Thursday, February 11, 2010

Valentines for Today's Kids

In my last blog where I posted some vintage Valentines, circa the early 60's, I promised that I would put up some examples of contemporary kids' Valentines, the type that are sold in packages.  You'll notice that all of these are connected with some sort of brand (Universal Monsters, Pixar, Simpsons, etc). Also notice that they are all rectangular (they come as perforated sheets that you tear apart yourself), no more die-cut Valentines in the shape of hearts or animals.

I'm including copyright information for each of these groups in the hopes that by doing so, and by making this a look at an aspect of pop culture, I can get away with posting these images without any copyright infringement.

The first group from 1992 are based on the Batman animated TV series and are copyright DC Comics.  Although the messages on these Valentines are fairly traditional, i.e. "Who's a Special Valentine? You!," "Dropping in With Valentine Wishes," etc, they do make an attempt to link their message with the character they're depicting - The Riddler is asking a question, Catwoman uses a pun on words, changing the word kidding to kitten, the Penguin, using his ubiquitous umbrella like a parachute, floats downward, telling you that he's dropping in with his Valentine wishes.

The next batch, depicting characters from the Simpsons are copyright and trademarked 2001 Fox.  The messages on these cards are a mix of traditional ("The Truth Must be Told - You'd Make a Great Valentine!") and how should I put this?  Hmmm.  . . less genteel ("Smell ya later, Valentine," "I pickeded this one myself").

There seems to be no character incapable of doling out Valentine's Day wishes as can be seen in this next group of cards that are all copyright 1997 Universal Studios Monsters TM. Frankenstein's monster, Dracula, the Mummy and Dracula are characters that usually decorate the front of Halloween cards, but here they provide more examples of fairly traditional Valentine's messages being combined with imagery that is not usually associated with the day.

The following Spongebob cards are all copyright 2003 by Viacom International.  These cards with their shiny foil finish (which unfortunately doesn't show up on the scans) are funny partially because they are so aggressive.  All of them give you the feeling that the characters are shouting out their sentiments of love. "Crazy 4u!!!!" shouts Patrick with his arms upraised and his teeth bared.
"It's Valentine's Day! Enjoy it!" shouts Spongebob with his mouth wide open exposing his dangling uvula.  These cards are cleverly designed.  Each card is meant to be folded in half and the 2 halves close by inserting the edge of one half under the precut tab on the other half, so that the card becomes its own envelope.

This last group of cards depicting characters from various Pixar/Disney films are from this year. All of them are copyright Disney/Pixar.  These cards, though nicely designed, are printed on what feels like an inferior card stock and have a semi-matte finish giving them a rather dull look.  The sentiments are all fairly traditional with the exception of the Toy Story card's message of "To Infinity and Beyond."  The use of Buzz lightyear's catchphrase doesn't seem very Valentine-like to me, but it does give the card a sort of all-purpose, all-occasion usefulness.  And the Ratatouille card with its message of "Bonjour Valentine!" will give any kid who receives it, a mini-French lesson, not to mention the heebie-jeebies if you don't like rats.

Though as I stated in my last post, I prefer the Valentines I received in the early sixties, I can appreciate these cards for their  links to various movies and TV shows that will one day serve as reminders to what was popular in the media in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.  


  1. Where's the charm gone in Valentine Day cards? And since when did Lon Chaney, Jr.'s depiction of the Frankenstein monster become the preferred one?

  2. You're right, today's cards have little to no charm, they're just part of the merchandising machine. And I agree, that should have been Karloff's version of the monster.