Stand by for First Class fun and frolics as Britain’s Royal Mail pays homage to the great British comic on ten new stamps launched this week.
As we previously reported, The Comics Collection, commemorating Britain’s rich comic book heritage, features ten iconic comic book front covers that we have all come to know and love from our childhood as 1st Class stamps. From The Dandy, The Beano, Eagle, The Topper and Tiger, through to Bunty, Buster, Valiant, Twinkle and 2000AD, there’s something for all comic fans in this set of stamps.
The stamps – which we’ll show off one by one over the next few days – showcase some of the much-loved characters from these comics alongside their respective front covers on the stamps themselves.
The stamp issue also marks the 75th birthday of The Dandy, Britain’s longest, and the world’s third longest-running comic behind the American comic book Detective Comics (first edition in early 1937) and the Italian comic magazine Il Giornalino (first edition in 1924).
During its heyday of the 1950s, sales of The Dandy reached over two million copies a week and The Beano, which quickly raced to a weekly peak of well over a million copies, now remains the UK’s number one selling weekly comic. This popularity led to the launch of the Dennis the Menace Fan Club in the 1970s which had more than a million members and, due to changing times, has been relaunched as Beano VIP, an online only club.
Despite the decline in the popularity of print comics, with an average sale of 38,333 copies The Beano remains the UK’s number-one-selling weekly comic with Dennis and Gnasher also starring in their own successful animated series, shown in the UK on the CBBC Channel. (Sadly, current readership/circulation for The Dandy is just 7,489).
This collection is sure to bring back memories and evoke excitement amongst comic fans both young and old; some of the titles featured being first published in the 1930’s, while the “Galaxy’s Greatest Comic” 2000AD is still in publication, having far exceeded the sell-by date of its title!
DC Thomson first launched The Dandy as a weekly comic in December 1937, featuring the rollicking adventures of Desperate Dan. The Beano followed just over six months later, with an explosion of titles to suit every child introduced after World War II including Eagle and Twinkle, both also featuring within this stamp issue.
A copy of the first issue of The Dandy was sold for £20,350 on 7th September 2004 and is the current highest price paid for a British comic.
Characters as distinctive as Desperate Dan, Dennis the Menace, Roy of the Rovers, Beryl the Peril and Buster are still as recognisable today as they were on the day they were released, icons of our time, and culturally relevant as ever.
Philip Parker, Royal Mail Stamps spokesperson, said: “For over a century, Britain’s uniquely eccentric comics have brought cheer to generations of readers. More importantly it has presented us with a cast of characters that, like the memories of those comics themselves, remain with us throughout our lives.
”The Dandy, celebrating its 75th birthday this year, and The Beano, which will do likewise next year, are almost British institutions and it feels appropriate to celebrate these comics and their characters on a set of very special stamps.”
• Stamps and stamp products are available at all Post Office branches, online at www.royalmail.com/personal/comic-stamps-and-collectibles, the Royal Mail eBay shop: http://stores.ebay.co.uk/Royal-Mail-Stamp-Collections and from Royal Mail Tallents House (tel. 08457 641 641), 21 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB.
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.