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Brad Anderson Cartoons

An inventory of his cartoons at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MD
Date: 13 Jan 2009

Biographical History

Bradley Jay Anderson (1924- ), commonly known as Brad Anderson, is an American cartoonist and creator of the comic strips Marmaduke and Grandpa's Boy. Anderson received his B.F.A. from Syracuse University in 1951.

Born in Jamestown, New York, Brad Anderson grew up in Chautauqua County in western New York, graduating from Brocton Central High School in 1943. It was in high school that the young aviation buff began submitting cartoons for publication in specialty magazines like Flying and Flying Aces. After high school, Anderson served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, where he continued to develop his artistic skills, contributing cartoons to various Navy publications during his three years of service (1943-1946). Anderson enrolled at Syracuse University on the G.I. Bill after the War, where he studied fine arts with a major in Advertising. Throughout his undergraduate years, he frequently published cartoons in the student magazine The Syracusan, as well as in popular commercial publications like Collier's Weekly and the Saturday Evening Post.

In 1952, Anderson took a position in the art department of the Utica (N.Y.) advertising agency Ball & Grier. Quickly realizing that his freelance magazine work was much more lucrative, he abandoned advertising in 1953. By now, Anderson had carved out a niche for himself with the type of panel cartoon particularly favored by publications like the Saturday Evening Post, and he had little difficulty establishing himself in this venue. It was his success with this "family-oriented" humor, in fact, that became the impetus for his most important and enduring creation, the newspaper comic strip Marmaduke.

There are various stories as to where Anderson came up with his signature canine creation--his mother's boxer is often mentioned, or a Great Dane Anderson knew in Jamestown--but as Anderson tells it, "during the time, I was drawing various types of dogs in my magazine cartoons, I was also trying to develop a dog character specifically for eventual newspaper syndication [....] you couldn't see the eyes of my shaggy dogs, so as I thought more about it I decided I wanted a dog where I could have an expressive face" (Cartoonist Profiles, no. 56, Dec. 1982, p. 18-25). The Great Dane's combination of big, expressive eyes and pointy, easy-to-see ears proved to be ideal. An initial collaboration with gag writer Bill Leeming yielded a batch of samples, and Anderson was soon making the rounds to the various syndicates. In the fall of 1954, Marmaduke began its long run as a syndicated newspaper comic strip. At its peak, the strip appeared in more than 600 newspapers in 20 countries worldwide.

In addition to the astounding commercial success of Marmaduke--including dozens of book collections with sales figures in the millions--Brad Anderson has received numerous awards and recognitions for his work. In 1978, he received the Newspaper Panel Award from the National Cartoonists Society and in 1999 was honored by his alma mater with a George Arents Pioneer Medal. In addition, his work has been exhibited in museums and galleries, including a showing at the San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts (1977) and at Syracuse University as part of the exhibit Cartoons, Caricatures and Comics: Selected Works from the School of Art and Design Alumni and from the Collections of Syracuse University (12 Dec 1992-15 Jan 1993). In 2004, the 50th anniversary book, Top Dog: Marmaduke at 50 (New York: Ballantine, 2003) was released.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Brad Anderson Cartoons collection contains 300 original cartoon strips from the comic strip Grandpa's Boy (1954-1966). Individual strips were taped or pasted to larger sheets, approx. 4-5 strips per sheet. Many of the early strips display the notice: "released by Smith Service, Demarest, N.J." Daily cartoon strips: traces of blue pencil, pen, ink, zipatone and paste overs on illustration board, each strip approx. 6 x 17 ½ in.

Arrangement of the Collection

Cartoon strips are in chronological order. Sheets are interleaved with acid-free paper.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has collections of over one hundred cartoonists. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

Subject Headings


Anderson, Brad, 1924-2015.

Associated Titles

Grandpa's boy (comic strip)


American wit and humor, Pictorial.
Caricatures and cartoons -- United States.
Cartoonists -- United States.
Comic books, strips, etc. -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Cartoons (humorous images)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Brad Anderson Cartoons,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Brad Anderson, 1968.

Table of Contents

Grandpa's Boy cartoon strips