Monday 21 January 2013


For my money, he is quite simply Britain's greatest living caricaturist!

I am talking about Wally Fawkes, who is better known by his famous signature...

The name originated during the Second World War. 'We spent so much time in air raid shelters,' Fawkes later recalled, 'I used to joke we in London had become troglodytes.' The moniker also connects with his other successful career as a jazz musician – one of his own early jazz bands was called 'The Troglodytes' – and he has played with many celebrated jazz-men including Acker Bilk, Sandy Brown and, as is commemorated in this exhibition, Humphrey Lyttleton.

As well as drawing for an astonishing range of newspapers and magazines from The New Statesman to The Daily Telegraph, Private Eye to Punch, Fawkes also created the long-running cartoon-strip, Flook, which began life in the Daily Mail and was originally aimed at youngsters. It featured the curious eponymous character and his human child friend, Rufus...

Later (aided by writers such as Keith Waterhouse and Barry Norman) Flook developed into a strip that lampooned society and politics, causing Margret Thatcher to comment that it was 'quite the best commentary on the politics of the day.'

It was this strip (along with Tove Jansson's 'Moomins') that made me want to be a cartoonist and, together with Ralph Steadman and Gerald Scarfe, Trog was responsible for shaping my own fledgling graphic style.

I loved the fact that his drawings – whilst always being unerringly accurate likenesses – could be affectionate, as in this caricature of TV pundit and social polemicist, Malcolm Muggeridge – depicted as a gargoyle on the Christian church that he latterly embraced...

...or savagely brutal as in this brilliant double-portrait of the contradictory faces of Prime Minister, Edward Heath...

This wonderful artist is currently being celebrated (and quite right, too!) at my favourite London museum – yes, you've guessed it – The Cartoon Museum in an exhibition entitled Trog, Flook – and Humph, too! since it also includes a scattering of related cartoons by Trog's fellow jazz-musician Humphrey Lyttleton... well as cartoons of Humph – by Trog!

Trog's other musical portraits on show include George Melly and the legendary Duke Ellington...

Politicians and Royals proliferate...

...but all kinds of people have caught Trog's eye and been submitted to his tirelessly perceptive pen, from actor, John Gielgud...

...via comic Frankie Howerd... Mother Teressa of Calcutta...

The exhibition remains on show until 28 April and includes over 120 cartoons, caricatures and strips from 1945-2005 (when, sadly, this graphic genius began to lose his eyesight) along with a small selection of cartoons by Humphrey Lyttleton.

The Cartoon Museum, 35 Little Russell Street, London WC1A 2HH 
Telephone 0207 580 8155
Tuesdays-Saturdays 10:30-17:30
Sunday 12:-17:30
Closed Mondays (including Bank Holidays)

£5.50 Adults; £4.00 Concessions; £3 Students;
Free to Under-18s, Art Fund Members & Friends of the Cartoon Museum
Children 12 or under must be accompanied by an adult.

There are also a couple of Special Events being held at the museum:

Wednesday 13 March 6:30-8:30Humphrey Lyttleton: 'The well-known Old Etonian ex-Guards officer jazz-trumpeter-broadcaster-cartoonist-bandleader' – Stephen Lyttleton gives a personal and entertaining insight into the life of his father.

Wednesday 20 March 6:30-8:30 Wally Fawkes Roundtable – Speakers to be confirmed

Tickets: Adults £5; Concessions £4; Friends of the Cartoon Museum £3. Book on-line or at the Museum Shop.

Finally, here's Wally on clarinet with the Humphrey Lyttleton Band (Humph on trumpet, Johnny Parker on piano and Bruce Turner on sax) playing 'Sugar Rose'...


Neil-W said...

I've loved Trog's work for as long as i can remember .
And for some reason being mesmerised by the Flook comic strip whose contents sometimes went over my head. I included a little Flook cameo in an animation i did of the Beatles Nowhere Man. Only after i finished it did i find out Heinz Edelmann the designer of Yellow Submarine was a fan of Trog and Flook was an inspiration for his Nowhere Man character in that film .
a pleasing coincidence.
Hope its ok to include a link to my animation.
Flook pops up around 2:11
and that's my little tribute to Trog & Flook

Brian Sibley said...

Thanks for sharing that, Neil-W and I LOVE your Nowhere Man animation –– it's (what else?) FAB!

Here's a clickable link for readers to follow! Go and watch it, guys, it's really excellent work.

Alan Gilliland said...

My cockney and proud of it colleague, friend and terrific artist, Roy Castle (not that one), was a friend of Wally’s and took me along to meet him and listen to him play at the Dean St Pizza Express Jazz Club one very pleasant evening

Brian Sibley said...

Yes, Alan, in addition to a brilliant artist, Wally is a very fine jazz clarinetist.

ajsmith said...

Hi Brian,

you may be interested in a brand new interview with Wally that I did for The Comics Journal earlier this year.
Regards, Adam Smith

Brian Sibley said...

Great interview, Adam! Thank you!

ajsmith said...

Thanks a lot Brian!