Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Looney Tunes

During the first weekend of March, as every year, the French postal organisation, La Poste, has held an event called “La Fête du Timbre” (the stamp feast). At this occasion, several philatelic exhibitions or animations are organized all over the country. This is also the occasion for La Poste to issue a new set of stamps. As usual, the subject of this special issue is dedicated to children. After Harry Potter and cartoon characters designed by Tex Avery, this year the subject was Looney Tunes cartoons characters.

Looney Tunes is the name of an animated cartoon series produced by Warner Bros. that ran in movie theatres from 1930 to 1969. It is also related to another series produced by the same company, Merrie Mellodies which was using one-shot characters, whereas Looney Tunes was more an umbrella series for the recurring characters. Originally, Looney Tunes had been created as a musical animated series to promote the music produced by the company. The very first character appearing in a Looney Tunes cartoon was Bosko, quickly replaced by Buddy. But the first major character was Porky Pig, who was introduced in 1935. He was followed by a set of other characters that quickly became famous all over the world, such as the one pictured on the stamps issued by French post.

Three stamps have been issued at the occasion of La Fête du Timbre. The first one pictures Tweety and Sylvester.
Tweety is a young canary (sometimes he is referred as a rare Tweetybird, being the only living specimen of this species). He first appeared in a Looney Tunes cartoon in 1942 in A Tale of Two kitties. On his first appearance he was naked (pink), the yellow feathers were added in later cartoons. His name Tweety comes from “tweet” the typical English onomatopoeia for the sounds of bird.
Sylvester, also named Sylvester J. Pussycat Sr., is a domestic black and white cat who appeared in Looney Tunes cartoons for the first time in 1945 in Life with feathers. His name comes from Felis silvestris, the scientific name for the wild cat species (whereas he is moiré a domestic cat and therefore belongs to the species Felis catus).
Tweety and Sylvester first met in a cartoon in 1947, in Tweety Pie. This was the start of a long list of cartoons where Sylvester spends his time purchasing Tweety, trying to eat him, while Tweety is protected by Granny or Hector the Bulldog.
Tweety has appeared in 48 cartoons, whereas Sylvester has appeared in more than 90 cartoons.

I recently received this cover from Eric, franked with this stamp and cancelled with a very nice special postmark from La Fête Du Timbre. Thank you again Eric.

The second stamp pictures another famous couple issued from Looney Tunes: Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner.
Both characters were created in 1948 and they appear in more than 40 cartoons, with always the same scenario: Will E. Coyote using all possible means to catch Road Runner, who spends his time escaping, only reacting with his signature sound : beep, beep.

The last stamp pictures the characters that are probably the most popular ones: Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck
Bugs Bunny was created in 1938 (at this time he was still an unnamed rabbit); He made his official debut as Bug Bunny in 1940 in a cartoon directed by Tex Avery : A wild hare. He is famous worldwide for his catchphrase: What’s up doc, that he usually says while chewing a carrot, in the same way that Groucho Marx was chewing his cigar.
Daffy Duck appeared for the first time in 1937 in Porky’s Duck Hunt, associated with Porky Pig. He has been very often associated with Bugs Bunny, Bugs Bunny being the winner and Daffy Duck the looser…

The three stamps issued by La Poste are sold in various format. They can be purchased in the form of a band of three stamps se-tenant.

Also as a block of nine.
Or as a sheet of sixty stamps !

An auto-adhesive version of the same stamps is also available in the form of a booklet of twelve stamps.

On top of the characters used on the stamps, the cover of the booklet pictures Taz, the Tasmanian devil.
And to be complete I should mention also a souvenir sheet that has been issued with a large high face value stamp picturing some additional characters such as Yosemite Sam (on the far left) and Marvin the Martian (on the right).

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