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Blaine passes away at age 74

Blaine, The Hamilton Spectator’s editorial cartoonist for 30 years, passed away on Sunday evening at the age of 74. He had retired from the paper in 1993.

Blaine was anything but bland. He had a black belt in karate, played guitar and sang, liked wearing cowboy boots and jewellery and was remembered for driving motorcycles and a Corvette Stingray monogrammed with a drawing of a butterfly on the hood.

But that wasn’t the only thing he won during his life. For his editorial cartooning, Blaine received National Newspaper Awards, a Reuben Award and a Salon of Cartoons Grand Prize. Blaine created a national profile for himself and the paper through the syndication of his work.

Community Comments

#1 Steve Artley
February/8/2012
@ 10:18 am

For those who took the time to get acquainted with Blaine, know that he was a great guy in so many ways, aside from being an exceptional cartoonist. Everything he did, he did well and poured himself into it. I last saw him in Hamilton, Ontario in the Fall of 2010. Although he could no longer walk or speak, he still had that Blain sparkle in his eyes. R.I.P. old friend.

#2 Mike Cope
February/8/2012
@ 11:31 am

I grew up seeing Blaine’s cartoons daily in The Hamilton Spectator. Although the political humour was beyond my childhood comprehension, his pen lines were so expressive — a real treat to the eyes. I loved his caricatures of PM Trudeau.

Although he was visibly frail, it was a real honour to meet Blaine at the opening night of the ACEC’s cartoon exhibition at the Hamilton Art Gallery.

#3 Paul Fell
February/8/2012
@ 1:20 pm

Blaine was a great cartoonist and a classic character. It was always a real treat watching him do caricatures with his sable brush and ink bottle. He and I shared a number of misadventures during AAEC conventions. Blaine was always wanting to venture into the sleaziest part of whatever town we were meeting in, just to try out his black belt in karate. I’m not sure how those forays actually went as I couldn’t stay up as late as he could.

Guys like Blaine are one of a kind and his likes will not be seen again. He will be missed by all who knew him.

#4 Clay Jones
February/8/2012
@ 5:05 pm

I only met him once and that was in ’94 (I think) at an AAEC convention in New Orleans. Blaine in New Orleans was a trip. I had just met the guy and he treated me like a best friend.
Paul’s right about those late night ventures. He and his camcorder almost got us kicked out of a club. The guy had no fear.

#5 Mike Baldwin
February/8/2012
@ 11:01 pm

I grew up seeing Blaine’s work in the Hamilton Spectator. He set the bar high. Pretty intimidating for a mere mortal.

I was completely star struck in 1978 when I first met Blaine while working at the Hamilton Spectator as an advertising artist. I would be working late and he’d be wandering around the advertising department trying too shake off the writer’s block and come up with an idea for the next day’s paper. He’d come over and we’d chat about everything and anything. I’d always try too steer the conversation back to cartooning and hoped some of his astonishing talent would magically rub off. He was passionate about so many things aside from his cartooning and incredible life drawings. At the time he was working on a number of Vargas influenced colored pencil on large canvas drawings.

I was working away one day, in the early ’80s and he walked by and said, “think quick!” I looked up and he had thrown something the size of a pack of playing cards my way. I caught it and couldn’t believe how heavy it was. Turn out to be a gold bar that he’d just bought. He said it was a $20,000. bar – which was a fortune at the time. He’d just put a chunk of money into gold and just had to play with it a bit before locking it away. How risky, I thought, but Blaine was fearless. He knew how to make an impression. That will likely be the only time in my life someone throws a gold bar my way. I tend to remember things like that.

Speaking of gold, Blaine gave me an original that I keep in my studio. When I left advertising to be the art director of The Burlington Spectator in 1986 my co-workers commissioned him do a portrait/caricature as a going away gift. I was thrilled and honoured to receive it and also knew (first hand form the man) that Blaine gave them a heavily discounted rate to do it. In fact, around this time Blaine had a huge list of commissions to do and had to say no to most jobs. I picked up jobs when he wasn’t available and did many caricature cards for Spectator departing employees in a style that was heavily influence by the master.

Over the next 15 years we’d cross paths at the Spectator many times. He commented on a few of the caricatures I did ( he saw, and liked, the homage) and when Cornered started running in the Spec in 1996 he came by my desk (I was working as editorial co-art director in Hamilton) and told me he thought Cornered really worked. Coming from Blaine, it meant a lot to me. He had retired from the Spec by that time but would still pop in and sometime come by to chat. We talked about syndication and why he turned down a number of contracts that were offered to him. He saw how rock-bottom priced syndicated offerings undermined the full time editorial cartoonist position and would have no part of it.

I left the Spectator soon after and lost touch with him. He was one of a kind, Solid Gold. I feel blessed to have known him.

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