellow and magenta). A tabloid version from the same day has its own reproduction issues, but gives an indication of how the colors were probably supposed to appear.

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While scrutinizing these comics more thoroughly, the third panel caught my eye, and not just for its printed variants.

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Maybe just for me, but they seemed evocative of a certain other Superhero-ward duad.

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Must be the capes.

Death Trap

After spotting the inn, a weary Kevin approaches, looking for simple refuge. However, the innkeeper sees an easy mark. Kevin meets Brett for the first time, and immediately feels protective of the lad.

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Brett seems to appreciate the kindness Kevin has shown him, and soon repays his new friend with a daring act. Kevin learns that Brett is clever as well as brave, and a bond is forged.

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Inspiration for the February 10 comic came from a short story titled A Terribly Strange Bed by the English novelist Wilkie Collins (familial relationship to Kreigh Collins is unknown, but unlikely). Interestingly, Wilkie Collins credited a painter by the name of W. S. Herrick with the idea of the death-trap bed.

Horrors of another kind happened a couple years ago when I received a shipment of several “Kevin the Bold” comics I had purchased, among them the one featuring the “terribly strange bed.” Either a very disgruntled postal worker deliberately disregarded the instructions on the envelope or the package was completely mangled by a sorting machine. Either way, it’s a very sad result for what was a particularly nice copy of a beautifully-printed and dramatic comic strip.

 

Family Jewels

In general, “Kevin the Bold” featured longer sequences than Kreigh Collins’ earlier strip, “Mitzi McCoy.” This allowed for more complicated storylines and better character development. An early 1952 storyline was an exception; it lasted only four weeks. However, it introduced a character who would appear in many of Kevin’s future adventures, Brett Hartz.

In another departure from formula, Brett was introduced more gradually than normal. He and his grandfather appeared in the final panels of the two comics at the end of the previous sequence. Normally, these transitions were more abrupt (and they are shown apart from the rest of their comics in order to avoid revealing the end of the dramatic Baron Von Blunt sequence).

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May 13, 1952

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May 20, 1952

Brett, an orphan, is being raised by his grandfather. Grandpa has taken precautions to safeguard the family riches — unfortunately, he has not been careful enough.

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The landlord’s less serious crime was eavesdropping, but the information he heard proved tempting enough for him to act far more fiendishly. If only there was a champion of children and the oppressed to come to Brett’s aid!

Happy Birthday

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Kreigh Collins was born on New Year’s Day, 1908. As a baby he may have resembled the tyke on the Saturday Evening Post’s annual New Year’s cover, but he eventually grew up to be a large man — 6’3″ and 240 pounds.

Kreigh developed an interest in art and cartooning at an early age, and by the time he was about 11 years old, he was producing some rather fine work. His father served in the United States Army, and during the Great War, First Lieutenant Stephen Collins was stationed on the front lines in France. Germany was the enemy, and so it was that German soldiers played the fool in some of Kreigh’s early comics.

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These comics are in the Local History collection of the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Public Library. Despite the horrors of World War I — trench warfare and the use of poisonous gas — it’s refreshing to see a more gentle take on the portrayal of our adversary.

Another cartoon seems to have been inspired by current events — likely the 1919 anarchist bombings or the 1920 Wall Street bombing. Approximately a year older than when he created the earlier cartoons, Kreigh had now advanced to a multiple-panel format.

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Some later drawings look like character studies, and appear to show a couple of British gents and a portly businessman. Two are nicely developed, and it seems Kreigh thought so too, as these were signed.

Our final comic is a two-panel job showing a clueless man strolling down the street reading a newspaper’s sports section. By this time, the Collins family had settled in Grand Rapids after living in various locales across the U.S. since Kreigh’s birth. Who knows, maybe Michiganders always made fun of those rubes from Toledo? A nice detail is the shading used in the second panel showing the subterranean darkness, and it’s interesting that the comic would still work today if a cell phone replaced the man’s newspaper.

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Happy New Year from the Kreigh’s Comics blog, and a happy 109th birthday to Kreigh Taylor Collins.