Postcards: True Stories That Never Happened

Guest Post

I really need to become more in tune with what’s going on in comics aside from the major news that comes directly from the larger publishers.

The editor of the book describes in his introduction how he went about lining up various comic book creators and assigning them each a postcard in which to form their story.

Most of the creators involved may not be the most recognizable names. Harvey Pekar is probably the most well known, but the work also features contributions from talents like Tom Beland, Joshua Fialkov, Michael Gaydos and Stuart Moore,

The premise of the book is amazingly simple, but still wholly unique: A postcard is handed off to a comic creator and the creator needs to tell a story about the message that was written on the postcard. In some instances, the creator chose to establish a story based on the few simple words that were written on the back. Others decided to create a world from the picture on the front.

For instance, one postcard is of a huge old attraction/monument at Atlantic City called the Elephant Hotel. The postcard was sent in November 1907 with a simple, yet somewhat cryptic, message on the back: “This is one of a set of four that I am going to send you. Please don’t slap my mug. I would tell her name, but I don’t know it myself.” Chris Stevens and Gia-Bao Tran open this book with a nine-page “true” story of what that message may have meant. Who was writing it? Why did they send it? What did they mean?

Each of the chapters is self-contained, with only the postcard concept connecting them all to the larger context of the book, but as you continue reading there’s a sequential flow that almost seems to have the stories play off one another.

My particular favorites were Tom Beland’s “Time” and the pairing of Jay Busbee and Tony Fleecs on “Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland.” Beland, creator of the Eisner-nominated True Story, Swear to God, focuses on a love that even death cannot sour. “Dreamland” is a heart-wrenching story about two young women who were kept apart by social and parental contempt.

Much credit must be given to Jason Rodriguez, who brought this all together as the editor of the project. He did more than pass out a couple of old mementos and have writers do something fun with them. He sought the best combination of story and storyteller. Throughout the book are notes where Rodriguez describes his rationale for assigning a particular card to the creator and how he was trying to develop the overall feel of the book.

It’s an amazing concept and one that’s executed pretty much flawlessly. I started leafing through the book during the middle of the night right before bed and ended up reading the entire thing, captivated by each and every page.

Postcards is a sampling of some of the brightest and most creative talents in the industry collaborating on a work that transcends the comicbook world. This is a book that anyone who loves comics should want to read and also a work that would be a wonderful introduction for someone outside the comic industry.

Buy it. Read it. Loan it out and show the world what this art form can truly be.

None of the stories contained in Postcards are true, as Rodriguez explains in the introduction, but it sure reads like they are.