More Lore

Because “Up Anchor!” ran for over three years, Kreigh Collins had to come up with quite a bit of material to fill the two topper panels of its 174 Sunday comics. All of this information needed to be fresh, but sometimes the accompanying illustrations required a bit of recycling.

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December 15, 1968

Say… that lad hopping over the tree stump looks familiar. Where have I seen that pose before?


At left, from the Methodist Publishing House’s Bible Picture Story Comics, is a young Jesus (1946); at right, Brett from “Kevin the Bold” (1955).

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Brett from “Kevin the Bold” (1963).

Back in the days before the internet, illustrators were wise to keep a “morgue,” where reference images were stored. These images came in handy for future assignments, and I’m unaware of a pose Collins copied more often than the boy playing leapfrog.

Here are some more examples of “Water Lore.”

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After three weeks of “Water Lore,” I am happy to say that I will be making a major announcement in next Sunday’s post.

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

Water Lore

“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.

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The May 17, 1970 episode is one of many pieces of Collins’ original art found in the collection of the Grand Rapids Public Library.

I recently acquired some half-page examples of “Up Anchor!” and have now seen its topper in print, and in color.

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The “Evening Chronicle” from Allentown, Pennsylvania was one of the few newspapers to run “Up Anchor!” as a half page comic.

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.

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More commonly, they were undated.

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

The Intracoastal

Generally, Kreigh Collins scripted all of his comics. “Up Anchor!” is narrated by wife Jane Marlin, and in fact, Kreigh’s wife Theresa (Teddy) collaborated on the writing and plot development of the strip.

Following the storm, the family is reunited, and repair work begins. Jane Marlin’s comment in the fifth panel (about never lacking things to tell her grandchildren) is something that resonates with me personally. Late in her life she shared an oral history about her life with my grandfather, and the document is a fascinating read about their history together.


The hurricane sequence transitions into a new story, and a new character is introduced. Although disabled, Tim proves to be more than capable as he gets a taste of his passion, boating.


Hurricane Hole

Much of the action in “Up Anchor!” was based on events experienced by Kreigh Collins and his family as they sailed aboard their 45-foot schooner, Heather. Artistic license was exercised — I doubt they encountered any hurricanes sailing north in late-spring of 1960. The following two sequences are based on this voyage.

These images come from Kreigh’s original illustrations, many of which are now in the collection of the Grand Rapids Public Library. The originals feature the topper strip “Water Lore,” which would periodically reflect the action in the main strip. When the comic appeared in broadsheet papers, it generally ran as a one-third page, and the topper was omitted. However, in tabloids, the topper would appear (although without its second panel, which served as a throwaway).


As the storm hits, Kevin and Jane Marlin realize that part of their crew is missing — younger son Dave has disappeared. In real life, Kreigh’s sons Erik and David were only two years apart, but in the comic the age difference is greater. This change helps differentiate them in the strip, and as Kevin heads out in search of the young boy, Erik helps by having already water-proofed a walky-talky. (As Erik’s son, I especially appreciate seeing this character’s smart moves).



In comic strip parlance, a topper is a small secondary strip seen along with a larger Sunday strip. These strips usually were positioned at the top of the page, but they sometimes ran beneath the main strip, as in “Water Lore,” Kreigh Collins’s topper for his third and final comic, “Up Anchor.”

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Times were changing in the 1960s — in the comic strip business, they were changing too, as space for comics continued to shrink. Fewer and fewer papers printed half-page comics, and Collins was frustrated by the way his artwork was cropped in order to squeeze into the smaller third-page format. When his new comic launched, he drew it as a one-third pager, and used the topper to fill out the half-page of space. If a paper ran it as a third, the topper was lost. Printed half-page versions of “Up Anchor” are very rare, so these days, the most likely place to see the “Water Lore” topper is on examples of the original artwork. 

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