Kevin Den Tapre

I recently learned a bit about how “Kevin the Bold” first was seen in Denmark. Sunday comics often appeared in weekly magazines, and in August 1951, the weekly Hjemmet began featuring “Kevin” (in issue #32). It replaced the Danish golden age strip “Børnene paa Sydhavsøen” (or, The Children on the South Sea Island), a sort of Robinson Crusoesque comic  illustrated by Svend Otto S. Other U.S. comic strips featured were “The Katzenjammer Kids” and “Bringing Up Father.” 

It was quite interesting finding out that the Danish versions of “Kevin” ran almost contemporaneously to the originals (only 10 months after their publication). In all the business correspondence I’ve read between Kreigh Collins and Ernest Lynn, Collins’ NEA boss, nothing was ever said about “Kevin the Bold” appearing in Scandinavia. The only foreign markets mentioned were Canada, France, and Cuba. I wonder, was my grandfather even made aware of this additional market?

Danish cartoonist Freddy Milton has posted a sizable number of “Kevin Den Tapre” episodes on his blog, found here

In addition to all the background information, this fantastic promotional image was sent to me by my friend in Denmark, Asger, who is working on a collection of the afore-mentioned “Børnene paa Sydhavsøen,” to be published by Anders Hjorth-Jørgensen, a well known Danish comics historian). 

Each of the collage’s three elements came from the October 8, 1950 episode (below), and they were embellished slightly with inking that helps tie them together. (It is Anders’ belief that the comics artist Svend Otto S. created the collage.) 

Anders was also kind enough to translate the text that appeared with the promotional image:

A NEW EXITING COMIC STRIP STARTS NEXT WEEK

In the next issue, we will start a new comic strip, KEVIN THE BOLD, to replace CHILDREN OF THE SOUTHERN SEA, the cartoonist Svend Otto’s strip, which has been a great success, but now, after ten years’ progress, is finished.

KEVIN THE BOLD is designed by Kreigh Collins, who has won international fame for his costume illustrations. The action of the series, taking place on the green island of Ireland in the fifteenth century, is so captivating and dramatic that our young readers — and the elderly — will follow it with breathless excitement.

Kevin, the protagonist, is a man of aristocratic birth who has renounced a superficial existence in wealth and luxury to help the oppressed, and as the story begins he has just begun in the service of the wealthy squire Stafford [McCoy] — as a shepherd.

Moorish pirates on their way to hunt slaves make landing on the island. They rob Stafford’s daughter, the beautiful Nelly [Moya], who plays a major role in the ongoing action, but Kevin, who has an invaluable helper in Stafford’s Wolf Dog Scott [Rory], destroys their plans and fearlessly fights their leaders, Captain Zinbad and the traitor Black Jack [Bull Blackie].

Later Kevin comes across and experiences many other adventures, both at sea and in foreign countries. He is an excellent rider and fencer but also understands how to use his fists when it’s needed — and it often is! Over and over again he is the protagonist in dramatic situations that will captivate anyone who appreciates adventure and excitement. Kevin the Bold starts his first exciting adventures in the next issue, so it’s worth being there from the start.

Here is the original Danish:

Ny spændende tegneserie begynder næste uge

I næste nummer starter vi en ny tegneserie, KEVIN DEN TAPRE, der skal afløse BØRNENE PÅ SYDHAVSØEN, tegneren Svend Ottos serie, som har været en stor succes, men nu – efter ti års forløb – er bragt til afslutning.

KEVIN DEN TAPRE er tegnet af Kreigh Collins, der har vundet international berømmelse for sine kostume-illustrationer. Seriens handling, der udspilles på den grønne ø Irland i det femtende århundrede, er så fængslende og dramatisk, at vore unge læsere – og de ældre med – vil følge den med åndeløs spænding.

Kevin, hovedpersonen, er en mand af aristokratisk fødsel, som har givet afkald på en overfladisk tilværelse i rigdom og luksus for at hellige sig de undertryktes og forurettedes sag, og da historien begynder, er han netop gået i tjeneste hos den velhavende godsejer Stafford – som fårehyrde.

