Wally Fawkes

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Wally Fawkes
Born Walter Ernest Fawkes
(1924-06-21) 21 June 1924 (age 90)
Vancouver, Canada
Nationality British
Known for

Walter Ernest "Wally" Fawkes (born 21 June 1924 in Vancouver, Canada) is a British-Canadian jazz clarinetist and a satirical cartoonist. As a cartoonist, he generally worked under the name of 'Trog' until failing eyesight forced him to retire from cartooning in 2005 at the age of 81 to concentrate solely on his clarinet playing.

Early history[edit]

Fawkes was born in Vancouver, Canada in 1924, but left with his family for a new life in Britain in 1931. Enthused by comic books from a young age, Fawkes left school at the age of fourteen to take up a scholarship to study at Sidcup Art School. After 18 months he was forced to leave art school due to financial restraints. With the outbreak of the Second World War, Fawkes was first employed painting camouflage onto factory roofs in an attempt to hide them from enemy bombing. A bout of pleurisy made Fawkes ineligible for service and he was instead employed by the Coal Commission working on maps of coal seams. In 1942 he entered an art competition that was adjudicated by the Daily Mail's chief cartoonist Leslie Gilbert Illingworth, who found him work with the Clement Davies advertising agency. In 1945 Illingworth had found Fawkes work at the Daily Mail drawing column-breaks and decorative illustrations.[1]

As a jazz musician[edit]

It was during the war years that Fawkes began playing in jazz bands. He once joked that due to the amount of time spent in underground air-raid shelters that people living in London were becoming troglodytes, and he took up this name for one of his early jazz bands Wally Fawkes and the Troglodytes. After the group disbanded Fawkes adopted 'Trog' as his pen-name. In 1947 Fawkes took a weekly course at the Camberwell School of Art in London where fellow students included Humphrey Lyttelton and Francis Wilford-Smith. That year he joined the George Webb Dixielanders, a semi-professional revivalist jazz band that featured Lyttelton on trumpet. When Lyttelton left the Dixielanders in January 1948 to form his own jazz band, Fawkes went with him and stayed with the band until 1956, by which time it had evolved from "revivalism" into "mainstream".[1] Not that Fawkes minded that: his own bands from then on could be broadly described as "mainstream". He has re-united with Lyttelton periodically ever since, and, though highly talented on his instrument, remains (in the best sense of the term) an "amateur". He has never lost his admiration for the playing of Sidney Bechet (with whom he recorded, as part of Lyttelton's band, in 1949); but he has always been his own man on the clarinet, and not just a Bechet clone. He played with George Melly and John Chilton in the Feetwarmers band in the early 1970s

As a cartoonist[edit]

Fawkes' most creation work as a cartoonist was 'Flook' – the unlikely and increasingly satirical comic-strip adventures of its small and furry eponymous hero, which first appeared in the Daily Mail in 1949.[1] Fawkes's role was chiefly as illustrator, and he had a strong team of collaborators on the scripts for Flook over the years, including George Melly, Barry Norman, Humphrey Lyttelton and Barry Took. 'Flook' ran for 35 years in the Daily Mail, and despite Margaret Thatcher's comment that 'Flook' was "quite the best commentary of the politics of the day" it was suddenly cancelled by the paper in 1984.[2] Robert Maxwell took 'Flook' to the Daily Mirror, from where it transferred briefly to the Sunday Mirror before being dropped completely.[2]

As well as his work for the Daily Mail, Fawkes also produced political cartoons for The Spectator working with George Melly as his author. The two also produced occasional contributions for Private Eye, and from 1962 The New Statesman. Despite producing larger political cartoons for the Daily Mail, his future role as Illingworth's successor as lead Cartoonist, was threatened by the paper's preference towards the work of Gerald Scarfe. Fawkes therefore began submitting work to other publications and he began contributing political cartoons to the The Observer. At The Observer he fell foul of reader anger when some of his cartoons aimed at the British royalty were described as being "grossly discourteous to the Queen".[1] In 1967 Scarfe left the Mail and Fawkes' position at the paper became more secure, and in 1968 he stopped writing for The Observer to concentrate at The Daily Mail.[1]

When Illingworth retired as The Daily Mail's political cartoonist in 1969, Fawkes took over the role. That year he also replaced Illingworth as political cartoonist of Punch. Then in 1971, The Daily Mail absorbed The Daily Sketch, and the role of transforming the old paper from a broadsheet into a tabloid fell to the old Sketch editor David English. He gave the role of political cartoonist to Stan McMurtry and Fawkes found himself dropped from his old role. Fawkes returned to The Observer in 1971, while continuing to work for Punch. After 'Flook' was cancelled in 1985, Fawkes worked briefly for Today from 1986 before a short stint at the London Daily News. During the 1980s he continued to contribute to work to both Punch and Private Eye and for the Observer he drew a pocket cartoon named "mini-Trog". In 1996 he left The Observer and joined The Sunday Telegraph. He remained at the Telegraph until failing eyesight forced him to retire in 2005.[2]

In 2013 his work was celebrated with an exhibition at the Cartoon Museum of London.[3]

Personal history[edit]

He married the journalist Sandy Fawkes in 1949 and they had four children, three surviving. In 1965 he married Susan Clifford and they had two children.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Biography: Wally Fawkes (Trog)". British Cartoon Archive. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Wilson, Giles (17 August 2005). "Farewell blues". Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  3. ^ Chilton, Martin (7 January 2013). "Celebrating the great cartoons of Trog". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 

External links[edit]