R and R

Greetings from the shores of Georgian Bay.

I have a week off and am spending it in my favourite area of Ontario. I usually post a Harris painting or a Thompson painting so this year I thought I’d feature Franklin Charmichael, he was a founding member of the Group of Seven and this painting is fittingly called Georgian Bay Island.

I hope everyone has a great week.

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.

Articles: 1702


  1. Hey Walt
    It’s nice to see one of the lesser known members of The Group. I was lucky enough, in my teens, to take watercolour lessons from Harold Morrow, who studied under A.J. Casson, among others, at the Doon School of Fine Arts (located in what was once painter Homer Watson’s house). Although I had not encountered the great Canadian Whites at the time, I was later intrigued to find out that Adrian Dingle (creator of Nelvana of the Northern Lights) also taught at Doon at about the same time that Harold was there! A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be able to buy one of the few remaining paintings by my old friend Harold. I say “lucky” because his second wife had been in the process of shredding his life’s work when she died, so that the daughter from his first marriage would not get any of them! I’m not making this up! The lovely people who bought their house found 100 of Harold’s watercolours that had survived, and donated them to the local library to show and then sell to raise funds for their Idea Exchange. I sat in a gallery with 100 of my old friend’s paintings all around me and just wept.The lady who took my money, asked me if I had known Harold. When I told her I had, she said, “Well, then, you’re only two degrees of separation from the Group of Seven!” So, yeah! Frank Carmichael and, how about Jimmy MacDonald?! Everybody knows Harris and Thomson! You go Walt! Oh, and…happy holiday! And thanks for the trip in the Wayback Machine that is CBD!

  2. Jeez, Mel, I can’t believe you could tie in the Group of Seven with Whites. Amazing. That’s a great story, too, though sad. People can be so selfish, my gosh.

    I was just going to tell Walter how impressed to see him revealing his “artsy” side. I’ve never been a big fan of those guys, their styles are a little too modern for me, but I’m sure aware of them. But then I’m not Canadian so maybe you guys are more closely connected with them and their work.

    I’m more into the Dean Cornwell style that was so influential on magazine illustrators, and Harvey Dunn who carried on Howard Pyle’s traditions to a new generation of students in the 20s, 30s and maybe even 40s.

    I was just hanging out with our local informal little comic group last weekend, and we finally got artist Dan Brereton to come by. We already have Thomas Yeates and Kelly Jones there, not bad for a dozen comic geeks! We get lots of fun stories from these boys.

    Anyway, Brereton was trying to track down a beautiful painting online with a indecipherable signature, turned out it was by Ralph Pollen Coleman, who is another Cornwell-style guy from the 1930s on. Coleman went into religioius painting but no matter what you think of the subject matter, he was a superb illustrator doing it.

    And at the same time, Dan found an amazing Clifford McBride Napoleon Sunday page with surreal story, the dog Napoleon sprouts wings and carries his kid over the town. It was just donated to a museum in San Dijego. I think Frank King’s surreal Alley Oop Sundays of the 1930s had an influence all of a sudden on McBride. Best Napoleon page I’ve ever seen; and that strip ran in the papers for decades and was reprinted in Famous Funnies beginning in #2, 1934, into the #200’s. Obviously a popular strip. Damned if I can find the link now, but here’s the Coleman….


  3. Mel ! Such a beautiful story, thanks for sharing. It is obvious to us all that our emotions can create great art, love, lust, passion, wonder, awe etc fuels the creation of great art, its only fitting that emotions can also destroy art.

    Jeez Bud, you have to start live streaming those gatherings. I’ve googled images from Cornwell, Dunn and Pyle, beautiful stuff, wow.

  4. Thanks Mel again for a great yarn. To all the older collectors out there; the sharing of your history and stories is so valuable and such a delight, thank you all so much.

    Speaking of verbal and vocal delights – whilst Walt takes a much deserved break – has anyone seen that lay-about Chris Owen??? Haven’t heard of him in weeks. I think a monologue regarding his academic studies on comics would be riveting!

    Opinion sought: I’ve been reading a bit of Steve Englehart’s work over the past months – I note he wrote captain America #153-186, anyone have any thoughts and feelings about this run?

