Footrot Flats


The Cartoonist

Murray Ball has amused, delighted and, at times, offended readers of his cartoons over many years.
He made no secret of his desire to use his characters to ’change the world’ and, for a while it seemed that his cartoons would serve only to agitate - All this changed in the mid-1970s when he decided that a cartoon about a farmer and his sheep-dog ‘might be a good idea’…
Here is a little insight into how we came to find Footrot Flats turning up in our daily lives.


Murray Ball is born

Murray Ball was born in Fielding, New Zealand. January 26th 1939 to Meg and Kelly Ball.  


The Boy

Young Murray had a VERY vivid imagination.


Murray's early years

The Ball family moved to Australia.


South Africa

The Balls settled first in Durban, then in Johannesburg, South Africa.


"I want to be a cartoonist!"

Murray wins first prize in a cartoon competition. This turned out to be quite a defining moment.


Murray's first 'real' job

Murray returned to NZ and writes weather reports for the Manawatu Times.


Dreams of being an All Black

Murray played 2nd five-eighth for the Junior All Blacks. 

The Lions

Murray gained a taste for International rugby while playing against the Lions.


Trials for the All Blacks

Murray trialed unsuccessfully for the All Blacks. 

Murray returns to South Africa

Murray returned to Durban to help with his father’s amusement arcade business.


First attempt to get published

Murray traveled with his brother Barry by boat to England.  He writes and submits his first illustrated story, about a mouse, which promptly disappears without trace. 



Murray returned to Wellington, NZ and found work at 'The Dominion' as a staff cartoonist.


Finds love

Murray returned to South Africa to see his family and meets Pam, a young English-woman to whom he soon becomes engaged.



Murrary married Pam at All Saints Church in Sanderstead, England, before honey-mooning in Paris with her (and his dad).

Drawing Cartoons

Murray & Pam moved back to Wellington and Murray earns four guineas a week drawing cartoons for 'The Truth'.


Back to School

Murray studied education at Hamilton Teachers College. 


Life as a teacher

Began life as a teacher at the Mercury Bay Area School, Whitianga.


First book published

Wrote and had published ’Fifteen Men on a Dead Man’s Chest’.  


Return to England

Returned with Pam and his two-year-old son to England where they bought a house near Dulverton, Somerset.

Second book published

‘The Peoplemakers’ was written and published while Murray helped out on his family farm at ‘Aratika’, near Fielding.


Life as a free-lance cartoonist

Began free-lance cartooning as a career.  He submitted cartoons to ‘Punch’ magazine as well as several ‘Girlie’ magazines.


Bruce the Barbarian

‘Bruce the Barbarian' was launched in the ‘British Labour Weekly’.


‘Stanley’, a strip about a Paleolithic caveman, was accepted by 'Punch' Magazine.

Top British Comic Books

Murray illustrated children's comics for Fleetway and Thomson's of Dundee.  He ghosted 'Billy Bunter' and 'Desperate Dan' and created several characters of his own like Thor Thumb, a small boy Viking with a magic hammer.



Murray returned with Pam and three kids to NZ. They had enough saved to buy a small house and 4 acres on the outskirts of Gisborne.

Stanley in NZ

Stanley is accepted by ‘The Listener’. Murray's new (Australian) agent, Sol Shifrin, secures syndication for Stanley in the U.S.


Let there be Manny

Let there be Manny is a short series set in the book of Genesis and remains unpublished.

The Doctor

The Doctor appeared in a later compilation book of Murray's cartoons called Six of the Best.  

The Kids

Murray began working on several new strips. The Kids appeared in the New Zealand Listener. 


Footrot Flats

FOOTROT FLATS is accepted by;

  • The Evening Post
  • The Waikato Times
  • The Christchurch Press

... and as time goes on by numerous other newspapers in New Zealand and Australia.


Footrot Flats First Published

The first Footrot Flats book is published.



Weekender Strips

Murray begins his ‘Weekender Strips’, which, with two layers, allowed a bit more space for the characters to develop.


All Blacks Mascot

The Footrot Dog was selected as mascot for the All Blacks rugby team and sat proudly on the sidelines for a couple of seasons.


Springbok Tour

Murray protested against the South African rugby team’s tour of New Zealand.


Footrot Flats around the world

Footrot Flats is translated into the Danish ‘Faehunden’. There are also translations of the strip made in German, Norwegian, Swedish, and Japanese.

The Musical

Footrot Flats - The Stage Musical  (Playwright - Roger Hall / Music – Philip Norman / Lyrics – A.K.Grant).  It continues to be popular with amateur drama companies.  


Murray and Tom put their heads together

Two Feilding old boys, Murray Ball and Tom Scott begin work on a screenplay for New Zealand's first full length feature animated film.   


Quentin Hankey

One man's crusade for a Brave new World. Quentin Hankey goes into battle against the monarchy, imperialists, capitalist and political sycophants - and fails - miserably.

The Dog's Tale

New Zealand's first animated film Footrot Flats, 'The Dogs Tale' was a smash hit in New Zealand and Australia. Murray's characters were brilliantly recreated and supported by a host of New Zealand's finest actors, comedians and musicians. 

UN International Year of Peace

Murray’s drawing of a NZ Fur seal pup was adopted by the UN for the International Year of Peace


Hole in One

Murray sinks a hole in one. Very few people believe this.


The Crab

A newly discovered genus and  species of crustacean is named Flatsia walcoochorum after…Wal and Cooch.


The Sisterhood

A controversial (to say the least) view of feminism and the breakdown of traditional family values.


The Pungapeople

Murray illustrated Barry Crump’s childrens’ story, Mrs Windyflax and the Pungapeople.  


Adam Budd

The chronically shy Adam Budd desperately attempts to navigate the swirling waters of adolescence. 


Travels with my wife

Murray and Pam and his sketch book travel to Europe.


Murray works on strips and scripts which remain unpublished. 

  • Old Dogs
  • Slugs and Snails and Puppy-dogs tails


Tarzan, Gene Kelly and Me

Tarzan, Gene Kelly and Me is a funny, irreverent look at the formative influences in Murray Ball's life.


Awarded Order of New Zealand Merit

Murray received the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Cartooning

The Prophet

The Prophet was deemed ‘too controversial’ to publish, but later appeared in the compilation ‘Six of the Best’.


Fred the (quite) Brave Mouse

Fred and his unfeasibly long tail leave the warmth and comfort of home to explore the big wide world.


Willie Wants to Wee-wee

Willie Wants to Wee-wee ... NOW!!!



Murray retires from both cartooning and public life. He lives, quietly, with Pam, and a black and white tom-cat named Jack.


Life-sized bronze sculptures of Wal’ and Dog

Life-sized bronze sculptures of Wal’ and Dog were crafted by Wellington’s Weta workshop. They stand now beside the Taruheru River in the council gardens, in Gisborne.


Footrot Flats Website Launched

Footrot Flats finds a new home online. A place for fans old and new to explore, interact and have a daily chuckle at the adventures of Wal, Dog and the rest of the gang.


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