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Cartoonist Matt's regional press roots

Newspaper cartoonist Matt Buck has become a recognised artist across the country with his contributions to leading national papers. He talked to Holdthefrontpage about his rise from starting out drawing in the regional press.

Matt Buck began his career in cartoons while studying for a BA (Hons) degree in American History and Politics at the Hull University.

He said: “I started to work at the Hull Daily Mail while I was still at college, basically to make a bit of cash.

“My editor Stan Szecowka helped me a lot which was important – he told me off a lot too, but he helped me get into drawing cartoons.

“I couldn’t really see the point of ‘proper’ art, it never seemed to tell you much about what was going on around you. Cartoons don’t generally suffer from this – well, not if they’re any good anyway.”

He went on to study for a PG Diploma in Newspaper Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, and used his time there to draw daily puppet cartoons for the Lancashire Evening Post.

So after training to be a reporter and training to be a graphics artist he put both disciplines together to spend two years at the Post in the early 1990s.

He said: “Working there was great, and Phil Welch my editor deserves an award for bravery for taking me on.

“I then spent about 18 months at Southampton on the Southern Daily Echo but became confident enough to ‘disappear’ and start freelancing.

“But becoming a freelance was very nerve wracking – I just turned up at people’s doors looking for work and then started getting it.”

After finishing as a runner-up in the 1999 New Statesman Political Cartoon Awards, Matt scooped first prize in the Young Cartoonist of the Year Awards the next year. The British Cartoonist Association ran the contest and judges included Steve Bell, Martin Rowson, Peter Brookes and Posey Simmonds.

Matt said: “In 2000, I won the Young Cartoonist of the Year award. It was set up about five years ago in memory of Mel Calman who I used to know.

“Actually, I misunderstood the rules which said only one piece was supposed to be entered and I submitted about ten but it was really nice to win, especially as I used to know Mel Calman.

“Over the past five years I have worked for The Guardian, The Express, The Observer, The Sun, The Daily Mail, The New Statesman, Sport First and magazines as diverse as Bliss for Brides and What’s On Shanghai.

“This has given me a good variety of topics to work on and like with being able to write stories, having variety in your work is very important. That was one of the best pieces of advice I was ever given.

“It gives you a lot more freedom, as long as you have a nice understanding editor.”

His favourite work is drawing political cartoons: “Everyone thinks that you just draw the pictures but you really have to think what to draw. The difficult part is laying down your thoughts logically, or illogically as the case may be, and putting them together,” he said.

“At the moment I am working for a computing trade magazine and freelancing for the political magazine, The Tribune, and doing some work for Newsquest.

“I’m also doing animations for the web and have a website with my work on it.”

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