I couldn’t believe it when I first read the news: the renowned publisher Schwaneberger Verlag GmbH, home of the authoritative Michel Catalogues, was going to issue a special thematic catalog on comics on stamps. Finally someone takes the bold move to authenticate the needs of so many collectors I know and bring their niche interest into the mainstream!
But now I have to believe it – it’s past the level of news: it’s in my hands, on my reading table, I am browsing it, and reviewing it for you!
About: Michel Catalog – Comics – Worldwide. Order directly from here. | 1st issue, available since 07.08.2020 | 208 pages | paperback | 15.5k price notices| 2100 color illustrations| stamps from 1958 to the second quarter of 2020 cataloged | German language | Check out also the awesome Michel Online Catalog here.
The initiative of the publishers goes beyond showing that this is now a mainstream interest. Michel Catalogs have been around for 110 years and have built an immense knowledge base on stamps, stamp varieties while cataloging them accurately and with gusto. In the process, they have seen philately boom as a hobby for many, and reshape in a hobby for the few. In the process, also, they have witnessed the shrinking effect of the postal services worldwide, who now compete in order to provide fresh philatelic material keeping pace with new technologies, materials, and topics.
Why comics on stamps?
It is in this context – of new topics, that comics stand out maybe even more than any other major thematic interest for philatelists. Call them comics, or comic stripes, or funnies. Call them fiumetti like the Italians do, or call them BD (bande dessinée) like the French. Go very locall and call them 単行本 (tankōbon) or 漫画 (manga) like the billion-selling industry of Japan. Comics have been with us for roughly two centuries, but it’s only less than a century that they became truly popular. It’s sometimes said that it is the worldwide success of Tintin comics that made that move of comics into mainstream culture. If you are into Tintin stamps, by the way, here’s an article on the whole thing on stamps.
So far 124 postal authorities have issued stamps illustrating the topical interest of comics. More than half of these started to do so after the year 2000. A quarter of late adopters started issuing comics on stamps from 2010 onward.
The growing popularity of comics was easily bought in by postal authorities when deciding on new topics for their issues of stamps. A series of factors contributed to this growing popularity: (1) first and foremost they are cute and attractive. (2) they might be part of a bigger scheme to funnel young collectors into the philatelic world; (3) images from comics may have a moralizing narrative, but are apolitical and do not cause any controversy; (4) they represent abundant material; (5) they emulate a ‘modern’ look so it also bulks up in the process the issuing postal authority’s image.
Who are the main comics characters on stamps?
Roughly half of the mentioned 124 countries issued Disney-themed stamps. Disney-themed stamps form such a vast collection that in itself collecting Disney on stamps is a topical interest. One of the earliest sets depicting Disney characters was issued in San Marino in the year 1970 comprising 10 stamps (9 with Disney characters and 1 showing Walt Disney himself) and was considered a rare occurrence at the time. It took only 10 years for the European set issued in San Marino to become the odd man out: in 1979, the Intergovernmental Philatelic Corporation of New York was licensed by Walt Disney Productions to make Disney character stamps for several countries: numerous Carribean and African states jumped at the occasion and started issuing numerous sets – so numerous that today it’s hard even to find your way among them – unless you have the proper playbook with you – which happens to be this great new issue from Schwaneberger Verlag GmbH.
Other great characters that rejoice from great popularity include: Tintin, the Moomins, the Smurfs, Doraemon, Astroboy, Pippi Longstocking (all links lead to my special articles on those topics on stamps), and many others. How I went about collecting so far was a tedious task: I checked numerous Michel catalogs going country by country, supplementing the information with new releases from the monthly supplements of Michel Rundschau and some Google searches. However it was not until I had in my hands the Michel Comics Worldwide Catalog that I had the certainty my collection was progressing in the right direction. Honestly, I was relieved to finally have a confirmation that I am almost complete with these topics!
Why a playbook for collecting comics on stamps?
If you collect any topical interest on stamps, you most certainly see the benefit of having an official catalog to help you keep your collection orderly and up to date. As I was mentioning before, you basically have no clue where you are at with your collection unless someone smarter and better-informed tells you. How will you know if your sets are complete? Especially if you are into collecting Disney on stamps – you will actually have the chance to see: which issues are actually official (not bogus!); which of the issues you already own are already complete (with so many including an elusive high-nominal end stamp); and even more.
Of course, it may not be something of interest to everyone, but have you considered the value of your collection? Well, in Michel’s Comics Worldwide Catalog you have up-to-date pricing information for all the stamp issues included. So that you can actually assess your collection also financially – to calculate your return on investment and see what it’s been worth to invest in time and money to secure a thematic collection of stamps.
But there is one more, unbeatable benefit of Michel’s Comics Worldwide Catalog: if you are only now starting your collecting experiences with stamps, and chose comics as your base theme, then you should definitely get a copy and use it as a playbook: for advancing your collection, for swaps with fellow philatelists, and purchases. I would just love to go back in time and have such a playbook available – how just more focused would my collecting experience would be. So, young collector, don’t do my mistakes: just grab a copy and play along the rules.
One last thing that might motivate those who, just like me, don’t speak German. I actually encountered no difficulties due to that fact. If you know your way around a catalog and how to follow the textual and visual cues – you will make it without the least trouble in the world. The German-language texts are so short and concise, after all, that if you really need to know what it says, you can just Google-translate it.
I encourage you to get familiar with the offer of Michel Catalogs – both regional and topical here. Do check out please also these awesome special offers here. If you prefer online catalogs, there’s an option for that too: check out Michel Online. Last but not least, keep in touch for the latest from the publishers of Michel Catalogs on Facebook.