The featured Illustration is an idea for a Christmas card design I did in 1996. It is a Pen and Ink drawing coloured with crayon pencils portraying Rupert Bear, the famous children’s book character from the village of Nutwood. Rupert Bear was invented and drawn by Mary Tourtel in 1920. Mary Tourtel’s other Nutwood characters included Bill Badger, Edward Trunk, Algy Pug, Podgy Pig, the Rabbit Twins, the Fox brothers, the pet monkey Beppo, [owned I believe by Rollo the gipsy, at least in the Bestall stories], and the Wise Old Goat, who lived in the mountains beyond Nutwood.
The character was subsequently illustrated and raised to a virtually cult status due to its brilliant representation by Alfred Bestall from 1935 [then aged 42], who brought the character to life using imaginative storyboard techniques and well constructed plots unfolding in random pieces like mystery thrillers and then gathering together for the solution. He also developed his characters with more subtlety, making their movements freer, more fluid and less restricted than those of the cardboard cutout style produced by Mary Tourtel, endowing them with a range of facial expressions and thus creating far more interesting personalties. Rupert became more boylike, his movements freer, his range of facial expressions considerably enhanced.
The Wise Old Goat was given a transplant, replacing his hooves with hands, which was a wise move, seeing as the Wise Old Goat was by all appearances, an alchemist and apothecary with a lot of apparatus to manipulate in his mountain domain. Although incongruously, Edward Trunk was still cursed with elephants forefeet instead of hands, making them rather redundant as hands, even though they were attached to what were obviously arms in his anthropocentric, upright bipedal representation – and I know that in the real world elephant’s trunks serve as arms with the tips as prehensile and manipulative as fingers, but then they are quadrupeds and * Natural Selection has played its role in the arrangement, although in Edward’s case it is artistic manipulation. In spite of Edward’s forefeet-style hands being unnecessarily retained though, the stories were otherwise vastly improved and far more enjoyable to follow.
Alfred wrote and illustrated Rupert for the next 30 years until 1965, although he still contributed to the annual for many years after that, virtually into his nineties, departing from this world in 1986 aged 94. He added a host of new characters to the Rupert stories including Uncle Bruno, Pong-Ping and his little pet dragon, Tigerlily and her Conjuror father, the Professor and his servant, Sailor Sam, Cap’n Barnacle, Gaffer Jarge, Doctor Lion, Constable Growler, Doctor Chimp the schoolteacher, Bingo the brainy pup, Podgy’s cousin Rosalie, Gregory Guinea Pig, Grandma Goat and Billy Goat, Willie Mouse, the Merboy, and the Girl Guides and Boy Scouts, not forgetting all the various dragons and sea serpents, elfs, imps, and other exotic miscellanea.
An intermediate period followed: When Alfred Bestall retired from drawing Rupert, there was a spell when various other competent artists took on the role. These included Lucy Matthews, who copied Alfred Bestall’s style, Jenny Kisler, and Alex Cubie with his cartoon-style depictions.
It was taken over by John Harrold in 1985, a talented artist and draughtsman with an original and individual style, who had contributed stories from 1976. Although his representation was less fluid than Bestall’s and not as rustic or rural in orientation, it was beautifully rendered in a very detailed and precise form conveying an updated lively charm of its own. He worked on Rupert Bear for the Daily Express for over 30 years.
Rupert’s artist is now Stuart Trotter an experienced children’s illustrator and storyteller who has illustrated Postman Pat, Winnie the Pooh, Kipper and Thomas the Tank Engine. He is developing his own style of Rupert artwork, based on that of Alfred Bestall and has been the official Rupert artist since 2008 when he illustrated his first Rupert Annual. His artwork is a little more basic and simplistic than Bestall’s, as though still in early development but it is a good likeness of Bestall’s style and looks very promising. In fact it already looks set to equal his work; the artwork for the cover of the 2014 Rupert Annual No.79 is absolutely excellent.
I have set a slideshow of Rupert illustrations I made in 1992, which were drawn in pen and ink and painted in watercolours. Illustration number 18, featuring Gregory Guinea-pig, has an additional colour-pencilled skyscape. The illustrations are my versions of individual panels taken from various Rupert stories illustrated by Alfred Bestall.
Beneath these are 8 versions of the Christmas Card illustration shown in the featured image. The final image includes the greetings message that was used for sending.
Click on each image in the slideshow to enlarge and view.
Place cursor over image to reveal centrally-placed arrows to move back & forth manually through slideshow. Alternatively, click on (play slideshow) in the description beneath to automatically scan through the images.
