Leaping Lizards, er, Lads!

Six episodes in, and so far two of Heather‘s crew have fallen into the drink. I wonder who’s next?

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Somewhere in Kreigh Collins’ morgue file, he had an image of a boy playing leapfrog. It was never referenced in “Mitzi McCoy,” but it appeared in Collins’ pre-NEA “Bible Picture Story Comics,” twice in “Kevin the Bold.” and at least once in “Water Lore,” above. Now that’s thrifty!

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From left: December 15, 1963; October 30, 1955; and c. 1946.

With the eighth episode of “Up Anchor!”, another recurring character was introduced—Kevin’s friend, Pedro. Pedro had been a mainstay in “Kevin the Bold,” he first appeared in 1958 and continued on and off until the very last episode, a decade later. While Kevin definitely changed when he transitioned between the two strips, Pedro remained essentially the same.

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Oho! It was Erik that somehow fell in—luckily Pedro was there to lend a hand. He also lets loose with what will become the big fella’s catchphrase.

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Waiting until late December to button up a boat for the winter would be ill-advised in Michigan, but if you factor in the three-month lead time that the production process of these episodes required, doing it in late September (when the artwork was inked) seems appropriate.

Collins also had the advantage of being able to photograph his sailboat in order to create reference images for use in his strip, and it looks like the photo below could have been used for the episode above. I’d guess the younger guy is my uncle Kevin.

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

Secret Weapon

Heather's Crew

Kreigh: “Teddy, let’s sail the Great Loop with the twins.” Teddy: “Wouldn’t that be grand!”

“Up Anchor!” was narrated by Jane Marlin, who was loosely based on Kreigh Collins’ wife, Theresa. “Teddy” also had a hand in writing the strip, and the the November 24, 1968 episode, she also pitched in a bit with the illustration. I clearly recognize the handwritten labels on the drawings Jane holds from her numerous cards and letters over the years (and there were plenty of years—she lived to be nearly 102!)

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Teddy definitely fit the idiom, “Behind every great man is a great woman.” After all, besides “the Skipper” and eight-year-old twins, she served as Heather‘s only crew during it’s year-long circuit of the 6,000-mile Great Loop. Made plain in the strip, traditional gender roles were largely held, so she was responsible for cooking, cleaning, and all the other typical roles of a mother. The original plan was to home-school (boat-school?) Kevin and Glen during the journey, so teacher could be added to the list, too. Of course, Teddy was used to adventuring with her husband—shortly after their 1929 wedding, they took a steamship to Europe and spent several months exploring the continent (mostly France). She chronicled the Great Loop journey in her diary, and later the material was published in an article that appeared in The World Of Comic Art. The late 1966 article was reprinted and used as part of an NEA promotional push, and some of this material was repurposed as “Up Anchor!” storylines.

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After a bit of self-deprecation, another educational tidbit was dished out regarding alcohol fires.

Generally, the content of “Water Lore” didn’t reflect the action in an episode of “Up Anchor!,” but the December 1, 1968 episode was an exception, with its focus on cooking. Personally, I don’t have a lot of memories of sailing aboard Heather, but I do recall touching her smokestack once and burning my hand.

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This wouldn’t be the last time Heather went aground.


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

I’d Rather Be Sailing

In late October of 1968, with the final episode of “Kevin the Bold,” our hero made good on something he’d been trying to do for years.

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The end of the trail found Kevin in his friend Pedro’s homeland, Spain, but if he was going to settle down, it would mean more than time travel—a change of scenery was also in the cards.

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A true measure of local renown is not needing to list a street address on one’s stationery.

Set on Lake Macatawa, in western Michigan (the same place Collins docked his boat, Heather), “Up Anchor!” was Kreigh Collins’ final NEA comic feature. It launched on November 3, 1968 and was an attempt to adapt to changing times—adventure strips like “Kevin the Bold” had fallen out of favor. His new strip was largely based on his family’s real-life experiences aboard their schooner, Heather—but plenty of license was taken with the plot.

The tone of the strip changed too, as it was narrated by Jane Marlin. Jane was loosely based on Kreigh’s wife, Theresa; “Teddy” helped develop the strip’s continuity, too. With “Up Anchor!,” Collins had finally figured out how to best deal with dreaded third-page reproductions of his artwork—he added a topper strip, “Water Lore.” (For the last few years of “Kevin,” the bottom tier of panels had been considered expendable—an example is shown at the top of this post). When the new strip ran as a tabloid, the smaller of the two “Water Lore” panels was the throwaway; when it ran in a one-third page format, the topper was lost.

