I am not from New Zealand. I don’t have anyone in my family from New Zealand. But, as a child, I was obsessed with anything wirtten down – textbooks, novels, comics.
A lot of that comes from my granddad, who installed in me a sense of anti-authoritarian humour through things like Mad Magazine. And despite not being a Kiwi, I found myself drawn to the quaint simplicity of a strip called Footrot Flats.
A comic strip about a dog who constantly gets the tar kicked out of him doesn’t sound great – it, at most, sounds like a Peanuts knock-off – but Footrot Flats did well across both sides of the Tasman, thanks to it’s good-natured and broad-minded humour.
The way in which Murray Ball could somehow capture the human condition in the image of a sheepdog rolling in pig waste is magical in a way only comic strips can be.
Murray Ball, from all accounts, was as good-humoured as his famed comic strip. He will be missed.