Saturday, 23 February 2008


A card with a Rupert Bear illustration provoked waves of nostalgia for both Gnome and HB.

At Christmas, one hoped to receive an 'annual' (Eagle, Swift, Dandy, Beano, Sooty and Sweep) - but the uber-annual was always Rupert.

I adored them, mainly I think for the strange 'otherness' of Rupert's world: like ours, and yet so unlike. The delicate colours, the homely interiors, the weird machinery - all were enchanting. Hurrah for illustrator Alfred Bestall.

Then there was the layout. Extraordinary when you think about it. Four pictures, each with a rhyming couplet beneath. Expanded prose text at the bottom in two columns. A helpful heading at the top, plus two tiny vignette figures top right and left. So you get the narrative in three forms: pictures, couplets, prose. The pattern never varied. And I've never seen it used apart from for Rupert.

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