cover image Postcards: True Stories that Never Happened

Postcards: True Stories that Never Happened

, . . Villard, $21.95 (148pp) ISBN 978-0-345-49850-2

The premise behind this anthology is clever: editor Rodriguez bought a batch of vintage picture postcards, gave them to various cartoonists from varying backgrounds and commissioned 16 short stories inspired by the brief, sometimes cryptic messages written on each card, preceded by reproductions of the cards themselves. The biggest names in the book are Harvey Pekar and Joyce Brabner, who, true to form, write about the postcard that introduced the two of them; the most engaging piece, though, is Stuart Moore and Michael Gaydos's deadpan but deeply silly tale of “traveling tic-tac-toe hustlers.” Other highlights include Phillip Hester's elaboration on an Easter card, concerning an unlikely spiritual awakening, and Joshua Hale Fialkov and Micah Farritor's subdued sketch about a pair of Americans in France during the Great Depression. Unfortunately, many stories lapse into sentimentality (like the saccharine contributions by Tom Beland and James W. Powell) or stretch the book's premise awkwardly. One piece somehow twists a whimsical postcard into a brutal horror story; another is an unfunny parody of old superhero comics. And curiously, only a few stories address the images on the cards at all or do much with the peculiar and evocative visual style of those pictures. (June)