1995 32¢ The Katzenjammer Kids
Comic Strip Classics
- Third sheet in the Classic Collection Series
Stamp Category: Commemorative
Set: Comic Strip Classics
Value: 32¢, rate for first-class mail
First Day of Issue: October 1, 1995
First Day Cities: Boca Raton, Florida
Quantity Issued: 300,000,000
Printed by: Stamp Venturers
Printing Method: Photogravure
Format: Panes of 20 in sheets of 120
Perforations: 10.1 x 10.2
Why the stamps were issued: The Comic Strip Classics sheet was the third issue in the Classic Collection Series. There was push to create a stamp to honor American comics as early as the 1960’s, but didn’t get real consideration until 1993. With the 100th anniversary of the comic The Yellow Kid, a comic committee, and an 83-page proposal the USPS finally agreed.
About the stamp designs: Even though only one stamp was approved, Terrence McCaffrey, head of stamp design, thought there was no way to honor American Comics with one single stamp. Therefore, he had a list of all proposed stamps and had Carl Herrman, art director, mock up a sheet of 20 stamps. McCaffrey wanted all the stamps to be taken from original panels by their respected artist. Herrmann worked on going through thousands of panels to find comics of the 20 chosen that showed the central theme of the comic in one panel with clean lines. Then with the help of American Color, that colorizes most of the comics in American newspapers, he was able to colorize them with accurate color choices, even those that were outdated.
The Katzenjammer Kids (#3000b) – This was one of the only stamps that had to be redrawn for the stamp. Herrman got in touch with John Dirks, son of Rudolph Dirks who was the original artist for the strip, and he agreed to draw the strip in his father’s style. John Dirks used to help his father draw and is a professional cartoonist himself.
About the printing process: In order to include the text on the back of each stamp, it had to be printed under the gum, so that it would still be visible if a stamp was soaked off an envelope. Because people would need to lick the stamps, the ink had to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration as non-toxic. The printer also used an extra-fine 300-line screen, which resulted in some of the highest-quality gravure stamp printings in recent years.
History the stamps represent:
The Katzenjammer Kids
Appearing less than two years after The Yellow Kid, Rudolph Dirks’ comic is the oldest comic strip in syndication. Featuring the antics of Hans and Fritz, the strip was modeled after the German cartoon series Max and Moritz, drawn by Wilhelm Busch.
A native of Germany himself, Dirks began his career selling cartoons to Life and Judge, before creating his successful strip in 1897. Combining sequential panels and talk balloons – a first in comic history – Dirks produced what many consider to be the first “true strip.” He also originated conventional comic symbols, such as motion lines, sweat beads, and stars denoting pain.