Hercules

In what could be the worst bachelor party ever, Kevin and Luoth spend the eve of the wedding working hard on a risky and dangerous task.

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Following his night of hard labor, Kevin is spent. The panels in the middle tier of the episode above are hysterical—with the first two contrasting the eager bride and the reluctant groom, and the third panel existing somewhere between the screwball and the absurd (and practically begging to be taken out of context). Meanwhile, Kevin faces his moment of truth.

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Mascarading as Hercules, Kevin passes one test, but unexpectedly faces another.

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Luoth understands that if Barda breaks the engagement, it is mutually beneficial to Kevin and himself. Luoth is willing to take a great risk in order to restore his standing with Barda. Finally, a sudden thunderstorm and some quick thinking allows Kevin to escape his fate as a married man.


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

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The Obelisk

I wish I had some color half-pages from this sequence to intersperse with the black and white art, but the printer proofs really accentuate Collins’ wonderful line work. And As you can see, the third-page versions that ran in many newspapers during this era of Kevin left much to be desired. With these shrunken comics, each panel was cropped, and the lovely “throwaway” was eliminated.

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For the time being, Barda is able to calm her erstwhile boyfriend’s anger, but her situation proves too sticky for any further help from her father. Though Kevin will have his hands full dealing with the jealous, jilted Luoth, he is as calm and confident as ever.

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Someone please hide those scissors!

Quick thinking and a sudden, unlikely alliance buys Kevin time as he tries to dig his way out of trouble.

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

The Trap

Barda has a new muse, and she gives her new toy both freedom and fair warning.

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Determined not to make the same mistake twice, Kevin is cautious.

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The comic used to patch the hole in this proof reveals the main problem with one-third-page versions—a significant chunk of the opening panel (to the right of Kevin) has been cropped out.

The names of Kreigh Collins’ ancillary characters were generally symbolic. As the child of a druid-inspired cult’s spiritual leader, Barda (“daughter of the earth”) is an appropriate name for a young poetess. Although she seems to relish dominating her love interests, she is not to be confused with Big Barta (a DC comics character with similar proclivities that debuted a decade later).

In the December 11 episode, our poetess riffs on a scene from King Lear (“The knave turns fool that runs…”). Of note, five years down the road Shakespeare would figure even more prominently as inspiration for a “Kevin the Bold” sequence.

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Having made Kevin an offer he could not refuse, Barda finds trouble of her own.


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

The Secret Valley

The peak years for “Kevin the Bold” were the 1950s, but by mid-1957, the Chicago Tribune, an early champion of the comic, was running inferior one-third page versions of the strip. While other papers continued running the strip as a half-page, like the Detroit News, many soon followed suit with the dreaded one-thirds.

Finding half-page examples of the comic from the late-50s can be difficult, so I am lucky to have numerous syndicate proofs in my collection. These proofs (veloxes?), show the entire half-page comic, and are printed on a nice heavy stock. Kreigh Collins used these to provide color guides to the NEA. He would paint them with watercolors, and these would be used by the NEA as guides while colorizing the comics. Extra copies of the proofs were kept in Collins’ studio, and sometimes these ended up being used like coloring books by either his youngest sons or his grandchildren. In retrospect, it’s a real shame, but at the time it probably seemed like a “grand” idea (to use a word that reminds me of Gramma Collins). While some of these proofs were colored or painted on, others suffered a worse fate, as the aspiring artists attempted collages, apparently, cutting holes in the proofs with scissors.

The following sequence, which ran from November of 1960 to January of ’61, has 11 episodes. I have cleaned up one that was painted on (our young artist hadn’t gotten very far with the November 27 episode—for once a short attention span proved beneficial), and I used some one-third page comics to patch up two others.

Despite these flaws, the sequence itself is wonderful. It contains all of the strip’s classic elements: beautiful scenery, a gorgeous young woman (smitten with Kevin, naturally), mystery, and action, plus a nice feat of engineering. It begins with Kevin taking a needed break from his adventures; he has returned alone to Ireland.

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After falling into the trap, Kevin’s captors comment on his size and strength, comparing him to one of the ancient gods they worship. Despite his appearance, a perplexed Kevin is released to Barda, the daughter of the cult’s leader.


