After too many black and white episodes—eleven out of twelve, in case you lost count—the sequence wraps up with a couple of splashes of color.
Ponce and Snake, weakened by seasickness, can only watch as their nefarious plan unravels.
The story comes to a happy ending, with the messier details of the bad guys’ detainment left to the reader’s imagination. As the sequence transitions to a new chapter, my eye is caught by the action in the background of the second panel.
Young Dave is playing leapfrog (jumping over Heather’s boom?). The pose—used by Collins numerous times over the years—always makes me wonder of the whereabouts of the original illustration used as its source.
It first appeared in an episode of BIBLE STORIES COMICS (far right, c. 1944) and then twice in KEVIN THE BOLD (October 30, 1955 and December 15 1963). Collins used it another time in UP ANCHOR!’s seventh episode (December 15, 1968), when it popped up in the topper strip, “Water Lore.”
It’s a shame Dick Dixon never busted the move in MITZI McCOY!
Barracuda Key is a real place, located about nine miles west of Key West, Florida. In 1959–60, My grandparents sailed to Florida (via the Mississippi River and New Orleans), but not as far south as the Keys. However, visiting the chain of islands was likely on their original itinerary, which included sailing to the Bahamas, as per a profile that appeared in the Chicago Tribune’s Sunday Magazine.
Ironically, their plans changed due to a downturn in Kreigh Collins’ business affairs—as the 1950s drew to a close, the Tribune dropped KEVIN THE BOLD from its stable of comic strips.
While Barracuda Key is real, the story told here with Ponce and Snake (and Dr. Estella Mosa) is obviously fiction.
Jane Marlin sees her husband off at the dock, seemingly not worried about the pretty crew member joining Kevin and Pedro. But she has cause for concern—and it’s not Estella, the blonde PhD chartering Heather.
In UP ANCHOR!’S topper strip, WATER LORE, Kreigh Collins incorporated all sorts of nautical trivia, instructional information, and historical tidbits. When UP ANCHOR! appeared in its third-page format, the topper solved the problems caused by cropped panels, by serving as a throwaway. When running as a tabloid, only the larger panel appeared, filling the entire fourth tier of the comic. Generally, the subject of the topper strip wasn’t related to the feature at all (here, ice boats vs. sailing in the Gulf of Mexico).
Much of the information was recycled from or related to various former projects. For instance, a child-sized ice boat project was featured in a book Collins wrote and illustrated 30+ years earlier, called “Tricks, Toys and Tim.” (I highly recommend the book, if you can find a copy).
As Pedro looks for a snack, he is shocked to discover the damage caused by the saboteurs. And in this case, the subject of WATER LORE, a sinking schooner, is directly related to the events in the feature.
The resourceful skipper quickly comes sup with a plan to patch the holes, and the crisis is averted.
Occasionally, WATER LORE featured boating safety, essentially functioning like a Public Service Announcement. Somehow, I’m reminded of this strange PSA. It warns of the dangers propane can present on boats (and features an extremely spacious galley for a boat of the size shown at the end of the clip).
Kreigh’s wife Theresa wasn’t afraid to boil a kettle on a boat—here she is enjoying a spot of tea aboard Heather.
However, the cooking done on Heather was done safely using an alcohol stove more typical for a boat built in the 1920s.
It’s interesting to see “whistle bait” appear in the dialog (third panel)—that was the name of a song written in 1958 by 13-year-old Larry Collins of the Collins Kids. (Sadly—no relation). It’s 95 seconds of rockabilly heaven, and is arguably the first punk rock record ever. To my ears, it’s astonishing, but it’s impact is diminished by not being accompanied by live footage. To see the Collins Kids live, check out Hoy Hoy. Still don’t believe me? “They’re lip synching!”—then check out this live performance. Besides all that energy, Larry’s got some skills! He later earned a co-writing credit for a worldwide #1 hit, Helen Reddy’s Delta Dawn… but that’s a story for another blog.
