Mackinac Island

After making a couple jokes about cars and drivers in previous episodes, it should come as little surprise that Heather’s destination was Mackinac Island, noted for being completely free of automobiles. However, there are other ways to get around the island, as Erik and Dave soon discover.

Coming ashore meant becoming reacquainted with civilization—for better or worse.

In the sequence’s final episode, it accurately portrays how the artist Kreigh Collins continued working as he plied the water—his mail was forwarded to Post Offices along their route, and Collins continued to send and receive artwork along the way. The episode ends with another blow against the cliche of the pampered life of a sailor.

A nice personal touch to the March 30, 1969 is the name of the Erik’s girlfriend—Judy. Erik and Judy were the names of my parents.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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

Launch Time

Apologies for this week’s meager selection of color comics—my collection is a bit spotty as far as “Up Anchor!” episodes are concerned—but going forward in this chapter, things will brighten up considerably.

As the Marlin family gets ready to launch their boat, they first have to deal with on-shore know-it-alls. Luckily, sailing is a team effort, and that includes putting obnoxious folks in their proper place, done this time by Jane Marlin. Jane was loosely based on my Gramma Teddy, and one thing the two shared was an inability to mince words.

In the “Water Lore” topper, Kevin and Jane Marlin make a rare appearance (possibly the only time this happened).

With the boat finally launched, there is rigging and provisioning to be done before setting sail.

In the fifth panel, where Kevin points to the nautical chart, it also shows where my family was going to relocate, a few months after this episode was published. We moved from Ann Arbor, Michigan (near the lower part of mitten-like Michigan’s “thumb”), to Fredonia, New York when I was just shy of five years old.

It’s a shame that I don’t have a color version of the February 9, 1969 episode—it features a couple of strategically-placed bathing beauties modeling some of the season’s finest swimsuit apparel. It also features a character who offers an explanation of why Collins and his family spent so much time on their boat during the summer.

Continued next week…

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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

Maiden Voyage

Looks like a relatively warm spring day to get Heather ready.

With Memorial Day approaching, so too is the traditional start of sailing season. This usually means having already done prep work in chilly conditions. In order to extend the season, Kreigh Collins liked to launch early. Kevin Marlin was in the same boat — literally — they both sailed aboard Heather.

While the photo above shows skipper Collins 10 years after he purchased his schooner, the “Up Anchor!” chapter starting today was just the second one in the strip’s 3.5-year run. It starts with Pedro showing off a small fiberglass boat he’s peddling, which must have appealed to Kreigh — maintaining a 40-year-old, wooden 40-footer required quite a bit of elbow grease! No doubt the Collinses worked up a sweat, even in chilly spring weather.

Not only did Kevin and Kreigh sail the same boat, but they had the same kitchen, too. (The opening panel in the episode below is a rendering of the tiny kitchen in Kreigh’s own Ada, Michigan home).

Featuring a family’s adventures living aboard a sailboat, “Up Anchor!” was unique, and while it promoted the growing hobby of pleasure boating, it fought against the stereotype of it being a glamorous sport solely for the wealthy.

Continued next week…

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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

Leaping Lizards, er, Lads!

Six episodes in, and so far two of Heather‘s crew have fallen into the drink. I wonder who’s next?

UA 121568 150 HA qcc

Somewhere in Kreigh Collins’ morgue file, he had an image of a boy playing leapfrog. It was never referenced in “Mitzi McCoy,” but it appeared in Collins’ pre-NEA “Bible Picture Story Comics,” twice in “Kevin the Bold.” and at least once in “Water Lore,” above. Now that’s thrifty!

Leapfrog x3

From left: December 15, 1963; October 30, 1955; and c. 1946.

With the eighth episode of “Up Anchor!”, another recurring character was introduced—Kevin’s friend, Pedro. Pedro had been a mainstay in “Kevin the Bold,” he first appeared in 1958 and continued on and off until the very last episode, a decade later. While Kevin definitely changed when he transitioned between the two strips, Pedro remained essentially the same.

UA 122268 150 HA qcc

Oho! It was Erik that somehow fell in—luckily Pedro was there to lend a hand. He also lets loose with what will become the big fella’s catchphrase.

