What better way to start this series than with my favorite comic character ever. Tintin, the quiffed one, has graced stamps from the post offices of his (and mine) native Belgium, France, the Netherlands and innumerable shadier issues (of which I chronicled earlier).
The most beautiful stamp featuring Tintin, in my opinion, still is the 1979 issue by the Belgian Post Office that sparked a decade-long tradition of comic-themed youth philately stamps, and my personal fascination with the matter. The stamps were designed by the Studios Hergé specifically for the Belgian Post Office; and as the stamp features the only image of Tintin that Moulinsart does not own rights to, it was featured on the cover of Harry Thompson’s Tintin – Hergé and His Creation (1992), which Hergé’s inheritors looked upon less than favorously.
In 1999, the Dutch Post Office issued a fourth (and last) yearly set of comics-themed stamps, focusing on the Tintin’s adventures on the moon. Even though the images on these stamps are taken from the books themselves, they have been carefully selected and cropped so as to be relevant and aesthetically pleasing themselves. And they each feature Tintin with one of his two most trusted companions : Haddock and Snowy.
Additionally, the sheetlet for these stamps also includes some copy set in the famous Hergé fond, originally cut especially for the first colour reprints by Casterman after World War II.
This sheetlet by La Poste of France was the second in a series issued to celebrate the Fête du Timbre, featuring comics characters (the first was France’s own Astérix, but remarkably, the following all features Belgian characters : Gaston Lagaffe, Lucky Luke and Boule et Bill).
On its own, it is a very beautiful stamp, with a dynamic image of our hero (as dynamic as the ligne claire would allow), jumping out of the frame. I’m not sure if the main image was taken from the books themselves, but the other images doubtlessly are, and look to me as if they’ve been jumbled together somewhat. Again, this issue includes some copy in the Hergé font, celebrating some of Haddock’s more famous expletives. Surprisingly, the designer also opted to include some of Hergé’s typical emanata, colourful stars and “dizzy lines”.
Finally, one of the most recent Tintin-related issues was by the Monaco Post Office in 2013. Coinciding with a re-issue of Le Trésor De Rackham Le Rouge in the Monegasque dialect, this stamp shows Tintin and Haddock digging up the dingy that brought Archibald Haddock to the island after blowing up the Unicorn. Again, this stamp features artwork taken from the actual books, but it has been very carefully cropped and serves perfectly as a stand alone picture.
Incidentally, in 1979, to celebrate Tintin’s 50th birthday, a series of so-called Tintimbres were published by the french department store La Samaritaine. Four sheetlets of mock stamps featuring Tintin characters were distributed in closed envelopes, so you had to go and trade with your friends. The stamps were later also used in a slightly different form for a large commemorative collectible sheet by chocolate manufacturers Côte d’Or.
Next up : Superheroes!