Mauriske pirater på togt efter slaver gør landgang på øen. De røver Staffords datter, den smukke Nelly, der spiller en stor rolle i den fortsatte handling, men Kevin, som har en uvurderlig hjælper i Staffords ulvehund Scott, tilintetgør deres planer og bekæmper frygtløs deres ledere, kaptajn Zinbad og forræderen Sorte Jack.

Senere kommer Kevin vidt omkring og oplever mange andre eventyr, både til søs og i fremmede lande. Han er en glimrende rytter og fægter, men forstår også at bruge de bare næver, når det kniber – og det gør det tit! Gang på gang er han hovedpersonen i dramatiske situationer, der vil fængsle enhver, som sætter pris på eventyr og spænding. – Kevin den Tapre lægger ud til sine første spændende bedrifter i næste nummer, så det kan betale sig at være med fra starten.

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The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy, Now Available Internationally

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Orders of The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy are shipping — apologies for any delay. International orders are available—after adding the book to your cart and clicking the “check out” button, there is a pull-down at the top of the page where the desired country can be specified. Find the book here at the publisher’s website.


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

The Ghost Ship

A nice feat of engineering reveals what Kevin and Brett hope will be their ticket off the island. 

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Luckily for Kevin and Brett, the islanders had a nice supply of white cloth for their ruse. 

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Most gratefully, Maria offers Kevin a kiss in lieu of marriage. Perhaps more than one, as Kevin and Brett don’t disembark until several days later.  

Finding a drowning sailor provides an interesting denouement as the sequence transitions swiftly.  

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Perhaps the reason for the abrupt change is that the next sequence would be Jay Heavilin’s last — his 13-month run as  the writer for “Kevin the Bold”  was ending.

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Now being shipped!

Mitzi cover final

I’m not sure how long delivery takes, but pre-sale orders of the book The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy have started to be shipped. Apologies for the delay. Presently, I am trying to find out what arrangements can be made for the publisher to fulfill overseas orders. The book is available at the publisher’s website.


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

The Catch

As Brett and Kevin get settled on the New World Island, Maria thinks she has landed a trophy fish in her net (in this case, a hammock). The next episode originally ran just before Valentine’s Day in 1962, yet Kevin seems to have missed the memo—he rejects Maria’s playful and romantic overtures.

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Although this adventure of Kevin’s was written by Jay Heavilin, Jay seems to have cribbed some of Kreigh’s plot devices. Norse mooring pegs were shown in a sequence from four years earlier (although it ran just last month on Kreigh’s Comics).

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As Kevin labors away in an attempt to raise the long-sunken boat, Maria continues to work on finding a husband. Soon, an even more series dilemma appears on Kevin’s horizon.

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In Kevin’s situation, few men would be able to resist Maria’s overtures. However, Kevin’s prime directive is to travel the world, undoing injustices, and helping those in need, and he is determined to stay true to those ideals.


Now being shipped!

Mitzi cover final

I’m not sure how long delivery takes, but pre-sale orders of the book The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy have started to be shipped. Apologies for the delay. Presently, I am trying to find out what arrangements can be made for the publisher to fulfill overseas orders. The book is available at the publisher’s website.


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

Jay Heavilin

For nearly all of “Kevin the Bold” ’s 18-year run, Kreigh Collins handled the comic strip’s continuation. The lone exception (credited, anyway) was the period from April 30, 1961 through May 27, 1962, when the comic strip carried the additional byline, “Story by Jay Heavilin.”

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Jay was a young NEA staffer of whom I know little, but I did manage to track down an NEA headshot. What is even more interesting than an old photograph is the dirt I discovered in a couple of letters (c. 1961) that NEA Vice President/Features Director Ernest Lynn sent my grandfather.

Lynn was responding to Collins’ query, was Jay dependable? Kreigh was looking for a writer for an unnamed book project, and Lynn didn’t mince words. “He’s a mixed-up kid without much, if any, conscience.” Lynn’s low opinion was apparently due in part to Heavilin having recently quit, leaving Cleveland for New York. And there was obviously a personality clash, “For one thing, he kept me tense. His utter contempt for office rules and the rights of others bothered me more than I care to admit. He has an ungovernable temper. The rules are for the other fellow, not Jay.” Because I don’t know the entire context, I won’t repeat anything else. At any rate, the letter sheds some light on the type of person Lynn was. too.

