Rubovia Comic Strips & Annuals

The PIPPIN in Playland comic carried Rubovia stories for several years, starting about the same time as the 1976 stop-motion “Rubovia” television series. Rubovia stories also featured prominently in the PIPPIN annuals of the time, with colourful illustrations of Rubovian scenes and situations. All were illustrated by Neville Main. Fortunately the characters in PIPPIN more resembled the more life-like marionette puppets in the earlier “A Rubovian Legend” television series, rather than the simpler ping-pong ball (Trumpton-style) puppets of the later stop-motion series. Nevertheless, for those who were brought up on the “A Rubovian Legend” marionette television series, perhaps the most conspicuous difference in the comic-book version of Rubovia concerns MacGregor, who was pictured as a Red Indian, rather than a turban-wearing Indian from India. This mirrored the change made for the stop-motion series, which, according to Gordon Murray, was an attempt by the BBC to be a little more politically correct in light of the increasing ethnic diversity of the 1976 UK television audience.

The PIPPIN in Playland comic strips were scripted by one of PIPPIN’s own writers, rather than Gordon Murray. Although it is possible that some of the tales may be based on Gordon Murray’s scripts or story ideas, nowhere in the PIPPIN comics is any credit is given to Gordon. Therefore these were very likely produced by private arrangement between Polystyle Publications and the BBC. Gordon Murray says that as far as he remembers he was not consulted, despite the fact that he retained the rights to the Rubovia characters and scripts. This is in contrast to the PIPPIN in Playland comic versions of Camberwick Green, Chigley and Trumpton, which were all credited to Gordon. Which is not totally surprising since unlike Rubovia, for which he held some of the rights, Gordon Murray held sole rights to the Trumptonshire trilogy. 

Although the PIPPIN in Playland comics (like the stop-motion “Rubovia” series) were definitely aimed at a younger age group than the original “A Rubovian Legend” television series, they do give us further opportunities to appreciate how the Rubovia characters might have behaved in various situations outside of Gordon Murray’s own television scripts. It’s as if Gordon, having breathed life into his characters, could not prevent them from developing an independent life of their own. (This remind me of the young preschool daughter of friends of ours, who when asked who she belonged to, replied with haughty indignation, "I belong to me. I am mine!" -ajr

As indicated by the five years of PIPPIN annuals shown below, Rubovia had a long run in PIPPIN in Playland comics, especially for a television programme that only ran for six episodes in its 1976 stop-motion remake. Part of the explanation for this must lie in the enduring popularity of the original black-and-white 1950s/1960s marionette series, which was repeated frequently on British television until the advent of “Camberwick Green” in 1966. Therefore, since there are a very large number of PIPPIN in Playland comics containing Rubovia stories, we haven’t attempted to describe more than a handful below. Hopefully they are fairly representative.

Note for non-UK readers: Like many other UK children’s comics, PIPPIN in Playland was published weekly, while the PIPPIN Holiday Special was published just before the summer holidays, and PIPPIN Annual was published in time for Christmas. UK children’s annuals are dated for the year after publication, probably because the majority of annuals were given as Christmas gifts just a few days before the cover date, which would have given them a more lasting value during the following year.

PIPPIN in Playland comic / PIPPIN Holiday Special
Copyright 1980, Polystyle Publications Ltd.
#

Date

Story Synopsis

462 Week ending 26th
July, 1975
Ebay
24    
486 Week ending 10th
January, 1976
Another Rubovia story.
487 Week ending 17th
January, 1976
Another Rubovia story.
21    
508 Week ending 12th
June, 1976
Another Rubovia story.
4    
512 Week ending 10th
July, 1976
Another Rubovia story.
2    
514 Week ending 24th
July, 1976
Another Rubovia story.
515 Week ending 31st
July, 1976
Ebay
520 Week ending 4th September, 1976 Ebay
-- Holiday Special 1976

At least one Rubovia story.
523 Week ending 25th September, 1976 All efforts to improve the Queen’s awful singing fail to produce results, but Mr. Weatherspoon’s idea of playing a gramophone, while the Queen pretends to sing, is not what she wanted to hear.
1    
525 Week ending 9th October, 1976 King Rufus takes advantage of Albert Weatherspoon’s wish to be King of Rubovia. Weatherspoon soon discovers the affairs of state are no picnic, but picnicking is exactly what the King has in mind. 
3    
528 Week ending 30th October, 1976 Ebay
4    
532 Week ending 27th November, 1976 Another Rubovia story.
15    
547 Week Ending 12th March, 1977 Pongo flies off from the Queen. Mr. Weatherspoon thinks he has found him…but it is MacGregor.
548 Week Ending 19th March, 1977 The King gets cross when Mr. Weatherspoon beats him at chess and so holds an archery contest so he can win something. King Boris of Borsovia wins and King Rufus is furious. 
549 Week Ending 26th March, 1977 The Queen gets bored after supper every day when King Rufus falls asleep. She dances with the King, gets tired, and falls asleep herself.
550 Week Ending 2nd April, 1977 The King can’t sleep and so tries to count sheep. This doesn’t help so he demands to have real sheep. All night is spent trying to get the sheep out of his bedroom.
551 Week Ending 9th April, 1977 The King tries, and fails, to learn a musical instrument.
552 Week Ending 16th April, 1977 The King uses Mr. Weatherspoon’s wand to make an Easter Egg bigger, but it becomes huge and fills up the courtyard.
-- Holiday Special 1977


