On this day in history : 8th November 1920 – Rupert the Bear makes his first appearance in the Daily Express newspaper…. The comic strip is still published every day….

Fair use

Rupert was created by British artist Mary Tourtel…. His first appearance was in a single panel – one of 36 to be printed over the coming days telling the story of the Little Lost Bear…. The main purpose of Rupert was to attract readers to the Daily Express away from its main rivals the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail….

When Tourtel originally created Rupert he was a brown bear – but it was decided to print him in white, to keep publishing costs down…. In 1935 Rupert was taken over by Alfred Bestall, who had worked for Punch Magazine but was to go on to produce Rupert for the next 30 years…. Rupert’s last outing for the Daily Express under Bestall was in July 1965, although he continued working on Rupert annuals into his nineties…. Since Bestall Rupert has had a succession of illustrators and writers….

Alfred Bestall – Fair use

The first Rupert annual was published in 1936 – and a new one has been released every year since – telling of Rupert’s adventures along with those of his friends such as Bill Badger, Edward Trunk the elephant, Willie the mouse, Ping-Pong the Pekinese dog and Podgy Pig…. Over the years some 50 million copies of Rupert annuals have been sold….

Rupert is still a popular character in children’s culture…. There have been several TV series and he has his own fan club…. On the 31st of October 2005 UK media group Entertainment Rights bought a majority interest in the little bear…. This in turn was bought by Boomerang Media and then DreamWorks Animation, with plans for a movie and associated merchandise….

From the 1970 Rupert Bear Annual – Image credit : Ian Burt via Flickr

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