Brad Anderson, the cartoonist who created “Marmaduke,” the comic strip featuring an outsized, mischief-making Great Dane who has delighted readers of the newspaper funny pages for roughly 427 dog years, died Aug. 30 at a hospital in the Woodlands, Tex. He was 91.
He had congestive heart failure, said Paul Anderson, Mr. Anderson’s son and in recent years his comic-strip collaborator.
Comics are replete with the adventures and misadventures of animals, among them Garfield the cat, created by cartoonist Jim Davis, and Snoopy the beagle, the work of “Peanuts” creator Charles M. Schulz.
The title character of “Marmaduke” was an elder, if awkward, canine statesman in the menagerie. He first appeared in 1954 — four years after the inaugural installment of “Peanuts” — and has loyally fetched giggles ever since.
“Marmaduke” has been featured in hundreds of newspapers in more than 20 countries, according to its syndicate, Universal Uclick. Mr. Anderson’s single-panel and strip cartoons were immediately recognizable for his family-friendly humor and were adapted over the years for books, animated cartoons and a 2010 film featuring the voice of actor Owen Wilson.
In “Marmaduke,” Mr. Anderson portrayed the antics of a perpetually in-the-way dog and his long-suffering and loving family. Commenting on the dog’s pedigree, Mr. Anderson said that Marmaduke was inspired by his mother’s pet, a large boxer Mr. Anderson described as “quite a clown.”
“My stepdad used to dress him up, put hats on him, neckties, scarves — and the dog seemed to like it,” Mr. Anderson told the Dallas Morning News in 1999. “But I wanted a larger dog,” he continued, “I wanted a dog that doesn’t know it’s a big dog, because big dogs don’t realize how large they are. They want to sit in your lap.”
The Great Dane breed suited him, Mr. Anderson said, because a short-haired dog was easier to sketch than a long-haired one.
Many pet owners recognized their own amusing experiences in Mr. Anderson’s comic strip.
“I’m sorry, your majesty,” says Marmaduke’s owner, shown in a panel wearing blue pajamas and slippers, his hair tousled and his face unsmiling as he delivers to the dog a large red bowl of water. “I forgot you take your water in a polished silver bowl.”
Bradley Jay Anderson was born in Jamestown, N.Y., on May 14, 1924. His father was an inventor and ran a farm-machinery business.
The younger Anderson said he spent his adolescence “cartooning his way through high school” and sold his first cartoon to Flying Aces magazine when he was 15.
After Navy service — and more cartooning — during World War II, he studied advertising at Syracuse University in New York, where he received a bachelor of fine arts degree in 1951.
During college, he placed cartoons in publications including Collier’s and the Saturday Evening Post. He worked briefly in advertising before venturing into full-time freelance comics. In the early years of “Marmaduke,” he also drew the strip “Grandpa’s Boy.”
The many books based on Mr. Anderson’s comic strips included “Top Dog: Marmaduke at 50” (2003). His honors included the National Cartoonists Society’s Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award, bestowed on him in 2013. Other recognitions came from readers.
“I get a lot of letters from people who are in retirement homes, and sometimes they can’t keep a dog anymore, so this is their pet,” Mr. Anderson told the Dallas newspaper. “They watch the paper for it, and they clip it out and put it in scrapbooks.”
Survivors include his wife of nearly 70 years, the former Barbara Jones, of Montgomery, Tex.; four children, Christine Potchernick of Montgomery, Craig Anderson of New York City, Paul Anderson of Flower Mound, Tex., and Mark Anderson of Lakeway, Tex.; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Mr. Anderson, an animal lover, had many pets over the years. Explaining how he got his ideas, he told an interviewer for the publication American Profile, “I try to think like a dog.”