Marmaduke looking typically Marmaduke-like. Artist: Brad Anderson.


Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: United Feature Syndicate
First Appeared: 1954
Creator: Brad Anderson
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From Buster Brown's Tige to Marvin's Bitsy, dogs have always been an important element of newspaper cartoons. Relatively few …

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… have been protagonists of their own features. Marmaduke is one of the few, and has maintained his star status for half a century now.

Cartoonist Brad Anderson based Marmaduke on a boxer named Bruno (personality-wise, anyway — Marmaduke is a great dane). He packaged his creation as a daily panel and a Sunday strip, and sold it to United Feature Syndicate (distributor of Nancy, Peanuts, Dilbert and other top comics). The dog star began appearing in newspapers in 1954.

Marmaduke's family, the Winslows, is typical of comedy series families, consisting of Mom (Dottie), Dad (Phil), big sister (Barbara) and little brother (Billy). There's a lot of love between any one of them and the family dog, but also a lot of friction, generating huge gobs of humor. Rather than go for the easy gag, Anderson draws laughs out of his characters' personalities; and that of Marmaduke himself, a huge, galumphing beast with the soul of a lapdog, is the funniest and most carefully delineated of the lot.

Marmaduke's gags (the daily panels) and adventures (the Sunday version) have been reprinted in a couple of dozen books, the most recent of which came out to mark his 50th anniversary. He's also been animated, tho he never had his own show — starting Sept. 12, 1981, he starred in a segment of a show headlined by George Gately's Heathcliff, where his voice was done by Paul Winchell (Dick Dastardly, Pooh's friend Tigger). Ruby-Spears (Alvin & the Chipmunks, Thundarr the Barbarian) produced it for 26 episodes.

One measure of the panel's popularity is that The National Cartoonists' Society voted it Best Panel of 1976. Another is that 20th Century Fox (X-Men) made a live-action movie about it, for release on June 4, 2010.

But a better measure is that after all these years, Marmaduke appears in more than 600 newspapers, all over the world.


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Text ©2004-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © United Feature Syndicate.