Happy Easter

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Unfortunately, I have never seen the remaining comics in the “Jesus in Jerusalem” series. This year, Easter falls on April Fool’s Day, and my apologies if this seems like a(nother) prank — last year, I had a little fun. Since the Easter story is so well-known, I hope the illustration above will be an acceptable stand-in for the missing Bible Stories Comics. The “Jesus in Jerusalem” series had perhaps nine more episodes before the action switched back to the Old Testament, and a series about Moses began, which ran over the course of an entire year (Wow! How long was he lost in the desert?!)

The Bible Stories Comics I have seen came from two sources — the Kreigh Collins collection in the Grand Rapids Public Library, and my Uncle Kevin’s collection of his father’s artwork. However, I know of another person with access to these comics, reportedly the entire series! The plan is that his company will publish the “Mitzi McCoy” book, and then issue a second volume on the “Lost Art of Kreigh Collins” featuring the Bible Stories Comics. Please stay tuned!


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

 

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The Darkest Hour

The next three “Bible Picture Story” comics show Jesus’ final hours. Confronted by an angry mob and at the mercy of an ineffective and conflicted administrator, he is stoic as his fate unfolds.

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Although the narrative of Jesus’ crucifixion is likely one of the most famous stories ever, there is one unfortunate surprise ahead — as far as “Bible Picture Stories” are concerned.


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

Prophecy Fulfilled

Even though the subject matter of these “Bible Picture Stories” does not fully engage me, I find everything else very interesting. “Jesus in Jerusalem No. 13” has expressive character illustrations, relatable colloquial language, and the final two panels are wonderful. The style is quite similar to the prototype comic Kreigh Collins developed for the NEA, which evolved into “Mitzi McCoy.” (No big surprise, as it was illustrated at about the same point in time as these Bible comics).

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To my eye, No. 14 doesn’t have quite the appeal of the previous comic, but the mood comes across very effectively, as Jesus’ fate hangs in the balance. No. 15 is another marvel. (“Insurrection!” and an raised eyebrow “AWK” — I love it!) It also features a nice variety of perspectives and facial expressions.

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

The Last Last Supper

For each episode of “Bible Picture Stories,” Kreigh Collins received a lengthy outline from writer M. C. Wilson. Collins’ first job was to distill the story into six or seven panels, keeping the message intact, a very difficult task. Making it visually interesting was less of a challenge, but still no mean feat. With the Bible as subject matter, the artist had a fine line to walk, so as not to upset his editors or audience. As correspondence between MPH editor Morgan Stinemetz and Collins shows, the artist consistently delivered the goods.

These comics were finished in late summer, 1946, when conversations were just beginning between Collins and his future employer, the NEA syndicate. The appeared in issues of Boys Today and Girls Today in the spring of 1947, during Lent.

The Last Supper was a rare case of the subject matter being spread over two weeks (possibly the only time this happened). Here is part two.

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The Easter story is very familiar, even to a lapsed Episcopalian such as myself. However, I don’t remember Peter’s attack on the guard. The action in the fourth panel foreshadows the swordplay of “Kevin the Bold.”

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

Where’s Mitzi?

“Mitzi McCoy” was Kreigh Collins’ first syndicated (Newspaper Enterprise Association) comic strip, and in its November 7, 1948 debut, Mitzi bolted from her wedding after realizing her fiancé was a gold-digging jerk.

The comics that followed showed the transformation of Collins’ skills from that of a renowned illustrator to those of a successful cartoonist. Each panel of these early comics are jammed full of detail, and the original artwork is astonishing to behold. About half of the “Mitzi McCoy” originals are in the Local History collection of the Grand Rapids Public Library.

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These early Mitzi originals also show evidence of revisions to the artwork and dialogue. In addition to illustrating and scripting the comic, Collins did the lettering. Kreigh had similar responsibilities for his mid-1940s “Bible Stories Comics” (put out by the Methodist Publishing House) but the NEA required a more structured approach, and had more specific procedures to be followed. There were some growing pains, but the artwork is absolutely amazing.

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While comics fans might have been wondering where Ms. McCoy had gone in 1948, “Where’s Mitzi?” could also be a question posed more recently. Late last year, an announcement was made on the upcoming publication of a book collecting the comic strip’s entire run.

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While production of the book has been delayed, rest assured that the book is still in the works. Once it is published, Mitzi’s whereabouts will be more easily tracked.