BROCTON - Although his audience is usually cartoon fanatics across more than 600 papers worldwide, the artist shifted his focus homeward Monday, when his home town officially declared Brad Anderson Day.
The widely attended ceremony was led by Town Supervisor Dan Schrantz, who declared the official holiday, along with Brocton Mayor David Hazelton.
"It's unbelievable to me," Brad Anderson, creator of popular comic strip Marmaduke, said. "I had no inkling something like this would ever happen to me."
OBSERVER?Photo by Mark Belcher
Brad Anderson (right), creator of the popular comic strip Marmaduke, poses with Town Supervisor Dan Schrantz and a large friendly dog.
The 1942 graduate of Brocton Central School said it was a pleasant surprise, as he always loves returning to the area where Marmaduke was born, pointing out it was in the old Owens building at Brocton's arches where he first worked on the idea.
Schrantz also announced the official beginning of a roughly $80,000 project which he said he hopes will be completed for the Village's bicentennial celebration.
"Today kicks off our fundraising campaign to help make a bronze statue possible," he said.
He said the recognition is overdue, as the popular cartoon has been turned into both a television series and a featured film through its time.
"I don't care what you want to do, if you stay with it, develop knowledge and don't give up, you can't help but be successful," Anderson, 88, said. "The biggest thing you need to do if you want to make money is develop a market somehow or other."
Anderson said he did the same thing, sending his sketches off to places like New York City as early as high school. Jerry Boltz, chair of the Marmaduke committee, said he hopes this statue can serve as motivation for people in the area.
"This project is worthwhile," he said. "We are all here to commemorate a friend, a legend to all."
He said although the fundraising is only recently started, the Town of Portland has a person actively searching for grants, and they have already accomplished a lot.
"Although the project is new, we are moving rapidly," he said. "It will be here before people realize it."
Anderson said he too hopes kids are inspired, wether it be by his statue, his comics or his story. He offered advice to all students from small towns.
"I just say stick with it, whatever you want to do, know that you can be successful," he said. "Don't become negative and depress yourself -- hang in there and work with yourself."
He said he has always loved what he does, waking up excited to do what he was doing. He explained when you love and embrace something, it makes the process better.
"I was encouraged when I was here," he warned. "I did have some people who said well that'll never go, you'll never be successful at that. But you have to ignore that and believe in yourself. So it's great to come back and see the people who are part of the locale."