The next episode in the sequence currently being featured is one which which I am especially familiar. It has some lovely illustrations and action, and a particular detail that I find quite charming. In its last panel, Kevin and Brett have decided to swim for shore, and are shown jumping off the ship. When your sobriquet is “The Bold,” you don’t jump, you dive. As the faithful young ward of such a man, Brett also dives, but with only one hand outstretched — the other is holding his nose.

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The reason I’m so familiar with this particular episode is that for years, the original artwork hung on my older brother’s bedroom wall. My brother’s name was also Brett, and despite being Kreigh Collins’ oldest grandchild, this was a coincidence. Originally, Brett and I assumed the character had been named for him, and only later did we realize that the character in fact preceded Brett by nearly a decade.

The artwork was originally given by my grandfather to my Grandpa Palmer, and it’s inscribed in the upper left corner. Only later did the piece end up in my collection, though that’s an interesting story too. Brett kept the illustration all through college, and for several years afterward it hung prominently in his apartment. Eventually, he gave it to our father, because he would no longer have anywhere to hang it. Following the family tradition, he was moving aboard his sailboat, a 43′ ketch. Later, after I’d begun researching my grandfather in earnest, my father gave the artwork to me.

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Once ashore, Kevin and Brett make a shocking discovery.

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They warn Maria of Captain Moniz’s intentions, and help them escape enslavement. However, Maria has plans of her own for Kevin.

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Now being shipped!

Mitzi cover final

I’m not sure how long delivery takes, but pre-sale orders of the book The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy have started to be shipped. Apologies for the delay. Presently, I am trying to find out what arrangements can be made for the publisher to fulfill overseas orders. The book is available at the publisher’s website.


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

 

Brett the Bold

After thirteen plus years of writing the continuity for “Mitzi McCoy” and “Kevin the Bold,” Kreigh Collins was either a bit burned out or looking to free up time to pursue other projects. In any event, starting in mid-1961 and lasting for slightly over a year, Kevin’s adventures were dreamed up by NEA staff writer Jay Heavilin.

When I started collecting my grandfathers’ comics, I paid less attention to Jay Heavilin’s sequences because they weren’t Collins’ own brainchild (to use Kreigh’s phrasing). On more recent reflection, I notice these comics contain some fine illustrations even if the action is slightly out of character—e.g., Kevin attempting to visit his sickly mother, as shown in the December 17, 1961 comic that ran last week. (My theory on that episode: an excuse to introduce a gypsy woman who resembled Moya McCoy, who hadn’t appeared in the strip for over six years. Moya’s absence can be explained by the fact that she was the only woman Kevin ever loved, and removing her from the story helped ensure that our hero would never settle down, and would keep on moving.)

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August 15, 1954

Of note, Moya’s very last appearance (as far as I know) also involves a fortune teller.

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August 29, 1954

Now, back to our current sequence… where Kevin’s situation takes take a sudden turn for the worse.

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Brett’s well-aimed dagger saves the day, but as the ship’s provisions dwindle, so does their time.

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Mitzi book update!

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After receiving a few inquiries as to where the book they’d ordered was, I heard today from someone who said they’d finally received their copy! My apologies for the delay, and I hope you think it was worth the wait. November 7 was the 70th anniversary of the comic strip’s debut.

For those who haven’t ordered it yet, The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy can be found at the Lost Art Books website. In addition to the entire run of “Mitzi McCoy,” the book includes the opening sequence of the comic strip “Mitzi” evolved into, “Kevin the Bold.” The book also features an extensive introduction by Eisner Award winner Frank M. Young and previously unpublished artwork and photographs.


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

Bound for the New World

As a young lad, I recall sitting in my grandfather’s studio and poring over stacks of comics—bound copies of the “NEA Daily and Sunday Comics.” At some point after my grandfather died, the covers (conveniently featuring “Kevin the Bold”) were cut off and the rest discarded. It’s a shame so much was lost, but I’m lucky to possess what remains.

The prominent date at the top of the page was the Monday of that issue’s week, and the publication contained the six daily comics (plus a Sunday comic, in some cases) for a given NEA strip. Since “Kevin the Bold” was a Sunday, these publications only featured one comic, whose publication date would be six days after the date shown for each issue.