The cover artwork shows Albert Weatherspoon waiting on the Rubovian Royals, Queen Caroline & King Rufus, as they exit from a gypsy caravan. Click on them to see a close-up detail of Neville Main's artwork.

Rubovia characters appear on the front cover and in a two-page Rubovia story.

Front cover: A full-colour illustration by Fred Robinson showing many of the Pippin comic characters including King Rufus, Queen Caroline, and Albert Weatherspoon of Rubovia.

Page 20: A two-page Rubovia story, told in captioned pictures (six black-and-white illustrations by N. Main).

Rubovia story in Pippin, 1977. Artwork by Neville Main. Rubovia story in Pippin, 1977. Artwork by Neville Main.
Point of interest: The pictures are somewhat out of order with the text.
Click here to see Neville Main’s artwork up-close, with a
revised panel order as probably intended by the script writer (310K).
Note: The up-close artwork may take a while to download. Best with 800x600 or more resolution.

20    
573 Week Ending 10th September, 1977 King Boris of Borsovia's idle boast about the speed of his new carriage makes King Rufus turn to Albert Weatherspoon for some magical help in the transportation department, the result of which is completely lost on all concerned!
574 Week Ending 17th September, 1977 The need for more taxes to pay for the repair of Rubovian roads has King Rufus doing a dare-devil tight-rope stunt in front of a cheering crowd!
575 Week Ending 24th September, 1977 King Rufus turns to Albert Weatherspoon for help when Queen Caroline's elegant pair of brand-new high-heeled shoes make it appear that he has shrunk.
576 Week Ending 1st October, 1977 A walking and camping trip over the mountains to Borsovia is cut short due to King Rufus' desire to bring along too much kit, all of which Albert Weatherspoon has to carry.
577 Week Ending 8th October, 1977 Unusually strong wind gusts in Rubovia are traced to court magician, Mr. Albert Weatherspoon, who was trying out a new spell, oblivious to the chaos he was creating around him.  
578 Week Ending 15th October, 1977 King Rufus tries to avoid his responsibilities by hiding in his old tree hut in the castle grounds wilderness, where he used to play as a young prince.
579 Week Ending 22nd October, 1977 Mr. Weatherspoon conjures up a balloon in which he and king Rufus take a ride. Gentle breezes blow them to Borsovia, in time for lunch with King Boris.
580 Week Ending 29th October, 1977 After burning the carpet with his fiery breath, Pongo flies off. and Mr. Weatherspoon learns that if you want to catch a baby dragon with a butterfly net, it should be fire proof!
581 Week Ending 5th November, 1977 King Rufus follows Albert Weatherspoon's advice to get more exercise, and ends up so exhausted he has to take a hot bath and sleep it off.
19    
600 Week Ending 18th March, 1978 Queen Caroline asks Albert Weatherspoon to make her a new spring hat. "Something unusual and amusing," she said. However, when King Rufus sees the hat he bursts out laughing, which is not quite the reaction she had expected!
601 Week Ending 25th March, 1978 The King's new springtime hobby is bird watching, but with Albert Weatherspoon's "help", things get off to a scary start, at least as far as the birds are concerned!
602 Week Ending 1st
April, 1978
Pongo's efforts at scorching the palace calendar leads to an unnecessarily strong dose of Mr. Weatherspoon's magic, and a most unsuitable Easter present for Queen Caroline.
603 Week Ending 8th
April, 1978
Farmer Bottle delivers an invitation from MacGregor to Albert Weatherspoon, inviting him to spend the weekend in MacGregor's spare wigwam. The ground is hard and he doesn't sleep a wink. Back home again, the Queen says he looks tired and sends him straight to bed.
604 Week Ending 15th
April, 1978
King Boris' fear that there are spies about upsets plans for holding a Borsovia/Rubovia spring Summit Conference in Rubovia Castle. MacGregor's suggestion that Summit Conferences should be held on a summit does not work out either, as halfway in the climb up to the conference tent, King Rufus announces that he can't stand heights.
605 Week Ending 22nd April, 1978 A royal argument over where Albert Weatherspoon's pot plant should go leads to an arrow being shot into the air, magic plant food, and a call for MacGregor to bring his tomahawk!
606 Week Ending 28th
April, 1978
Warm spring weather leads King Rufus to consult MacGregor on how to live a simple life outdoors.
607 Week Ending 5th
May, 1978
Rubina, Mr. Weatherspoon's cat goes missing one night, only to be found next morning at McGregor's camp, where she has spent the night eagerly awaiting a tasty breakfast of grilled kippers!
608 Week Ending 12h
May, 1978
The peace and quiet of a seaside holiday at the Rubovian royals' Summer Palace is soon shattered by on escaped bull belonging to Farmer Bottle.
609 Week Ending 19th
May, 1978
A story about magic vegetable food and how it was used with great success to grow a giant marrow, and how MacGregor stole the marrow to make himself a canoe.
610 Week Ending 26th
May, 1978
To mark the annual Sports Day, King Boris challenges King Rufus to a fight in old-fashioned armour with maces. However, after being injured by MacGregor during practice, King Rufus assigns MacGregor to fight King Boris in his stead.
611 Week Ending 2nd
June, 1978
The Royal weight is up, and Albert Weatherspoon is commanded to help King Rufus get more exercise to help reduce it. Fencing is tried and rejected due to a small scratch on a finger. Boxing is tried next, but when Queen Caroline points out that it is treason to strike the King, that doesn't work either. That leaves him with the Queen's suggestion of losing weight by eating less.
4    
616 Week Ending 7th
July, 1978
While Queen Caroline is away visiting her sister, King Rufus becomes bored, to the point of  not wanting to see King Boris of Borsovia showing off his new horse. Mr. Weatherspoon devises a solution to the problem, but it doesn't work as planned.
617 Week Ending 14th
July, 1978
Desiring to walk on the palace ceiling like a fly, King Rufus engages the Magician services of Mr. Weatherspoon. The King achieves his objective, but as the magic wears off, Mr. Weatherspoon and Lord Chamberlain arrive with mattresses to break his fall.
618 Week Ending 21st
July, 1978
King Rufus' plans to join King Boris of Borsovia on a week-long walking holiday get no further than a trial walk around the castle grounds, due to very sore feet caused by his ill-fitting brand-new walking boots.
27    
646 Week Ending 2nd February, 1979 When Queen Caroline resigns from the one domestic job she enjoys, Mr. Weatherspoon is appointed Royal Cook. He accidentally chooses a cooking recipe from a magic spells book, with unfortunate results.
647 Week Ending 9th February, 1979 Mr. Weatherspoon asks King Rufus to teach him a few simple conjuring tricks. This leads to the puzzlement of Farmer Bottle, and the amazement of the Queen. 

