Wednesday 1 September 2021

Be scared! Now it's Batman & friends as Royal Mail take another opportunity to "Extend Beyond Philately" - 17 September 2021

Our apologies that an incomplete version of this post appeared; it was scheduled to publish at midnight, but I was prevented from completing it, which has now been done.

For no apparent reason, other than they have secured a licensing agreement and have reserved a space in the calendar, Royal Mail will issue on 17 September 2021 a set of stamps (plus) celebrating DC Comics Super Heroes and associated Super-Villains.

It was this issue that prompted me to write the '2015 turning point' post here.

Whereas in the case of previous licensed topics Royal Mail have pointed out 'the British connection' in the information they supply to dealers (as part-justification for the inclusion in the stamp programme) no such details are included this time, although there are connections.

Indeed on his Commonwealth Stamps Opinion blog, WhiteKnight writes 

"the American philatelic agency IGPC* revealed the designs of the 12 stamps and 1 miniature sheet containing 6 further stamps to be issued on 17 September 2021 by Royal Mail on the subject of characters from the American DC Comics".

 *They didn't, but anybody who reads that blog often will be aware of WK's acerbic comments on IGPC and Stamperija - and Royal Mail, Australia Post, Isle of Man Stamps, Guernsey/Alderney, Jersey, Gibraltar and any other organisations which seem hell-bent on as much money-grabbing as they can from stamp collectors before everybody stops writing letters and using stamps.  Conversely he also highlights those places which produce really interesting stamps of local worth and usage.

Anyway, I shall reproduce an edited version of what was supplied to us by Royal Mail:

DC Collection

Royal Mail celebrates DC Comics through the ages and the Super Hero genre that it helped create with a bumper 18 stamp set of Super Heroes and Super-Villains including; 12-stamp set of the world-famous Batman, his allies and his foes and a special Justice League Stamp Sheet including the iconic trinity, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.   2021 also marks the 80th anniversary of the first appearance of Wonder Woman, who was among the first-ever female Super Heroes in comics.

Key Product Range Information:

  • Twelve stamps exclusively illustrated by the prestigious Comic artist, Jim Cheung and colourist, Laura Martin, celebrating Batman, his greatest foes and allies.
  • An exclusively commissioned Justice League stamp sheet for the Royal Mail illustrated by the same artists, including characters Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and more.
  • Framed prints showcasing the initial sketches of the stamps, as well as signed versions from the artists.
  • New, exclusive silver-plated and gold-plated medals with exclusive stamp imagery, as well newly packaged silver medals.

Set of 10 x 1st class DC Comics stamps 17 September 2021 (as usual, click on images to enlarge them)

Justice League miniature sheet containing 6 x 1st class stamps 17 September 2021

The sheet stamps depict: Batman, Batwoman, Robin, Batgirl, Alfred, Nightwing;
The Joker, Harley Quinn, The Penguin, Poison Ivy, Catwoman, The Riddler.

The Miniature Sheet is an exclusively illustrated six-stamp miniature sheet celebrating the Justice League; the World’s Greatest Super Heroes joining forces to protect the planet:

Batman, Green Lantern and The Flash, Wonder Woman, Superman, Cyborg and Aquaman, Supergirl and Shazam.

Technical details

The 35 mm square stamps are designed by Interbang using artwork by Jimmy Cheung and colourist Laura Martin.  They are printed in sheets of 60 on gummed paper by International Security Printed in lithography.  The miniature sheet is self-adhesive with two stamps 50 x 30 mm, two 35 x 37 mm, one 60 x 23 mm and one 27 x 37 mm.
BATMAN and all related characters and elements © & ™ DC Comics. WB SHIELD: © & ™ WBEI.(s21).  JUSTICE LEAGUE and all related characters and elements © & ™ DC Comics. WB SHIELD: © & ™ WBEI.(s21).  Stamp designs © Royal Mail Group Ltd 2021.

As usual individual stamps can be purchased in multiples of 5 each.

Other products

Two retail booklets the contents of which have already been revealed to Royal Mail's standing order customers by the inclusion of 'BM' and 'WW' on their pre-issue invoices.  These contain 1st class Machin definitives with code MCIL M21L. These stamps are printed in gravure.

Batman and Robin retail booklet 17 September 2021

Wonderwoman retail booklet 17 September 2021

DC Collection - Prestige Stamp Book
The DC PSB takes a brief look into the timeline behind DC Comics and in particular, the key Super Heroes and Villains that contributed to its success. A bumper facts book that explores every character from the official DC Collection Stamp Set and Justice League Stamp Sheet in more detail, the one-off product also delves into the impact of the ‘British invasion’ and the remaining strong ties between DC and the UK today.  (And THAT is the first intimation that there is any connection to the UK, but it doesn't say what it is!)

