Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Obscurity of the Day: Flook

While this strip is certainly an obscurity in its U.S. run, Flook was a beloved institution in Britain for over thirty years. So rather than expound on a strip that others know much more about, let me direct you to:

A quick Wiki overview
An appreciation of the strip by Stephen Worth, plus a nice long series of strips
A bio of creator Wally 'Trog' Fawkes
An E&P article about Flook

So all that's left for my comment is about the short and unsuccessful U.S. run. General Features, a perennially anemic second-string syndicate, took on the U.S. distribution of the strip a couple years after it began on the other side of the Atlantic, starting here September 10 1951. Why GFC thought Flook would go over in the States I can't imagine  -- the strip is so rooted in British sensibilities, slang and culture that most Americans would need annotations to fully appreciate it.

GFC gave it their best shot, though, offering it for almost three full years to a whole country full of indifferent newspaper editors. The U.S. run ended on June 26 1954 when GFC finally pulled the plug and filled Flook's slot in their line-up with a very American two-fisted, take no prisoners reporter strip, Jeff Cobb.


Hello, Allan---I'll bet that Flook wasn't seeing a mirage of New York in it's original context. The chap with the pipe and the double-deck bus don't elicit the gothasm I'm acquianted with. Isn't that fancy structure seen in the first two episodes the memorial to Prince Albert?-------Cole Johnson.
Hi Cole --
I'm one of those shlubs who would need the annotations, but, yeah, I imagine in the original the mirage was Swingin' London.

Gothasm = the excitement a visitor feels when first arriving in NYC? Make a great marketing gimmick I think, replace "I (heart) NY" with "Visit NY, Have a Gothasm!".

I'm torn between roiling in the warm rays of brilliant lexicographic initiative here, or just admitting my old eyes aren't as good as they used to be. ----Cole Johnsasm.
Oh wow great to see this again! This used to run in the Daily Mail (right-wing biased British tabloid newspaper) I believe. Criminally under-recognized, thanks for posting!
Oh and are you the same Cole Johnson who had stuff in Kramers Ergot and the second Yale anthology?
Hey Allan, I was amazed to find Chris Duffy was a fan of Flook, there are some scans on his blog:

And I put a little page or two fom a tiny Flook book I have, on my blog, after talking a little to Chris about the character:

Not as good, nor as quirky, in my opinion as 4D Jones by Peter Maddocks, which I suspect you might like, it's posted here:
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