10    
658 Week Ending 27th April, 1979 King Rufus thinks he has discovered a new star in the night sky, only to find that it is a flying saucer traveling to Earth, intent on taking a closer look at Rubovia Castle. 
3    
662 Week Ending 25th May, 1979 King Rufus’s idea for a new way to take swimming lessons soon sends him to the bottom of the lake, and in need of rescue by the Lord Chamberlain.
3    
666 Week Ending 22nd June, 1979 A holiday at the seaside in Borsovia leads to sailboat trouble for King Rufus and King Boris, and a double royal rescue by Mr. Weatherspoon.

667 Week Ending 29th June, 1979 During a bathing mishap at the Borsovian seaside, Mr. Weatherspoon does his best to swim to the Queen’s aid, but ends up being rescued by her instead.
-- Holiday Special 1979


Albert Weatherspoon is rowing a boat on the lake in front of the railway bridge. Click on Weatherspoon to see a close-up detail of Neville Main's artwork (47K).

'A Picture to Colour' by Neville Main
“A Picture to Colour”, probably drawn by Neville Main. Click image for a full-sized printable version (130K) (The picture is scaled to comfortably fit an 8.5" x 11" page).

 

Rubovia characters appear on the front cover, on the contents page (not shown), in a colouring picture, and in two one-page stories.

1st Story: King Rufus decides that the only way to win the Great International Vegetable Marrow Contest is to employ some of Mr. Weatherspoon’s magic. Unfortunately the magic works too well, and the marrow is too big to move.

2nd Story: During a visit to the kingdom of Borsovia, King Rufus is somewhat overshadowed by King Boris’s self-proclaimed list of physical accomplishments. Wondering what can he do that Boris can’t do better, he asks Weatherspoon who teaches him how to pull white rabbits from a hat. Rufus demonstrates this to Boris, but can’t stop the rabbits coming. 