The 8-stamp Machin definitive pane contains 2 x 1st class stamps, 3 x 2nd and 3 x 20p, which at least means the apparent 'leftovers' are useful values.  But of course we have already had a 1st class stamp in the Music Giants V PSB, and a 20p in the Industrial Revolutions meaning that the 2nd class is the only new stamp with £2.30-worth of stamps spare.

Two of the non-stamp pages describe 'The British Invasion':

"The 1980s saw a host of creators from the United Kingdom joining DC as the company sought out talent in what became known as the 'British Invasion'.  Alan Moore led the way with a genre-defining run on Swamp Thing before collaborating with Dave Gibbons on Watchmen and with Brian Bolland on Batman: The Killing Joke.

That illustrious group was quickly joined by a legion of talented experts in their craft, such as Jamie Delano, Mark Millar, Peter Milligan, Steve Dillon, Alan Davis, Glenn Farby, and Irish-born Garth Ennis."

The name of Alan Davis is known for the production of the Marvel Comics miniature sheet, but apart from that these are unknown to me.  The only name instantly recognisable further on, is Neil Gaiman, who combined with the late Terry Pratchett in the writing of the Discworld novel Good Omens, and is also known for radio/tv series Neverwhere, and for The Sandman, and for work with Marvel Comics.

The stamps are the same as in the sheets and miniature sheet, ie the Justice League stamps are self-adhesive, which means that all the WonderWoman stamps are self-adhesive - although those in the retail booklet are gravure rather than litho.

UPDATE 20 September.  My thanks to Geoff H for this picture which shows that one of his PSBs delivered from Tallents House has pane 4 missing.  It seems that most PSBs produced recently can be found with an error, usually a missing pane but sometimes with pages inverted.  Cartor's quality control is slipping.

Fluor tricks
Once again spot-fluorescence has been applied to the stamps - though not always successfully.  With my new UV lamp, the effects show up when fully in the spotlight, but only if it is not overwhelmed by the brightness of the lamp.

On the Batman stamp the batlogo in the background is hightlighted, but so is the one on his chest, unfortunately overprinted with black!   Below that, Batgirl doesn't have that problem.  Other areas are he spotlight on the Batwoman stamp, and the bats and cave entrance on Alfred's stamp.

The Nightwing chest logo, and Robin's staff are also highlighted, although the latter is of minimal significance.  

With The Joker, the letters HA are highlighted, although as they are printed in dark orange the fluor doesn't show well.  The window and crystal held by Catwoman, and above that the disk and outlining of the letters are highlighted.

For The Penguin it's his hat, and The Riddler the staff/crook and ? highlighted on his hat.

The miniature sheet also has highlighting though more difficult to show.  The DC logo, Batman's chest logo (again overprinted in black) and belt?, Green Lantern's eye-piece and Flash's.. flashes.

For the rest of the miniature sheet, Aquaman's water splashes, and possibly WonderWoman's rope. It's difficult to see with the Super set; I think the areas highlighted may be too small on these to properly work.

Now if Royal Mail also sold a simple UV lamp with these, even if it is only the special edition PSB, then all the fans would appreciate it as well, rather than just philatelic nerds who have to shine a UV lamp at everything!

The Limited Edition Prestige Stamp Book (limited to 1939 when Batman first appeared in Detective Comics) is priced at £49.99 (a reduction on previous LE PSBs).  As always the stamps are said to be exactly the same as in the regular PSB, so no need for more details here.

Batman Collector Sheet, includes all 12 stamps from the set, alongside what Royal Mail now terms as 'stickers' rather than labels. The sheet is litho self-adhesive printed by ISP, and priced at £11.40, only £1.20 more than the face value of the stamps.

Other products

Three Stamp Character Packs (ie like a presentation pack but just a carrier card): the set, 10 x Batman, 10 x Joker.

Batman and Wonder Woman medal covers, each silver plated (£20) or gold-plated (£25), and silver medal boxes (£100 each).

Batman Art Print Collection which includes 12 high-gloss art prints, card with 12 stamps affixed, and a 10% voucher for use in the Royal Mail shop!  (£25)

Framed products including prints of the 'progressives' of the Batman, Joker, and Justice League sheet with pencil, then ink by Jim Cheung, and then colour by Laura Martin. These exclusive products, at least, are impressive even at £46 each.

I'm sure Matt Parkes will be pleased with this, and that there will be sufficient sales to encourage Royal Mail to do more similar - what else though?  Rolling Stone magazine has a list of the top 50(!) Best Non-Superhero Graphic Novels but many are on subjects which would be unsuitable, some are anime (nothing wrong with that), and none have the fan-base of the superheroes, save perhaps for Tin Tin.  Suprised Asterix didn't make it in there.

