The Daily Telegraph

Wally Fawkes

Jazz musician and cartoonist who drew the ‘Flook’ comic strip for more than three decades


WALLY FAWKES, who has died aged 98, was a cartoonist and jazz musician renowned in particular as the artist – under the pseudonym “Trog” – of the longrunnin­g Daily Mail “Flook” comic strip.

Formerly titled “Rufus”, “Flook” was created by the writer Douglas Mount for the Daily Mail in 1949 as a strip for children similar in style to “Barnaby” in the US. Wally Fawkes was the original artist and drew the strip for the next 35 years.

In the strip’s earliest days, Rufus was a small red-headed boy living with his oppressive Victorian uncle when he met Flook during a prehistori­c dream. In the 21st episode of the strip, both Rufus and Flook tumbled out of a dream balloon and into reality.

Flook was a strange, bear-like animal with a short trunk of a nose which possessed the magical ability to change its owner into different objects at will. While the earliest episodes were fanciful whimsy, as the years progressed “Flook” evolved into Britain’s foremost satirical strip, developing a cutting edge that scythed its way through the nation’s more pompous institutio­ns.

Walter Ernest Fawkes was born on June 21 1924 in Vancouver, British Columbia, and moved to England aged seven with his family in 1931. They settled in Sidcup, where he attended Sidcup Central School and Sidcup School of Art before moving on to the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts.

During the Second World War, Fawkes drew military maps and painted camouflage, and some of the work he produced during the war years appeared in an exhibition attended by the Daily Mail political cartoonist, Lesley Illingwort­h. Impressed by Fawkes’s obvious talent, Illingwort­h got him a job on the art staff of the Mail in 1945 doing small spot illustrati­ons as well as cartoons and illustrati­ons for the paper’s children’s annual.

In 1949 the Mail decided it needed a new children’s strip to compete with the other dailies and Fawkes was chosen to draw it. “Rufus”, later to become “Rufus and Flook” and eventually just “Flook”, was an instant success.

Fawkes had chosen his pseudonym “Trog” based on the name of his jazz band, the Troglodyte­s, who specialise­d in playing in cellars. As an accomplish­ed clarinetti­st and soprano saxophonis­t, Fawkes was a co-founder of the Humphrey Lyttelton Band in 1948, and Lyttelton later joined him as a writer for “Flook” from 1952 to 1956.

The strip’s line-up of writers over the years was impressive: Robert Raymond took over from Douglas Mount, followed by Sir Compton Mackenzie. After Humphrey Lyttelton’s stint, George Melly, the journalist and jazz singer, wrote the scripts until 1971, injecting a satirical maturity which combined his own brand of anarchism with a brilliant ear for the dialogue of the times. Under Melly, Flook spent less time turning into odd objects and more time knocking the stuffing out of British pomposity in all its forms.

Utilising the splendid cast of characters to their full extent, Melly had Mr Muckybrass, the plain man’s prime minister, imposing sanctions on the Isle of Wight while in real life Harold Wilson was censuring Rhodesia.

The inspiratio­n for the scripts was derived from the news of the day and the characters Scoop, Bodger, Lucretia and Moses Maggot all played their parts in an iconoclast­ic spirit of satiric celebratio­n. Fawkes’s accurate portrayal of the standard figures and the consistent quality of his artwork, combined with Melly’s distinctiv­e line in social comment, raised the strip to cult status in the 1960s.

In 1971, the film critic Barry Norman took over Flook’s plots until 1974, followed by Barry Took (the Points of View presenter) until 1976, when Fawkes took on the writing as well as the drawing.

In 1968, after the retirement of Lesley Illingwort­h, Fawkes was asked to provide the principal weekly political cartoon for the Mail as well as the “Flook” strip. This was far from his first foray into political cartoons: he had been producing them for The Spectator

from 1959 and later drew for Private Eye, New Statesman and The Observer.

When the Mail was reduced to tabloid size in 1971, “Trog” moved to Punch, for whom he drew brilliant full-colour covers and the weekly political cartoon. In 1984 he transferre­d to the Daily Mirror. After contributi­ng to Today from 1986 to 1987, Fawkes took up work for the London Daily News, and also worked for the Times magazine, The Sunday Telegraph, the Daily Express, The Oldie magazine and The Week.

Numerous collection­s of “Flook” strips appeared over the years, including Rufus and Flook Versus Moses Maggot, World of Trog, Trog Shots and Trog: 40 Graphic Years.

In 1962 Fawkes illustrate­d an “autobiogra­phy” of his character, I, Flook, and Flook’s 25th anniversar­y was celebrated with gusto in a BBC Edition

programme in 1974, while Flook at 30

(1980) carried pieces by Sir Compton Mackenzie, Humphrey Lyttelton, George Melly, Barry Norman, Barry Took and others. An exhibition of Fawkes’s original Flook drawings was held at the Centre for the Study of Cartoons and Caricature at the University of Kent in the early 1980s.

Aside from his cartooning, Fawkes’s life centred around his other two principal enthusiasm­s, jazz and cricket. He was a member of MCC and Middlesex CCC.

Wally Fawkes married first, in 1949, Sandy Boyce-carmichele; they had two daughters and a son (and a daughter who predecease­d him), but divorced in 1964. He married secondly, in 1965, Susan Clifford, with whom he had a daughter and son.

Wally Fawkes, born June 21 1924, died March 1 2023

 ?? ?? Fawkes adopted his cartoon pseudonym ‘Trog’ based on his jazz band, the Troglodyte­s, who specialise­d in playing in cellars
Fawkes adopted his cartoon pseudonym ‘Trog’ based on his jazz band, the Troglodyte­s, who specialise­d in playing in cellars

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