By Jacob Shamsian
Updated June 11, 2014 at 02:55 PM EDT
Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire/AP

Spot the Dog

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Eric Hill, the author and illustrator of a beloved series of children’s books featuring Spot the Dog, has died. He was 86.

Born on September 7th, 1927 in London, Hill began his career as a teenager, working as an errand boy for an illustration studio while drawing comics in his spare time. By 1976, he invented the character Spot the Dog for his son, Christopher. In 1980, the first Spot book — Where’s Spot? — was published. The book included a lift-the-flap concept, which Hill modeled after a flyer he worked on as a freelance advertising designer.

Spot topped bestseller lists within weeks, and Hill followed up his initial success with Spot’s Birthday Party, Spot Goes to the Farm, and Spot Loves His Friends. Altogether, the books have sold over 60 million copies around the world and have been translated into 60 languages. Various animated television series based on the book’s characters were launched between 1986 and 2000.

When following up Where’s Spot?, Hill considered giving him friends who were only dogs. “Too boring,” he wrote in an interview on the official Spot the Dog website. “I provided friends in the shape of other animals such as a hippo (Helen), a crocodile (Tom), a monkey (Steve) and so on.”

In a statement confirming Hill’s death, Hill’s publisher, Puffin, noted that the author “he created one of the world’s most lovable children’s book characters — Spot, the charming, naughty, playful puppy, loved and appreciated across the world.”

Spot the Dog

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