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The Dutch creator of Miffy the cartoon rabbit has died aged 89, his publishers have announced.
Writer and illustrator Dick Bruna died peacefully in his sleep on Thursday night in the Dutch city of Utrecht.
He created the much loved character in 1955 as a story to entertain his young son. More than 80 million Miffy books have been sold globally.
Over the years, Bruna wrote more than 100 books but Miffy was by far his most popular and enduring character.
At first, he was uncertain whether the rabbit was a boy or a girl, but settled the matter by putting her in a dress for the sixth book, Miffy’s Birthday, in 1970.
In the Netherlands, she is called Nijntje (“little rabbit” as a Dutch toddler might say it). It was her first English translator, Olive Jones, who christened her Miffy.
Bruna was still writing Miffy stories in his old age and his books have been translated into more than 50 languages.
One reason for the character’s popularity over the last six decades was the simplicity of Bruna’s illustrations.
Dutch publisher Marja Kerkhof told the AP news agency that he used “very clear pictures, almost like a pictogram”.
She said his illustrations are often best characterised by what he leaves out, allowing him “to go to the essence of things” while simultaneously using “very strong powerful primary colours”.
“Even today if you see it in a store you would think, ‘hey this looks different to a lot of other things out there’,” she said. “There is no clutter, it’s all very clear.”
Miffy the worldwide merchandising marvel
- Is especially popular in Japan, where she has her own web page section in The Japan Times, as well as a cafe serving food dedicated to her name in Tokyo
- Is also popular in China, where train carriages in Guangzhou were decorated in her image in 2015 to celebrate her 60th birthday
- Was in 2004 appointed the official “family tourist ambassador” to New York City
- Has a museum of her own in Utrecht
- Does not like to be mistaken for her rival, the Japanese character Hello Kitty
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