Cliffhanger

In another dramatic episode, Kevin faces von Blunt on foot. Calm as ever, and despite the Baron’s duplicity, Kevin continues to fight honorably. The comic ends with a genuine cliffhanger, and for me, this wasn’t the only mystery it held.

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My comics collection came about largely through packages periodically sent by my uncle (also named Kevin). At this point, I have copies in some form or another of the first 15 years of my grandfather’s comics. Initially, I didn’t have many of the earliest “Kevin”s, but I did have this compelling cliffhanger.

At the time, I wasn’t even sure which newspaper it came from; now it is obvious that its origin was the Chicago Sunday Tribune. What added to its mystery was its lack of a date, and the reverse side of the comic didn’t yield any clues, either. The NEA copyright line identifies it as from 1952, but in lieu of a publication date, its panels were sequentially numbered (to my knowledge, the only time it occurred with Kreigh’s comics, and in my opinion, completely unnecessary).

Every year or so (as my uncle cleared out the old family homestead), a new comics bonanza would arrive. Eventually, the gaps were filled (until October 21, 1962, anyway), and it became apparent that this comic was dated January 6, 1952. Meanwhile, the fates of Kevin and Baron von Blunt also became known.

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Von Blunt’s remains were identified by the spectators, but there was no sign of Kevin, and he was feared (and to the reader, appeared) dead. Kevin’s apparent demise has left both Stub and Princess Lea heartbroken, and as the comic transitioned to a new chapter, a new character was introduced.

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Suddenly, sadness became elation, as it was discovered that Glaustark’s savior, Kevin, lived. Kevin’s adventures would also continue. The tale of Brett Hartz and his grandfather previously appeared on this blog, and can be seen here.


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

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Honor vs. Treachery

The December 16, 1951 comic is another beauty. Wonderfully drawn and superbly reproduced, Kevin and Stub are quite relaxed despite the impending danger. In fact, Stub seems more interested in Kevin’s love life than his imminent battle with Baron von Blunt.

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Whereas Kevin stands for honor, von Blunt represents treachery. Knocked from his mount by foul play, Kevin must face the Baron on foot. However, his hours of training with Stub will prove to have paid off.

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The trick of the thrown claymore was demonstrated a year earlier, in one of the earliest “Kevin the Bold” episodes. Despite its success, Kevin still faced the daunting task of facing von Blunt, this time armed with a dagger. He has kept his cool, and perhaps the Baron has underestimated Kevin yet again.

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Stay tuned — next week features the battle’s dramatic conclusion.


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

Strangers in the Night

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Brought together by chance, Kevin hears a firsthand account of the plight of the Glaustarkians from a beautiful young woman he initially believes to be a peasant. A nightwatchman soon confirms what Kevin had heard from the peasant, and Kevin realizes what must be done.

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The December 9, 1951 comic is another gem. Its nine panels are filled with beautifully-illustrated horses and settings, witty dialog, and charming examples of the principal characters’ qualities. When Kevin strikes the gong, he startles his horse Satan, and appears to crack the gong itself. Stub fearlessly confronts von Blunt in one panel and nearly swoons at the end, when he discovers Princess Lea’s scented handkerchief.

In case you were wondering if the help wanted ad Kreigh Collins had placed in the Grand Rapids Herald produced any results, sure enough — it worked. A local gentleman named Frank Tatroe filled the bill. If you compare the second photo below with the penultimate panel of the December 9 comic, you can see for yourself.

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

The Slide

Early “Kevin the Bold” sequences could stretch over a significant chunk of the calendar. This one, featuring Baron von Blunt, ran for 18 weeks. The Search for Sadea, whose principals appeared in last week’s post, had 22 episodes, and lasted nearly half a year). Such long storylines allowed character development in the strip, and its stories and stunning illustrations proved to very popular with readers. The November 4, 1951 comic is exquisite.

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Kevin and his men face a huge obstacle in trying to deliver weapons along a dangerous mountain path, but they aren’t the only ones trapped between a rock and a hard place.

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As usual, Kevin’s outrageous plan has worked. Astride his horse Satan (won from Count DeFalcon in a jousting tournament), Kevin successfully led the horses down the cliff. Unfortunately, they are not yet home free.

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A close brush with von Blunt has steeled Kevin’s resolve to deliver the people of Glaustark from under the Baron’s thumb. Hoping to clear his mind, Kevin sets out on an evening walk. Meanwhile, Princess Lea also heads out for the moonlight. Perhaps the night air will benefit both of them.


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

Princess Lea Pursued

In preparation for his confrontation with Baron Von Blunt, Kevin musters some forces and makes plans to arm them. His past good deeds help as he calls in a favor. Meanwhile, his antagonist continues his brutal ways.

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About that armor refurbished by Seusenhofer… it looks familiar…

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Rebuffed by beautiful Princess Lea again, Baron Von Blunt seethes with anger. Vowing to destroy Glaustark, the stage is set for conflict. In an extraordinary final splash panel, Kevin arrives at last. As usual, Stub and Kevin are confident. First, Kevin and his men face an arduous journey just to reach Von Blunt. Then, will they be strong enough to overcome the Baron?