The slideshow is displayed as listed here:
1. A Bacon Sandwich?
2. Ivory Hunters?
3. Let’s see if Oz were Right!
4. Looks like a Huge Fossilized Dildo, Bill!
5. It’s Alright – My Cat’s a Vegetarian, Willie!
6. Conduct Animal Experiments?
7. Just One little Puff, Pete
8. A Perfidious Narcosia Soporifica, Margot
9. Man Who Take Woman onto Hill – Not on Level
10. Gaw! Look at her Door Knockers, Rupert
11. One with Knobbly Bits?
12. PS. those Condoms Didn’t Work!
13. What – Sharks you say?
14. Most Odd! There’s Something Inside this Thing
15. Good Heavens – there’s a Little Bear behind
16. So which one’s Rex and which is Reggie?
17. Just one Teaspoonful Each Day
18. I found it in a Fairies Ring, Rupert!
19. Rupert Gallery Number Two
20. Rupert Gallery Number three
21. Rupert at Xmas Blue Tint
22. Rupert at Xmas Green Tint
23. Rupert at Xmas Rose Tint
24. Rupert at Xmas Sepia Tint
25. Rupert at Xmas Pale Colour
26. Rupert at Xmas Bright Colour
27. Rupert at Xmas FullTone
28. Rupert at Xmas Greeting
This File is located in the Art section under Portrait and Fantasy. Because the captions for the otherwise neutral or innocent images in the slideshow are spoofs of a burlesque nature I have also made this file available in the Caricature category of the Art section. It just goes to show that alternative captions leaning one way or another can influence and transform the meaning or interpretation of an image.
Dave Draper 2014
* Natural Selection See ‘notes’ below
* Natural Selection:
[re: Edward’s trunk & arms-with-toenailed-forefeet – quadrupeds and ‘Natural Selection’*]
Natural selection is the engine that drives evolution. The organisms best suited to survive in their particular circumstances have a greater chance of passing their traits on to the next generation. You’ll typically hear or see the phrase Natural selection quoted alongside the often misunderstood evolutionary catchphrase “survival of the fittest.” But survival of the fittest isn’t necessarily the bloody, tooth-and-claw battle for survival we tend to make it out to be [although it sometimes is]. Rather, it is a measure of how efficient a tree is at dispersing seeds; a fish’s ability to find a safe spawning ground before laying her eggs; the skill with which a bird retrieves seeds from the deep, fragrant cup of a flower; a bacterium’s resistance to antibiotics.
* From ‘How Natural Selection Works’ by Ed Grabianowski
Natural Selection – The Facts and the Fiction
The concept of natural selection in evolution is a complicated one that many people struggle to understand. Highschool students, university undergraduates, and even instructors who teach evolution all struggle with the key elements of this theory.
A major misconception is that changes in adaptive traits occur at the individual level and within a single lifespan, rather than at the population level and across many generations. An example of this misunderstanding is the idea that giraffes have long necks because individual animals stretched to reach leaves on high branches.
This is in contrast to the fact that giraffes possessing longer necks as a function of normal genetic variability were more likely to survive and reproduce compared to those with shorter necks [therefore propagating the trait of longer necks].
A recent study investigated whether this complicated concept could be taught to young children using a fictional storybook, providing a demonstration of the potential for facts to be learned from fiction
Psychological scientist Deborah Kelemen of Boston University and colleagues observed that by the time children formally learn about natural selection in school — typically between grades 8 and 12 in the United States — they have often formed causal misconceptions about how such change occurs over time.
The researchers hypothesized that these misconceptions might be avoided if the basic concepts surrounding natural selection were introduced earlier, in a clear and understandable way. Their findings support this hypothesis, indicating that young children really can be taught concepts that are often thought of as “too advanced”:
“It shows that kids are a lot smarter than we ever give them credit for. They can handle a surprising degree of complexity when you frame things in a way that taps into the natural human drive for a good, cohesive explanation,” Kelemen said in a statement from Boston University
The researchers recruited 28 five- to six-year-olds and 33 seven- to eight-year olds to participate in the study. The children were presented with a storybook that told about a fictional mammal with a trunk, the pilosa; the pilosa uses its trunk to get insects for food. When the climate changed, the insects moved underground, into long, narrow tunnels. This was no problem for the pilosas that had thin trunks, but the pilosas with wide trunks could no longer reach the insects and many of the wide-trunked pilosas didn’t survive.
After presenting the story, the researchers asked the children several closed-ended and open-ended questions to gauge their understanding of certain isolated facts and to see whether they could provide a coherent causal explanation.
