Rupert Bear

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André Franquin (Gaston, Spirou)

Rupert Bear      [in dutch]

Mary TourtelA fond memory of my infant years. One of my favourites is this creation of Mary Tourtel (1874/1948) called Rupert Bear and brought to life in 1920. It is especially the Tourtel version which he finds has this little extra. You can't point your finger at it, but it is there! Sort of amazing actually that these few lines in a drawing can create a whole atmosphere. At least for those that can be made aware of its presence. Her drawings are actually static, but there is something special about them.

Filled with anachronisms are these stories of Tourtel, you see knights but you'll also see automobiles. Many seem to prefer the version of Alfred Bestall who took over the creation in 1935 when falling eyesight forced her to stop drawing Rupert. With Rupert and foxBestall Rupert became much more worldly. Parents found that the stories with witches, magic and mystery and such were too scary for children, so Bestall was ordered to make him more in alignment with the world we knew from our daily life.

Rupert became very popular in England and still is till this very day. In the year 1929 Rupert was introduced in the Netherlands as Bruintje Beer where his popularity equaled that from England. An attempt was even made to introduce Rupert in Sweden, it was serialized for a short while in some newspaper. But it never came to issuing books.

I have been collecting all sort of older merchandizing of Rupert for a number of years. Not so much of this you actually find in England, however in the Netherlands you'll find all sorts of things. You got jigsaw puzzles, cards, games, clocks, jewellery, carpets, puddingforms, magica laterna slides etc. etc. ...  Strictly taken this is actually all illegal stuff. I also have been categorizing a variety of data, with the plan to once publish this. In case you would have something for me, you are likely make me very happy. But I also like to hear stories about how people experienced this creation back then. Drop a line any time!!


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