There seems to be inherently nerdy about stamps and stamp collecting, and back in the 1960, when the world was strictly divided into jocks and nerds, stamps were lumped together with comics and science into the nerd corner.
The ultimate expression of this sentiment must be this obscure newspaper strip that Allan Holtz of the excellent blog, Strippers Guide recently unearthed. Jet Swift And His Science Stamps was a short-lived true fact strip by Art Radebaugh, created after his previous regular feature, Closer Than We Think was cancelled.
It is a strange strip, or rather, a clunky collage of panels that are shaped as stamps, each with a pixie-like narrator explaining what the image shows. It didn’t last long, but it has a strange rarity quality to it.
France has comics in its DNA, and so it’s no surprise that students at the Paris art direction and design school ESAG Penninghen came up with a campaign for leading economy magazine The Economist featuring comics’ most famous capitalist moguls, Mr Burns (The Simpsons), Scrooge Mc Duck (or Picsou, as they will probably know him) and “billionaire in jeans” Largo Winch from Philippe Francq and Jean Van Hamme’s BD series of the same name.
The artwork seems to be largely swiped from the original sources, but at least they made sure that characters’ chairs match their styles.
Some five years ago I met a woman in a department store who wore a summer dress with a comics print that looked as if it had been lifted from Love and Rockets (or 100 Bullets, the jury is still out). The print was bold, with heavy blacks that were placed in an articulate equilibrium, but was clearly secondary to the quite elegant cut of the actual dress.
I was reminded of this when I was this shirt presented on the Nordstrom website (it’s sold out in the mean time). The same idea, but executed without even a shred of inspiration. It’s as if five lines of Peanuts images were cut out of a newspaper, and printed at random, without any regard to visual effect. From a distance, this shirt is a jumble of greys, and up close it will distract from the wearer as people will want to read your chest. And at $ 150, that’s hardly peanuts.
(if you want Peanuts on your clothes, go for the bold Kaws designs that Uniqlo is currently running, which are much neater and will only set you back 10 bucks…)
Today is Easter, the day when Christians the world over celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and children hunt for chocolate eggs. It’s a clear sign of how times have changed: I feel somehow obliged to explain what Easter is, in the 1960 it was as much part as the average Tintin reader as eating breakfast and, probably, going to church on Sunday. And so they were treated to special Easter issues, with splendid covers by the Studios Hergé.
Happy Easter, everybody! And go easy on the chocolate…
One of the most endearing aspects of 50s and 60s Franco-belgian comics magazines like Spirou and Tintin is the fact that they were not just a collection of serialised comic albums, but rather all-round children’s periodicals. In addition to the newest adventures of “all your favourite heroes”, they contained regular columns on hobbies, technology, science and history, pen pal services and, most particularly, do it yourself projects.
In 2012, Matt Madden created a concise overview of the history of American comics, its trends, subjects and obsessions, using only six panels, and featuring references to Dick Tracy, R. Crumb, Watchmen and more.
French comics scholar and cartoonist Nicolas Labarre has now updated this strip, expanding it with two panels. This was necessary to include newspaper strips and new cartoonists whow ork for young adults. And if you didn’t know the original, you’d never believe those two weren’t there to begin with.
Some time ago a group of men sat around a big table in a big room, and one of them said, “You know what we need to push brand awareness of our up market cars? We need the Justice League”. And so the League, that is, it’s DCU version, appeared in a series of Instagram videos, speeding around in an E-Class (in the case of Wonder Woman) or a Vision GT (Flash and Batman).
Speeding may be a relative term though, as the baddies seem to be taking an awful lot of time to actually get away. Almost as much as it takes to read the rather ridiculous dialogue, as a matter of fact.
Oh well, it was a budget well spent, and I take it lunch was splendid. And with a 100K impressions each, I guess even the marketing department was chuffed.
Flemish cartoonist Conz (pseudonym for Constantijn Van Cauwenberge) is turning into the go-to guy for the Belgian postal services when it comes to designs about prehistoric fauna and flora. After his dinosaur series from 2014, Conz recently announced on his Facebook page that his design for a series of stamps on prehistoric animals has been agreed on, and will be published in August of 2018 (link in Dutch).
Conz also added an initial sketch for the design, which, in my view, provided a lot more dynamism and life than the final artwork. Still, I do like the lonely woolly mammoth wandering the plains.
BPost, the Belgian postal services, also announced a new sheet of Smurf stamps, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Peyo’s little blue dwarves, and features all main characters (Brainy, Grumpy, Smurfette and Papa Smurf) as well as a Black Smurf from the very first album (mind you, not a purple one). This design harkens back to the original artwork of creator Peyo, and is rendered in a nicely sketchy style. This sheet will be available end of January.
All through his career, Hergé produced various advertising campaigns featuring his characters. They promoted everything from cars to margarine and washing detergent to cigars. With the international success of Tintin, these campaigns were mostly for international brands, but in the early days, they were mostly world-famous in Belgium.
This ad from the 1930s combines the most Belgian of characters, Brussels street urchin Flupke, with the most Belgian of chocolates, Jacques. Established in 1896 Les Chocolates Jacques were probably best known for creamy filling in all kinds of flavours and their collectable pictures. The brand still exists, but is now part of a global conglomerate.
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