The image would make a perfect stamp: a giant, building-crushing mail carrier rampaging, Godzilla-like as dogs rally. “If the city’s to be saved, I’m afraid it’s up to us. This is our hour,” one of the dogs declares.
But the U.S. Postal Service apparently doesn’t deliver to The Far Side.
A “Sunday Funnies” collection is among the new stamp sets planned for 2010, the Postal Service recently announced. The choices, for the most part, are worthy.
The Beetle Bailey stamp is a salute to the long-running strip and its creator Mort Walker, long a champion of comics as an art form. Dennis the Menace is a classic, with TV and movie spinoffs. The only downside to the Calvin and Hobbes stamp is it reminds fans how much we’ve missed the adventures of a boy and his stuffed tiger since Bill Watterson ended the strip in 1995.
We’re willing to give the popular, multiple-media friendly Garfield his due, though it seems bizarre to include Archie, who first rose to fame in comic books, not a newspaper comic strip.
Besides, why include Archie and leave out the intentionally surreal Far Side, which gave us a daily glimpse into Gary Larson’s delightfully twisted mind from 1980 to 1995?
Perhaps the bigger snub is ignoring Doonesbury, which marks its 40th anniversary in syndication this year. Gary Trudeau’s creation, arguably the most influential strip since Peanuts, might turn some off with its political bent. But there’s little doubt Trudeau has elevated the form, turning his comic strip into a mirror of our times.
Maybe the Postal Service is still steaming over Trudeau’s stunt in 1990 when he printed Doonesbury “protest stamps” – priced at "–5 cents" – in a response to plans to hike postal rates to 30 cents from a quarter (the stamps eventually rose to 29 cents in 1991).
The Postal Service previously honored Snoopy in stamp form, and issued a “Comic Strip Classics” collection in 1995 that hailed such old timers as Little Orphan Annie, Dick Tracy and Blondie. But times have changed – and so have comic strips (along with stamp prices).
Now it’s time to put in you 44 cents worth – use the comments section to tell us which comic strip characters would get your stamp of approval.
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.