Newspaper Strip 1990-2006
The Cardinal was originally created in 1978 for the Campus Voice student newspaper at Concordia University -- Ann Arbor, Michigan by Kurt J. Kolka. It ran for three years and had an audience of around 500 people. Even after he left Concordia however, Kurt didn't feel his time writing and illustrating The Cardinal was quite over.
In 1990, Kurt was given a chance to share his comic strip character again but this time to an audience of around 20,000. A church Kurt was attending asked him to take over their pastor's newspaper column when he accepted the call to another church. Not knowing much about writing columns, Kurt proposed writing and drawing a comic strip for them instead. They accepted.
"Cardinal Adventures," as the strip was originally called, made its debut in the Northern Star weekly shopping guide on March 4, 1990. It would run only for a little over a year, but gained popularity among readers. Three stories were presented during that time period.
In 1991, Kurt published a limited edition digest collecting of those stories locally. This was followed up by the premiere of "Cardinal Adventures" in summer 1992. The free, annual publication was now sponsored by several churches and businesses and made available to readers through gas stations, supermarkets, pharmacies, restaurants, bookstores and other locally-owned establishments in a 12-county area of Northern Michigan.
Northern Michigan is a big tourist area because of its many forests, rivers and lakes. Back then, many free newspaper-like tourist publications advertised what local communities offered for visitors to see in the area. "Cardinal Adventures" fit in perfectly with these and was the only one aimed at kids. Thus, The Cardinal reached not only local readers, but visitors from around the country as well.
In 1996, Kurt trademarked The Cardinal name and image.
Over the course of its years in print, "Cardinal Adventures" went from a newspaper to a comic book and back to a newspaper again. The after effects of 9-11 hurt not only local businesses, but churches as well. At that point, funding for the Cardinal newspaper began to dwindle.
So, in 2006, it was decided to stop the annual newspaper and put The Cardinal online through GoComics.com and their affiliated sister website ComicsSherpa.com.
Below you will find all the Cardinal stories printed from its earliest days in the Northern Star shopping guide to its final issue (#16) as a newspaper publication.