Children, the elderly and nostalgic college kids all lined up outside the Wisconsin Union Theater Tuesday night to meet Marc Brown, creator and illustrator of the children’s book and TV show, “Arthur.”
From a very young age, Brown had been planning his “escape” from hometown Erie, Pennsylvania. Before he became an author, he was fired from many jobs, Brown explained, including a farmer, teacher, director and cook.
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His playful imagination, however, has followed him throughout his whole life.
“If I could have a bumper sticker, it would say ‘I like all kids … and some adults,’” Brown said.
Brown went on to explain where he gathered inspiration for “Arthur” characters. His grandmother, Thora, told him stories continuously while he was growing up ranging from robberies to war. Arthur’s fictional grandmother, also Thora, is based on her.
Most characters Brown created rose from people he actually knew. For example, Mr. Ratburn was inspired by his least favorite teacher, while D.W. was a mix of all three of his sisters.
Aside from his passion for creativity, Brown also shared a handful of interesting anecdotes. In Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, he lives on a farm with many animals, including his favorite, a goat named Hillary Clinton. At a dinner with the Clintons, Brown said he told her this, and supposedly, she did not seem amused.
Another juicy tidbit was while creating an episode of “Arthur” with the Backstreet Boys, Brown said he could tell you which one doesn’t wash his hands in the restroom.
After the initial talk, many students swarmed the following Q&A by expressing their love for his work and praising him for letting them grow up with “Arthur.” Brown answered all the questions with humor and bits of honesty.
He stated that Francine may or may not have been gay, and Ziggy Marley may or may not have been stoned while recording the “Arthur” theme song. He also said he hopes Ruth Bader Ginsburg can be his next guest star on the show.
Various aspiring writers approached the mic, asking him for advice and guidance. He encouraged them to avoid agents as much as possible and to stick to their own uniqueness.
“There is a story around us every single day,” Brown said. “We just have to find it.”