Anyway, I don't think that there is anything more that I can write on this.  Only two more issues this year, Rugby Union and Christmas.


  1. Will there be a "Special Edition" Prestige Stamp Booklet, as with Marvel Heroes?

  2. If the twelve normal gummed stamps were not enough, the £11.40 Collectors Sheet has all twelve 1st Class stamps which are self-adhesive. All items now on the Royal Mail website.
    We should be celebrating British History, British Achievements and Anniversaries, not issuing totally unnecessary issues like this. The total number of stamps is absurd.

  3. Many no doubt many will be ripped off. Mini-sheets for example, are not produced for postal purposes but for only philatelists. A licence to print money?

    1. I will be using them for postal purposes, as they are, after all, stamps (be it first & foremost...).

  4. Lots of pretty stickers ........... you can buy a book at the pound shop that has many more stickers and use them as stamps Royal Mail have little interest . It does rather sum up Royal Mail ... COMIC . The continuing devaluing of the Royal Mail brand is absurdly short sighted.

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  6. I think this will be a nice issue to use on my outgoing letters.

    1. But dare I use one DC stamp next to a Marvel stamp?

  7. As a big fan of comic heroes and villains myself I love them. Star Trek, Star Wars, Marvel its my genre, so I'm not complaining, but there are times when British heritage and conservation should be honoured as well, bearing in mind this only happens once a year when we get swamped but something that is not British. I must admit there some anniversaries and events that have missed the boat this year, like 60 years of Euro Football championship and the Olympics and next month Rugby again.

    On a different note that's the 9th Miniature Sheet cover this year and we still have Rugby Union and Xmas to come. Some of these Miniature Sheet covers are just too much and not warranted.

    I shall await for a set of stamps covering kitchen sinks pencilled in for next year ha ha

    1. Septembers Philatelic Bulletin reveals the make up of the Rugby Union Issue on 19/10/2021 on it's back page. 2x 2nd, 2x 1st, 2x £1.70 and 2x £2.55. No Miniature Sheet for once.

    2. How about the 91st anniversary of National Car Parks for next year!? I was just rereading the spoof programme Norvic posted last December!

  8. I don't think I'll bother with the prestige booklet this time around, just too many stamps,
    Maybe the Wonder Woman booklet pane as I am sure we must be related ???
    D Prince

  9. Sigh ...! I'm SOOOO disappointed. RM have not produced any 'fan sheets' ......! :(

  10. I suppose we should be grateful for small mercies: according to the September Philatelic Bulletin, the Rugby Union issue is "only" 8 stamps (2x2nd, 2x1st, 2x£1.70 and 2x£2.55) with no booklets.

  11. I do like miniature sheets. They usually have the useful denominations on them so, after a while when I have looked at and enjoyed them, I stick them on letters or greetings cards for others to enjoy. Other advantages are that they are usually gummed; so easier to position on letters neatly; and the stamps are prettier than the ordinary commemorative sheets. The only drawback I see is that they are hard to find and explaining what it is that you seek several times to post office clerks can be trying. Post Offices which have the ordinary commemoratives often have no miniature sheets in stock. I shall not buy this one,not just because it is self adhesive but because I dislike having the stamps in different shapes.

  12. Ian said "The name of Alan Davis is known for the production of the Marvel Comics miniature sheet, but apart from that these are unknown to me." That's a little unfair I think. I'm not a comics geek but I know Ennis and Dillon's work; Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Dave McKean and especially Bryan Talbot. In fact - Dillon, McKean and Talbot have all worked on Judge Dredd - who originated in British comic 2000AD. If the RM were to truly want to celebrate modern British comic artists, then there's enough names to do at least a set of 6. Do we have to wait for Dredd's 50th anniversary in Spring 2017 though...

    On the subject of anniversaries - this set is loosely aligned to Wonder Woman's 80th anniversary yet no 10x character sheet for her? Batman may have more fans but there's a trick been missed here in the opportunity to possibly attract female fans?

    1. Unfair or not, it's the truth - and Davis's name only stuck because I am aware of the comedian/comic actor with a similar name.

      Never looked at Judge Dredd.

  13. Yes but just think how long the case would drag on for!

  14. Think how many expert witnesses there could be!

  15. I like the issue, but why the bumperpack. Thanks (Alibaba) for rip me off.

  16. Interesting to note that the Collectors (Smiler) sheet is, I think, the first to have 12 stamps/labels rather than the usual 10 or 20.

  17. The Special Edition PSB for the DC issue comes with a numbered certificate but no number on the actual PSB. this means of course that unless the certifiacte follows the PSB around, there is no specific way of identifying its uniqueness. Bit dissapointed with RM on this.

    1. The different front cover should be sufficient...


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