The British Royal Mail has issued a set of eight postage stamps celebrating this November’s 100th anniversary of the beloved children’s-comic-strip character Rupert Bear. The stamps feature illustrations and rhyming couplets from the Rupert Annuals drawn by the reclusive artist-writer Alfred Bestall (1892–1986). The images are mostly heartwarming, but some convey a sinister bent which crept into Bestall’s tales.
Initially conceived by children’s artist Mary Tourtel, whose husband was a night editor for the Daily Express, Rupert was launched in a serialized strip in the newspaper on November 8, 1920, to compete with the Daily Mail’s cartoon mouse, Teddy Tail. Bestall, a trained artist who drew sophisticated panels for Punch and Tatler, took over in 1935, when Tourtel’s eyesight began to fail.