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Murray Ball, ONZM

Murray Hone Ball ONZM (26 Jan 1939 – 12 Mar 2017) was a New Zealand cartoonist who became known for his Stanley the Palaeolithic Hero (the longest running cartoon in Punch magazine), Bruce the Barbarian, All the King’s Comrades (also in Punch) and the long-running Footrot Flats comic series. In 2002 Ball became an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for his services as a cartoonist. More

gisborneherald Published on Mar 12, 2017
Murray Ball, Footrot Flats cartoonist, dies at 78
New Zealand has lost its most loved cartoonist, Gisborne’s Murray Ball.
Best known for the memorable characters in his cartoon strip Footrot Flats, the widely-respected artist died at home at 11.30am yesterday surrounded by family.

His wife Pam, three children and grandchildren were there, as well as Mr Ball’s brother Barry and close friends. Mr Ball had been out of the public eye due to Alzheimer’s, which he lived with for eight years. He was aged 78.
“It was a terribly sad and emotional day yesterday,” said Mr Ball’s wife Pam. “It was expected but it was terrible to see him go. It was lovely to have family and friends there but it was so, so hard the moment he went.” The family had received some wonderful tributes from around the world, she says.

Mayor Meng Foon described Mr Ball as a legend in our community. On behalf of the community, and the art in public places committee, he extended his heartfelt condolences to the Ball family. “Murray made us laugh, reflect and inspired us as proud New Zealanders. It was a great honour to present Murray’s key collection of cartoon books to the Beijing Olympic committee in 2008.” Mr Foon is pleased Wal and Dog will take pride of place at the entrance of the re-developed library. Murray, your legacy will take pride in Bright Street, a fitting place for such a bright shining star of our creative community.”

Gisborne artist and art teacher Norman Maclean remembers Mr Ball as a man of the soil who loved the country, animals and bird life. He also remembers him as a fine artist, although Mr Ball disagreed. “Murray used to say he was not an artist — which was ridiculous. His command of line was outstanding. For a time he broke into painting. His paintings were forceful, with a very strong line and a strong sense of immediacy.” The cartoonist’s sense of fun came to light while out riding with Mr Maclean. “The first time out he gave me a huge horse called Black. Murray knew what he would do at a certain point and that was to turn home. Black took off, my feet flew out of the stirrups and I heard hoots of laughter behind me.” Mr Ball was a complex figure though, says Mr Maclean. He was very serious-minded. “He thought deeply about political and social matters and had a great sense of justice and of a fair go for the average person.” Although he ascribed to no religion, he described himself as a Christian socialist and enjoyed many arguments with Mr Maclean about religion and philosophy.

In a tribute to Mr Ball, Prime Minister Bill English describes the Gisborne cartoonist as a thoughtful New Zealander “who took our unique sense of humour to the world”.

Cartoonist Tom Scott, who co-wrote the screenplay for Footrot Flats: The Dog’s Tale, told the New Zealand Herald Mr Ball was “funny and goofy and generous, and incredibly serious about inequality”. “He mourned the New Zealand he remembered being fair, and I guess if he had his life over again Murray would rather have been an editorial cartoonist.” Mr Scott also remembers Mr Ball as “an unbelievably strong, fit, handsome man all his life”.

New Zealand Herald cartoonist Rod Emmerson said Footrot Flats captured the essence of New Zealand farm life. “But farm life is virtually the same the world over, hence it quickly became a household icon both here and abroad. How lucky are we to have had the pleasure of Murray Ball’s home-grown genius to entertain us when we needed it most.”

The funeral service will be held at Bushmere Arms on Friday at 1pm.

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thatdickgmail Published on Oct 4, 2012
Footrot Flats Rugby Scene

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.

GMRedWing Published on Jun 18, 2015
Footrot Flats – Wal’s Date gone wrong
Footrot Flats: The Dog’s Tale

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