The Song of the Angels

These Bible Picture Stories appeared in childrens’ Sunday school publications, and it is interesting to me that this age-old story shows the shepherds complaining about an age-old problem (i.e., This town is so boring!). I’m sure the target audience could relate. However, things soon change…

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“The Story of Mary” continues for several more weeks, but this seems like an appropriate time to end this sequence.

Merry Christmas!

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The Story of Mary

Kreigh Collins had extensive experience with Biblical illustrations, and he used his expertise in the field on numerous occasions as a cartoonist. While the Christmas story never factored into an “Up Anchor!” sequence, it was featured in both of his other NEA-syndicated strips. However, it first appeared in his Bible Picture Stories for the Methodist Publishing House.

In advance of Christmas, here is a portion of “The Story of Mary,” from 1945.

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The Stoning of Stephen

In September, 1942, Kreigh Collins got a letter with some positive feedback on a job he did for one of his long-time clients, the Nashville-based Methodist Publishing House (MPH). In addition, the letter asked Kreigh to tackle a new project — illustrating a comic based on stories from the Bible.

An outline was included, and the editor’s instructions were purposefully vague (in order to give Collins plenty of leeway). A full page was requested, with six panels, featuring “as much action as a Superman comic.” The entire story was to be told in the characters’ speech balloons, with no explanatory captions.

A New York City publisher had started producing Bible comics, and they had approached the MPH to see if they would be interested in running them. If not, the New Yorkers planned to approach the Methodist Church directly. Not wanting to lose out on this business opportunity, the MPH turned to their favorite artist, Collins, and encouraged him to get right to work.

Three days later, in a letter accompanying his first sketch, Kreigh pointed out the difficulties of not using expository captions. Collins modified the outline in order to better set the scene, and added dialogue where appropriate. It also became apparent that the outline covered too much material for one comic. However, the suits at the MPH were pleased with the results, and after hiring a writer, the series began to take shape. The comic would appear in the weekly publication “Boys Today” and Collins would earn $75 per episode.

First dubbed “Pioneers of the Bible,” the series’ official title became “Stories from the Bible.” Work began in earnest for Collins in March, 1943, and by May he had finished the first nine comics. The editors were very pleased and felt the work far surpassed the perceived competition from New York. By July, the series had begun to generate fan mail.

The opening sequence was called “The Adventures of Paul the Apostle,” and the first comic told the story of the stoning of Stephen.

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An early “sketch” clearly shows that it was a work in progress, despite the startling level of finish. The series title was tentative, as were the dimensions the comic would have. This illustration was dated February 10–12, 1943.

 

 

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“Adventures of Paul the Apostle, Number 1” Final version

Next week, a seasonally-appropriate sequence will begin, “The Story of Mary.”

An Amazing Lad

As the sequence with Tim continues, a sweet vignette is shown. The boy quickly learns aspects of sailing with which he wasn’t already familiar, and shows he’s an asset, not a liability. But before the comic transforms into a PSA on inclusiveness, a villain appears on the horizon, and tension is created.

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As a cruising family, any time spent at a port is an opportunity to restock the galley. Given Tim’s limitations, the logical decision is made to leave him in charge of Heather while the family walks into town.

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While the motivations of the man who cut the barge loose weren’t discussed, Tim’s quick thinking saved Heather and himself, and provides an example of the sort of drama to be found while sailing.