“Water Lore” was the topper strip Kreigh Collins created for his third NEA comic, “Up Anchor!” The comic generally ran as a one-third page, so the topper was rarely seen in print. Until recently, I had only seen “Water Lore” when I’d come across Collins’ original illustrations for the comic, or in the handful of “Up Anchor!” syndicate proofs in my collection.
I recently acquired some half-page examples of “Up Anchor!” and have now seen its topper in print, and in color.
Collins had long hated the one-third page format in which most newspapers were running “Kevin the Bold,” and when the suits at the NEA convinced Collins to retire “Kevin” and replace it with something more contemporary, he utilized the topper so his panels wouldn’t get cropped and shrunken. In cases where it ran as a four-tiered tabloid comic, the second topper panel would be eliminated.
The “Water Lore” toppers occasionally had dates inscribed in them, indicating they may have been intended as stand-alone single panel comics. Collins often illustrated and wrote articles for consumer sailing magazines, perhaps they were the intended market.
More commonly, they were undated.
For more information on the career of Kreigh Collins, visit his page on Facebook.