Rupert, by John Harrold
'Rupert and the Seaweed'.

John Harrold was a longtime artist of the comic adventures of 'Rupert Bear' for the Daily Express and other publications. He began working on Britain's most adventurous bear in the 1970s, and was the official artist between 1985 and 2007.

Early life and career
Harrold was born in 1947 in Glasgow, Scotland. He studied painting and drawing at the Glasgow School of Art, and subsequently went to work as an art teacher. Shortly afterwards however, in 1973, he was invited to illustrate the 'Lots of Fun to Cook with Rupert' (1974), written by Sonia Allison for the Collins publishing house. It was the start of his long association with the Mary Tourtel-created white bear, which would last 35 years.


Cover illustration for the 1970 Rupert Annual.

Rupert Bear
Later on, Harrold was asked to work on the 'Rupert' stories in the Daily Express and the Rupert Annuals as well. His first story for the paper was 'Rupert and the Worried Elves' in 1976, and his first Rupert Annual cover illustration appeared in 1978. At first, he was part of a larger team of artists and writers, who all alternated on stories. Among the other Rupert artists in the 1970s were Alex Cubie, Jennifer Kisler and Lucy Matthews, while veteran illustrator Alfred Bestall still provided artwork to the Annuals.

After working on sixteen more newspaper stories until 1985, John Harrold was appointed as the daily comic's fulltime artist. Harrold's pen-and-ink artwork for the Daily Express was later hand-colored for their reprints in the Annuals. This was done by Harrold himself until 1993, and from then on by Gina Hart. During his run, he worked in a steady collaboration with his editors James Henderson and Ian Robinson, who also wrote the magical stories. The team enriched the Nutwood cast with girl characters such as Ottoline Otter ('Rupert and Ottoline', 1994), who loves Shakespeare and lives in her ancient family castle, and Rika, a human girl from Lapland. By 2001 the Daily Express was sold to a new company, and the production of the daily stories was cancelled. Harrold continued to work on original material for the Annuals, to which he had been contributing cover artwork and stories since 1987.

Retirement
John Harrold, who had moved from London to Paris in 1994, retired from 'Rupert Bear' in 2007. He was succeeded by Stuart Trotter. He has since then continued to draw Rupert for drawings in commission. In 2020 he wrote and illustrated a new story for the Daily Express on the occasion of Rupert's 100th anniversary.


'Rupert and the Coronation'.

Series and books by John Harrold in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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