Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Friends of the Fiend 30: Matt Buck

Matt Buck, a former UK Young Cartoonist of the Year, spent his early years in reporting and then working in newspaper infographics. He finally abandoned the daily drudge (thankfully) and turned his talented hand to full-time cartooning, winning a place on a unique cartoon exchange with young South African cartoonists. An experience he describes as 'a magnificent learning experience'.
I like political cartoonists like Matt because, as I think is evident from the caricatures above, which he created for Sky News, he combines the right amount of love for his subjects, with a healthy dose of venom for those who have abandoned their ideals as they make the climb up the greasy political pole.

CF. Hello, Matt.

MB. Greetings Fiend.

CF. Okay, what are your current projects, anything exciting in the pipeline - that you can tell us about?

MB. I've always got dreams fiend - the problems tend to come turning them in realities. But, at the moment, the most exciting thing going on is the chance to draw caricatures of the bad and the evil at the Cannes film festival.
Shrewsbury cartoon festival was also great fun this spring.

CF. Did you always want to be a cartoonist, and set out to become one, or was it a gradual process?

MB. A mixture. It suited both my character and my interests, although it took me a while to work out exactly what this combustible mess meant. The unpalatable consequences are becoming clearer year by year.

CF. The work you do at the moment, can you tell us something about the process?

MB. Um. I'm woefully undisciplined and my working methods are a bit prone to erratic turns, but broadly, I like drawing best and so, when I'm reasoning well, I tend to concentrate on this and do less colouring or messing about with the line.
I had an unhappy period when I drew entirely on the computer and although the stuff was fine, over time, I felt it lacked character and so now, I tend to use the computer only as a finisher and a colouring box.
Re-reading this, I realise that I've only talked about the technique here - and the important bit is really the writing. Tea, staring into space, extreme tiredness, running, rage, bile and suppressed childhood trauma all help fuel the actual creative process.

More Matt Buck cartoons here at Matt Buck. Com.

CF. I know you've been asked this a million times, but what tools do you use, and what format do you work to?

MB. Pentel brush pens - I love the flexibility of line it gives. Any number of pencils (blunt), photoshop and a lot of patience. Formats tend to depend on clients. Although in a typical week I'll work on anything from single column gags to page holding A3 drawings. I like a challenge. Scanner, Mac, email, storage facilities etc,etc...

CF. Is the cartoonist a proper artist? I mean, does cartooning have the same cultural impact as some other artforms, in your opinion?

MB. Yes, it is an art form and it does have an impact - although typically I can't think of any quantifiable way to record it. I guess the best way is still the laugh and the occasional - You can't say that! Impact is entirely subjective but I think it's best to try and avoid too much critical opinion. Cartoonist Royston Robertson made a nice acid aside about this on his blog, in which he noted the shock horror newspaper story of an art critic actually going to learn to draw.

CF. Is there any other area of cartooning you'd liketo work in, if you can find the time?

MB. Oh yeah - pretty much all of it - but sculptural cartooning I think might be fun.

CF. Who were your major artistic influences?

MB. Not sure about influences, people I admire would include a bizarre range from Edward Sorel to Sempe, passing through Telnaes, Fleming, Bell, Calman, Brown, Brodner and Trog plus others too numerous to list.

CF. Who was/is your favourite cartoonist/writer, of all time?

MB. Mel Calman - for his sense of humour... his famous Women's Lib drawing - one cross looking woman holding a sign - FREE WOMEN! - smaller man ... can I have one please?

CF. There's a lot of talk about a new 'paper-less future' and 'new digital reading habits', do you think this will affect cartooning,at some point.

MB. Yes and I think it already is, but there will always be a need for jokes.

CF. If you had the time, and you were helicoptered in to work on anything you chose, any publication, strip, panel, character, book, show, what would you like to work on?

MB. Eek - um, dunno. Something that reminded people that we're more than just economic units.

CF. Is there anything you'd rather be?

MB. No - how lucky is that ...

CF. Thank you for visiting with us.

MB. It was a pleasure Fiend.

Matt Buck, Cartoonist Tel: UK +44 (0) 1962 840216