The year is 1520, and the following sequence starts with Brett trying to sign onto a Portuguese ship headed for the New World. The ship is being financed by King Henry, and because he has heard bad news about its crew, he calls on an old friend to keep an eye on things.

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Shockingly, Kevin, an agent to the King, is about to refuse his request.

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According to Kevin’s back story, he was an orphan and knew nothing of his parents, so the the action at the beginning of this sequence is quite unexpected (and is abandoned abruptly). Kevin and Brett soon are reunited and about to set off on another adventure.

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As for those stacks of comics in my grandfather’s studio, it appears a young reader was inspired by the publication’s masthead to try his hand at cursive writing. The culprit was likely myself, my brother, or one of my cousins.

Kevin Hin Frygtløse

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This summer, I received a comic book in the mail. Although I had never met the sender, he knew exactly what I’d like—a Danish “Kevin the Bold” comic book. It is Serie Magasinet Solo Number 23. with “Solo” possibly indicates there are only Kevin hin Frygtløse (“The Fearless”) comics inside. It’s quite robust—68 pages with no ad pages at all.

I’d seen (and copied) an image of the cover online somewhere years ago, but to hold an actual copy was wonderful. They didn’t skimp on the ink when they printed the cover. The palette of colors used is almost completely saturated: 100% cyan, 100% magenta, 100% yellow, and a blend of 100% cyan and 100% magenta to create a nice dark purple, and a similar magenta-yellow blend for bright red. The skin tones are the only place half-tone dots are used.

A copyright line inside indicates it was published in 1974, which means it came out at about the same time the Menomonee Falls Gazette also began reprinting “Kevin the Bold.” (A small amount of material overlaps the two publications’ efforts). The 66 individual comics it features make up five complete story arcs—all of the 1954 “Kevin the Bold” Sunday comics plus another 15 from 1955. The first story, “The Island of Death,” appears below.

The action begins abruptly—the introductory comic in the sequence was skipped. To help explain what’s happening, here is the December 27, 1953 Sunday comic.

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Inside the comic book, the action picks up. Although I can’t read Danish, the sequence has some lovely illustrations. As usual, the comic book was put together using original tabloid pages, but to avoid the repeating the comic strip’s logo on each page, it was simply cropped out. The results were usually fine, but there does tend to be a bit of dead space in the upper right corners of several of the comics.

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On page 14, the episode transitions to the next story arc. It features a beggar character, Toto, that would reappear in Kevin’s later adventures.

The back cover reproduces a beautiful splash panel and has some expository text.

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It’s a nice synopsis of “Kevin.” With assistance from an online translator, it reads:

In this issue of SM solo, I have the pleasure of presenting Kevin the Bold, or Kevin the Fearless, as he has been called in Danish. Unfortunately, it has not been possible for me to write an article about the series, as I know quite a bit about it and have not been able to find any information about it anywhere.

It is an American comic strip that was founded by Kreigh Collins from around 1949. It was only drawn for Sunday papers, so there are no dailies.

The story is about a young Irish man, Kevin. When he was a little boy, Ireland was invaded by pirates who robbed and burned large areas. Kevin, an orphan, was found by a Scottish soldier, MacTavish Campbell [MacGregor] who took him in as his son and raised him. At the age of 15, Kevin received an amulet from MacTavish, an amulet that Kevin had been wearing when he was found, and maybe one day it could lead him on the trail of his true family’s name.

He has experienced a lot and fought a lot. As a soldier, he became known for his boldness in battle, and since then he has been all over Europe in his quest for adventure. It is a very lively and exciting series that in many ways can be compared to Prince Valiant. Enjoy. 


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Asger, my friend who sent me the Danish comic book, had heard about my efforts to publish the “Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Volume 1: Mitzi McCoy.” He and some friends have been working on a similar project—reprinting the great Danish adventure strip “Willy På Eventyr” (“Willie’s Adventures”). So far, four volumes have been published (about 250 pages each), and Vol. 5 is due out next year. Information can be found at their web site: www.willy-centret.dk


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

Hand to hand combat

A recent trip to Iceland inspired me to run the accompanying “Dragon Ship” sequence, set in Norway. I’ll vouch for the coldness of the North Atlantic (though I was not “bold” enough to wade in deeper than my ankles).

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The illustration of underwater swimming in the final panel is evocative of a decade-old Mitzi McCoy comic and plot device, that of finding a hidden cave with an air pocket.

