Some people lead normal adult lives. But some
of us people wile away the twilight hours on YouTube, watching painfully wholesome episodes of 20-year-old kids’ shows. This phenomenon I know nothing about inspired me to compile the following list of the top 5 artists from TV shows from my childhood.
5. Jacob (Join In!, TVO, 1989 – 1995)
In the pantheon of classic Canadian children’s television, Join In! is a show that is often overlooked. For those who have never heard of the series, allow me to break it down for you. Join In! revolved around three roommates who lived in a loft that looked not unlike a wunderkammer. They sang a lot of songs. That’s kind of it. It was adorkable Zack in his suspenders and tie-dyed shirts who made my 5-year-old heart flutter, but it was artsy Jacob in his very strategically paint-splattered overalls and socks/sandals combo who kept it real.
4. Splatter Phoenix (Darkwing Duck, Disney Channel/ABC/UPN, 1991 – 1992)
This former painter’s weapon of choice was a magic paintbrush, which allowed her to trap her victims in works such as “Guernica” and “The Persistence of Memory” (which I guess were on loan to St. Canard’s gallery from the Museo Reina and MoMA). Shunned by the art industry, Splatter Phoenix proved that Hell hath no fury like an artist scorned.
3. Van Go Lion (Zoobilee Zoo, 1986 – 1987)
While I questioned his judgment as an artist when he recruited mischievous Lookout Bear to work on one of his paintings, Van Go remains one of my favourite Zoobles. One of the most attractive (and elusive) qualities in an artist is humility, and Van Go showed viewers that he had it in paint buckets when he gave up a life of fame, probably women, and possibly drugs to stay in a town with a population of seven. The cat was not only a great artist, but also a great friend.
2. Milo Kamalani (Pepper Ann, ABC, 1997 – 2001)
Created by former comic strip artist Sue Rose, Pepper Ann was unique in that it featured a predominantly female cast of characters, most of whom aggressively rejected conventional notions of femininity. If that weren’t awesome enough, its most prominent male character, Milo, did NOT conform to society’s standards of masculinity. He wasn’t a jock, he wasn’t preppy; he was an artist. For challenging gender norms, my wool beanie’s off to you, Milo.
1. Mr. Dressup (Mr. Dressup, CBC, 1967 – 1996)
Mr. Dressup, played by the late, great Ernie Coombs, was Canada’s answer to Mr. Rogers. He’s probably most well-remembered for the costumes in his “Tickle Trunk” but for the young and artistically-inclined, the highlights of the show were his trips to the drawing easel and craft counter. Mr. Dressup inspired kids to see opportunities for creative expression in junk which most parents would not think twice about throwing away. With a career spanning nearly 30 years, an appointment to the Order of Canada, and a brief dabble in rap (for serious), Mr. Dressup is a true Canadian icon, and a champion of quality children’s programming.