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.

NEA Daily and Sunday Comics

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Among my collection of Kreigh Collins’s comics is a sampler of NEA comics from mid-1955. It looks likel the entire NEA comic package for the week of May 23–29, 1955 — but I’m not sure because it’s the only one of its kind I’ve ever seen.

It’s a 32-page, self cover, black and white tabloid, printed on a coated stock. Curiously, it isn’t bound in any way, so the eight individual sheets that it consists of can be pulled apart and put back together with ease. Because of its lack of staples, nice reproduction quality, and decent paper stock, I wonder if it wasn’t intended for newspapers to use for printing their comic sections.

If not, it apparently made for a nice keepsake for the NEA artists whose work was contained inside. As a young boy, I remember stacks of these things piled in Grandpa Collins’ studio. And of course I noticed the comic that appeared inside the front cover!

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Beyond that, I’m not sure how far I read. I might’ve skipped the Sunday and daily Boots and Her Buddies comics (by Edgar Martin), but who could resist V.T. Hamlin’s Alley Oop?

It’s interesting to see which strips had daily versions, and which were Sunday-only. Although the topic of Kevin the Bold becoming a daily came up between Collins and his NEA boss, Ernest Lynn, it never happened.

I’m not too well-acquainted with many of the other comics that follow, but I am familiar with others (mostly due to seeing them on the backs of my Kevins). I recognize the name Walt Scott, since he drew the charming illustration that the NEA staff gave my grandfather on the occasion of his twin sons’ birth (in February, 1951).

Besides Walt Scott (whose The Little People, below, ran on page 7), I’m familiar with Red Braucher (quite a character himself), Herbert W. Walker (Newspaper Enterprise Association president), Dean Miller (he illustrated the Vic Flint Sunday on page 15), and… that’s about it.

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Here’s Walt Scott’s take on Kreigh Collins serenading his newborn baby sons Kevin and Glen (while older sons David and Eric crack wise).

Next up in the NEA tabloid are a Sunday and dailies for Freckles and His Friends (Merrill Blosser), Walt Scott’s The Little People (accompanied by its topper strip, Huckleberry Hollow), and seven days of Captain Easy, by Lesley Turner.

Then, Sundays and dailies for Out Our Way with “The Willets” (J.R. Williams) and Pricilla’s Pop (Al Vermeer).

Continuing to show the variety the NEA package offered, Sundays and dailies for Vic Flint (Dean Miller/Jay Heavilin) and Bugs Bunny (uncredited) follow.

Next up: Chris Welkin Planeteer (Russ Winterbotham), a “fun page” with several small strips including Tom Trick Fun Detective (credited simply to Dale), and seven days of Our Boarding House with Major Hoople (six daily one-panels and a Sunday tabloid).

The single-panel comics Side Glances (by Galbraith), and Carnival (by Dick Turner) follow.

Bringing up the rear are several comics featuring women (Brenda Breeze by Rolfe) or drawn by them (Sweetie Pie by Nadine Seltzer). Continuing in a domestic vein, there is Hershberger’s Funny Business, and apparently to fill extremely tiny spaces, Little Liz, a tiny daily single-panel, that is essentially an illustrated fortune cookie message.

Finally, it’s The Story of Martha Wayne by Wilson Scruggs.

If anyone has further information about any of these comics or the NEA, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section, below.


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

Christmas in July

Kreigh Collins’ comics were familiar to readers of Sunday funnies, and periodically there were discussions with his bosses at the Newspaper Enterprise Association about changing “Mitzi McCoy” or “Kevin the Bold” into a daily. Although these plans never came to fruition, in 1965 Collins illustrated a short-lived seasonal daily for the NEA called “Legends of Christmas.”

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Running in various small-market papers that were typical for the NEA, the “Legends of Christmas” comics are rather curious, and despite their yuletide theme, there was room to squeeze in a little anti-Soviet Cold War-era commentary (December 8). Take thatBrezhnev!

A tip of the cap to Alec Stevens of Calvary Comics for sending these comics my way!

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