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…
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.
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.