[9 September 2007]
Postcards: True Stories That Never Happened is a collection of 16 illustrated stories based on vintage postcards found in antique shops across America. Editor Jason Rodriguez introduces the collection with a personal story about the book’s unique conception. He collected the postcards on his travels, first out of personal interest and curiosity, and later with a specific purpose in mind. Rodriguez passed the postcards, mostly dating from the early to mid-1900s, on to 33 artists and writers to spin their own tales based on the few lines of text and images on each card. The result is a collection of stories varying in theme, aesthetics, style, and length. The contributors are talented comic and graphic novel standouts such as Tom Beland, Jay Busbee, Michael Gaydos, Joshua Hale Fialkov, Jason Hanley, Phillip Hester, and more.
Of significant note to comic fans may be the inclusion of a story by the prolific Harvey Pekar and his wife, Joyce Brabner, based on postcards they’ve sent or received over the years. The story, entitled “The History of a Marriage”, expresses a poignant and succinct message through postcard notes and gives the book a very strong finish.
Editor Jason Rodriguez’s previous editing work includes the Harvey Award-nominated graphic novel, Elk’s Run and the critically acclaimed anthology Western Tales of Terror. Rodriguez further cements his talent in short prologues to each story, detailing particular quirks about each postcard, and giving some background on the artists and writers chosen to tell their stories. Rodriguez assembled a group of talented and well-respected comic writers and illustrators, and he communicates his admiration for them in the emphasis on the complete creative freedom each contributor was given. The vintage postcards, in all their time-worn ambiguity and charm, were the only concrete guidelines given for the stories. The effect of such license on the collection is that the stories are quite diverse. Illustrations range from more traditional light-and-shadow comic book-style cells to classically drawn and sometimes near-photographic illustrations. Some stories read like prose, others are staccato phrases meant only to highlight the images. The variety is a welcome factor that cleanses the mental palate as readers move from one story to the next. The variety and unexpected subject matter of these stories gives the book great strength. Vintage-style images and stories based on turn-of-the-century ethics, joys, and dilemmas provide a surprising and unique reading experience for both comic fans and readers new to the graphic style.
Postcards is an enjoyable book, as much so when read cover-to-cover as when indulged in as bite-sized, quick-read chunks. Further reading, too, is an option as Rodriguez generously provides details about each contributor and their previous works. Postcards also has several supplemental resources, too, meant to enrich readers’ experience of the book and carry on the interactive feel of the project. Editor Jason Rodriguez shares that Eximious Press (www.eximiouspress.com) will host a monthly contest for readers to send in stories based on more postcards from Rodriguez’s collection. A Postcards-related series of supplements for use in schools has also been created and is available on the Eximious Press website. Postcards: California Dreaming is currently in the works and will explore postcards of a 19th century California theme.