Image Comics' Postal is coming to a close, but the gates of Eden are far from shut as the creative team of Matt Hawkins, Bryan Hill, and Isaac Goodhart will be back with two one-shots, Postal: Mark and Postal: Laura that give the story a proper epilogue.
Postal told the story of mailman Mark, the son of a mayor of the small, fictitious town of Eden, Wyoming, where convicts live in peace but through a strong and enforced code. Originally announced as a mini-series back in 2014, it was bumped to an ongoing when issues started selling out at the distributor level.
Newsarama spoke with Hawkins, Hill, and Goodhart looking back at the series, what they loved about it, how Goodhart was plucked from obscurity, and what comes next.
Newsarama: So Postal is comes to an an end with Postal #25, how do you feel about the way things are coming to a close?
Matt Hawkins: I am very excited actually, especially since we decided to do more books! We're doing Postal: Mark and Postal: Laura as one-shot epilogues to the first long 25-issue arc, but we're also doing some preliminary work on Season 2 of Postal which I think we're looking to launch in 2019. Part of that will be finding the right artist to continue it. It's Isaac Goodhart's job if he wants it! As a publisher, Postal was a very gratifying run. When we started it I proudly declared we'd do at least 25 issues, which is a pretty aggressive thing to say in this market.
Bryan Hill: This cycle of the narrative has come to and end, so it's satisfying to close this chapter in the Postal story. The book relies on character and the subtle evolutions of everyone in the story, but now it's time to let the narrative pause, evolve the characters and return to them after some time in the story has passed.
It's a difficult book for me to write, because of the emotions I have to explore, the consequence of the violence, and the confrontations with the darker aspects of humanity. Getting to the end of 25 issues was cathartic, and it came at just the right time. I've said as much as I wanted to say with this first movement in the story, the dynamics that have been in play in the beginning. This cycle of the story has come to an end, but there is more to explore in Eden. Now we have the benefit of allowing time to pass and when we return to the world, there will be a new dynamic in place, new characters and new conflicts.
Isaac Goodhart: It's very bittersweet for me! I am proud of the work we've done in Postal. All of the characters evolved and grew over the three years and twenty-seven issues of its run. I love them all and I'm going to miss drawing them and getting Bryan's scripts in my inbox.
Nrama: Do you feel like you got the tell the story you truly wanted?
Hawkins: I do and I'm proud of it! Bryan and I sat down early and discussed what we wanted to do with it and to watch it unravel this way is pretty amazing. Proud papa here.
Hill: I'm never satisfied with my work on anything, and I tend to look back and see all of the things I could have done better, moments that I could have added, narrative turns that I never got to explore. That being said, I think the book accomplishes most of what we set out to do. The whole of these 25 issues add up to a unique experience in comics, and there are ideas and emotions that have been presented in ways I'm proud of writing.
I'm too close to it now. To answer that question properly, I need a little time to process my feelings on it, but I think it's a strong experience for readers. That's what matters to me most of all.
Goodhart: Absolutely. Bryan and Matt were always very open to collaboration and I was given a lot of freedom as an artist. I was able to experiment with layouts and had a lot of room to grow as a visual storyteller.
Nrama: Taking a look at how Mark evolved from the first issue to now, what do you think was the turning point for his character?
Hawkins: I think his turning point was in the first volume where his father hung him from the tree. It was graphic and violent, but it forced Mark to look at the bigger picture, to learn and get out of his comfort zone.
Hill: Character growth in Postal is really a series of turning points. It's hard to pin it all down to one event. I think the biggest turning point for Mark isn't a scene, but it's the slow transformation of his desire through his relationship with Maggie. Love changes people. Through his relationship to Maggie, Mark accepts what he wants for his own identity and with her he has someone to share that identity with, someone that he can trust apart from his mother and the will of the town. Everything that Mark endures, from the small cruelty of the townspeople to the acts of violence shapes him.
It's hard, in life, for us to pin ourselves down to one event as a fulcrum of our personal evolution, so it's hard for me to draw a red circle around one particular event. With him, it's the collection of moments that lead to little choices, and those choice have helped Mark evolve into something better (and a little worse) than the man we met in issue one.
