Saturday, August 12, 2017

Cool postcard advertisement for Paper Girls, a Papergreat favorite

Nifty Things Received in the Mail This Week, Part II...

This postcard, a nice bit of above-and-beyond comic-book marketing, was mailed out this summer to remind readers about various editions of Paper Girls that will be available this autumn. The card was sent by the American Newspaper Delivery Guild, the "fan club" of this comic (sort of the like the old Merry Marvel Marching Society).

The comic, launched in October 2015, has had 15 issues thus far. It's the work of writer Brian K. Vaughan, illustrator Cliff Chiang1, colorist Matt Wilson and letterer Jared Fletcher. Without giving away too much plot for those who might want to dive in and catch up, it follows the sometimes-terrifying, sometimes-cosmic adventures of four Reagan Era newspaper delivery girls. (On the postcard illustration, from left, they are Mackenzie, KJ, Tiffany and Erin.)

The comic will return in October with Issue #16, and Paper Girls Book One, collecting the first 10 issues, will be published in hardcover in November, just in time to be a great Christmas gift.

1. Cliff Chiang, for his work as a Wonder Woman comic artist, received a "special thanks" credit in this year's Wonder Woman movie. He is also one the artists whose work was featured on the 75th anniversary Wonder Woman U.S. forever stamps.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Japanese stamps featuring Mitsumasa Anno artwork

Nifty Things Received in the Mail This Week, Part I...

An envelope from Japan came to my Dover mailbox this week. Inside was a Postcrossing postcard from a woman named Midori who loves mystery novels and TV shows such as Criminal Minds. Midori's envelope was especially cool, because most of the front was covered with a large stamp featuring artwork by Mitsumasa Anno. Here is how Wikipedia describes Anno's work:
"Anno is best known for wordless picture books featuring small, detailed figures. In the 'Journey' books, a tiny character travels through a nation's landscape, densely populated with pictures referencing that country's art, literature, culture, and history. Anno's illustrations are often in pen and ink and watercolor, and occasionally incorporate collage and woodcuts. They are intricately detailed, showing a sense of humor as well as an interest in science, mathematics, and foreign cultures. They frequently incorporate subtle jokes and references. Anno's style has been compared to that of M.C. Escher."
At first, though, I had no idea who created the detailed illustration on these stamps. (You really should click on it and view it at a higher magnification.) To figure out that out, I had to do a fair amount of trial-and-error digging and apply some Google-brand elbow grease. I finally determined that they came from a sheet of stamps titled "Nostalgia of Pictures for Children Series 4," which was released in November 2016. The full 10-stamp sheet, as issued, looks like this:

According to a website that archives Japan's stamps, "the theme of this series is the 'Pictures for Children,' which remind us of childhood memories. Nostalgic townscape and scenery from the works by Mitsumasa Anno, a picture book writer, are depicted for the fourth of the series."

Other artists featured in the series included Chihiro Iwasaki and Akiko Hayashi

1951 U.S. stamp marks United Confederate Veterans' last reunion

This 3-cent stamp, which I'll be sending overseas for a Postcrossing mailing, was issued in Norfolk, Virginia, on May 30, 1951. It was issued in conjunction with that summer's last-ever reunion of an association called the United Confederate Veterans. The group consisted of veterans who had fought for the Confederacy during the U.S. Civil War, from 1861 to 1865. So, as you might imagine, their numbers were dwindling precipitously by the summer of 1951. In fact, only three Confederate veterans attended that summer's UCV reunion, according to Wikipedia.

The last surviving (and confirmed) Confederate soldier, the wonderfully named Pleasant Crump, died at age 104 on December 31, 1951. His long life ended, somewhat ironically, in the town of Lincoln, Alabama, although that town is named for Revolutionary War Major General Benjamin Lincoln, not the man who led the fight to preserve the Union.