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August 7, 1949

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As in the mid-1949 Mitzi McCoy sequence, a cave is found with an air pocket. It allows Kevin to escape the frigid water, albeit briefly. Meanwhile, as Thord’s men squabble, Kevin seizes his opportunity.

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Besides being a rather gruesome conclusion to a compelling storyline, the August 31, 1958 episode is notable for a couple of other reasons, among them a continuity problem. When Thord and Kevin resurface in the second panel, some stones are visible in the foreground, to Thord’s right. In the next panel, Thord gives Kevin a stiff-arm as he lunges for the stones to his left. The throwaway panel then shows a closeup of a stone in Thord’s left hand, but the following panel shows the stone in Thord’s right hand, as he’s about to strike at Kevin.

Also of note is the introduction of the character Pedro in the final transitional panels. A large and recurring character, Pedro was by Kevin’s side for many of his adventures over the final decade of Kevin the Bold’s run. No doubt he was a favorite of Collins, as a very similar Pedro character played a prominent role in Kreigh Collins’ third and final NEA feature, Up Anchor!


Mitzi book update!

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Fulfillment of book orders should start by early next week. My apologies for the publisher’s delay in shipping books that have been ordered.

That said, the book (The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy) can be found at the Lost Art Books website, and the last time I checked, it was still available for its reduced, pre-order sale price. In addition to the entire run of “Mitzi McCoy,” the book includes the opening sequence of the comic strip “Mitzi” evolved into, “Kevin the Bold.”

The book also features an extensive introduction by Eisner Award winner Frank M. Young and previously unpublished artwork and photographs.


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

The Funeral Ship

Freshly awoken from being knocked out, Kevin and Freya race to water’s edge only to see Thord sailing away on Sor Nordick’s dragon boat, repurposed as the Erl’s funeral ship.

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After discovering that Thord intended to steal the venerable old man’s treasure (instead of following custom and letting it sink with the burning boat), Kevin and Freya set off in an attempt to thward Thord’s plans.

[Now about those “unscrupulous” Jesicks. Reading through these comics, that name rang a bell for me, and I realized where it likely came from. Notably, Kreigh Collins was an avid sailor, and for many years he docked his boat at a marina on Lake Macatawa, Michigan. The marina? Jesick’s Boat Yard. I suspect that the choice of names Collins gave to Thord’s lackeys was in fun, and not indicative of any malice toward the owners of his longtime marina. It sounds Polish to me, but perhaps Jesick is a Norwegian name?]

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An unforeseen bugaboo in the evil man’s plans dooms them, but while Kevin strides off to for a better view,  Freya herself is not out of the woods yet.

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

Playing Possum

Smelling a rat, Kevin lingers to see what sort of plan is afoot. Thord quickly schemes to get Kevin out of his way, but as usual, the Irishman is one step ahead of his foe.

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Pretending he has passed out from too much drink, Kevin leaps at an opportunity to search for Freya. Bound and vulnerable, Freya doesn’t know who her rescuer is, but she appears to like what she sees. Kevin hastens her away in the nick of time. Thord, with the menacing prow of the dragon ship looming over his shoulder, sets off to grab Freya.

Instead, he finds Kevin, and becomes enraged. Luckily, Freya is not only beautiful, but quick thinking and surprisingly strong.

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The July 20 episode is one of a few from 1958 for which I don’t have a half-page example. I’m fortunate to have a crisp black and white proof, and it reveals all the cropping that took place when one-third-page versions were created. Some nice details are lost, such as the fuller illustration of the house in the final panel, but the comparison also shows that Kreigh Collins had learned to deal with the inevitability of the third-pages. Several of the wider panels’ sides are rather empty, and ready to be sacrificed for the truncated version. Interestingly, the penultimate panel has been extended upward, with the caption moving up and over, so the overall width can be reduced without obscuring the fetching Freya’s face.

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Now available!

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Visit the Lost Art Books website to place your order for The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy. In addition to the entire run of “Mitzi McCoy,” the book includes the opening sequence of the comic strip “Mitzi” evolved into, “Kevin the Bold.”

The book also features an extensive introduction by Eisner Award winner Frank M. Young and previously unpublished artwork and photographs.


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