Apologies for this week’s meager selection of color comics—my collection is a bit spotty as far as “Up Anchor!” episodes are concerned—but going forward in this chapter, things will brighten up considerably.
As the Marlin family gets ready to launch their boat, they first have to deal with on-shore know-it-alls. Luckily, sailing is a team effort, and that includes putting obnoxious folks in their proper place, done this time by Jane Marlin. Jane was loosely based on my Gramma Teddy, and one thing the two shared was an inability to mince words.
In the “Water Lore” topper, Kevin and Jane Marlin make a rare appearance (possibly the only time this happened).
With the boat finally launched, there is rigging and provisioning to be done before setting sail.
In the fifth panel, where Kevin points to the nautical chart, it also shows where my family was going to relocate, a few months after this episode was published. We moved from Ann Arbor, Michigan (near the lower part of mitten-like Michigan’s “thumb”), to Fredonia, New York when I was just shy of five years old.
It’s a shame that I don’t have a color version of the February 9, 1969 episode—it features a couple of strategically-placed bathing beauties modeling some of the season’s finest swimsuit apparel. It also features a character who offers an explanation of why Collins and his family spent so much time on their boat during the summer.
With Memorial Day approaching, so too is the traditional start of sailing season. This usually means having already done prep work in chilly conditions. In order to extend the season, Kreigh Collins liked to launch early. Kevin Marlin was in the same boat — literally — they both sailed aboard Heather.
While the photo above shows skipper Collins 10 years after he purchased his schooner, the “Up Anchor!” chapter starting today was just the second one in the strip’s 3.5-year run. It starts with Pedro showing off a small fiberglass boat he’s peddling, which must have appealed to Kreigh — maintaining a 40-year-old, wooden 40-footer required quite a bit of elbow grease! No doubt the Collinses worked up a sweat, even in chilly spring weather.
Not only did Kevin and Kreigh sail the same boat, but they had the same kitchen, too. (The opening panel in the episode below is a rendering of the tiny kitchen in Kreigh’s own Ada, Michigan home).
Featuring a family’s adventures living aboard a sailboat, “Up Anchor!” was unique, and while it promoted the growing hobby of pleasure boating, it fought against the stereotype of it being a glamorous sport solely for the wealthy.
The most recent addition to my comics compilation library is the massive, second volume of “Kevin den Tapre,” from publisher Anders Hjorth-Jørgensen and his company, Forlaget desAHJn. Like its companion volume, the comics were sourced from the Danish weekly magazine Hjemmet. From 1955-1960, Hjemmet ran the episodes in an interesting three-color scheme; the collection is available here.
The book has an impressive front matter section highlighting various aspects of Kreigh Collins’ heroic protagonist.
In many instances, the original, full-color episodes precede their corresponding three-color Danish versions for easy comparison. When King Henry VIII enters Kevin’s world, a full-page sidebar offers some background of the English monarch. Considering the book’s 218 Danish episodes, plus all the extras, it results in a rather hefty volume—364 pages in all.
The spread on pages 156-157 shows a prime example of one of the lovely ladies my grandfather featured—Gertie reproduces nicely in any number of colors! And speaking of lovely ladies, if your preference runs toward more wholesome lasses, pages 300-301 and beyond feature Becky Makepeace, whose story just ran on this blog. (Speaking of which, this is post No. 300! Woo-hoo!).
Following the complete run of three-color Hjemmet episodes, there is a lengthy section of back matter. It touches on some of Kevin’s later adventures, including the transition to “Up Anchor!” and how “Kevin” was repackaged into comic books for numerous foreign markets.
Further spreads highlight Collins’ pre-comics work as an illustrator, the start of his NEA comics career, and the Bible Stories Pictures he created in the mid-1940s for the Methodist Publishing House (among other subjects). The book is very thorough.
While reviewing the book gave my translation app quite a workout, certain words required no explanation, such as “Research,” a bibliography. I will vouch for the source material!
While researching Kevin’s Danish incarnation, I came across an auction site with 30+ episodes of “Kevin den Tapre” listed, check it out! (Though I’m not sure if they do international shipping). These are the same episodes appearing in the Danish collections. All but one of the listings are for the full-color examples that appeared in Volume 1.
“The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, the Complete Mitzi McCoy,” is available for immediate delivery at a reduced price; it features the entire run of Kreigh Collins’ first NEA feature.
MITZI McCOY ran from 1948 to 1950 and showcased Kreigh Collins’ skill as an illustrator and storyteller. His picturesque landscapes, lovely character designs, and thrilling action sequences brimmed with detail and charm, and the strip’s ensemble cast rotated in and out of the spotlight taking turns as protagonists in the dozen story arcs collected in this volume. The last story collected in “The Complete Mitzi McCoy” is the narrative bridge that set Collins and his characters off on a new journey, beautifully told for the next couple of decades in the much-lauded adventure strip Kevin the Bold.
The collection includes an introduction by Eisner Award-winning author Frank M. Young, an Afterward by Ithaca College’s Ed Catto, and previously unpublished artwork and photos. Longtime comics artist Butch Guice also provides a new pin-up of the character Mitzi McCoy.
The book costs $30ONLY $20! For domestic shipping, add $4; for international orders, add $25 for first class shipping. To place an order, leave a comment below or email me at BrianEdwardCollins1[at]gmail.com, and I will give you PayPal information.
For more information on the career of Kreigh Collins, visit his page on Facebook.
The first and last episodes shown here are third pages combined with BW versions found online from the Allentown (Pa.) Call-Chronicle. While assembling the images, I noticed that the one appearing in newspaper was vertically scrunched, slightly, a few percentage points. I don’t know if that paper purposefully ran scaled-down versions so that they took up less space or if the distortion was just a result of the images being scanned. At any rate, the combined comic shows how the original was cropped to yield the third-page, and what was deemed unnecessary (hint: don’t crop out the ladies!)
Kevin does the honorable thing by dispatching Tom, and is rewarded with an unexpected display from Don Diego, who also acts virtuously (despite his previous handsiness with Inez).
With the cards in your favor, playing by the rules, sometimes you lose.
Holding tight to his principles, the fate of Don Diego (and Kevin) now lies with the flip of a coin.
An interesting question indeed from Dolores—and the men are saved by the wily Inez.
I’d think that there’d be easier ways for these two beauties to catch men, but Ill go along with it. Will Kevin?
Wise old Pepe stalls for time, but Dolores is quick to act. She opts to liberate the foreigner, and with a glance at the throwaway panel, it’s easy to see why Kevin went along with her plan—for one night, anyway.
Kevin leaves, and gets lucky (again?), by bumping into Tom.
In a scene from the comics that would be shocking today, Diego awakens, and sexually harasses his caretaker. It’s kind of a textbook case of an interaction between a powerful man and a powerless female underling. It seems Inez has seen this sort of stuff before and deftly bats away Diego’s advances. Elsewhere, Kevin bravely stands sentinel.