Special Man Is Wanted

Artists and illustrators often have models pose for them — Kreigh Collins frequently enlisted his family with the task. Occasionally, a special situation would call for a hired model, and such was a case for an early “Kevin the Bold” sequence. Getting a help wanted ad on the front page of the local paper was helpful, and the Grand Rapids Herald provided some nice promotion for Collins’ year-old comic.

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The “special man” needed to be of a specific stature, as he would be donning a centuries-old suit of armor recently donated to the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Since historical authenticity was important to Collins, having a live model for reference would be very useful, as knights in armor were a staple of his comic strip.

The newspaper page was trimmed so that no publication date showed, but an article on the page had some information that placed it in late July of 1951. The NEA’s production schedule required comics to be inked two to three months ahead of their publication date, and with this sequence appearing in September, the timing of the newspaper article made sense.

The fifth “Kevin the Bold” sequence introduced a new villain, Baron Von Blunt. Was his new Flemish armor modeled after the set from the Grand Rapids Public Museum?

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Most of the early “Kevin” comics in my collection are from the Chicago Sunday Tribune, but the September 30, 1951 comic shown above ran in the Detroit News. (Most likely, the comic had debuted in the News with this sequence). Collins’ artwork is especially strong in this period, but the printed results from the News are no match for those of the Tribune.

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Kevin and his squire, Stub, had been separated during the previous sequence, in which Kevin was gravely injured. Once reunited, Stub fills his knight in on the details of the task he has been assigned — training an army of men to face Baron Von Blunt, the same ruthless man that had already made an enemy of Kevin. The October 7 comic is another beauty from the Trib, with more to follow.

Of note: The Grand Rapids Public Museum has a rather impressive collection of Kreigh Collins’ original artwork.


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

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The Tournament

Tournament preparations are completed; it is time for the show. The few rules are explained. The dramatic sequence of the Chicago Sunday Tribune’s new comic feature begins.

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With a lot less color and not as much fanfare, the action also unfolded in another recent subscriber to the NEA’s new comic. Kreigh Collins had a longstanding business relationship with a local paper, the Grand Rapids Press, for whom he had previously done illustrations. Like many cities of the era, Grand Rapids had several daily newspapers, but It took a while before any of them started running his comic. (A few months ahead of the strip’s transition to “Kevin,” the Press started running “Mitzi McCoy” in July of 1950).

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Now, with the Trib’s vivid reproduction.

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Kevin followed Stub’s plan to slide off his mount in order to try to lure De Falcon into combat on foot. The only problem — De Falcon is still astride his warhorse, Satan. However, playing possum proves effective, and Kevin avoids the Baron’s coup de grâce.

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Kevin’s own quick thinking leads to his desired outcome of mano a mano, where Stub declared, “On foot, ye’re his better.”

Stub is absolutely correct, as Kevin makes quick work of De Falcon. Claiming the Count’s horse, but sparing his life, Kevin realizes he has done well to allow him to live. He discovers the fallen man’s humanity, and is about to set out on another quest.


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

Training

From its onset, “Kevin the Bold” had much going for it. Kreigh Collins was bursting with enthusiasm for its subject matter, he had the experience and artistic chops to pull of such a period comic, and he had the backing of the Chicago Sunday Tribune to give his work a wider audience. Collins also had a compelling collection of original storylines to illustrate.

The result was some exceptional work. These next three comics neatly distill the essence of the comic strip and its protagonists. Kevin is honorable and humble, yet invincible; MacTavish Campbell MacGregor (“Stub”) is steadfast and loyal; and Moya is cheerful, smart, and beautiful. It’s important to note that as Mitzi McCoy’s ancestor, Moya more closely resembles the heroine of Collins’ earlier comic feature than Kevin and his squire resemble their forebearers, Tim and Stub (despite the older man’s familiar sobriquet). Sadly, Moya does not last long as a prominent character in “Kevin”.

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With the date of his fight against De Falcon looming, Kevin starts training, and he also begins to upgrade his gear. In addition to his Claymore, he now has chain mail. With Stub as his tactician, Kevin gets to work.

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Acknowledging his past heroism, one of Moya’s father’s subject presents Kevin with a horse more suitable for his tournament date. Appropriately, she is mare, leading to a false sense of confidence in Kevin’s opponent. Like Kevin, she is not to be underestimated, an error made by many of Kevin’s adversaries.

The comics also contrast the two sides in the upcoming battle. Despite the obvious differences, maybe Kevin and the Baron have more in common than they realize.

The Count de Falcon

There is trouble in town, as someone has rung the bell at the village tower. Kevin and Stub arrive and are surprised to find out who was calling for help. Also arriving on the scene is the squire for a formidable German, the Count de Falcon.

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The light-hearted atmosphere of the previous comics dissipates quickly as the tension builds, and matters escalate quickly. The Baron throws down the gauntlet, and formally challenges Kevin to a duel.

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Making matters worse, Stub realizes the terms of battle are not negotiable. As his trainer, the squire knows Kevin’s abilities well, but is worried about the advantages the Count will have. We shall see if Kevin’s strongest suit, his sense of honor, will somehow help him prevail.

 

 

First Impressions

Following the abrupt transformation of the comic strip “Mitzi McCoy” into “Kevin the Bold,” Kreigh Collins was ready with several dynamic storylines for his new hero, and his artwork was equally up to the task.

At the end of the new comic strip’s first chapter, Kevin defeated the Moorish pirates and saved the locals from enslavement. As a reward, Moya McCoy’s father presented Kevin with a historically significant claymore, as well as his distinguished title.

The second chapter of “Kevin the Bold” begins with a marvelous comic. Its splash panel shows a beautifully garbed Moya, as MacTavish Campbell MacGregor is introduced. Upon meeting Moya, “Stub” announces Kevin’s simple credo. Moya instantly takes to the prickly Scotsman and fires a snappy line at her new friend.

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As is often the case, the transitional comics between the main sequences are lighthearted, but action comes to the fore in the next comic, with another exciting splash panel. Stub has resumed Kevin’s training, with our protagonist getting acquainted with his fearsome new weapon. No doubt this training will come in handy at a later time.

The comic also shows the amazing reproductive abilities of Collins’ newest champion, the Chicago Tribune. The Trib typically ran its new feature near the front of its comic section, and the newspaper was able to showcase the Kreigh’s skills with its own superb coloring, including a very nice example of aerial perspective in the ninth panel.

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Significantly, this panel shows a distant bell tower, which calls Kevin to action.