Yolo, Part 1

Following a week-long promotional blitz (see December 6, 2015 post), “Mitzi McCoy” finally launched in the Grand Rapids Press, Kreigh Collins’s local paper. It appeared on Saturdays, running in black and white as a one-third pager. The timing was a bit awkward as plans were already in place for “Mitzi” to transition into “Kevin the Bold.” Nonetheless, appearing in an additional newspaper meant more revenue for Collins.

The promotional ads promised adventure, dramatic artwork and eye appeal and Kreigh delivered on all counts (and then some). The strip’s last full sequence featured Yolo, a Moroccan beauty who was headed to Hollywood. As the Yolo character is introduced, editor Stub Goodman is taking his car in to the shop.

Tellingly, Stub’s mechanic lives “way out in Ada,” the town in which Kreigh Collins had built his home. These two comics served as a light-hearted, humorous transition between the thrilling conclusion of the previous sequence (The Counterfeiters, in which Stub’s old hot rod had taken quite a beating) and the drama that was yet to come in the next ten comics.

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A cute detail in the fourth panel of the July 8 comic shows a puppy sitting by Tiny’s side and looking on in admiration. The July 15 comic has an appearance by Clancy, a recurring policeman character whom has taken exception to Stub’s driving.

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On the Hard

Plenty of action and adventure lay behind; a proposed ocean crossing promised further excitement ahead. Once home, the Marlins reunited with their old friend Pedro, who almost seems to have anticipated Heather’s upcoming journey. These comics ran November 14, 21 and 28, 1971. With only 13 more “Up Anchor” comics to come before Kreigh Collins retired, it seems doubtful that Heather ever made it to Europe.

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Pedro is a character with a familiar face. As with other characters Kreigh illustrated, his doppelgänger was a friend of Kevin Marlin in his earlier incarnation as Kevin the Bold. Whereas Kevin has aged from one comic strip to the next, Pedro has not. Maybe Pedro’s secret is the Italian beautician’s powder.

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(KTB from December 28, 1958)

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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Homeward Bound

When Kreigh Collins scuttled “Kevin the Bold” and launched “Up Anchor,” he had a fresh start with a new theme. After nearly 20 years of Kevin’s 15th-century exploits, the action was now set in the 20th century. Most of it took place aboard Heather, with a fictionalized version of his family serving as crew.

Much of what was depicted in the new comic was inspired by events the Collinses experienced while cruising the Great Lakes and beyond. In 1966, Heather returned to her home port after a nearly two-year absence. Much of the journey was chronicled in a series of ten articles that appeared in the Grand Rapids Press, much the way blog posts are written today. The articles were illustrated by Kreigh and written by wife Theresa. Later, the articles were adapted into a narrative, “The Wake of the Heather,” which appeared in The World of Comic Art, a trade journal. Eventually, the journey became the basis for one of the final sequences in “Up Anchor.”

Surviving newsprint copies of “Up Anchor” are not very common, but I as able to piece together nine consecutive comics from a variety of sources. There are black and white “silver print” proofs, color comics from the newspaper, and photograph of a piece of original art.

The action begins with the comic from October 3, 1971.

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Here is Theresa’s description of the foul weather as it originally appeared in “The Wake of the Heather:”

Nearing Buffalo, we passed through an impressive fruit belt with vast orchards on both sides. Here homes line the canal banks. We had been underway a month and it had rained only once. We reached the North Tonawanda boat yard just as one of the fiercest squalls we had ever experienced hit. The next morning the Heather was rigged, and by noon her masts were once more in place and she was ready to sail again.