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September 23, 2007

John Collins, 1917-2007


John Alton Collins, one of Canada's leading editorial cartoonist who provided the Montreal Gazette with over 15,000 cartoons during a span that lasted four decades, died on September 13 after an extended, two-year illness that gradually weakened him. He was 89 years old.

Collins was born in Washington, DC. His father moved the family to Montreal after the First World War concluded. Like many cartoonists, Collins was a skilled artist as a youth and derived pleasure and a sense of identity from putting to use his talent. He was later educated at Sir George Williams University and the Montreal School of Fine Arts.

imageIn 1939 he joined the Montreal Gazette as that paper's first staffed cartoonist. He would work there until retiring in 1982, building a reputation as a fair and non-malicious commentator on Canadian politics and social mores. Like many cartoonists, he employed a signature character; his was known as Uno Who. Beyond his editorial work, Collins contributed to the magazine Saturday Night and drew for Edgar Andrew Collard's history column "All Our Yesterdays."

The Gazette noted that he was founding president of the Lakeshore Artists Association, a mural painter, a two-time National Newspaper Award winner (1954, 1973) and a past president (1969) of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. As hinted at in that list of achievements, Collins was a well-regarded sketch and watercolor artist. A book of his sketches, Montreal Memories of the Century, was released in 2000.

An exhibit containing several of his Cold War-era cartoons may be found here. The cartoon I nicked for the bottom of this post is from this articulate history of the Gazette.

He is survived by a wife of 62 years. A public celebration of his life is pending.

posted 10:18 pm PST | Permalink

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