1995 32¢ Thimble Theatre Starring Popeye
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of the comics in American newspapers, he was able to colorize them with accurate color choices, even those that were outdated.
Thimble Theatre Starring Popeye (#3000k) – This pane of Popeye wasn’t drawn by the original artist, Segar, it was drawn by his assistant, Forrest C. (Bud) Sagendorf. Carl Herrman tried to find an original pane with the same action and clean lines, but couldn’t. Finally, he decided to go with the Sagendorf illustration. This is the only stamp that puts the USA 32 in the illustration and in different font. The font they chose was cartoon.
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:
Thimble Theatre Starring Popeye
Elzie Crisler Segar’s Thimble Theatre, which began in 1919, had a relatively undistinguished beginning. Primarily featuring the spinsterish Olive Oyl and her brother Castor, the strip ran for nearly a decade before one-eyed, pipe smoking sailor named Popeye made his first appearance. An overnight success, Popeye immediately captivated the strip’s growing audience, and before long a series of other memorable characters – J. Wellington Wimpy, Swee’Pea, the Sea Hag, and the Jeep – followed.
A self-taught artist, Elzie Segar grew up loving the newfangled motion picture. On sidewalks in front of the local theater, he drew comic-strip versions of current movies in chalk for friends. So not surprisingly, his legendary masterpiece, Thimble Theatre, began as a parody of movie serials. With the introduction of the popular Popeye his feature became so successful, that within a few short years, Segar was one of the highest-paid cartoonists in the world – his income far outstripping even that of the president of the United States! And so popular was the salty sailor, that Texas spinach growers erected a statue in his honor, claiming his endorsement saved their business during the dark days of the Great Depression.