While the tone of the strip was more modern than in “Kevin,” there are still some elements that now seem dated, such as a recurring theme of male chauvinism, and even an awkward joke about a black eye in the strip’s debut.

Nonetheless, with summer here, a voyage under sail sounds wonderful.

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The debut introduced the characters, or crew—in addition to Jane and Kevin (remember, this was supposed to be the same character as from the previous strip), we meet the couple’s sons, Erik and Dave. In real life, Erik was my father and David is my uncle, and their little brothers are Kevin and Glen. Once again, Glen seems to have gotten short-changed, but maybe this was fine with him. For what it’s worth, Glen bears a much stronger physical resemblance to his father than his brothers.

Most of the examples I have are third-pages, but I have recreated the full illustrations with the help of black and white online downloads.

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A rather central component of the strip was education, and it wasn’t just relegated to the topper.

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This post has some pretty sweet examples of “Water Lore,” particularly the one above dealing with radar’s precursor, and the November 10 example even previews the following week’s edition.

As the episodes themselves indicate, “Continued next week.”


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

 

Book Report

I am happy to announce that “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, the Complete Mitzi McCoy,” is now available directly from me. Upon its 2018 publication, the book was exclusively available on the publisher’s web site. However, some people experienced problems with order fulfillment (including me!)—this was heartbreaking! After all, this project was a labor of love, and after having invested so much time in it, hearing about this situation was particularly vexing—I couldn’t do anything about it.

Mitzi cover final

Because I now have a small inventory of the books, I am offering them for sale—with the promise that orders will be processed as quickly as possible. The cost per book is $30. For domestic shipping, I am charging $4; for international orders, shipping costs $25. To place an order, email me at BrianEdwardCollins1[at]gmail.com, and I will give you PayPal or Venmo information.

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 Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, 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.


Also available!

Kevin the Bold: Sunday Adventures, September 5, 1954 to June 2, 1957” contains over 140 episodes of this rollicking, witty and dramatic lost Sunday comics classic! With elegant artwork and smart storytelling by creator Kreigh Collins, KEVIN THE BOLD blends swordplay, suspense, humor and history in a rugged, highly appealing blend! Sourced from rare syndicate proofs and are reproduced in crisp black and white, the volume contains 14 complete story arcs. (Please note: three of the book’s 145 episodes were scanned from Sunday comics).

Kevin the Bold: Sunday Adventures, September 5, 1954 to June 2, 1957” is available on Amazon.


Coming Soon!

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I have recently learned that a collection of “Kevin the Bold” episodes is forthcoming in a series of two volumes published by comics luminary Anders Hjorth-Jørgensen of Denmark.

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“Kevin den Tapre” (Kevin the Brave) appeared in the weekly Danish magazine “Hjemmet” throughout the 1950s, first in color, then in black and white; these comics are the source material of what will be reprinted by Mr. Hjorth-Jørgensen’s publishing company, Forlaget desAHJn.

I will post further information on these books when it becomes available.


Podcast on the Making of “The Complete Mitzi McCoy”

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To learn more about Kreigh Collins, MITZI MCCOY, and how my recent book on Mitzi came together, listen to the interview I did with John Siuntres: “Anatomy of a Comic Strip,” from his long running pop culture audio podcast, Word Balloon.


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

Tamper; Tantrum

Two rivals vie for Lady Goodly’s affections, yet she only has eyes for another.

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Kevin is trapped, and has only a risky escape plan.

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The Duke takes the bait, Kevin plays possum, and Percival?

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Percival came through in the clutch. Here are the sequence’s final two episodes in color, as third-pages; I don’t have a color example from June 25, 1961.


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

 

Sidling Up

Like other cartoonists, Kreigh Collins looked to his family and friends when it came to naming characters, but sometimes the comic strip characters’ names came first. “Kevin the Bold” debuted several months before Collins’ son Kevin was born, and Kevin’s ward Brett appeared about nine years before my brother made the scene.

I’ve always wondered what my uncle Glen (Kevin’s twin) thought of the title of his father’s best-known strip—at least two characters named Glen eventually appeared, but they didn’t have large rolls. And while Brett played a major part, I always thought it would be nice if  there was a character named Brian.

In a case of “be careful what you wish for,” eventually a Brian appeared—he was a misogynistic cad. Appearing a few years before I was born, It’s not like I was named for him, but couldn’t his name have been spelled with a “Y”? This guy is especially onerous.

