2017-02-24 19:55:28 UTC
By NINA SIEGAL
FEB. 20, 2017
AMSTERDAM — Dick Bruna, the Dutch illustrator and children’s book author who created one of the most recognizable characters in the world, a sparely drawn round little white rabbit known in English as Miffy, died on Thursday at his home in Utrecht, the Netherlands. He was 89.
His death was announced on his website.
Mr. Bruna’s work has been translated into more than 50 languages in 85 countries and has spawned a Miffy cottage industry, with videos, television spinoffs, toys and other products with the character’s likeness sold worldwide.
“He’s the most translated author in the Netherlands, except for Anne Frank,” said Agnes Vogt, a children’s book specialist at the Dutch Foundation for Literature, “and in that sense he’s one of the most important not only illustrators but also authors that the Netherlands has ever had.”
Mr. Bruna wrote and illustrated 124 books for children over six decades, beginning with “De Appel” (“The Apple”) published in the Netherlands in 1953. The book, which tells the story of life from the perspective of an apple, has never gone out of print.
None of his characters, however, became as famous as Miffy, a cheerful little bunny who enjoys the small moments of happiness that go along with small-scale adventures: a trip with her family to the zoo, throwing a shiny ball around with friends, visiting a farm or a museum or celebrating her birthday...
(more obits from the Guardian, the Washington Post, NPR, and the Telegraph)
I remember his version of "Snow White." In it, he says she was in her coffin for years - unlike in Grimm.
...This is not to say that everything is straightforward for Bruna. Although he's been drawing Miffy for more than 50 years, every time he sits down to draw her he feels a jolt of nerves. In Bruna's immaculate studio - books neatly piled, paper tidied away, surfaces clean and dust-free - there are several little tubs packed with perfectly sharpened pencils. When I pick one up to inspect it, the end is all chewed up. I pick up another, and it too is nibbled away. The pencils are the proof of Bruna's doubt, anxiousness. 'It's funny,' he says. 'When I was younger I thought that when I got older I would be sure what was OK, and what was not OK. But it's just the other way round. You're getting more and more uncertain.'
Some years ago he met Charles M. Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts comic strip. Schulz complained that as he'd got older, his hand had started to shake so that he couldn't draw smooth lines any more. But for Bruna, the sprightliest 80-year-old imaginable, the only trouble he has is with 'the trembling of my heart', the apprehensiveness of the perfectionist. It might take him a day to draw a single illustration of Miffy, anything up to 100 sketches before he is content...
(Q&A from 2015)
How do you feel about Miffy as a style icon?
I am quite surprised that she is considered this, but often good style is the most simple, so maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised. Certainly Miffy seems to be loved by fashion designers at the moment – some of the outfits created for the Miffy In Fashion exhibition at the Dick Bruna House are very interesting - they are different to what I would have created, but it is fascinating to see the catwalk of Miffy models wearing all the various outfits. The exhibition is going to at the Dick Bruna House until the end of the year.
What does the future hold for Miffy as she heads towards her 60th birthday?
I hope she continues to be enjoyed by children and parents all over the world for many years to come, but particularly by children, as they are our future.
(birthday post from 2007, with booklist)
(videos -some are in English)