In partnership with the U.S. Postal Service, family entertainment company Curiosity Ink Media and publisher Dynamite Entertainment are launching a series of books for preschool through middle-grade readers, featuring a slightly reimagined version of Mr. ZIP, the 1960s postal carrier cartoon figure developed to promote ZIP Code use.
The character, who has been given a slightly more modern and dimensional but still retro look, remains a mail carrier. This time around he is also an educator, focused on STEM and STEAM topics, according to Jon Rosenberg, executive v-p and publisher at Curiosity Ink Media. “It’s not heavy-handed, but everything will have an educational component,” he said, noting that the focus on learning makes sense given the character’s history. “He started out teaching about ZIP codes.”
Armed with “his mail bag of tips, tricks, and tools,” Mr. ZIP will solve problems, showing up wherever assistance is needed and demonstrating early STEAM concepts, from coding to the weather. And he will still get the mail delivered on time.
The character will exist in the real world, but with some unusual new friends: the trusty eagle, B. Franklin, named after the first Postmaster General, Ben Franklin, and an anthropomorphic mail drop named Farley, named for another Postmaster General, James A. Farley, whom the main New York City post office opposite Penn Station honors.
The first four Mr. ZIP titles will debut in fall 2023. They will include an activity book that will introduce kids to the world of STEAM with mazes, puzzles, and other activities; a novelty lift-a-flap board book, Mr. ZIP’s Windy Day; a 10x12 hardcover seek-and-find format, Where’s Mr. ZIP?; and a 32-page 8x8 softcover early reader, Mr. ZIP’s First Book of Weather and Climate. “Mr. ZIP thinks all weather is exciting,” Rosenberg said. Two lists per year starting in 2024 will see new titles in each of these series, as well as additional formats and concepts.
The character of Mr. ZIP celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2023 and will be at the center of a full licensing program, managed by licensing agency Global Icons, next fall.
The books will be sold across all channels. The U.S.P.S. partnership has the potential to open up some additional marketing and distribution opportunities, Rosenberg said. Support for the anniversary and the new licensing program will include a promotional presence in some of the larger post offices, for example. The deal also gives licensees an opportunity to sell to the 600,000 U.S.P.S. employees through the dedicated employee store.