Both the younger and older groups of children showed significant learning as a result of the storybook intervention. For example, 82% of the younger children demonstrated no relevant understanding of natural selection before hearing the story, whereas only 11% remained at that level after the intervention.
Given their more advanced developmental capacities, it is perhaps not surprising that the 7- to 8-year-olds “showed especially robust abilities to suppress emergent competing commonsense ideas and master task demands.”
Both age groups were able to generalize the concepts to a new species and were able to retain their understanding over a 3-month period.
“The present results suggest that comprehensive instruction about core evolutionary mechanisms can begin earlier than is currently recommended,” Kelemen and colleagues write. “Consistent with views of children as natural theory-builders, the young children in these experiments showed remarkable capacities to comprehend and abstract not only isolated facts but also mechanistically rich, novel scientific explanations when both the facts and the explanations were presented in a cohesive framework.”
The research was highlighted in stories from several news outlets, including ‘On Fiction’ an Online Magazine on the Psychology of Fiction; the Wall Street Journal, NPR, Scientific American, and Business Insider.
Kelemen, D., Emmons, N., Seston Schillaci, R., & Ganea, P. . Young children can be taught basic natural selection using a picture-storybook intervention. Psychological Science,
Compiled and Edited by Dave Draper 2014
Rupert and Natural Selection by Dave Draper 2014
Conclusively, I’d say that Natural Selection has worked very well for Rupert Bear so far. Brought into existence by Mary Tourtel in 1920, Rupert is still around in the the 21st century, and at the age of 94, is not only still alive and kicking, but has remained youthful and boyish and retained his innocence.
To date his hardback annual has been published each year since 1936 and is still published each year. In addition reprints of the vintage Rupert annuals are still being reprinted. The last one I purchased was the 1970 Annual reissued in 2012, which would make it the 31st Rupert annual.
The last current Rupert annual I purchased was number 79 published by Egmont UK Ltd in 2014. Prior to that the previous annual I purchased was number 76 published in 2011.
The Daily Express newspaper strip, which also started in 1936 is still appearing daily.
Over the decades Rupert has become a well-known character in children’s culture leading to the creation of several television series based on the character. Rupert also has a large following with such groups as The Followers of Rupert.
I’ve managed to identify and compile a list of some of the contributors to the Rupert stories:
Writers: Mary Tourtel – Alfred Bestall – Ian Robinson – James Henderson – Beth Harwood
Illustrators: Mary Tourtel – Alfred Bestall – Lucy Matthews – Jenny Kisler – Alex Cubie – John Harrold – Stuart Trotter
Colourists: Doris Campbell – Gina Hart
Rhyming Couplets: Mary Tourtel, [Alfred Bestall], Beth Harwood, Stephanie Milton
Paul McCartney numbers amongst the celebrities who are fans of Rupert with his 1984 animated film Rupert and the Frog Song, which won a British Academy Award and spawned the number three hit, We All Stand Together.
Other celebrities whom Rupert’s timeless qualities have won the admiration of include actor Terence Stamp and author and former Monty Python star Terry Jones.
Rupert Bear has also become a cartoon television series produced by Nelvana and came to our screens in 1991. This series was first shown in Canada, followed by America and then the UK on CITV and has recently been re-airing on the satellite and cable channels. It has now been shown in many other countries around the world and would explain why Rupert is still so popular around the world.
The theme song for the series, ‘Rupert, Rupert the Bear’ was written by Jackie Lee in 1970 and performed by Jackie Lee and the Raindrops in 1971. Here is the chorus for the Rupert Bear Song:
Oh Rupert, Rupert the Bear
Everyone sing his name
Rupert, Rupert the Bear
Everyone come and join
In all of his games
The music for the theme tune was composed by Milan Kymlicka [1936-2008], a Canadian arranger, composer and conductor of Czechoslovakian birth.
The recorded rendition of the orchestrated instrumental, together with the opening scenery of Nelvana’s Rupert is evocative, atmospheric and absolutely magical, setting the mood for the series perfectly.
THE RUPERT PAGE
Dave Draper 2014
Updated 2015 and 2016
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How the world of Rupert Bear of Nutwood connects with the world of Dan Dare, chief pilot of Earth’s Interplanetary Spacefleet in my Stories section.
Dan Dare Pilot of the Future
THE PRIME MINISTER SYNDROME
Dan Dare Pilot of the Future
THE NUTWOOD AFFAIR
LOCATED in the Writing section of the Pulldown Menu under Stories