BROCTON - Brad Anderson's audience is usually cartoon fanatics turning to more than 600 papers worldwide.
On Monday, Anderson shifted his focus to Brocton when his hometown officially declared Brad Anderson Day. The ceremony, led by Dan Schrantz, Portland town supervisor, declared the official holiday, along with David Hazelton, Brocton mayor.
"It's unbelievable to me," said Brad Anderson, creator of the Marmaduke comic strip. "I had no inkling something like this would ever happen to me."
Brad Anderson thanks the Brocton community during a ceremony on Monday.
P-J photos by C. Ralph Heeter
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 former Owens building at Brocton's arches where he first worked on the idea.
Schrantz also announced the official beginning of an $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," said the 88-year-old Anderson. "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 the 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 youth are inspired, whether the inspiration comes from the 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."