This gray stamp is officially U.S. #998 and 119 million of them were printed, so they're not hard to come across. According to the background information for the stamp on the Mystic Stamp Company's website, the United Confederate Veterans formed their association in 1889 and had their first reunion in 1890. Its constitution declared the organization’s purpose as "strictly social, literary, historical, and benevolent," and the association invited Confederate veterans, Union veterans and the general public to its reunions.

I'm guessing, by the way, that the United Confederate Veterans, along with seemingly everyone else, wouldn't have been in favor of the new "what if" Civil War series that HBO has in the works.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Very authentic Star Trek postcard for Annika in Sweden

Here's the postcard I sent to fellow Postcrosser Annika, who lives in Sweden and said in her profile that "cards that make me extra happy is Star Trek (all about it)."

She also sternly reminds people that Star Trek is not Star Wars.

We'll have to see how long it takes for Annika to receive her card. In her profile, she writes that she is not enamored with the Swedish postal system (aka PostNord Sverige): "Unfortunately the mail service in Sweden has been very lousy, if we are lucky we got our mail twice a week, if we are unlucky there are no mail during the whole week. Every 4th day, I call the customer service and complain. And often I got my mail same or next day, but it is very time consuming."

So I reckon we have it pretty good here in the USA. I know that I greatly appreciate all of our postal carriers.

Maybe, in our lifetime, we'll reach a point where we can just beam our handwritten mail to each other, using miniaturized transporter technology. Seems reasonable.

Other Star Trek/Papergreat posts

A final Star Trek note: I'm currently, on my daily commute, listening my way through the podcast "70s Trek: A Look at Star Trek in the 1970s" by Bob Turner and Kelly Casto. It's really good and highly recommended if you are a fan of The Original Series.

"Atoms For Peace" first day cover perhaps misses the point

This post is a companion to the one from a year ago on the 1955 Atoms for Peace U.S. stamp. Pictured is a first day cover for the official release of that stamp on July 28, 1955.

While the three-cent stamp itself seems to convey the idea of bringing together people from all corners of the Earth and contains the phrase "to find the way by which the inventiveness of man shall be dedicated to life," the first day cover illustration by Cachet Craft's Ken Boll has a decidedly different tone, with its violent atomic cloud.

President Eisenhower's "Atoms for Peace" address had been delivered a year-and-a-half prior to this cover's creation, so I'm not sure what the thought process was behind the illustration.

The idea of "peace" via the threat or use of nuclear annihilation is certainly on many minds these week, with the high-stakes verbal sparring between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump. If you want some great perspective on the history of "nuclear poker" (and confirmation that Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump are particularly ill-suited for this "game"), I highly recommend Dan Carlin's nearly-six-hour mega-podcast from earlier this year titled "The Destroyer of Worlds." It's simultaneously terrifying, fascinating and full of great historical insights.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Snapshot: Mom at Lycoming College

Here's an interesting snapshot from (what I'm assuming is) Mom's dormitory room at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, in 1967. The caption on the back states, "costume for Sigma Pi Pledge party, May '67." Fifty years ago!1

The photo isn't quite sharp enough to identify everything on the walls and shelves, but some of it is clear enough:

  • a pennant for Lackland Air Force Base (AFB) in Texas
  • a life-size portrait of a young woman that might have been drawn by Mom
  • a Vermont truck license plate with the number A764
  • a sign stating "CARD PLAYING IN THE CARD ROOM ONLY!"
  • a snapshot of a car
  • a calendar
  • something that looks like either a decanter of whiskey or a huge bottle of perfume
  • a pink pinwheel
  • SO MANY PIECES OF EPHEMERA tacked to the bulletin board

1. Interestingly, there are very few photos of my time at Penn State from 1989 to 1993. Taking pictures just wasn't something we did. (As opposing to now, when I take 20 pictures of alpacas with my iPhone every Saturday morning.) I'm guessing that, including the silly party snapshots, there are only about a dozen Penn State photos of me.