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

Jinni in a Bottle

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Cowardly Grudja is only willing to battle noble Kevin with the unfair advantage of his new “shooting shield.” At the same time, battle lines are being drawn between the manipulative blonde Gigi, who brashly proclaims that Kevin is hers for the taking. Gigi may be correct in calling Moya a lady, but perhaps she underestimates the fight and determination of her raven-haired counterpart.

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Tension rises in the run-up to the upcoming battle(s). While Kevin trains for his fight with Grudja, Moya is sharpening up, too. Grudja himself shows signs of unease, taking out his wrath on the poor beggar Toto, who has suddenly appeared in Ireland.

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Loyal to the knight who had previously showed him kindness, Toto plays a trick on Grudja’s soldiers. This gives Toto an opportunity to play mind games with the malleable brutes, in an attempt at unsettling them. It also gives Kreigh Collins a chance to use another alternative spelling (Jinni vs. Genie) and to illustrate Toto’s magic trick. Prior to settling on “artist” as a career choice, Collins had been keenly interested in magic. In 1937, he had written and illustrated a book on the subject, “Tricks Toys and Tim, A Book on Model-Making and Magic.” Flap copy for the unique book, published by D. Appleton-Century, reads:

Here is an unusual and fascinating how-to-do-it book, containing original and unhackneyed material. The unique presentation, the clear and understandable directions for making things, and the delightful bits of humor which run through its pages make this a most practical and readable book.

To some extent, these same words can be applied to the comics of Kreigh Collins.

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The July 4, 1954 comic makes clear the differences between Grudja and Kevin (and between Gigi and Moya). The battle begins, but its outcome is clouded. Will good triumph over evil?


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

New Toy

Even fierce Grudja fears Kevin, but beware, the Norse invader has a new toy. Meanwhile, Kevin, Moya, and her clansmen are under siege.

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Grudja’s counsel has advised him to face Kevin one on one, in public combat. Thus, the Norseman reacts angrily when he learns of Bull Blackie’s actions in pursuit of Kevin. The traitorous Black Irishman has a personal vendetta against the McCoys, but Grudja has other plans to quell these nettlesome Irish resisters.

The May 23 comic is notable for its dramatic twists, varied visual perspectives, Kevin’s very boldness, and to a lesser extent, dated language.

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Making the classic bad guy mistake of letting his prey get away while planning his more appropriate demise, Grudja lets Kevin off the hook. Soon enough, Kevin finds himself in the center of another conflict, as the tenor of the extended sequence shifts.

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A particular aspect of Kreigh Collins’ comics that especially appeals to me is the wonderful throwaway panels that appear whenever the comic ran in a half-page or half-tabloid format. One-third page comics are undoubtably atrocities, suffering from severe cropping, yet even full-page tabloid comics lacked Kreigh’s charming throwaways.

The throwaways’ use was flexible: they could function as visual footnotes, with further explanation of plot device; they could show additional views of a comic’s scenery; or they presented another opportunity to show a pretty girl. In some cases the information in the “visual footnotes” could be recycled — with an adjustment for inflation, if necessary. (Note the difference in a suit of armor’s value between 1954 and 1962!)

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(You remember the story behind that armor of Kevin’s, don’t you?)

 


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

Grudja

KTB 041154 panel 150 QCCKevin is excited to return to Ireland, and especially so to return to Castle McCoy. After a long absence, he misses much about his homeland. Longing to settle down, imagining a peaceful life as a farmer, Kevin’s high hopes for a joyful reunion are quickly dashed. Evil Grudja is menacing Ireland, and at his side is none other than Bull Blackie, the villain in the inaugural sequence of “Kevin the Bold.”

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With Bull Blackie on her trail, Moya escapes, her beauty belying her ferocity. To her horror, Moya is shocked to realize the man she has knocked cold is her champion, Kevin. However, Moya is not the only one who will be startled by the reappearance of the legendary knight.

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Despite the effects of his nasty knock on the head, Kevin’s primal instincts kick in. So do those of Kevin’s creator, as the sequence continues with more beautifully drawn comics and a plot line with multiple dramatic arcs.

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