UA 122968 HA 150 qcc C-BW

Waiting until late December to button up a boat for the winter would be ill-advised in Michigan, but if you factor in the three-month lead time that the production process of these episodes required, doing it in late September (when the artwork was inked) seems appropriate.

Collins also had the advantage of being able to photograph his sailboat in order to create reference images for use in his strip, and it looks like the photo below could have been used for the episode above. I’d guess the younger guy is my uncle Kevin.

Heather cradle Apr 67 r 150


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

Secret Weapon

Heather's Crew

Kreigh: “Teddy, let’s sail the Great Loop with the twins.” Teddy: “Wouldn’t that be grand!”

“Up Anchor!” was narrated by Jane Marlin, who was loosely based on Kreigh Collins’ wife, Theresa. “Teddy” also had a hand in writing the strip, and the the November 24, 1968 episode, she also pitched in a bit with the illustration. I clearly recognize the handwritten labels on the drawings Jane holds from her numerous cards and letters over the years (and there were plenty of years—she lived to be nearly 102!)

UA 112468 HA 150 qcc C-BW

Teddy definitely fit the idiom, “Behind every great man is a great woman.” After all, besides “the Skipper” and eight-year-old twins, she served as Heather‘s only crew during it’s year-long circuit of the 6,000-mile Great Loop. Made plain in the strip, traditional gender roles were largely held, so she was responsible for cooking, cleaning, and all the other typical roles of a mother. The original plan was to home-school (boat-school?) Kevin and Glen during the journey, so teacher could be added to the list, too. Of course, Teddy was used to adventuring with her husband—shortly after their 1929 wedding, they took a steamship to Europe and spent several months exploring the continent (mostly France). She chronicled the Great Loop journey in her diary, and later the material was published in an article that appeared in The World Of Comic Art. The late 1966 article was reprinted and used as part of an NEA promotional push, and some of this material was repurposed as “Up Anchor!” storylines.

UA 120168 HA 150 qcc C-BW

After a bit of self-deprecation, another educational tidbit was dished out regarding alcohol fires.

Generally, the content of “Water Lore” didn’t reflect the action in an episode of “Up Anchor!,” but the December 1, 1968 episode was an exception, with its focus on cooking. Personally, I don’t have a lot of memories of sailing aboard Heather, but I do recall touching her smokestack once and burning my hand.

UA 120868 BH 130

This wouldn’t be the last time Heather went aground.


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

I’d Rather Be Sailing

In late October of 1968, with the final episode of “Kevin the Bold,” our hero made good on something he’d been trying to do for years.

KTB 102768 HA 150 qcc

The end of the trail found Kevin in his friend Pedro’s homeland, Spain, but if he was going to settle down, it would mean more than time travel—a change of scenery was also in the cards.

UA envelope 72

A true measure of local renown is not needing to list a street address on one’s stationery.

Set on Lake Macatawa, in western Michigan (the same place Collins docked his boat, Heather), “Up Anchor!” was Kreigh Collins’ final NEA comic feature. It launched on November 3, 1968 and was an attempt to adapt to changing times—adventure strips like “Kevin the Bold” had fallen out of favor. His new strip was largely based on his family’s real-life experiences aboard their schooner, Heather—but plenty of license was taken with the plot.

The tone of the strip changed too, as it was narrated by Jane Marlin. Jane was loosely based on Kreigh’s wife, Theresa; “Teddy” helped develop the strip’s continuity, too. With “Up Anchor!,” Collins had finally figured out how to best deal with dreaded third-page reproductions of his artwork—he added a topper strip, “Water Lore.” (For the last few years of “Kevin,” the bottom tier of panels had been considered expendable—an example is shown at the top of this post). When the new strip ran as a tabloid, the smaller of the two “Water Lore” panels was the throwaway; when it ran in a one-third page format, the topper was lost.

While the tone of the strip was more modern than in “Kevin,” there are still some elements that now seem dated, such as a recurring theme of male chauvinism, and even an awkward joke about a black eye in the strip’s debut.

Nonetheless, with summer here, a voyage under sail sounds wonderful.

UA 110368 Th 150 qcc C-BW

The debut introduced the characters, or crew—in addition to Jane and Kevin (remember, this was supposed to be the same character as from the previous strip), we meet the couple’s sons, Erik and Dave. In real life, Erik was my father and David is my uncle, and their little brothers are Kevin and Glen. Once again, Glen seems to have gotten short-changed, but maybe this was fine with him. For what it’s worth, Glen bears a much stronger physical resemblance to his father than his brothers.

