Rupert began life as a newspaper’s marketing ploy in order to win readers from a rival. He first appeared in the pages of the Daily Express in 1920, and today can be found on an interactive website; a CGI-animated television series, and a seemingly limitless collection of merchandise. Not bad for a 91-year old bear!
One secret to Rupert’s success could be down to his creators realising that an annual, promoting both him and the paper, could come out every Christmas and be collected. This tradition began in 1936...and continues to this day. The annual I remember most was the one celebrating 1971 (pictured), which, given the year, must have been my brother's, and later found its way to me. I recall there was a story about some magical seaweed on a beach, and some weird gold gnomes that popped up in the bushes. The illustrations were incredibly detailed, especially the endpapers, and I could stare at them for hours, making up my own adventures.
I remember begging my mum for the video of Rupert and the Frog Song – which was an animated cartoon feature by Sir Paul McCartney that promoted his 1984 song ‘We All Stand Together’. That Christmas I was a happy girl – can’t say the same for the rest of the family who had to listen to it over and over again. Let’s sing the grand finish – ‘We all. Stand. TOGETHER!’
Published: 1920 onwards
Author and Illustrator: Mary Tourtel, Alfred Bestall (and many others)
Annual fact one: I’d always get an annual for Christmas (an annual being a collection of stories in a hard-cover, for anyone unfamiliar).
Annual fact two: A Christmas day annual was full of fun. A Boxing Day annual would be an encyclopaedia, dictionary, or the Guinness Book of Records.
Annual fact three: I always received a Mandy annual without fail. This is because (whispers) Mandy is my real name. Sh! It’s an un-secret.
Annual fact four: Other annuals would be Mr Men, Jem (Sings: She’s truly outrageous! Truly, truly, truly outrageous!), Beano, and Whizzer and Chips.
Annual fact five: I often buy my friends annuals at Christmas from retro fairs as I think it’s just not Christmas without one. This means nearly all of them have random annuals poking out of their bookcase thanks to me. Hee! They love me really.