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?

Leapfrog

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.

Happy Easter

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Unfortunately, I have never seen the remaining comics in the “Jesus in Jerusalem” series. This year, Easter falls on April Fool’s Day, and my apologies if this seems like a(nother) prank — last year, I had a little fun. Since the Easter story is so well-known, I hope the illustration above will be an acceptable stand-in for the missing Bible Stories Comics. The “Jesus in Jerusalem” series had perhaps nine more episodes before the action switched back to the Old Testament, and a series about Moses began, which ran over the course of an entire year (Wow! How long was he lost in the desert?!)

The Bible Stories Comics I have seen came from two sources — the Kreigh Collins collection in the Grand Rapids Public Library, and my Uncle Kevin’s collection of his father’s artwork. However, I know of another person with access to these comics, reportedly the entire series! The plan is that his company will publish the “Mitzi McCoy” book, and then issue a second volume on the “Lost Art of Kreigh Collins” featuring the Bible Stories Comics. Please stay tuned!


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

 

The Darkest Hour

The next three “Bible Picture Story” comics show Jesus’ final hours. Confronted by an angry mob and at the mercy of an ineffective and conflicted administrator, he is stoic as his fate unfolds.

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Although the narrative of Jesus’ crucifixion is likely one of the most famous stories ever, there is one unfortunate surprise ahead — as far as “Bible Picture Stories” are concerned.


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

Prophecy Fulfilled

Even though the subject matter of these “Bible Picture Stories” does not fully engage me, I find everything else very interesting. “Jesus in Jerusalem No. 13” has expressive character illustrations, relatable colloquial language, and the final two panels are wonderful. The style is quite similar to the prototype comic Kreigh Collins developed for the NEA, which evolved into “Mitzi McCoy.” (No big surprise, as it was illustrated at about the same point in time as these Bible comics).

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To my eye, No. 14 doesn’t have quite the appeal of the previous comic, but the mood comes across very effectively, as Jesus’ fate hangs in the balance. No. 15 is another marvel. (“Insurrection!” and an raised eyebrow “AWK” — I love it!) It also features a nice variety of perspectives and facial expressions.

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

Boys (and Girls) Today

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Mrs. Stephen Collins was Kreigh’s mother Nora. 

Before his comics career took off with the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA), Kreigh Collins spent about eight years freelancing for the Methodist Publishing House of Nashville, Tennessee. Collins got his start with the MPH writing and illustrating stories for the Sunday School publications Boys Today and Girls Today. As described in an earlier post, he was eventually asked to illustrate stories from the Bible in comic strip form, and this project became known as “Bible Picture Stories.”

Source material for these weekly Bible comics came from both the Old and New Testaments. The first few years featured extended sequences on Paul, Joseph, Mary, and John the Baptist. Two more sequences followed (Jesus in Galilee; Jesus Leaves Galilee), and then came one on Jesus in Jerusalem, which ran from December, 1946 until June, 1947.

The following comics are from the History & Special Collections Department of the Grand Rapids Public Library. Today, these comics are quite rare—even the library’s collection (given to the library by Collins’ widow, Therese) is incomplete. The sequence that follows starts with the third episode of “Jesus in Jerusalem.”

My understanding of the Bible is not very deep—maybe things would have turned out differently if these sweet comics were part of my Sunday School lessons! However, I do recall a certain villain named Judas…

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Besides the fine illustrations, aspects of the comics that appeal to me are the speech balloons, with Collins’ distinctive lettering, and the colloquial language, must have been relatable for the young reader. The small introductory illustrations at the tops of the comics are nice touch, too.  The fifth comic in the series opens with a large splash panel, as Jesus dramatically confronts the scribes and Pharisees.

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The story told in these comics may be familiar, but check back next week to see how it was told in these mid-1940s comics.


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

Where’s Mitzi?

“Mitzi McCoy” was Kreigh Collins’ first syndicated (Newspaper Enterprise Association) comic strip, and in its November 7, 1948 debut, Mitzi bolted from her wedding after realizing her fiancé was a gold-digging jerk.

The comics that followed showed the transformation of Collins’ skills from that of a renowned illustrator to those of a successful cartoonist. Each panel of these early comics are jammed full of detail, and the original artwork is astonishing to behold. About half of the “Mitzi McCoy” originals are in the Local History collection of the Grand Rapids Public Library.

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These early Mitzi originals also show evidence of revisions to the artwork and dialogue. In addition to illustrating and scripting the comic, Collins did the lettering. Kreigh had similar responsibilities for his mid-1940s “Bible Stories Comics” (put out by the Methodist Publishing House) but the NEA required a more structured approach, and had more specific procedures to be followed. There were some growing pains, but the artwork is absolutely amazing.

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While comics fans might have been wondering where Ms. McCoy had gone in 1948, “Where’s Mitzi?” could also be a question posed more recently. Late last year, an announcement was made on the upcoming publication of a book collecting the comic strip’s entire run.

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While production of the book has been delayed, rest assured that the book is still in the works. Once it is published, Mitzi’s whereabouts will be more easily tracked.

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!

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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