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A black-hearted rogue, indeed! (What is especially galling to me was that the Duke’s bad behavior was in the name of procuring a birthday gift, and this episode ran on my birthday).

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I guess I’m not the only one being overly sensitive, the Duke also seems a bit prickly.

Perhaps curious only to me, but in the two panels after the throwaway, the movement Kevin is making can only be described as “sidling.” Not commonly represented in comics—or anywhere, really—the only place I ever remember hearing the word is in this 1965 Johnny Cash A-side. A shame—it’s a great word!

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Here are the first two episodes in color, as third-pages; I don’t have a color example from June 18, 1961.


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

 

Setting a Snare

With his vast experience dealing with both dastards and the downtrodden, Kevin is a quick judge of character. Upon meeting meek Percival Southwick, he must have sensed something in him—and he must have seen something in the character of the Duke of Duval, as well. Kevin decides to make a man of Percival, which he’d done before—a decade earlier with Prince Rupert. Therein lies my beef with new writer Jay Heavilin—in his first credited story, he’s already rehashing old plot devices…

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…Kevin is also back to playing matchmaker, but his clever plot is uncovered.

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Kevin’s first lesson on manliness is interrupted, and things escalate quickly.

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Here are the three episodes in color, as third-pages.


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

 

Changing of the Guard

As the battle intensifies and the zaniness builds, the story arc reaches its conclusion. Here, “having sport with cheeses” means knocking the fire brigade from the rigging.

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The only way this could be better was if it was flaming cheese (a Detroit favorite).

An interesting detail in the April 23, 1961 episode above is how the strip’s logo is partially obscured  by Grommet’s monstrous ship. By the next Sunday’s comic, the old logo will have disappeared, replaced by a new one, and accompanied by the byline, “Story by Jay Heavilin.” While this new chapter carries over a couple of characters from the one that preceded it, the tone of the comic strip’s narrative changes.

After begging her father to accompany Kevin to England, Elsa and her mother set off on the journey across the North Sea with him. Allowing his wife and daughter to make the crossing in Kevin’s small boat—Kevin obviously made quite an impression Mr. Van Loo.

Meanwhile, in London, King Henry meets young Percival Southwick, and quickly sizes him up.

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The new logo was enlarged slightly for the May 7, 1961 episode, below, and looks great—its proportions work quite nicely with the amount of vertical space provided by a single tier of panels. A taller logo meant it took up more real estate horizontally, and apparently Collins didn’t like the tradeoff. As far as I can tell, the logo would always appear at the smaller size going forward.

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Here are the three episodes in color, as third-pages.


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

 

Drough Sabotage

The good news is that there aren’t any newspaper.com images this week; the bad news is that one of the BW proofs was “embellished.” But the good news is that whoever did it, did a pretty nice job. (Maybe I’ll take credit for this one, LOL)

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Kevin is up to some of his usual antics, climbing aboard an enemy’s ship, disabling a bad guy and using their clothes as a disguise. He has one more trick up his sleeve.

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In a couple of episodes from years past, Kreigh Collins showed how a sea anchor was used in order to stabilize a boat in the midst of a storm. In this case, Kevin used one as a brake, in order to slow the progress of Grommet’s monstrous ship. This bought some time for Kevin and the townsfolk time to implement a defensive plan—using fire arrows and… WHAT was the other thing?! (Fire arrows were another device Collins had used in the past, but I don’t recall any other instances of cheese ordnance).

I wonder if my grandfather ever needed to use a drough on his own sailboat—sea anchors loomed large enough that I can recall my father describing their use to me when I was young.

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The drough/drogue/sea anchor also was featured in the topper “Water Lore” for Collins’ final NEA comic, “Up Anchor!”

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Here are the three episodes in color, as third-pages.

 


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

 

Premature Celebration

Kevin finally arrives to warn the local officials of Grommet’s nefarious scheme.

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All together now, a polder is land reclaimed from the sea! This WILL be on the test!

The explosion has destroyed the dyke, and the Van Loo family struggles to stay afloat among the flotsam. The panel in the lower left corner shows poor Elsa and her little dog (modeled after the Collins family’s former spaniel, Inky) struggling.

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While Kevin has saved Elsa, he also seems to have broken her heart.

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As Grommet prematurely celebrates, Kevin boldly confronts him.

Here are the three episodes in color, as third-pages.

And here are a couple of Collins’ other renderings of Inky, from the 1930s.

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