Jason Rodriguez here, editor of “Postcards: True Stories That Never Happened“, a graphic anthology coming June 26th from Villard Books featuring 16 stories of adventure, romance, mystery and heartbreak inspired by used postcards.
Jonah Weiland was nice enough to give us five days at CBR to let you know why you should be running out to your comic shops and asking them to order you a copy or two (they make great gifts!). I’m going to be posting some conversations I’ve had with different creators in the book, showing some artwork, and finishing this all up next Tuesday by posting your first-ever look at a complete story.
Alright, enough with the intro, let’s get to Rick Spears and Rob G who’ll be talking a bit about their story, “Operation Torch.” I needed Rick and Rob for this book – I needed one story that was going to be a guaranteed exciting story. These are the guys behind “Teenagers from Mars” and “Dead West” and “Filler” – I knew they wouldn’t let me down.
They used a postcard mailed July 20 th , 1942, from a Private Earl Pace to his mother, Gretna. Earl writes:
I arrived in camp safely and everything is going fine. Lehr gets shipped out to-morrow I guess I will go soon too. Well goodbye. I will write to you after.
|This postcard inspired Rick Spears and Rob G’s story, “Operation Torch”|
Jason: Your story was inspired by the very first postcard I ever bought and ranks among my favorites. However, two different creators had turned it down before you guys chose it. You saw something in it that made it stand out (especially considering that you rejected three other cards I showed you). What was it, exactly?
Rick: Well, first let me start by saying I never wanted to do this project at all. I’m serious. I have a terribly hard time doing the short 8 to 10 page stories. I guess it’s my background in writing screenplays or graphic novels that I’m just more comfortable working out my ideas at length. So, on these short pieces I agonize over them because I have so little room to get my point across. Add to that I had just come off doing two of them for the “24Seven” anthology and I was swearing up and down that I would never do another anthology again when you asked us on. Rob of course says yes instantly leaving me to stop my crying and get to business. So there it is. However, now that it’s all done I’m totally excited to be part of this awesome book.
For me this postcard was all about the date. It was right there at the beginning of the war. Today we know how it all worked out, but back then it was a real stressful, scary time and the ultimate outcome was far from certain. Also, I wanted to do a war piece and not just propaganda for or against, but to just show some of the anxiety and confusion that arises in those situations.
Rob: As I recall, Rick wasn’t really gelling on the other cards; no “story” really came out to him. And I think he was reading some thing about “Operation Torch” at the time that you gave him that card, and I guess it just came together.
Jason: Rick actually got it down to the quarantine card, which I ended up using for my own story, and the World War II card, that you guys ended up going with. At one point, when we were talking about what he’d do with each card, Rick commented, “Rob’s happy if he gets to draw a gun.” I loved that line so much that I put it on the Random House pitch. So, are you happy as long as you’re drawing a gun?
|Page 1 from “Operation Torch”|
Rob: That is a fairly correct assessment, however, I should say that it’s not that I’m a gung-ho gun freak or anything. It’s more like if there is a gun in a script it usually means it will be a story that I like, as in drama elements that appeal to me. I am a big fan of crime-drama, war stories, sci-fi, westerns, etc. Most of those kinds of stories have guns in them. A question for you, though: How did you work that into the pitch?
Jason: Honestly – my pitch was dry as hell. I mean, it was just boring. Great creators, great concept, but it was twenty pages of bios and loglines for stories. And look who I had – it’s not like I could write things like, “Phil Hester will kick your ass, take your name and feed your dog a you-steak!” Phil Hester is the nicest guy in comics. And “you-steak” makes no sense. You and Rick – you guys have the adrenaline books – you’re doing a war story – so I used that to put some energy into the pitch. It was needed.
Rick, I remember talking to you on the phone early on, actually – back when we were pitching Random House. I called you to make sure that you were going to do something because I wanted to put you guys in the pitch and you told me about your anxiety over these short pieces. I was like, “Oookay. So, can I put you in the pitch?” You turned out a great story, though, so, no hard feelings there.
Rick: I know everyone thinks I’m crazy, but for me any story of any length is really the same amount of work. It’s gotta pay off. But with the longer stories I get to get in them and monkey around and have some fun.
Jason: You picked Operation Torch – a somewhat obscure piece of World War II history. I have to imagine most people would put this story over in Europe or Japan, you put it in Africa. What got you there?
Rick: Well it was just the beginning of the US involvement in the war, which worked well with the dates. I didn’t want to do a D-Day story – that ground’s been fairly well covered – and I already have a Pacific story I want to do about my Grandfather someday.
|Page 2 from “Operation Torch”|
Jason: Funny you should say that – when I first picked up this card I instantly thought about my Grandfather. He was a bit of a war hero – highly decorated. There are so many stories told about him in my neighborhood that it’s difficult to tell what’s real and what’s made up. To me, that sort of brought home the fact that these cards represent real people and, more importantly, that we sort of reflect pieces of our own lives and stories onto these cards. Did you get the same feeling, you think? Is there a piece of your Grandfather’s story or personality in Operation Torch?
Rick: Yeah, my granddad wasn’t a hero or anything, just a grunt trying to stay alive and support his family. What I felt about this card was that it was probably the first of many cards and letters that would be sent home from the front. And then if you lined them all up you would most likely see the progression from a green kid into him becoming a man. But then also at any point the cards or letters might just stop coming and what that would mean and how the family back home would be waiting for those cards, desperate for them and cherishing when each one came because each one meant their boy was alive at least for one more day.
That’s all for today. Be sure to check back tomorrow as we’ll be talking with Ande Parks about his story (with Joseph Bergin III on pencils and inks), “Taken on Faith.” For now, make your way to the Postcards website – there’s still time to enter for your chance to win an original piece of Michael Gaydos’ art from the book!
PS – Wish you were here!
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