BROCTON – Local residents are mourning the death of Brad Anderson, 91, the cartoonist who created “Marmaduke.”
Born Bradley Jay Anderson in Jamestown in 1924, Anderson graduated from Brocton High School and spent most of his young life in the Brocton and Portland areas.
His Aug. 30 death at his home in Montgomery, Texas, near Houston, was confirmed by the National Cartoonist Society. It was listed as “unexpected.”
According to the society’s website, Anderson created “Marmaduke” in 1954. An article on the site called it “one of the most well-known and enduring comic strips ever, and one on which he would continue to work until his passing.”
The strip about the lovable Great Dane’s antics and the challenges he posed to his owner and his family appeared in more than 500 newspapers in 10 countries. It was also made into a cartoon series and a movie staring Owen Wilson.
Portland Town Supervisor Daniel Schrantz said Anderson was always loyal to the area and that a fundraising event is planned to erect a bronze statue of Anderson and a likeness of Marmaduke.
“He had a lot of history here,” said Schrantz, who added that local residents could find references to the area in Anderson’s drawings. When a school bus was featured in a drawing, locals knew that part of the letters “Brocton” were often featured. Anderson’s childhood friends and even the famous Green Arches that span the main thoroughfare were also part of the sketches in some of his cartoons.
Portland historian Jim Boltz remembered some of the references.
“Sometimes you would see part of the lettering for Cave’s Market,” said Boltz.
The locally owned meat market was featured several times in drawings. Boltz said that Anderson donated original sketches to various places, including the market, which is still in operation.
Boltz said frames of the cartoons are on display at a museum at Midway Park on Chautauqua Lake.
“Marmaduke and his family would often take trips to Midway,” said Boltz. “I can recall seeing sketches of the dog taking up the whole back seat of the car on the way to the amusement park.”
“One of the things that few people remember is that he held the high school track record for the 100-yard-dash for more than two decades,” Boltz said of Anderson, who went on to study at Syracuse University after graduating from Brocton in 1943. He also served in the U.S. Navy.
The university library has a large collection of his artwork, including his first comic strip, “Grandpa’s Boy.”
Jerry Boltz, Jim’s brother, is leading a fundraising campaign to continue with the memorial to Anderson. The campaign started in 2012, when Anderson last visited the area.
Anderson is survived by his wife and four children, including his son, Paul, who assisted with the sketches of the Marmaduke comic strip.