Surviving the Squall

Heather and crew managed to survive “a notorious Lake Erie black squall,” and despite the trauma, Jane Marlin has an idea for Heather’s next journey, which comes as quite a surprise. It seems her trip to the beauty parlor was quite rejuvenating.

Below are the comics that ran from October 24 until November 7, 1971. They are all silver prints, which Kreigh would receive from the NEA as a last chance for proofing before the comics were published. Some of the proofs he received were of better quality than others, but the nicer ones are almost as crisp as images of the original artwork. When “Up Anchor” appeared in print, it was almost always as a one-third page; the proofs have the bonus of including the topper strip “Water Lore.”

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With the storm behind them, skipper Kevin Marlin remembers an incident when a “lunatic gunman” tried to hijack Heather the last time they plied Lake Huron’s waters. That sequence is unfamiliar to me, but while surfing online I did come across the episode (August 10, 1969) from that chapter of “Up Anchor.”

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Metamorphosis 1 — By Popular Demand

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.

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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.

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An Original

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Original pieces of Kreigh Collins’s comic strip illustrations are quite amazing. They are large (drawn on 20 x 30″  illustration board), rich in detail, and interesting in other ways — corrected areas are readily apparent, stock elements are revealed to be pasted in, and instructions or notes are sometimes written in the margins. In the example shown above, Kreigh (my grandfather) personalized the illustration and gifted it to my other grandpa (“For Walt Palmer, May his trials be less than Kevin’s!”). Unfortunately, the art has a bit of wear and tear due to hanging on my brother’s bedroom wall through high school and college. He gets a pass as he shared a name with Kevin’s young ward — Brett accompanied Kevin on many of his adventures.

Originals can occasionally be found at auctions for a couple hundred dollars or so, depending on their condition. Another original I own was in quite nice shape when it was offered for sale about ten years ago. But by the time I won it on ebay in a later sale, its edges had been hacked down to fit into a cheap 18 x 24″ picture frame. I suppose its value has taken a hit, but I didn’t buy it as an investment. For me, it’s all about the family connection.

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Up Anchor!

After illustrating 100 episodes of “Mitzi McCoy” and nearly 1,000 of “Kevin the Bold,” Kreigh Collins decided to create a new semi-autobiographical strip featuring the adventures of a sailing family.

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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.

Collins is a sailor and for many years has skippered the family schooner Heather. Heather serves as a floating studio during the summer. Like most boaters, Kreigh started with a small sailing pram and graduated by degrees to the 47-foot Heather over a 30-year period. With Kreigh at the helm, Heather has plied the Great Lakes, the inland waterways of the mighty Mississippi, ridden out storms on the Gulf and found snug in Mystic, Conn. Home port is Ada, Mich.

The unique aspect of “Up Anchor” is that — unlike most Sunday comics — it is not fantasy. Kreigh conceived the idea for the strip on a family cruise. So the strip itself reflects real people in real situations.

Finding typical family situations afloat poses no problem for author Collins. Twin teen-age boys and wife Theresa (called Ted) provide a wealth of background for both the fun and serious sides of boating situations.

Through “Up Anchor,” Kreigh is trying to generate an appreciation of the sea, provide essential information for new converts to cruising pleasures — and, in fact, attract more people to this increasingly popular leisure time activity.

(from a promotional folder sent to newspapers upon the launch of “Up Anchor” in the fall of 1968).

UA 031570Above, “Up Anchor” from March 15, 1970.