Monday, November 19, 2007
News of Yore: Trog's Flook Tackles American Market
Trog Leads More Lives Than Does His 'Flook'
By Erwin Knoll (E&P, 1952)
A young Canadian now living in England, described as "a student of applied relaxation," is the creator of a very different comic strip which American newspaper readers are just beginning to get accustomed to. The artist is Wally Fawkes, better known as Trog, and his strip is "Flook," which General Features Corp. introduced here last fall.
Just what makes it difficult to get used to "Flook" is not quite clear, but it isn't just the fact that the strip is British. The London Daily Mail, which launched "Flook" several years ago at the suggestion of Viscount Rothermere, ran into the same trouble.
According to Stuart McClean, managing director of the Daily Mail, " 'Flook' is something unique in strip cartoons, and newspaper readers have to live with him for quite a time before they take him to their hearts. We were not at all happy about him during his first four or five months in the Daily Mail but suddenly he became famous . . . 'Flook' has become one of the foremost attractions in the Daily Mail, and we regard him as one of the greatest strip cartoons of all time."
The "Flook" in question is a tubby, panda-like animal with a short trunk, sawed-off arms and legs, the ability to speak seven languages, and an uncanny faculty for changing himself—or itself— into anything and everything on a moment's notice. Accompanied by Rufus, a small boy who was originally the strip's central character, the "Flook" stumbles into an unending series of far-flung and fantastic adventures.
Versatile as the "Flook" is, he is no match for his creator. When not studying applied relaxation, Trog—the pen name is short for "troglodyte"—studies serious art at London's Studio Club, goes on research field trips for "Flook" or plays the clarinet at the Humphrey Lyttelton Jazz Club. Critics have commented on his "uncanny musical understanding," and the cartoonist says music is much more important to him than art.
Trog was born 28 years ago in Vancouver, Canada, but moved to England with his family at the age of seven. He attended several art schools and did commercial illustrating until an art contest entry landed him a job on the Daily Mail in 1945. He drew column breaks until "Flook" got off to its reluctant start in 1949.
Robert Raymond now writes the continuity for "Flook," but he admits that "the last word is Trog's. 'Flook' haunts his morning tub, squeezes out of his tube of toothpaste and bobs up when he cracks his breakfast egg," Mr. Raymond says.
Labels: News of Yore