In the final episode of “Kevin the Bold,” after saving yet another damsel in distress (and of course, an entire village), our hero is begged by a lovely señorita to settle down and stay in her now-peaceful valley. Kevin, whose last name (Marlin) has been revealed in a recent, prior episode, declines the offer from the Spanish beauty but admits he could imagine himself settling down on a boat in say, 300 years.
Abruptly, “Up Anchor” was launched a week later (November 3, 1968). As the NEA’s promotional literature put it, “Kreigh Collins’ credentials to create and draw ‘Up Anchor,’ America’s first color comic strip devoted to boating, are as bona fide as the burr on a thistle.” Narrated by first mate Jane Marlin, “Up Anchor” was based on experiences Collins had with his family cruising on his own sailboat. Aboard Heather with Jane were her husband (Kevin Marlin, remember him?), and sons Erik and Dave. The scripts were developed in partnership with Collins’ wife Theresa (“Teddy”), who had previously chronicled the family’s round-trip journey from their home port on Lake Michigan to Maine (Teddy’s “The Wake of the Heather” was published in 1967) .
Editor & Publisher, a newspaper industry trade magazine, announced in its August 26, 1950 issue that “Mitzi McCoy” was about to be taken over by a new character. According to NEA feature director Ernest “East” Lynn, jumping back nearly five centuries to this new lead character was without precedent in the comic business. With the comic strip’s new setting, Collins returned to the field in which he made an international reputation — the field of costume illustration.
E&P quoted Lynn, “It was the outgrowth of popular approval of two episodes in Mitzi McCoy, each of which gave the artist an opportunity to display his great flair for period art. The first was a story dealing with the history of the Irish wolfhound. The second, ‘The Christmas Story,’ told the story of the birth of Christ. In each instance Mr. Collins used the device of having Stub Goodman, one of the leading characters of Mitzi McCoy, narrate the story to a young boy, Dick Dixon. And in each instance fan mail greatly increased. Several editors urged period illustration on a regular basis.”
A month after the announcement, the final episode of “Mitzi” ran, the tale of the McCoy family legend.
The following Sunday (October 1, 1950), the action continued, but under a new shingle. It began with Kevin saving Mitzi’s ancestress, Moya McCoy. However, the focus soon shifted as Kevin left Moya (and Mitzi) behind. As penance for a wild youth, Kevin had pledged a fight against oppression wherever he found it. He waged his battle for the next eighteen years in the funny papers, until another major plot change occurred.