As confirmed by the National Cartoonists Society, Marmaduke creator Brad Anderson has died. No cause of death was given, but the NCS’ statement says it was “unexpected.” He was 91.
Anderson found his love of drawing at a young age, and the NCS says he sold his first cartoon when he was 15 years old. He continued to draw cartoons while serving in the Navy in World War II, after which he earned a degree in advertising from Syracuse University. Anderson began working in advertising in 1951, but quit after only a few years so he could go back to cartooning full-time. In 1954, he created Marmaduke, one of the few long-running comic strip characters iconic enough to earn an actual feature film. The Marmaduke strips relied on a proven formula that involved the eponymous dog—an enormous great dane—complicating the lives of his owners with his ridiculous size and inability to recognize just how big he is.
Anderson won the NCS’ Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013, and, as the NCS notes, he continued working on Marmaduke right up until his death. Because of that and the unexpected nature of Anderson’s death, there’s no word yet on what will happen to Marmaduke. Anderson is survived by his wife, daughter, and three sons.