US Stamps

Monsters share messages on new U.S. forever stamps

Aug 31, 2021, 1 PM

By Michael Baadke

One nice thing about the four cartoon monsters on the latest United States forever stamps is that they don’t appear to be scary in the least.

And apparently they enjoy dressing up and sharing messages.

The nondenominated (58¢) Message Monsters stamps will be issued in a pane of 20 on Sept. 24.

A first-day ceremony for the new stamps will begin Friday at 11 a.m. Central Time at Redbud Park, 924 N. Kansas Ave., in Topeka, Kans.

Scheduled ceremony participants include Angie Grau, owner of Paper June Books; Tom Underwood, executive director of NOTO Arts and Entertainment District; and Jeffrey A. Adams, USPS vice president of corporate communications.

Admission to the ceremony is free and open to the public.

The stamps will be issued nationwide on the same day.

According to the U.S. Postal Service, “The four designs on this new pane of 20 stamps invite interactivity with dozens of self-adhesive accessories that personalize these comical characters for delighted recipients.”

In the pane margin area surrounding the 20 stamps are small printed hearts, hats, flowers, word balloons and thought bubbles that can be applied to the stamp when it is used to frank a card or letter for mailing.

The Postal Service is selling the stamps only in the full pane of 20, advising that the pane cannot be split and the stamps will not be sold individually.

The monsters featured on the new stamps are the creation of Canadian author and illustrator Elise Gravel.

Gravel has written and illustrated more than 30 books, according to her website, including La cle a molette (titled The Wrench in English), which in 2012 won the Governor General’s Literary Award for children’s book illustration.

Gravel studied graphic design in Quebec’s CEGEP college system.

USPS art director Antonio Alcala also served as designer of this issue.

The individual stamps are arranged five across and four down in the pane of 20, which was offset-printed by USPS contractor Banknote Corporation of America.

The stamps each show a single character in a passive pose with “Forever/USA” printed in black along the bottom.

The first monster is described as a roundish, rosy rascal by the Postal Service. Its gentle smile includes two fangs protruding up from the lower jaw, and a nine-pointed red star or sun shape adorns its torso.

The next character has a bigger smile (with two fangs pointing down), horizontal stripes of varying colors around its body, red horns on its head, and four arms in two sets, all with hands that appear to be waving “Hi.”

Next is a yellow squidlike creature with at least six eyes and sporting a few red circles as random features, along with red spots on its six arms.

Last comes a rotund, red monster with two unidentifiable projections atop its head. It is wearing baby blue briefs and has its left arm raised in what appears to be a wave.

“Whimsical, wacky and inviting your inventiveness, these creatures appeal across generations,” according to the Postal Service.

The stickers provided in the pane margins include several varieties of headgear: top hats, propeller beanies, knit toques, derbies, wizard hats, crowns, baseball caps and a pirate hat.

Word balloons can give voice to the Message Monsters, with “Hi!,” “GRR!,” and a single exclamation point making up the choices. Two thought balloons in the upper margin offer the option of sending “XOXO,” a common shorthand expression of affection.

The stamps are being issued during Thinking of You Week, Sept. 20-26.

The dedicated week was launched in the United Kingdom in 2014 and brought to the United States in 2018 by the Greeting Card Association, according to the USPS.

The theme of the week is “Send a card, deliver a smile.”

These aren’t the first monster stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service, and with four Day of the Dead forever stamps scheduled to be issued on Sept. 30, one could also say that they won’t be the last.

Monsters who are more terrifying were the subject of five 32¢ stamps issued Sept. 30, 1997. The Classic Movie Monsters stamps show famous actors in their film roles as the Phantom of the Opera (Lon Chaney), Dracula (Bela Lugosi), Frankenstein (Boris Karloff), the Mummy (Karloff again) and the Wolf Man (Lon Chaney Jr.) (Scott 3168-3172).

The Sesame Street 50th Anniversary forever stamps issued June 22, 2019 (Scott 5394), picture more sedate Muppet monsters including Cookie Monster, Herry Monster, Grover and others.

In preparing first-day cancels for this issue, the Postal Service created a pictorial postmark in color, but will use a traditional black cancel with “First Day of Issue” message between killer bars for most collector-submitted covers.

The color postmark shows the four characters from the stamps in various poses, each dressed up with some of the same accessories that are found in the pane margin.

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