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DF Interview: Bryan Hill discusses pulling back curtain on characters in Postal: FBI Dossier
By Byron Brewer
Top Cow’s gem of a series, Postal, has proven popular with readers, but so many questions abound. Why doesn't the FBI raid Eden, and so many others.
Well, readers will find out how Mayor Shiffron keeps the wolves at bay as she thumbs through the latest FBI profiles with the help of writers Bryan Hill and Matt Hawkins and artist Isaac Goodhart in a special issue of the series, Postal: FBI Dossier #1.
Curious, Dynamic Forces caught up with Bryan Hill and the scribe let us see behind the curtain of Eden. Here is what we discovered.
Dynamic Forces: Bryan, for the uninitiated, tell us the beginnings of Postal as a series.
Bryan Hill: Postal is the story of a town populated by criminals, some fugitives, some retired, all of them wanting to live an isolated existence in an off-the-grid small town. The protagonist of the story is Mark, the local mailman and son of the Mayor, a person with Asperger’s who finds himself at the center of what is becoming a dangerous and extreme power struggle for who really controls the town and its future.
DF: You and Matt Hawkins are co-writers. How does that collaboration function? Who does what?
Bryan Hill: The idea of the town was Matt’s idea. I responded to the potential for character-based storytelling. We’ll talk about story ideas and usually I’ll start the scripting and get his thoughts during the process.
Ultimately, Postal is Matt’s book. I contribute, but it’s Matt’s world, Matt’s characters. I have a deep interest in human psychology and I enjoy pushing the form of what can be done with sequential storytelling so my perspective shows up in those elements.
Frankly, I have a lot of extreme life experience so I think I have a way into these characters that might be uncommon among comic book writers. Most comic book writers come from the same demographic, with the same collection of experiences. That can result in a sameness when it comes to storytelling, people raised on comics, writing comics like the books they read as a child. There’s a place for that, but it can have diminishing returns in some cases.
You can’t write a book like Postal without having some actual experience with that kind of extremity. You’ll wind up pantomiming everything and it’ll feel stylish, but incredibly false. Books used to be able to get away with that, but the market is just too competitive now. There’s too much good work from brilliant people out there. Readers have too many choices.
Matt’s known me for a long time and he knows all I care about is the quality of the work, the potential for insight into the human experience, and the way stories can help us confront aspects of ourselves and the world around us. I’m actually a bit of a misanthrope, LOL. I don’t particularly enjoy attention, and prefer to the let the work speak for me whenever possible (despite me doing this interview, LOL). I think my contribution comes in the form of perspective and intensity.
I’ve known criminals. I’ve been shot at before. I’ve had my share of violence. I think I bring an authenticity to the book that helps create an experience for readers. One of the goals of the book is to take readers into a world that’s unfamiliar to them, but keep the nature of the characters and that world as real and challenging as possible.
DF: Do you enjoy working with artist Isaac Goodhart? Tell us about his contributions to the book.
Bryan Hill: Isaac is phenomenal, really the reason I’m so interested in working on the book. It’s a difficult book to write, requiring a lot of insight into the darker aspects of human nature. It’s impossible to write Postal from a safe distance so having such a thoughtful and dedicated and talented artist like Isaac makes everything easier. Isaac’s work affects many of the decisions I make, it’s a constant influence on the focus and style of the storytelling.
Postal often gets credit for its atmosphere, but writers don’t create atmosphere. Artists create atmosphere. It’s Isaac’s choices that create the experience of the book, at least as much as the writing. He brings an elegance, a loneliness and a timelessness to the artwork and it’s incredibly rewarding to write something and then see how Isaac brings it to life.
DF: What has been the general storyline for the series?
Bryan Hill: Postal is about power. Seeking it. Managing it. Wrestling with the price of having it. In many ways, it’s a mother and son story. You have a Mayor who has to run this place with an iron fist and the eyes of a hawk, and her son, her brilliant and unique son, who is beginning to realize what he wants to be, often at odds with his mother’s wishes.
You have a town full of criminals, people who bring their pasts into this place and their problems. It’s about a place that’s willfully isolated from the outside world, sovereign because of its isolation. What bonds all of these characters together is a desire for reinvention and redemption, and redemption has a price.
DF: Is November’s Postal: FBI Dossier a part of the ongoing Postal series or is it more of a one-shot deal?
Bryan Hill: It’s a one-shot, a way for readers to get more information about the characters and the town, information hinted at within the series so far, but made more clear.
DF: In FBI Dossier, we discover some interesting secrets about the town of Eden and its mayor. Can you hint at these in a non-spoilery fashion?
Bryan Hill: There’s a lot of background detail put in Postal: FBI Dossier, the curtain being pulled back on the major characters and their histories starkly revealed. I’d prefer to not spoil anything here, but for curious readers I think it’ll be a rewarding experience.
DF: So what is next for the ongoing book itself?
Bryan Hill: The next arc turns up the nature of the threats to Eden, internal and external. It’s bold and intense. Nothing like it on the stands right now in comics.
DF: Bryan, any projects current or near-future that you would care to discuss?
Bryan Hill: Well, I’m always working on a lot of things, but there’s a new comic I’m doing with Nelson Blake II called Romulus that we’re very excited about. I’ve been looking to work with Nelson on a project for a very long time, and it’s a broad, genre-focused conspiracy thriller that readers should look out for in 2016.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Bryan Hill for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Postal: FBI Dossier #1 from Top Cow hits stores Nov. 11th!
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