Artists draw support for cartoon stamps

April 08, 1993|By Ernestine Williams | Ernestine Williams,Cox News Service

If you noticed a recurring theme in the comics Monday about some guy named the Yellow Kid, you got a glimpse of the latest campaign for a new series of U.S. postage stamps.

Several artists participated in the drive to capture interest in placing historical cartoon characters like the famous Yellow Kid on stamps to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the American comic strip.

"Beetle Bailey," "Peanuts," "B.C.," "Gasoline Alley," "Blondie" and others referred to the campaign, organized by cartoonist Mort Walker.

The proposal is sponsored by Mr. Walker's International Museum of Cartoon Art in Boca Raton, Fla., the Newspaper Features Council, Ohio State University, the National Cartoonists Society and the Cartoon Art Museum of San Francisco.

The U.S. Postal Service is reviewing proposals for 1995 stamps and will announce its choices in the fall of 1994, according to Robin Miard of the Postal Service.

It's about time American strips get the recognition at home they've received for years in other countries, says Mr. Walker, creator of "Beetle Bailey."

"We're considered art in Europe and I guess we'd like the same treatment from our own people," he says.

A 1995 release would coincide with the 100-year anniversary of "Down in Hogan's Alley," which appeared in New York World and depicted Irish slum life at the turn of the century.

"The Irish in this country lived under terrible conditions ,and the Yellow Kid was the first recurring character that appeared in cartoons," Mr. Walker says. "He wore a yellow night shirt and he smoked and he drank and he played hooky and had hangovers.

"It really had a profound effect on people."

"Down in Hogan's Alley" also marked the beginning of characters using the speech balloon, Mr. Walker says. The Yellow Kid was so popular that New York World's competitor hired an artist to copy the strip, giving rise to the term yellow journalism, he says.

Will the stamps include the images of modern-day characters like Snoopy and Woodstock?

"Not till after I'm dead," said "Peanuts" creator Charles Schultz, "and you will have forgotten all about me."

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