Boys (and Girls) Today

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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…

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.