This week's Private Eye magazine has a piece in their Street of Shame section on the cartoonist Matt Pritchett, known as Matt, who works for the Daily Telegraph. And who recently celebrated his 30th anniversary at the paper.
Private Eye points out how the paper ran tributes to Matt with a front cover blurb and the third page of the newspaper full of tributes including from Prince Philip and Theresa May, along with a magazine feature article and a four-page wrap this week featuring Matt's favourite of his cartoons, costing the paper £30,000. And more Matt-based events are planned.
But Private Eye reports that it's all part of a love in to keep Matt from moving to the Daily Mail or the Times, and the editor of the paper Chris Evans has been told by chairman Aidan Barclay that if Matt leaves, then Evans loses his job. As for many readers, Matt is what keeps them there.
Matt already earns £650,000, or $900,000 a year. Before Breit that would have been over $1 million a year. And it is £250,000 more than Chris Evans, his editor, earns. And the Telegraph has also bought Matt his weekend home, worth a bonus eight years ago. And an interest-free mortgage for his home in the Dordogne.
Private Eye contrasts this with the £25,000 paid to graduate recruits.
It wouldn't be the first time wars have been fought over cartoonists of course. The Telegraph paid a small fortune to get Charles Peattie and Russell Taylor to move their cartoon Alex from The Independent to The Telegraph in 1992. Peattie and Taylor also create the Celeb strip with Mark Warren for Private Eye.
And, at the beginning of comic strips, Yellow Kid creator Richard F. Outcault was hired away from Joseph Pulitzer's New York World to William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal American. Hearst also understood the value of comics. He hired away the entire staff of Pulitzer's colour section. Though not being able to copyright the character, Pulitzer then hired George Luks to continue drawing the original version for the World.
Could The Telegraph get away with a lookalike?