Renewed appeal for “Matt Marriott” art as English language collections hopes soar

As we’ve previously reported , Spanish publisher Manuel Caldas has released three collections of the stunning British western comic strip, “Matt Marriott” – and now, there’s been a renewed appeal for help delivering editions in English, too.

Matt Marriott” is a much-admired western strip first published in the London Evening News from 1955 until 1977. Written by Jim (James) Edgar, as we previously noted, it’s fondly remembered for its stunning art by Tony Weare (1912 – 1994), whose early comic credits also included “Pride of the Circus” and “Billy Brave” for Mickey Mouse Weekly, “Greyfriars Ghost” for Comet, and “The Colditz Story” for Junior Express in the 1950s.

Author and publisher Paul Duncan has been assisting Portuguese publisher Manuel Caldas with his Spanish language collections of the widely-syndicated strip, so far running to three volumes, the latest, Enfrntamiento en Dodge City “Clash at Dodge City”), released last year. Hugely popular in Spain in syndication, the strip was also collected in Italian editions.

After Tony Weare’s death, Harry Bishop and John M. Burns worked on the final episodes of ‘Matt Marriott’ for the Evening News.

“Written by Jim Edgar, ‘Matt Marriott’ was the finest and most atmospheric newspaper strip about the American Wild West that has ever been produced,” artist David Lloyd has previously enthused. “Tony Weare was one of just a very few strip artists here and in the US whose creative identities owed nothing to the heritage of stylisation which influenced many other newspaper adventure strip creators – he was primarily an illustrator who just happened to love drawing strips.

“His style on Marriott was that of a sketch artist – a portrayer of the instant,” he continued. “It was naturalistic, raw, and unsophisticated – perfect for depicting the primitive quality of a realistic-looking Wild West. One of his major strengths as a strip artist lay in his consistently creative compositions. If we look through the three-frame strips that make up the Matt Marriott stories we see no evidence of the repeated formulas of picture design which some strip artists use.

“Because of the sheer weight of material most of these craftsmen have to produce , easy options in picture composition are often sought by them and repeated to ease the burden of emitting a constant stream of new layouts; but when we look at Tony’s work it’s as if we’re just watching people going about their business through a lens that he has cleverly positioned for us, not viewing figures which are overtly posed for appropriate effect. The way he rendered his drawings reflected this ‘realistic’ approach to portraying the action, with almost lazily handled brush work and pen cross-hatching. He also had a superb command of light and shade, which promoted the impression that he was drawing something he could see in front of him, rather than something he’d built up from his imagination.

“The only things Tony ever hated drawing were mechanical objects of any kind, though this antipathy is very difficult for any viewer to detect. As a lifelong nature lover he preferred to draw the organic. This passion for depicting living things above all else, is what gives Tony’s work the energy which shines from almost everything he put his brush to. Like all the best artists, he sought to draw only what he loved to draw.”

“The strip is probably the best Western strip ever published, but unfortunately very few people have had the opportunity to read it to find that out for themselves,” Paul noted in a previous appeal for help collecting the strip, which we published last year.

“I’m still working with Manuel to publish English editions,” he revealed this week. “I have been in contact with Tony Weare’s family, and found some great material, as well as being in contact with many collectors to scan their original art. It has been an amazing few years, and I hope to be able to move forward with this soon.

“There were 70 stories, and my ambition is to do seven volumes of ten stories, but I have to see if that’s an economically viable format.

“Obviously, if there is anybody out there with originals, or proofs, or clippings, then please get in touch with me. This is the best Western strip ever published, and I want people to be able to read it, so that they can see why.”

• If you have any original art, proofs, or clippings, or know of anybody who may have them, then please get in touch with Paul Duncan at MattMarriottScans@gmail.com

Check out our recent guide to “Matt Marriott” here on downthetubes

Manuel Caldas – Publisher – Spanish language collections of Matt Marriott, Prince Valiant and much more

Further Reading…

James Edgar’s and Tony Weare’s Matt Marriott – An Appreciation by Domingos Isabelinho

James Edgar’s and Tony Weare’s Matt Marriott – Coda by Domingos Isabelinho

Monthly Stumblings # 18: James Edgar, Tony Weare by Domingos Isabelinho

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



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