Goodhart: I think the turning point was in Postal #5 when Mark attacked the bad guy in the bull mask. That was our first glimpse into his dark side which would rise and fall within him as the story continued. The main question hanging over Postal was always, "Will Mark become his father?" Issue #5 was the first time Mark really showed his potential into becoming evil.
Nrama: Bryan, Matt, you sort of tag teamed this series going from one or the other or both of you guys and you work together on a few projects so do you have a process just down yet?
Hawkins: Yeah we have a lot of preliminary back-and-forth and I was pretty involved in the first arc, but after that you might have noticed I took my name off as "writer" and left it as editor. This was a choice as I felt Bryan was doing most of the work and I didn't want to take credit for his work. I think I'm a good plot/high concept guy and Bryan is a dialogue wizard. Always amazed at his dialogue...it's so good.
Hill: It's pretty organic. Matt is a friend of mine so we talk all the time, and we've always gone over events and characterization. To be completely honest, I'm far more interested in characterization than I am in plotting. Plotting serves character for me. Matt knows I like to explore the emotional consequence of everything inside of the overall plot, and with everything we've done together we've been able to balance the needs of "what comes next?" with "how does what come next affect the characters?" "what are we saying about the world?"
Fiction is an essay like any other, so in collaboration I'm always making sure the story says something about the human experience, that it presents ideas and concepts that have real consequence on how we perceive ourselves and our place in the world.
Nrama: Can you talk about the Biblical notes going into Postal from Eden, the first paradise, to Father Isaac, and the meaning behind them?
Hawkins: There are a lot of Biblical allegories in this story and it was all intentional. I'm always amazed at how religious people justify bad behavior and unethical/immoral things by their religion. Most people aren't like that, but the few that are amaze me. The core idea of Eden being a second chance and a new beginning for people has always been a strong running theme.
Hill: Eden is fashioned after Old Testament morality, the biblical extremity you see in the parables and verses. Many of the righteous actions within the bible would be horrifying to modern society. If we were to judge the Old Testament God according to our moral compass, we would find Him to be a tyrant, a God that is willing to commit great atrocities against his own creations when they disobey His law.
I wanted to explore what would happen in a place that was built according to that ancient moral compass, a place that exists in our modern world, and how that morality challenges our modern sensibilities. The placement of narrative symbols has always been mean to promote that comparison between Old Testament law and what we consider to be civilized justice. Civilization and religion are often at odds with one another, and that conflict between the "old ways" and the modern sense of justice is woven into the heart of the book.
To me, "The Garden of Eden" has always been a terrifying concept. You have this place that God created to be perfect, but that perfection relies on the ignorance of mankind to the existence of good and evil. Genesis tells us that the only way to have pure happiness is to be ignorant of the truth of the universe, and that knowledge brings pain and punishment. I've always found that to be a tyrannical construct, so for humanity to replicate that perspective would take Earthbound tyranny.
It's impossible for mankind to emulate God without being cruel. What does that say about our Gods? Ourselves? How can we reconcile our sense of goodness with the actions of a God that will destroy the world because it doesn't serve Him?
Nrama: Isaac, you were the Talent Search winner at the time and you've done a few indie titles as well, how do you feel like you've evolved or even improved since starting on the project?
Goodhart: From the beginning of Postal, I was the least experienced member of the group and I always felt like I needed to prove myself. That mentality helped me get better and now I just feel like the luckiest artist in comics. l think issue one looks like it's drawn by an entirely different artist than issue 25. Just from the sheer day in-day out nature of the monthly grind, I've improved a lot as a draftsman. Postal is my first long-ish comic project and I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity I had to cut my teeth on such a well-written series. I've also been fortunate enough to work with brilliant colorists like Betsy Gonia and K. Michael Russell who've helped me improve immeasurably. Seeing your work colored and printed will change your approach for sure.
Nrama: What are some of your favorite moments of the series?
Hawkins: My favorite scenes are always the quiet ones dealing with the quirkiness of the characters. I also adore Mark's interactions with his mother and father Isaac. It's part of why I wrote the Postal: Mark one-shot because it wrapped that stuff up. I love Mark as a character. His epiphanies throughout the story are so endearing to me. Having known so many people on the spectrum and probably being on it a bit myself, I’m undiagnosed however, I have a soft spot for Aspies and Autistic people, especially.