 

-- Holiday Special 1980


Albert Weatherspoon is doing a spot of fishing at the seaside, from a dinghy rowed by Mary, of Mary, Mungo and Midge fame. Click on Weatherspoon to see a close-up detail of Neville Main's artwork (30K).

Mr. Albert Weatherspoon appears on the front cover. He appears together with other Rubovia characters in two one-page stories.

1st Story: When King Rufus doesn't return from an after-supper evening stroll by ten o'clock, Queen Caroline sounds the alarm, and sends for Albert Weatherspoon. Weatherspoon engages the assistance of  Lord Chamberlain, and hearing a strange noise from the other side of the garden wall, they none too figuratively flush out the King, who is fast asleep on a bench outside the wall. The strange noise had been his snoring!    

2nd Story: Farmer Bottle's newly purchased fine, fat, spotted pig unexpectedly takes Albert Weatherspoon and King Rufus on a wild ride on its back. The King enjoys the ride so much, he has Lord Chamberlain stamp the pig with the royal seal. This makes Farmer Bottle very proud of his pig!

PIPPIN Annuals
Copyright 1980, Polystyle Publications Ltd.

Year

Cover

Publication details & story synopsis

1977


Page 52: A two-page story, told in captioned pictures (eight full-colour illustrations by Neville Main). Mr. Weatherspoon buys a tractor from MacGregor (the Red Indian with a Chinese accent) to clear snow from the palace’s royal pathway. The problem is that the tractor belongs to Farmer Bottle, and MacGregor had no right to sell it!


Click on the above pages to see close-up detail of Neville Main’s artwork.

1978


Page 18: A two-page illustrated text story (seven 2-colour illustrations by Neville Main).
Queen Caroline urges the overweight King Rufus to eat less and take lots of exercise. The King does indeed manage to slim down, but not before a spell cast by Mr. Weatherspoon leads everyone on a merry chase.

Page 54: A two-page story, told in captioned pictures (six full-colour illustrations by Neville Main). Faced with the prospect of sweeping up autumn leaves in the palace gardens, Mr. Weatherspoon uses a magic sweeping spell which works well until the brooms try to sweep Queen Caroline away along with the dead leaves!

1979





The rear cover has a full-colour head and shoulders portrait of Albert Weatherspoon, captioned “Rubovia”.

Page 32: A two-page story, told in captioned pictures (eight 2-colour illustrations by Neville Main). A disagreement between Queen Caroline and Farmer Bottle over the colour of egg yolks results in too many omelets and the king losing his temper.  

Page 54: A two-page, mainly text story (six full-colour illustrations by Neville Main). A gift from King Boris of Borsovia results in a dunk in the lake for Albert Weatherspoon, as well as a new title to add to his name.

1980


Page 29: An illustrated text story (three 2-colour illustrations by Neville Main). King Rufus is bored and then paints a portrait of Queen Caroline, which she smashes over his head

1981


Page 25: A one-page story, told in captioned pictures (eight 2-colour illustrations by N. Main). Albert Weatherspoon decides to use Farmer Bottle’s pigs to eat up the leaves and weeds in the palace gardens, but the cakes on the Queen’s tea table look much more inviting. The Queen faints at the sight of her uninvited table guests and needs to be revived with smelling salts. 

 

Page 37: A one-page story, told in captioned pictures (seven 2-colour illustrations by N. Main). King Rufus slips into the garden for a quiet read only to find that his book has burst into flames, set on fire by Pongo’s fiery breath.

Page 45: A one-page story, told in captioned pictures (seven 2-colour illustrations by N. Main). King Rufus organizes a tournament, and gets ready to participate, but cancels it after tripping over the Queen’s pet dragon, Pongo. 

1982
Page 19: A one-page story, told in captioned pictures (six 2-colour illustrations by N. Main). Queen Caroline enlists Albert Weatherspoon's help to brighten up King Rufus. Using some hints from a famous book, "Hints on Amusing Monarchs" by Yorick late of ye Danish Court, Albert tries his best. Nothing amuses the King until Albert accidentally trips over the cat and spills ink all over.

Page 30: A one-page story, told in captioned pictures (six 2-colour illustrations by N. Main). Queen Caroline decides that it's high time that King Rufus should learn to swim. Rufus enlists the help of Albert Weatherspoon, but finding the water in the swimming pool uncomfortable, adjourns indoors to continue the swimming lessons in a bath full of hot water. 

Page 44: A one-page story, told in captioned pictures (six 2-colour illustrations by N. Main). Albert Weatherspoon uses a book, "Ye Art & Ye Craft of Coarse Fishing", to help the King achieve more success at fishing. However, Queen Caroline does not approve, saying that "Kings are never coarse!"