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50th birthday for thinking dog created by Ticehurst cartoonist
BRITAIN has loved this wry pet- pin-up since his droopy ears first made an appearance in the swinging ’60s.
And now this week, Sussex’s own Fred Basset – ‘The Hound That’s Almost Human’ – celebrates his 50th birthday.
The loveable cartoon hound first appeared in the Daily Mail on July 9, 1963, and has since gone on to make more than 18,000 newspaper and book appearances.
‘Thinking dog’ Fred’s creator was the late Scottish cartoonist Alex Graham, who was living in Ticehurst, near Eastbourne, when he was asked to create a cartoon strip about a ‘thinking dog’ by the Mail’s then art editor.
He came up with a dog who won the hearts of a nation through his apparent reflective but selfish, misbehaving and cowardly nature.
Fred likes chasing cats – but admits he wouldn’t know what to do if he caught one – and enjoys chasing other dogs until a bigger and more aggressive one makes an appearance.
He would watch his human owners scurrying around the house carrying out their daily business, and aptly provide hilarious and witty commentary on his observations.
Alex Graham once said: “He thinks they’re stupid, of course, but he’s very loyal and affectionate.”
Graham would reverse the names of his friends when naming characters in the strip and regularly mentioned his local pub in Ticehurst – The Bull.
He sadly died a month after being diagnosed with cancer in 1991 – but it didn’t signal the end of the nation’s favourite canine.
Graham’s daughter Arran took the lead and was tasked with coming up with the words for the strip, while Michael Martin, a British artist based in France, provided the drawings.
Arran, in Robertsbridge, near Hastings, said she was “incredibly proud” of Fred’s 50th birthday and insisted she would continue adding to the cartoons “as long as we continue to enjoy it and as long as the public want us to do it”.
An exhibition to mark Fred Basset’s 50th anniversary is being held at Hastings Museum and Art Gallery from today until September 29.
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