PORTLAND, N.Y. - He's a big dog, created in a small town. In 1954, Brad Anderson, inspired by his mother and step-father's dog Bruno put pencil to paper, and gave birth to an icon.
Anderson remembers: "He was clown, a real clown of a dog. He was the basis for Marmaduke, but he was too small. I wanted a big stupid dog who thought he was a small dog and just wanted to sit in ladies' laps."
Bruno was a boxer, so Brad made Marmaduke a Great Dane. The name was drawn from a book Anderson read about the Revolutionary War, that included a boy named Marmaduke.
The 1943 graduate of Brocton Central School has been drawing the cartoon strip Marmaduke for 58 years now, and even though he lives in Texas, continues to draw inspiration from his hometown in Chautauqua County. Many of the characters in the strip are old friends. In fact Marmaduke's favorite spot, Cave's Meat Market, is an actual business on Main Street, although it is now called Cave's Deli.
Monday was declared Brad Armstrong Day in both the Town of Portland and Village of Brocton. Brad, joined by his wife Barbara and son Paul were front and center as Town officials also announced plans for a special tribute. They have already begun plans to put a bronze sculpture of Brad and Marmaduke in front of Town Hall on West Main Street. The artist chosen is Don Sottile, who also created the statue of Abraham Lincoln and Grace Bedell in Westfield.
The hope is to have it complete for next year's town bicentennial celebration. That hinges on fundraising efforts to cover the $70,000 - $80,000 price tag. If you would like to make a donation, the address is "Brocton Portland Development Corporation-The Marmaduke Fund, c/o Town of Portland, 87 West Main Street, Brocton, NY 14716.