Most of the examples I have are third-pages, but I have recreated the full illustrations with the help of black and white online downloads.

UA 111068 HA 150 QCC C-BW

A rather central component of the strip was education, and it wasn’t just relegated to the topper.

UA 111768 BH 130

This post has some pretty sweet examples of “Water Lore,” particularly the one above dealing with radar’s precursor, and the November 10 example even previews the following week’s edition.

As the episodes themselves indicate, “Continued next week.”


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

 

Land-Sea Rescue

Captain Smith has managed to get Elizabeth safely to his ship, but what about Kevin and Pedro?

KTB 100867 TH 300 qcc.jpg

A somewhat whimsical rescue plucks Kevin and Pedro from their perch atop the tower, but now the ship is aground. The sight of the two men swinging from the yard was likely dreamt up by Collins while sailing aboard his schooner Heather, and similar antics would appear in his next comic feature, “Up Anchor!,” which debuted a year later.

UA 032369 150 HA qcc

For Captain Smith and his crew, an abrupt and timely change of weather arrives.

KTB 101567 HA 150 qcc.jpg

The story arc concludes within the confines of the third-page format, but readers fortunate enough to see the half-page version are treated to a rather provocative question from Elizabeth—would Kevin finally get the girl?


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

Vanishing Harbor Gates

Expecting a fight, Kevin is in for a surprise.

KTB 080667 HA 150 qcc.jpg

While half-page examples of “Kevin the Bold” are obviously preferable to any other format, it is interesting to see how the strip appeared in other configurations. As in earlier examples, tabloid versions excised a single panel, but in these latter-day episodes, the throwaway wasn’t a small panel in the second tier but a larger one from the bottom.

KTB 080667 ret qcc.jpg

Because so many newspapers were running third-page examples of the comic strip, Collins began producing his layouts so that the entire third tier could be deleted. The benefit was that his artwork wouldn’t suffer from having all of its panels cropped, but the drawback was obvious. For this post’s first episode, this would be quite unfortunate. For the following pair of episodes, the results wouldn’t be quite as tragic—but a key plot element’s concise description would be lost.

KTB 081367 HA 150 qcc.jpg

KTB 081367 TH 150 qcc

Lightly showing through the third-page above is another NEA feature, Jim Berry’s “Berry’s World.” Berry and Collins were friends; Kreigh was gifted a signed original. Its date is unknown, but its subject (president Lyndon B. Johnson) makes it about the same vintage as these episodes of “Kevin.”

Berry's World.jpg

The August 20, 1967 episode revisits the workings of the harbor’s pontoon gates.

KTB 082067 HA 150 qcc.jpg

KTB 082067 TH 150 qcc

A year later, when “Kevin” morphed into “Up Anchor!”, this problem would be solved more diplomatically. Instead of an expandable third tier, a topper strip (“Water Lore”) would appear. While this solution had less effect on the presentation of the feature comic, it resulted in very few papers running “Up Anchor!” as a half page.

UA 121568 150 HA qcc


Need a great holiday gift idea?

I think you’d be hard pressed to find a more charming collection of Golden Age comics than The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins: The Complete Mitzi McCoy. 

Drawn and scripted by Kreigh Collins, Mitzi McCoy showcased the artist’s skill as an illustrator and storyteller. His picturesque landscapes, lovely character designs, and thrilling action sequences brimmed with detail and charm, and the strip’s ensemble cast rotated in and out of the spotlight taking turns as protagonists in the dozen story arcs collected in this volume. The last story collected here is the narrative bridge that set Collins and his characters off on a new journey, beautifully told for the next couple of decades in the much-lauded adventure strip Kevin the Bold.

Edited and restored by the artist’s grandson, Brian E. Collins, with an introduction by Eisner Award-winning author Frank M. Young, an Afterword by comics columnist Ed Catto, and a new tribute illustration of Mitzi by Butch Guice

Available HERE from Lost Art Books.

Mitzi cover final


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

Facing the Storm

Kevin manages to escape with the drugged prince, but when he comes to, Rupert’s confusion quickly changes to fear.