Sailing has always been a popular hobby in my family. My grandfather owned a succession of boats, and for a number of years, so did my father. My dad was also fond of “improving” existing sailboat designs—using tracing paper and a pencil to refine designs seen in sailing magazines. He also built numerous small wooden craft, always starting with a scale model made from balsa wood. When I was in high school I recall him asking to use my scientific calculator to determine sail displacement/length ratios.
Uncle Kevin has had a boat for most of his adult life; he plies the waters of Lake Michigan each summer. As for my generation, the sailing bug didn’t bite me so hard—I’ve never owned a boat but am happy to be part of a crew. On the other hand, my brother (Brett), a boat-owning sailing enthusiast, recently arrived in the Virgin Islands to charter a 50-foot catamaran with some friends. Accordingly, I thought now would be a good time to switch things up and feature a chapter from my grandfather’s final NEA comic strip, UP ANCHOR!
With a release date of September 11, 1953, TOM MIX Nr. 1 was the first of 18 comic books to carry the Swedish version of KEVIN THE BOLD (ROLAND DEN DJÄRVE). As hyped on the cover, the issues ran in color (mostly!) The covers were nicely printed on slightly heavier paper stock than the interior pages; oddly, the inside front and back covers only ran in black and white. The 6-3/4″ x 10-3/16″ comic book is 36 pages long.
This repackaged version (ROLAND) appeared about three years after KEVIN’s initial newspaper run, and wasn’t the first time Kreigh Collins’ comics appeared in Sweden. Nine months earlier, the weekly magazine Allas Veckotidning started running episodes of ROLAND DEN DJÄRVE.
TOM MIX Nr. 1 was part of a wonderful gift from my friend Roger—18 comic books spanning ROLAND’s complete run. Having previously seen the 17th comic book in the series, I was familiar with UGH, the silent comic appearing on the inside front cover (I think it’s growing on me?) Facing it is an introduction modeled after a newspaper’s front page. This is immediately followed by the title comic, TOM MIX (possibly illustrated by Carl Pfeufer).
After the four TOM MIX spreads, a new feature is introduced—along with a contest. I wasn’t able to make out much of the text, and page 12 is very nicely composed, but what caught my eye were the illustrations on page 13, done by an unknown Swedish artist.
Roger graciously translated the text—page 12 reads as follows:
Giant Tom Mix competition Hail, noble knight! All brave and courageous men who can wield a two-handed sword as deftly as they wield their quill pen are invited to join my cruise! We intend to visit unknown shores, inhabited by heathens and Moors far away from our Ireland. Strange adventures await… We will reach ten different coasts on the journey, which you can follow in our cartoon log book. Unfortunately, our scribe is an uneducated chap and doesn’t know the names of all the places we sail past. Therefore, it is up to you to guess where each stage ends, guided by our drawings and scant text. If you manage to win one or more stages, you may travel to Ireland, my home country, and spend a week among my relatives on “The Green Island”! The first stage begins on the next page. Where did we get to on our first leg? Welcome aboard! Roland
Page 13 includes the contest’s questions:
Cruising with Roland
First log book sheet 1. Autumn had arrived in Ireland. All stores were on board when rain and windstorms whipped off the trees’ golden leaves, forming a thick carpet on the deck the day we sailed from the island of our birth.
The trip has now been going on for a week. A storm forced us to seek shelter yesterday. We did not understand the language of the local people. We were passing the southern tip of the country. A high rock island.
Shortly after we sailed through the strait, we were attacked by pirates. They were dressed like Arabs.
Another week passed. We approached a country populated by heroic men and women.
Arab horsemen attacked us. We sailed away… Like Odysseus, muttered Roland. What was the country?
Submit your answer to “Cruising with Roland” before September 25!
Following the Roland den Djärve teaser spread were seven pages of BUFFALO BILL. Next up was ROLAND DEN DJÄRVE!
