New book celebrates the art of Rupert Bear artist Alfred Bestall

The Bestall Book

The Bestall Book, featuring previously uncoloured Bestall newspaper stories, will be published and launched at a signing by current Rupert Bear, at a signing day by current artist John Harrold on 13th November 2021 at Lewes Town Hall, Sussex.

The hard-cover book, of 80 plus pages, is the work of the The Followers of Rupert, a society established in 1983, for those who remember Rupert from their childhood with affection. The society is limited to classic Rupert, not the cartoon character more recently seen.

Alfred Edmeades “Fred” Bestall, MBE wrote and illustrated “Rupert Bear” for the Daily Express from 1935 to 1965.

Presented in the traditional style of Rupert Annuals, the new book features a tribute cover by John Harrold, who has also coloured the included “Rupert and Dinkie” story. Also included are the stories “Rupert and the Unicorn”, “Rupert’s Bonfire” and “Rupert and the Chinese Cracker”.

John will be pleased to sign copies on the day.

The Bestall Book also will be available by post for members of the Society. and Ordering details will be included in the next issue of the Nutwood Newsletter published by The Followers of Rupert.

Rupert art by John Harrold
Rupert art by John Harrold
John Harrold
John Harrold

Born in 1947, John Harrold studied drawing and painting at the Glasgow School of Art. In 1973 he was asked to illustrate “Lots of Fun to Cook with Rupert”, and this led to the Daily Express asking him to draw some Rupert strips for the newspaper.

After Rupert artist Alfred Bestall retired, a number of artists were used to provide the daily strips and these included John Harrold, who contributed his first story “Rupert and the Worried Elves” to the newspaper in 1976. He contributed a further 16 stories in the years up to 1985, when he then became the exclusive provider of newspaper stories for the Daily Express.

Rupert art by John Harrold
Rupert art by John Harrold

His early collaboration was with the Rupert Editor James Henderson and later, from 1990, Ian Robinson both of whom wrote the stories for John to illustrate, though he inspired many subtle changes which were included as the plots developed.

John originally worked in the Rupert style of Alfred Bestall and slowly developed his own style introducing some new characters over the years. These included Ottoline and Rika, who helped to provide a greater female presence on the Nutwood stage.

Rupert art by John Harrold
Rupert art by John Harrold
Rupert art by John Harrold
Rupert art by John Harrold

John produced his first Rupert Annual cover in 1978, along with all other content including endpapers until 2007, and was working as the official Rupert artist for over 30 years.

• John Harrold signing day and The Bestall Book launching | 13th November 2021, Lewes Town Hall, Sussex BN7 2QS | The Followers of Rupert are online at followersofrupertbear.co.uk

Rupert Bear – The Art of Alfred Bestall – Facebook Group

With thanks to Peter Gray for the news tip

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



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