Gotham City 49 Cents
The United States Postal Service announced this past week that it would be releasing
a set of Batman stamps to commemorate the character’s 75th anniversary.
As with most stamps now, they’re self-adhesive, so Batman still can’t be licked.
I think they’re pretty sharp, although it’s kind-of a shame the set of eight consists of four images of Batman through the years and four versions of the Bat-Signal, reflecting his emblem over time, rather than eight shots of Batman in the name of celebrating more eras or artists.
The stamps were designed by USPS art director Greg Breeding in consultation with
DC Comics. Artists (from bottom to top as seen in the sheet below): Bob Kane, the late ’30s; Curt Swan, the ’50s; Jim Aparo, the ’70s; and Jim Lee, the ’00s. I’m not sure who inked the Swan piece, maybe Stan Kaye, but I believe Scott Williams inked Lee’s. Swan instead of Dick Sprang to represent the ’50s is odd, as Swan’s associated more with Superman, not that I mind. At least as surprising is the choice of Jim Aparo for the ’70s rather than Neal Adams, yet I’m quite pleased with it. The Aparo figure was taken from the cover of a reprint-laden oversized treasury edition that I read to pieces as a kid and, with all respect to Adams’ legendary depiction of the character, Aparo is higher in my personal pantheon of Batman artists.
You’ll never please every fan, and it’s harder for one single stamp to represent each decade as the years march on due to both increased publishing output and wider range of artistic interpretations, but I’d have liked to see a few more takes. My choices to fill out the missing decades would begin with the no-brainers of Jerry Robinson for the ’40s and Carmine Infantino for the ’60s. Even though Frank Miller drew comparatively little Batman, Miller’s interpretation was a turning point for not just the Dark Knight but the entire comics industry in the ’80s, so it’s hard not to pick him over, say, Alan Davis or Don Newton as much as I’d love to see them honored. Kelley Jones and Norm Breyfogle are who come to mind quickest when I think of the ’90s, despite mixed feelings about their styles; that is, unless we cheat a bit and select Bruce Timm, whose beloved work on that decade’s animated series gave us easily one of the best versions of Batman period and spun off its own series of comics, too few of which were drawn by Timm himself.
The Postal Service previously released stamps and related merchandise featuring various DC Comics superheroes in 2006 and Marvel Comics characters in 2007, as well as a Superman stamp marking his 60th anniversary in 1998. While those were printed with the base rate for a first-class letter at the time, Batman’s are forever.
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