Wally Fawkes

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Wally Fawkes
Born
Walter Ernest Fawkes

(1924-06-21) 21 June 1924 (age 95)
NationalityBritish
Known for

Walter Ernest "Wally" Fawkes (born 21 June 1924) is a British-Canadian jazz clarinetist and a satirical cartoonist. As a cartoonist, he usually worked under the name "Trog" until failing eyesight forced him to retire in 2005 at the age of 81.

Early history[edit]

Fawkes was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in 1924 and emigrated with his family to Britain in 1931. Enthused by comic books from a young age, Fawkes left school at fourteen to take up a scholarship to study at Sidcup Art School. After 18 months he left art school due to financial restraints. On the outbreak of the Second World War, Fawkes was first employed painting camouflage on factory roofs to hide them from enemy bombing. A bout of pleurisy made Fawkes unfit for service and he was instead employed by the Coal Commission to work on maps of coal seams. In 1942 he entered an art competition that was judged by the Daily Mail's chief cartoonist Leslie Gilbert Illingworth, who found him work with the Clement Davies advertising agency. In 1945 Illingworth 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 people in London were becoming troglodytes, and he took up this word 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 he took a weekly course at the Camberwell School of Art in London where fellow students included Humphrey Lyttelton and Francis Wilford-Smith. Fawkes had been a member of George Webb's Dixielanders, a semi-professional revivalist jazz band that featured Lyttelton on trumpet, since 1944. 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 to mainstream jazz.[1] This suited Fawkes, as his own bands from then on could be broadly described as mainstream. He re-united with Lyttelton periodically thereafter, and, though highly talented on his instrument, remains (in the best sense of the term) an "amateur". He has long admired Sidney Bechet and once recorded with him, as part of Lyttelton's band, in 1949. He played with George Melly and John Chilton in the Feetwarmers band in the early 1970s.

As a cartoonist[edit]

In 1949, Fawkes's comic strip Flook first appeared in the Daily Mail. It featured the unlikely and satirical adventures of its small and furry eponymous hero[1] Fawkes's role on the Mail 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 until its sudden cancellation in 1984. Margaret Thatcher once said that it was "quite the best commentary of the politics of the day" [2] Robert Maxwell took Flook to the Daily Mirror, from where it transferred briefly to the Sunday Mirror before being dropped completely.[2]

Fawkes also produced political cartoons for The Spectator with George Melly as his author. The two also contributed occasionally to Private Eye and, beginning in 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 for the work of Gerald Scarfe. Fawkes therefore began submitting work to other publications, and he began contributing political cartoons to The Observer. At The Observer he fell foul of the readership when some of his cartoons about 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 on The Daily Mail.[1]

Fawkes became The Daily Mail's political cartoonist when Illingworth retired in 1969. That year he also replaced Illingworth as political cartoonist of Punch. 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 was dropped from his old role. Fawkes returned to The Observer in 1971 and continued to work for Punch. After Flook was cancelled in 1985, Fawkes worked briefly for Today and then served a short stint at the London Daily News. During the 1980s he continued to contribute to 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, where he remained 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]

Fawkes married the journalist Sandy Fawkes in 1949 and they had four children, three of whom survived. In 1965 he married Susan Clifford and they had two children, one of whom was Lucy Brooker. She has two daughters, one of them being Ruby Brooker.

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]