Footrot Flats creator Murray Ball has died
Footrot Flats creator Murray Ball has died. He was aged 78.
He had been suffering from Alzheimer's and had been nursed at his Gisborne home for some time. He is survived by his wife Pam, and children, and grandchildren.
Long-time friend Norman Maclean was at Ball's bedside when he passed away.
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"Everyone he met he was open to, friendly, and generous to a fault."
"He's slowly declining you know, it's one of these dementia things, we just have to make the most of Murray," she said.
"It's very sad."
The family had lived in the same house in Gisborne for 42 years since returning from a period living in England.
She said Gisborne was where Ball had created all of his best-loved characters, and said it was the "spiritual home" of Footrot Flats.
"Everything to do with Footrot Flats has happened right here," she told Radio New Zealand.
Gisborne mayor Meng Foon also paid tribute Ball.
"Murray was a great friend of the Gisborne community and it is a very sad loss and we all give our condolences to his family and the Footrot Flats family."
A life-size statue of Wal and Dog which were built by Weta Workshop were temporarily installed in the city in time for Ball's 77th birthday in 2016.
Foon said he was looking forward to a life-sized bronze statue of Wal and Dog finding a permanent home in the city.
The sculpture features Dog gazing up at his owner Wal with adoring eyes and lolling tongue.
His Footrot Flats cartoons ran from 1975-1994 in newspapers around the world.
His other cartoons included Stanley the Paleolithic Hero (the longest- running cartoon in Punch magazine), Bruce the Barbarian, and All the King's Comrades.
But it was the 1986 film Footrot Flats: The Dog's Tale which made him a household name.
Longtime friend and collaborator Tom Scott said Ball had given him his first break when he asked him to write the script for Footrot Flats, and the pair spent two years fine-tuning the story of Wal and Dog.
The movie was an instant classic and featured the voices of Billy T James, John Clarke, and Rawiri Paratene.
Scott, a cartoonist who was also born in Ball's hometown of Feilding, said a lot of of Ball's work was "fiercely political and fiercely egalitarian".
"Those were Murray's two passion, he was passionate about injustice."
"It's terribly sad, because he was a brilliant man.
"He was a hero of mine when I was growing up in the Manawatu. It was tremendous to think these great cartoons could be created by someone living just up the road, the didn't need to be things done overseas."
Scott also recalled watching Ball play rugby for Manawatu against the touring Lions team in 1959.
"He was a sporting hero, he was a creative hero and then when I met him he was a hero of a man."
Friend Norman Maclean also recalled Ball's passion for rugby.
After a morning of their usual political and philosophical discussions they would head to the counter to pay, only to find Ball had already paid the bill.
"He just liked to look after everyone," Maclean said.