ROLAND’s seven pages were sourced from three original Sunday episodes, minus their throwaway panels. The illustrations were given new color schemes, and avoided the occasional two- or three-color treatments that appeared in some of the originals’ panels. The original episodes, as printed in the Chicago Sunday Tribune, can be found here. Interestingly, the action starts with the third KEVIN THE BOLD episode—I guess the first two are seen as a transition away from Collins’ first strip, MITZI McCOY.
Following ROLAND were seven pages featuring Lash LaRue, and on the inside back cover was a short story about Native Americans’ use of smoke signals called “The Prairie Telegraph.”
An ad promoting upcoming TOM MIX issues appeared on the back cover. Also mentioned were a series that would run on those future issues’ back covers, “Famous Men and their Accomplishments,” plus another mention of the ROLAND DEN DJÄRVE trip to Ireland contest (was this a real prize?!)
The ominous footsteps heard by Marie belong to none other than Jaques, the thuggish bodyguard she has chosen.
Well! That’s quite a twist on the old trope of the caveman clubbing a woman and dragging her back to his cave!
Marie’s fears are well-founded!
Jacques meets an unsavory end as the story concludes, and Saigen reappears as the audience for Kevin’s tale of the Norman Conquest, featuring his flaxen-haired ancestor.
The end of the chapter has arrived, but there are still 20 pages left in BIBLIOTEKA LALE — BROJ 174, most of which is filled with a military comic. I was curious to see who were the good guys and who was the enemy—after all, Yugoslavia was behind the iron curtain in 1968, when the comic book was published.
The series, apparently called “Partisan Ingenuity,” featured two episodes—the first of which was titled “Saboteur.” I had assumed the good guy was a Soviet soldier plotting against the Nazis. The saboteur was in fact a member of the Yugoslavian resistance. In real life, these partisans were led by Josip Broz Tito, who later became President of Yugoslavia. In the comic book, the saboteur is shown plotting against the fascists, and his mission is a smashing success. I was surprised to learn that Tito had in fact severed ties with Moscow in 1948, and by 1968, civic protests were erupting in cities, similar to what was happening in Paris and elsewhere. So, this comic basically served as nationalistic propaganda, much like Captain America and Sergeant Rock did in the USA.
The last couple of pages featured gag comics, and the back cover seemed to be hawking Disney product knock-offs.
Kevin and Marie have both experienced the sensation of love at first sight, but it’s complicated—Kevin thinks she has forsaken him.
Dealing with mixed emotions, Kevin makes his escape. (The panels from the Yugoslavian comic book are shown below).
Even as she watches her newfound infatuation bolt, Marie continues to help him.
Meanwhile, back in England, King Harold is unaware of the real danger he faces.
The December 11, 1966 episode is a wonderful example of Kreigh Collins’ skills as a cartoonist—the beautiful illustrations are filled with kinetic action and topped off with a historical tidbit found during his research of the subject matter.
The panel with the historical embroidery is also included in the Yugoslavian comic book.
Because the Yugolsavian comic book “BIBLIOTEKA LALE — BROJ 174” began with the third episode of the Norman Conquest chapter, some action at the beginning of the chapter is missing. And since the Norman Conquest story predates the action in KEVIN THE BOLD by a good five centuries, let’s back up a bit and take a look at the two omitted episodes to get a better handle on the events at the onset of the story arc.
The first several episodes (including the first two, below) used the standard KEVIN THE BOLD logo, but by the fourth episode, the title “Story of the Norman Conquest” was added just above the logo. The entire episode ran over 14 weeks, of which I have color 11 half-pags. Unfotunately, the opener is not one of them.
Poor Kevin Cardiff! The lad is out for a sail, dreaming of Saucy foreign gals, when a storm hits, his boat is ruined, and he is set upon by a couple of murderous thugs.
But the beautiful French of his dreams exists, and she quickly takes a shine to Kevin.
Lovely Marie certainly resembles Kevin the Bold’s first love, Moya McCoy, and the belle fille even steals a play from Moya’s playbook—with similarly disastrous results.
Sacrebleu! Marie is also taking fashion tips from Moya! I guess that green dress is timeless.