  5. Spider! I’m alive! I DID have to finish up the end of academic shift, but now I’m getting well rested and ready to gab about comics. I don’t want to throw Walt under any busses about not being around or not having time to do podcasts or anything… heaven knows I am above such diminutive barbs.

    Not sure if I’m ready for my monologue Mr. Spider, but I will say that the Steve Englehart run on Cap is great. Those team-up issues with the Falcon are a fun read and has some poignant storytelling too.

    Hopefully when Walt is done galavanting around Northern Ontario, we can get back to some serious comic talk.

  6. great to hear Chris, I wouldn’t mind giving it a read…if only I knew SOMEWHERE where I could procure high grade raw copies of the run…cough walter cough get organised argh * splutter * when you return* chocking *

  7. Hey Bud
    Speaking of tying the Group of Seven to the Canadian Whites, I forgot to mention that Adrian Dingle’s inspiration for Nelvana came from stories told by his friend Franz Johnston, yet another member of the Group. And, I have to admit I was a bit off base mentioning Tom Thomson and Lauren Harris in the same breath, since Thomson (who died in 1917) was never actually one of the famous seven, who included Lauren Harris, A.Y. Jackson, Fred Varley, Franz Johnston, J.E.H. Macdonald, Franklin Carmichael and Arthur Lismer. Fred Varley also taught at the Doon School of Fine Arts, which you can still visit, since it is now open to the public as the Homer Watson House and Gallery in Kitchener.

  8. Glad you rooted out Chris, Spider! I thought I was going to get to meet him the time I got caught “smuggling” comics over the border but I never made it ( I know thats a bit of an exaggeration but by the time I am 80 I will have thrown in tanks and paratroopers)!
    Have a great vacation Walt!

  9. Gerald! I was looking forward to meeting you. Too bad they had to call in that air strike because of those comics you were “smuggling”. Another time for sure. I propose we have a comic culture meet up at some point for everyone.

  10. Mel, thanks for the further information. The only name you’ve mentioned that I know anything about is J.E.H. Macdonald…I handled a very good book on his work and career a few years ago….his style is more appealing to me than many of the Group of Seven, in my eyes, so when I discovered his book I had to get one for myself and handle it in my business. I don’t think many folks know who he was. I didn’t until then.

    I’ll see if I can get my buddy Scott Maple to chime in on Englehart’s run. He was running our comic stores in Sacramento at the time those comics were being published, and Englehart did guest appearances there. They are still in touch.

  11. I’ve always enjoyed any the Hulk appearance in Canada (not solely for Wolverine’s first appearance in #180 either), Hulk’s Canadian adventures are always very exciting and true to form he crosses the border in #160 via Niagara Falls and causes more issues with the mounties in #161…meanwhile Hank McCoy & an old flame attempt to cross the border at Montreal…it is this scene that I think of with Gerald…but instead of blue Beast bounding into the Forrest with an ex-girlfriend slumped across his shoulder he’s carrying a box with a comic and running like a retired New Yorkian, once again I find myself chuckling. I now refer to our brave hero as Gerald the Beast.

  12. Both Harold Town and Jean Johnson re-drew comics for Anglo-American from briefing books sent up to Toronto. They were fresh out of high school and not wanting to work for Grip Studio. Jean told me Harold got fired for changing Capt. America’s costume.

    The Group of Seven is baked into our art history. There are two influences to that colourful approach to landscape. Some of them dropped down to Buffalo to see an exhibition of Nordic landscapes. My thought is they picked up some ides from the great US illustration of the day.

    Guys like Schoonover came up here to hunt, fish and acquire ‘authenticity’

    Mel is lucky…my profs, while with no one that big, had studied at The Barnes Foundation.

