A little piece of Middle England
January 21, 2009 2:04 AM   Subscribe

More than 20 years ago, Matt Pritchett, the son of a newspaper columnist, began his daily cartoon in the Daily Telegraph. Generally accepted as the best daily cartoonist working today on these shores, he actually wanted to become a cameraman originally but failed to find the work. Always wry, understated and pithy, Matt's cartoons typically summarise the absurd and the humdrum in modern day Britain, often at the same time. Here's his effort for today. Some of his classics here, here and here.
posted by MuffinMan (19 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
the son of a newspaper columnist

And grandson of the great short story writer VS Pritchett.
posted by Mocata at 2:36 AM on January 21, 2009

Matt is published in the Sydney Morning Herald regularly, and despite living in Britain for a couple of years it has never clicked he wasn't a local Aussie. Which I think speaks to his universal appeal.
posted by bystander at 2:59 AM on January 21, 2009

My favourite cartoonist in Britain is Mac, at the Daily Mail (great collection of his earlier stuff here). I sometimes wonder whether he is keeping his paper (which can do overblown headlines and not much else) in business single handedly. I love the way he takes middle England and gives it a massive, even Pythonesque, twist.
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 4:00 AM on January 21, 2009

He's a leading example of how you don't necessarily need to be a great draughtsman to be a great cartoonist - the drawings rarely rise above the level of 'poor to adequate', but it doesn't matter at all.

I really don't know how anyone can come up with stuff so consistently witty and topical day after day. for years on end. He rarely goes for the obvious joke, yet there's always that little unexpected insight that lies at the heart of so much successful humour.
posted by Phanx at 4:01 AM on January 21, 2009

Matt, that is.
posted by Phanx at 4:02 AM on January 21, 2009

My dad used to get the Telegraph every day when I lived at home (I was 15 when Matt arrived on the scene). It's the only bit of the paper I can bear to read now the football coverage has gone downhill.
posted by athenian at 4:03 AM on January 21, 2009

Generally accepted as the best daily cartoonist working today on these shores

Really? It's well over a decade since I've read the Telegraph, and while Matt would occasionally raise a smile, he always struck me as rather pedestrian in comparison to the unparalleled genius of Steve Bell.

(though, admittedly, just about anything will seem pedestrian in comparison to Steve Bell...)
posted by anagrama at 4:17 AM on January 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

I loathe Steve Bell (and I'm a token ultra-leftist around these parts); no moment of reductionist hysterics too crude. Will admit I gave up on him years ago as a result, so maybe he's improved.
posted by Abiezer at 4:35 AM on January 21, 2009

Steve Bell's one-panel cartoons can be pretty good but "If.." is the worst strip in the English papers and I include Scorer and Striker in that.
posted by minifigs at 5:08 AM on January 21, 2009

anagrama: I would say so. Matt is a regular award winner and is a member of The Press Gazette's Hall of Fame. He clearly is less edgy than Steve Bell, but that is arguably the strength (and weakness) of each of them.

I do wonder how strong Steve Bell's material will be now GWB has left office. His cariacature of Bush was obscene - and often obscenely funny.

The main thing that draws industry admiration for Matt is simply that he so rarely has on off day. Which is pretty amazing when you think of how often he publishes and how long he's been doing it for.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:28 AM on January 21, 2009

So this is what it's like here before the States wake up.
posted by Pronoiac at 5:35 AM on January 21, 2009

Matt>Nick Newman>Steve Bell>Peter Brookes
posted by jonnyploy at 5:40 AM on January 21, 2009

Of the cartoons linked, I most enjoyed the TV licence joke. Now my comedy fatwah has been pronounced you may all adjust your views accordingly.
posted by Abiezer at 6:09 AM on January 21, 2009

Is this something I'd have to be English to understand?
posted by TypographicalError at 6:13 AM on January 21, 2009

We let Welsh people chuckle at these from time to time too, but they can't look at cartoons for more than 30 seconds at a time in case they infer hidden nationalist sentiments, as per a law of Edward II in 1324.
posted by Abiezer at 6:39 AM on January 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've always preferred Brant, the physical cartoonist from the Daily Telegraph.
posted by hnnrs at 7:57 AM on January 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Matt can be very funny, but to say he hardly has an off day seems a little off, when only a few of the 70 or so cartoons linked are all that funny.

And you cant compare him to Steve Bell, its chalk and cheese. Its like comparing Alan Moore to Frank S Pepper. Of the one-panel bandits, I always liked David Austin. I had a book of his from the 70s which evoked the era as clearly as any time travelling cop drama.
posted by criticalbill at 2:48 PM on January 21, 2009

Alternatively, Chris Riddell, a more traditional editorial cartoonist, but a superb draughtsman and sometimes very funny. Observer political cartoons here. Illustrations for Unwritten Books here (I had the job of Photoshopping out all the scrolls at the top of the cartoons when it was turned into a book).
posted by Grangousier at 3:37 PM on January 21, 2009

"but to say he hardly has an off day seems a little off, when only a few of the 70 or so cartoons linked are all that funny"

In fairness to the guy, that's the peril of being a topical cartoonist. Like most of them, he feeds on the big news stories of the day previous, so out of context any cartoons will lose some of their immediacy - and humour over time.

I recall the one in which the conductor wonders why the train is called the 8.57 as much more acid than it seems now because at the time the railway operators were making fairly spurious comments about punctuality when it was obvious that trains were regularly late.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:34 AM on January 22, 2009

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