KTB 113052 HF 150 QCC

The November 30 and December 7 episodes are beautifully-printed examples Chicago Sunday Tribune, but Rupert’s fear is somewhat overstated in the second panel below, with his overly worried expression and his jaundiced complexion—indeed, he is yellow.

KTB 120752 HF 150 qcc

A casual reader might see Kevin or Rupert sailing the longboat into the ferocious storm, but what they were doing was trying to keep the boat’s bow pointed into the wind until the storm blew over. A quick check of the term “broach” yields the rightfully scary-sounding definition “[broaching] can cause the boat to enter a death roll… and if not controlled may lead to a capsize or pitchpole and turning turtle.” Knowing how to utilize a sea anchor is useful information to a sailor, and events in “Kevin the Bold” called for the device every four or five years.

ktb-112457-hf-200-qcc

November 24, 1957

KTB 040961 TH 150 qcc.jpg

April 9, 1961

I’m sure a sea anchor is mentioned once or twice in Collins’ final NEA comic strip, “Up Anchor!” I also remember my father describing them while we sailed together—I guess they were part of regular conversation in the Collins household.

KTB 121452 HF 150 qcc.jpg

Meanwhile, things are grim in Lutenberg, and as Kevin and Rupert approach England, Kevin ponders how to help the young prince overcome his fears.

 


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

Late Themes

As they sailed away from the New World, Kevin began telling Saigen the story of Robin Hood. While having an adult narrate a story to a youth was a familiar trope for Collins, what was different was the appearance of the comic strip’s logo. A longbow and a quiver of arrows replaced the usual rapier and pistol, Robin Hood’s hat rested on the suit of armor’s helmet, and a chapter heading of sorts, “A Story of Robin Hood” was inscribed at the top.

The October 17, 1965 episode serves as an introduction for the chapter’s new characters.

KTB 101765 HA 150 qcc.jpg

The only previous time the comic strip’s logo changed was on April 23, 1961. Ten years into its run, the familiar blocky KEVIN logo adorned with a claymore and shield was replaced by a more elegant version featuring new weapons and an uncial-style font more appropriate for an Irishman. In fact, in its final appearance in print, the old logo is half-obscured by an enormous Spanish galleon, a portent of its imminent departure. The new logo coincided with the onset of Jay Heavilin‘s 13-month stint as writer for the comic strip.

KTB 042361 TH 150 QCC.jpg

Yes, those are balls of cheese being used for ammunition!

KTB 043061 TH 150 QCC.jpg

A year later, the logo was modified again, this time just by adding the new chapter’s title, “Story of the Norman Conquest.” While the historical timeline  in “Kevin the Bold” can be a bit difficult to follow—the first episode takes place at the end of the 15th century while the final one is dated 1668, about 175 years later—setting the action during the Norman Invasion of Ireland (c. 1170) required a different approach. Here Kevin’s ancestor (also named Kevin) is featured. Making this flashback less confusing to casual readers, the two Kevins appear identical, except for the ancestor being blond.

KTB 111366 HA 150 qcc.jpg

Another point of departure is the ancestor’s willingness to chase after women, something later-day Kevin eschews. However, the episode that ran two weeks later portrays the two Kevins as essentially the same character.

KTB 112766 HA 150 2 qcc.jpg

The final time the comic strip’s logo was altered was for one its last sequences, “A True Story of Captain John Smith.” Following this chapter, only four more appeared before the comic strip morphed into Kreigh Collins’ final NEA feature, “Up Anchor!”

Oddly, the July 16 episode introducing the sequence is not labelled as “A True Story of Captain John Smith,” but the 14 comics that follow are. Perhaps adding the title was a late decision made by the NEA, and the fact that it is typeset, rather than hand-lettered, lends credence to the theory.

KTB 071667 HA 150 qcc.jpg

Another familiar trope is the damselle in distress! Not that I’m complaining, mind you.

KTB 1967 07.23 qcc

Nearly all the original art for the final three years of KEVIN THE BOLD  is found in a collection at Syracuse University. The July 23 episode is an exception. (I found this image online).

KTB 073067 HA 150 qcc.jpg


How Many Different Logos Were Featured in MITZI McCOY?

That question and more can be answered by picking up a copy of “The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, Vol. 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy.” It features a wonderful introductory essay by Eisner Award-winner Frank M. Young and is available here.

Mitzi cover final


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