A good laugh, chuckle and smile can cure what ails you or just brighten up your day. Everyone needs it and it's a universal language recognized by people of all ages. People able to spread humor through words, actions, or images have a talent that is appreciated by many. Someone fitting this description is, of course, Brad Anderson, creator of Marmaduke. No further description is even necessary because everyone knows the cartoon dog and his antics. Residents had the opportunity several days ago in mid-July to meet Mr. Anderson as he visited his hometown of Portland and attended a ceremony at the future site where a statue will be erected to honor his success and contributions though his comic strip known the world over.
Those who attended the ceremony were certainly not disappointed. Along with the fine weather and comments from various dignitaries, Mr. Anderson spoke and shared a bit about his local background and inspiration for Marmaduke. He was later interviewed by some news personnel, but what was most touching was the fact that he was the last to leave. Good naturedly, he answered questions from individuals, posed for photos, signed autographs, and even drew one of a kind cartoons for people. These drawings were not just quick doodles either, but taking the time to craft what he does best. One of these creations, featured here as "Marmaduke Goes to School in Rosamond's Class" was for Rosamond Burns. Mr. Anderson had visited her first grade classroom at Brocton Central School when his grandson was in her class in 1980. While visiting 32 years ago, he talked to the children about Marmaduke and as he spoke drew this famous dog on a large piece of paper that was attached to the blackboard at the front of the room. Rosamond saved this treasure and brought it to the ceremony to share. The comic drawn this month depicts that visit. Mr. Anderson noted that he has visited many schools throughout the years, having fun with children as he demonstrates that comics are not that hard to draw if you know how to make and connect simple shapes such as circles. Of course, one byproduct is that at the same time he also inspired these youngsters to know that they too can achieve their own dreams or goals.
In this informal setting after most of the crowd had dispersed, Mr. Anderson was asked what advice he would give to the younger generation, particularly here in an area that is economically depressed. He responded that they should find something that they love doing and to not give up on it; whether it be grape farming or anything one can think of; to find a way to make it work. Certainly in his earliest days, many scoffed at the idea of cartoon drawings going anywhere successfully, but Anderson was confident enough to submit them to magazines while a student at Brocton Central High School, for which he did get paid a nominal amount. It was fun to learn how like many, he sent letters home while serving in the Navy during World War II, but his letters had doodles all over them. It's important for any family to save such first-person historical artifacts, but his have the additional artwork! Overall, while we know of Brad Anderson's talent of humor and art through Marmaduke, attending this event and meeting him through personal communication showed that he is also a fine, reflective, and thoughtful gentleman. Along with his wife, son Paul was also present, showing the same qualities and he now plays a part in creating the comic strip.
Brad Anderson at work creating another adventure of Marmaduke.
Chautauqua County indeed has much to be proud of in its history from the very early days when the land was dense with trees and inhabited by Native Americans to ensuing years as many diverse immigrants settled the land, worked hard, and made countless contributions. This weekly column, originally called "Yesterdays" has attempted to preserve our rich heritage from its beginning several years ago in 2003 when written solely by Rosamond Burns. To name a favorite would be impossible to do because the topics have been so diverse with people, places, and events in the approximately 470 columns written to date. It was fun to go back into the archives and remember that Mr. Anderson was featured in one of the columns in 2004 titled, "Two famous men from Brocton."
The authors have certainly learned much in the process by researching; some the old-fashioned way with dusty old books to hours on microfiche film, interviewing people, visiting places, and most recently the internet. While the end of the column can't be predicted, there may come a time when like Forrest Gump, it might say, "That's all I have to say about that." Some readers may have noticed that coauthor Rosamond has not appeared in the column for a time. She does have more to say and share, but has decided to spend more of her time in other pursuits, including trying her hand at the genre of screenplay-writing to transform her book, "My Dear Jen" into a movie. She enjoyed her time writing the column and is grateful for the opportunity given her by the OBSERVER and Publisher John D'Agostino.
Make it a good week and enjoy the rest of our beautiful summer weeks. Tax deductible donations for the future statue are appreciated and should be made payable to the Brocton Portland Development Corporation The Marmaduke Fund, c/o Town of Portland, 87 W. Main Street., Brocton, NY 14716.