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Marc Brown Papers

 Collection
Call Number: MS148

Scope and Contents

This collection contains material related to the animated children's television shows Arthur and Postcards from Buster, both produced by WGBH-Boston. The collection contains both print and audiovisual material. The bulk of the material is from 1996 to 2004. The print material for both shows contains scripts, character/props model packages, storyboards, and other material integral to the production process. Of note is material with original comments from Marc Brown as well as sketches of characters and locations.

With more than 600 items, the audiovisual material consists of VHS tapes, audiocassettes, CDs, and DVDs of both Cinar Animation and Cookie Jar Entertainment created files and WGBH episodes. Of note are VHS tapes of the various stages of the editing process (for both Arthur and Postcards from Buster) as well as audiocassettes of actors' auditions for Arthur. There are also several items related to the show's musical numbers, commercial bumpers, and promotional items.

Production files, or files created by Cinar Animation and Cookie Jar Entertainment, mean that the order of the files i.e. by production number, are not the original order in which WGBH aired them. Therefore, files that are grouped together by their respective production numbers are in the order in which they were produced, not aired. This was the original order of the material. Episodes refer to the order in which WGBH aired them and the animation that most people see during an Arthur episode. Titles for production files were taken from official WBGH Arthur and Postcards from Buster production and episode lists. All titles are the final titles used for the show at the time of airing. There are several production files with working titles. These are either noted on the folder or the actual item itself. Titles according to the type of record i.e. location designs/backgrounds, are consistent throughout the series despite variations among these titles throughout the production stages. All Arthur material-both print and audiovisual-is divided into two separate segments. This is noted by A and B in the production files. WGBH episodes also have two segments. This is noted by both the episode number and title of the episode.

Dates

  • Majority of material found within 1996 -- 2004
  • 1994 -- 2007

Creator

Language of Materials

English

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Please see “Reproductions and Use” on the Digital Collections and Archives website for more information about reproductions and permission to publish. WGBH retains copyright for all Arthur material. DCA can make copies for preservation and/or limited classroom educational purposes. All other copies must be approved by WGBH legal counsel.

Biographical / Historical

Marc Brown (1946-) is an American author and illustrator best known for creating the children's character Arthur the aardvark, the lovable third-grader from Elwood City. Born November 25, 1946, in Erie, Pennsylvania, Brown spent most of his early childhood surrounded by pen, pencils, and paper. His grandmother Thora had an enormous influence on Brown at an early age, and he used her encouragement when he decided to pursue painting at the Cleveland Institute of Art. After exploring all types of mediums, Brown knew that he wanted to pursue a career in illustration, specifically concentrating on the illustration of children's books.



Although this was the path that Brown wanted to take, he was not always encouraged by his peers at the Institute. In fact, Brown has been quoted as saying, "When I let my interest in children's book illustration be known, I got the definite message that the field was absolutely the lowest rung on the artistic ladder." Shortly after graduating in 1969 with a B.F.A. in painting, Brown presented sample drawings to the Boston, Massachusetts publisher Houghton-Mifflin who told him that they would contact him in the event that they were interested. Luckily, they did. With this first experience in illustrating for a major publisher, Brown learned more about the professional world of illustrating and decided to make it his career.



After a short time spent illustrating textbooks, Brown decided to expand into more creative outlets and did so with his first non-textbook illustration, Issac Asimov's What Makes the Sun Shine? After steadily working as an illustrator for other authors for several years, Brown's most famous character evolved after telling his son a bedtime story one night. The story was about an aardvark named Arthur with a very large nose. This bedtime story eventually became a children's book appropriately titled Arthur's Nose, which was published in 1976.



After the success of Arthur's Nose, Brown began to publish even more books about the endearing aardvark. However, not until the debut of the animated television show Arthur, on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) network, did the popularity of the Arthur books (as well as the television series) really skyrocket. Since the success of the show, the Arthur program has won the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award and three daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Children's Animated Program. It has also won the accolades of parents and teachers alike for its emphasis on literacy as well as various children's issues.



The success of the Arthur series has garnered interest in another character from the same series-Buster Baxter, the cheerful and outgoing rabbit who is also Arthur's best friend. Buster now has his own series, Postcards from Buster, which focuses on his travels to various places, primarily in the United States, with his father. The show gained notoriety in 2005 when it attracted the attention of U.S. Department of Education Secretary, Margaret E. Spellings, for including a lesbian couple on the show. Spellings wrote to PBS, "Many parents would not want their young children exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in the episode." As a result of the controversy, PBS pulled the episode and did not distribute it to its affiliate stations. On a more positive note, Buster has received a Parent's Choice Television Award and has also been nominated for two Emmy Awards. It continues to gain popularity with children and parents alike, and has been praised for its emphasis on exposing kids to different cultures as well as its focus on developing language skills.



Brown looks for inspiration in everyday situations for his beloved characters and other projects. "I feel like a professional eavesdropper," he admitted to John Micklos, Jr. in Reading Today. "I'm always listening for situations that are important for kids and families." Arthur continues to be the most watched show on PBS and one of the highest rated children's shows in North American television history. Brown remains the executive producer of the show and is involved in new and exciting projects, both within the Arthur world and in other creative outlets.

Extent

96.81 Linear Feet (24 record cartons, 5 oversize boxes, 1 half letter sized box, 682 VHS videocassettes )

685 audiovisual_media

1 Digital Object(s) (Disk image available for reading room access.)

Arrangement

This collection is organized into four series: Arthur print material; Arthur audiovisual material; Postcards from Buster print material; and Postcards from Buster audiovisual material.

Processing Information

Material for this collection was processed primarily in the summer and fall of 2008. The material was donated to the archives in the spring of 2007. When files arrived, there was rust on metal edges around the boxes, and many staples and paper clips had deposited rust on a large majority of the early print material. Early episodes were arranged carefully, but later materials were jumbled together. Items were organized according to the original order of the materials. All titles were taken from official production and episode lists. Processed by: Ashley Stark, summer and fall 2008; Supervised by: Anne Sauer



Conservation note: Staples and clips were removed from all print material. Audiovisual material is in good condition and available for use.



In September 2014, Dan Bullman (Archives and Research Assistant) added the Arthur Style Guide to the end of MS148.001 Arthur print material. This object was found in former Director Anne Sauer's office after she left DCA in 2014.



In April 2016, Liz Francis, Records Archivist, changed all location IDs with the prefix ARMS to new location IDs with the prefix IM. This was done to reflect the boxes' Iron Mountain barcodes.

Processing status

This collection is processed.

Creator

Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Digital Collections and Archives, Tufts University Repository

Contact:
35 Professors Row
Tisch Library Building
Tufts University
Medford Massachusetts 02155 United States
617-627-3737