SIMI VALLEY : Stamp Club's Exhibit Full of Real Characters

The Simi Valley Stamp Club has opened hundreds of tiny windows onto the world at the Simi Valley Library with a colorful exhibition of postage stamps.

The club posted the tribute to thumbnail masterpieces in honor of Stamp Collecting Month, which the U.S. Postal Service has marked this year by issuing a sheet of stamps commemorating the 100th anniversary of the American comic strip.

The club's show focuses on comic art stamps--from Antiguan and Mongolian Mickey Mouse stamps to delicate pastel drawings that honor French cartoon artists.

But the show also spans genres and stamp-collecting specialties by including samples of commemorative envelopes devoted to Abraham Lincoln, a sheet of Portuguese windmills and hand-drawn postcards from 19th-Century Germany.

"We've been aiming this more for young people, rather than from the complicated and expensive collections many of us have," said William Schlosser, a retired Cal State Northridge theater professor who is the club's program director.

"But this month the post office is issuing a sheet on comic strips, and we've used that as the center of our attraction," he said.

The club beefed up the comic strip display with reproductions of comic artists' original sketches taken from the collection of retired newspaper artist Murray A. Harris.

Here is a sketch of Lil' Abner and Daisy Mae signed by artist Al Capp, and there, a drawing of eagle-beaked Dick Tracy and tousle-haired sidekick Junior, signed by Tracy originator Chester Gould.

"I was always fond of them," Harris said of the comic characters. "And I continued through my lifetime, collecting . . . . Quite a few [artists] have honored me with these free sketches."

The exhibit remains on display through October. The library is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The library is closed Fridays and Sundays.

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