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

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.

Navel Battle

After several weeks of setup and conflict, this sequence is primed for some classic “Kevin the Bold” ingredients — beautiful women, creepy villains and combat.

Last week’s comic teased with a beautiful drawing of Estrella in its final, double-decked splash panel, and as the sequence continues, Estrella remains prominent. Like many cartoonists, Kreigh Collins used lovely women to help attract readers. However, there were rules, and lines that could not be crossed. As described in this fine article from Vanity Fair about Connecticut cartoonists of the era, you could draw a girl in a bikini but you couldn’t show a navel. Gaze upon Estrella’s tummy and you will notice this to be the case.

With sex appeal now part of the sequence’s mix, it was now time for a new band of villains — this time, cannibals.

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Good fortune has Kevin being saved by Estrella. Despite his brush with death after being kicked off the Polaris, Kevin is quick to go to the aid of the cannibals’ victim, with a creative and dramatic display.

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Another chance encounter reunites Estrella and Diego, but our friends are not out of hot water yet — the cannibals are still in pursuit.

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Kevin’s bluff is enough to deter the savages, and after a final plot twist, the sequence is completed. The story continues with some comics previously featured on this blog — click here to continue following the action.


This Date in Comics History:

Sunday, October 1 (1950) — “Kevin the Bold” debuts in the Chicago Sunday Tribune, and in papers across the U.S. and Canada.

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“Continued” indeed. The strip ran for 18+ years. 



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

Sailing for Hispaniola

Unbelieving that his fiancée has been has been lost at sea, Diego has stowed away in a ship bound for Haiti, in a valiant search for her. And what do you know…

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Estrella’s desperate plea for help is on target, but in vain.

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Pedro is able to make quick work of his task after spending most of his time eating. This is a running joke that continues whenever Pedro appears — even after the comic strip morphs into “Up Anchor!,” in which the characters Kevin and Pedro are again prominent.

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While Pedro wraps up some loose ends, Kevin starts snooping around for knowledge of the Spaniards’ navigational secrets.


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

Best-laid plans

To follow last week’s post, which dealt with travel and this blog’s far-flung visitors, I had the idea to run a “Kevin the Bold” sequence with comics from my collection that appeared in a Québec newspaper. Because they had been translated into French, it seemed appropriate — most of my blog’s visitors were from France. I planned to run English versions, too.

After I started collecting my grandfather’s comics, these were the second batch I acquired — some one-third pages covering most of 1964. I hadn’t looked at them in a while, and I remembered them being rather sub-standard reproductions. Nonetheless, after two years of posting, and with this blog’s rather limited scope, I’m willing to try any angle.

The following sequence featured the young Spanish lovers Estrella and Diego. Since I didn’t have the French version of the opener, this printer’s proof of the English version would have to suffice. (I had French versions of the sequence’s remaining episodes).

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However, once I dug out the French-Canadian comics, mon dieu! I realized it would be a misguided attempt to honor my French readers — the tops were sheared off the comics and much of the dialog was lost. Adding insult to injury, this week the U.S. nosed past France as far as blog visitors are concerned. So I guess there is some justification in continuing the comics in English.

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Following the exposition, Kevin and Brett finally appear. Kevin’s friend Pedro turns up, and he brings word of what will become Kevin’s next quest. To be continued…

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

 

Travel

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In each of Kreigh Collins’ three NEA comics, travel is a frequent theme.

Mitzi McCoy flew her private airplane into the northern Canadian wilds, and later to Chicago. She also spent time in Florida. Kevin originated in Ireland but traveled widely throughout Europe, Northern Africa, the Middle East — he even visited the New World toward the end of his run (c. 1967). The Marlin family’s travels in “Up Anchor!” mirrored Collins’ own — besides sailing the Great Lakes and the Great Loop, the schooner Heather also called New England and Maine home for two seasons. A change of scenery provides a cartoonist an opportunity for varied tableaux, new storylines, and a chance to meet new characters.

Two years ago, I started this blog with the goal of raising awareness of my grandfather’s career (in advance of the publication of the collected “Mitzi McCoy” comics). While I’m not sure how successful I’ve been, I do know that my blog has done a fair bit of traveling too. According to its statistical data, it has been viewed by people in 55 countries across the world, amazing! I wish I could thank each visitor, I’m sure I’d also meet some characters.

The statistics are interesting, and I am pleased to note surprises. There have been slightly more viewers from France than from the United States, and there have been no visitors whatsoever from mainland China or Russia. Punching above their weight class are #4 Portugal and #6 Croatia (the 88th- and 129th-most populous countries in the world). The top twelve countries make up about 96% of my traffic, and while this is great, it’s more exciting to reach especially distant and smaller places. To my singular readers from Luxembourg, Uruguay, Greece, Guam, Romania, Slovenia, Qatar, the Philippines, Indonesia, Tunisia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Taiwan, Ukraine, European Union (is that even a country?), Singapore, and Greenland (population 56,412), thank you!