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Matt Marriott 1973

Matt Marriott, Evening News, 1973

David Ashford "Tony" Weare was born in Wincanton, Somerset, on 1 January 1912. He studied at Bournemouth School of Art, but "chucked it to become a trooper in a cavalry regiment". He eventually bought himself out of the army and took a variety of jobs, including timber hauling, farming, and working in the tobacco industry, while keeping up the drawing.

He served as a radio operator during the Second World War, and after the war his illustration career began to take off, his illustrations appearing in magazines like The Strand, Pearson's, Britannia, Nash's and John Bull. He started working for comics, including Mickey Mouse Weekly, drawing "Billy Brave" (1950-57), "The Royal Family" (1954), "Pride of the Circus", "Savage Splendour", and "Robin Alone", Comet, where he drew "Greyfriars Ghost" (1952), Cowboy Comics Library, where he drew "Buck Jones" (1953-55), and Junior Express, where he drew '"The Colditz Story". In 1954 he drew the daily strip City Under the Sea for the Daily Herald.

He is best known for the popular daily western strip Matt Marriott, written by Jim Edgar, which he drew in the London Evening News from 1955 to 1977, which showcased his naturalistic style and his unusual technique of avoiding outlines by juxtaposing areas of hatched tone and texture. Another unsual feature was that Matt and his trail partner Powder Horn aged in real time. In 1961 he was voted Serious Strip Cartoonist of the Year by the Cartoonists' Club of Great Britain for his work on Matt Marriott. In 1974 he sold his house in Devon and bought a camper van, spending two years driving around the American west, while continuing to draw the strip and post it to London.

After the strip ended, he worked for Tornado (1979), drawing historical strips like "Billy the Kid", "Jesse James" and "Jack the Ripper", and illustrated a 16-part adaptation of W. Harrison Ainsworth's Rookwood for Look and Learn. In the 1980s he drew a few sequences of Alan Moore and David Lloyd's "V for Vendetta" in Warrior, at the invitation of Lloyd, an admirer of his work.

After that he retired from comics and concentrated on painting. At the age of 82, in despair over his increasing immobility, he took his own life, jumping from the pier at Porthleven, Cornwall, on 2 December 1994. His suicide note was a cartoon of his feet sticking out of the water. He had married twice and had three children.

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