  13. Hey Wayne
    In a phone conversation I had with Ed Furness a few years before he passed away, he talked at length about his difficulties with Harold Town when he was at Anglo-American. He truly resented pasting Mac Raboy faces on his Captain Marvel Junior figures. I once owned a copy of Captain Marvel Junior (since traded to Ivan Kocmarek) in which his back was entirely to the reader as he tossed a German tank through the air, an it always puzzled me, until Ed confirmed that it was indeed a Harold Town cover! I met Harold a couple of times, but, alas, at the time, was not really up to speed on our Canadian comic book heritage from the ’40s so didn’t even mention it at the time. I used to go to a lot of openings at the AGO way back in the day, and got to hear Harold play with his band of brothers (including, as I recall, Michael Snow and Greg Curnoe) in The Nihilist Spasm Jazz Band in the lobby of the old Grange. The boys had their own quirky idea of what constitutes jazz, and I always thought how lucky it was that fine art was their first vocation!

  14. Mel… you’re right Capt Marvel, jeez.

    And to think I preferred The Capt. over Superman.

    I have a tape I should find and transcribe of an interview of Jean which I did with Bob MacMillan about that period. She ran the Craft Programme at Harbourfront and was loved by many.

    Until covid-19 interrupted everything I spent New Year’s Eve with two members: Micheal and Al Matthes for several years. And some guys were still getting together to play.

    You are fortunate to hear them play at the gallery. Where there ever recordings?

    I forgot to mention that Carmicheal’s (like Walter I cannot spell it either) granddaughter last year left her position as CEO of the Art Gallery of Windsor to return to research and writing as an independent curator.

  15. Actually Wayne, I just Googled The Nihilist Spasm Jazz Band and found that they did indeed make quite a few recordings. Google refers to them as a Canadian “noise band!” Like I said, it’s a good thing they were fine artists first and foremost. The art involved with the band was in the fact that they played almost exclusively made-up instruments which they had built themselves or modified from previously existing instruments. Apparently though I was bit off in thinking that Harold Town and Michael Snow were members. I guess they were just hanging out. I was interested to find that John Boyle was a member. I knew John years ago when he was a member of the Niagara Artist’s Co-op when I was in university in St. Catharines. I am admittedly a Canadian art fan as much as Canadian comic fan, and, while my storage closet is full of comics, my walls are full of original art. Oh, and, since you mentioned Bob MacMillan, I would be remiss if I didn’t once more recommend Bob’s Encyclopedia of Canadian Animation, Cartooning and Illustration (canadianaci.ca). Lots of great info about Canadian comics, among other things!
    Town and Michael Snow were members. I guess they just hung around the openings so much I assumed they were part of the gang. I was intrigued though to find out that John boyle was a member. I knew John from the Niagara Artist’s Co-op years ago

  16. Walter – do you see what happens when you don’t provide content…we produce our own!!!

    The asylum has been taken over by the inmates!!!

  17. Hi Everyone! Earlier in the post Steve Englehart’s run on Captain America was mentioned and Bud Plant suggested that I might want to chime in. So, thanks Bud! Yep, indeed I was running Bud’s Comics & Comix shops in the Sacramento area at the time Steve was writing Cap. Looking back now at those issues #s 153 to 186, I gotta say that those were solid issues … very much indicative of the Marvel philosophy reminding the reader that Marvel’s characters ALL live in the same universe. To my point, Nick Fury is very prominent in this run … plus the Avengers too. But anyway, my favorite issues in Steve’s run are #s 153-156 where the 1950’s Cap along with Bucky from Atlas’s 1953 Young Men believes the then current 1972 Cap is an imposter. Ironically, the 1950’s Cap knows that he and Bucky are impostors because to him the real Cap and Bucky are dead. In true Marvel style everybody fights each other until the 1950’s “Cap” and “Bucky” are defeated and returned to suspended animation unknowingly by the very individual they worshiped. It’s a great read, well conceived and with commendable art by Sal Buscema. My other “favorite” Englehart Cap is issue #164 with art by Alan Weiss. I’ve always liked Weiss’s art … including his recent 12 page Sub-Mariner story in 2020’s Marvel #3. To me, his style has a Lou Fine-Black Condor feel. Cap #164 was where I became aware of him thanks to Englehart’s run. Steve’s Cap run remains a good read as long as you keep in mind that it is reflective of the 1970s politics, pop culture and Marvel’s “house style”.

  18. Just remember Walt, we’re not in here with you, you’re in here with US! Mwahahaha-a-a!

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