Obituaries: Tony Weare

For 22 years Tony Weare drew the picture strip ``Matt Marriott'' for the Evening News, the erstwhile rival to the Evening Standard, attaining a readership of 4 million. From 1955 to 1977, readers of the paper were treated to a daily episode of wes tern action drawn by a master of the black-and-white adventure strip. ``Matt Marriott'' was not only one of the most ruggedly authentic strips ever produced but it was also unusual in that Matt and his trail partner ``Powder Horn'' both aged as the years went by.

In 1961, under the headline, ``Matt Wins Oscar for Tony'', the Evening News announced that the Cartoonists' Club of Great Britain had voted Weare the best serious (as opposed to humorous) cartoonist in the business. Among the strip's admirers were the Duke of Edinburgh, Lord Brabazon of Tara (who wrote a fan-letter about the character), and a group of Hampshire fishermen. Tony Weare was fond of telling the story of how, on entering a pub in a little fishing village on the Hampshire coast, he had seen his ``Matt Marriott'' strips plastered all over the walls. So popular did the strip become that when, in the early Seventies, it suddenly ceased - as a result of Weare's going into hospital - there was a public outcry. When Weare recovered, the strip was quickly reinstated - and he was given a substantial pay-rise.

During the run of ``Matt Marriott'', Weare developed a technique which remains all his own: instead of drawing the outlines of objects and people he would have two different shades meet, much as an artist does with paint. All strip artists who know his work acknowledge Weare's supremacy in the field of black and white, gained by a lifetime's working in illustration.

Weare worked for such magazines as Strand, Pearson's, Windsor, Britannia, Nash's and John Bull and, after the war, he drew ``Pride of the Circus'' and ``Billy Brave'' for the Odhams comic Mickey Mouse Weekly. After ``Matt Marriott'' ended in 1977, he continued to draw, notably the biographical strips for Tornado (``Billy the Kid,'' ``Jesse James'', ``Jack the Ripper'') and a 16-part adaptation of W. Harrison Ainsworth's Rookwood for Look and Learn.

David Ashford Tony Weare, illustrator and strip artist: born Wincanton, Somerset 1 January 1912; married Hilda Trench (one son; marriage dissolved), secondly Marian Jowett (one son, one daughter); died Porthleven, Cornwall 2 December 1994.

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