Everything You Need To Know: Postal
September 30, 2015
SETTING: In Eden, Wyoming, the rules are simple: don't mess with the status quo. From the mayor down to the creepy guy on the corner no one likes to talk to, Eden is populated with criminals, both reformed and otherwise. The city is a haven for criminals, but not for crime. If you rock the boat, you'll get tossed overboard with extreme prejudice. The town goes to great pains to keep its existence not just a well-kept secret, but entirely off the radar of the government, most particularly the FBI. Lots of criminals, but little crime—what kind of crime comic is that?! A lack of crime doesn't imply a lack of conflict, and when you know that one way of problem-solving gets near-immediate results...well. Not even Heaven lasts forever, right?
TONE: How do you like your crime? Tarantino style, with lots of quips and bursts of violence? Do you prefer something more Scorcese, where the tension builds to an unbearable level before exploding? Or something more down to Earth, like Thelma & Louise? POSTAL is more Thelma & Louise than Pulp Fiction, with its small-town politics and down-home crime. POSTAL depicts a community of criminals seeking to escape their past, and as a result, there's a hard dose of inevitability in the tale. Storytelling logic tells us that nothing lasts forever, and whether Eden, Wyoming is destined for a fall or the characters we've grown attached to are looking straight down the barrel of oblivion, an apocalypse of one sort or another is coming. You can feel it on the page, thanks to the pettiness and short tempers of the characters. Trouble is coming.
VIOLENCE: Depicting violence in comics is a tough conundrum. You don't want to endorse it, but you don't want to water it down, either. You don't want to scare your readers off, but it's important to show the effects of an act of violence. POSTAL strikes a balance, one that works in concert with the high concept of the series. In a town where the citizens are all criminals on the run, they take care to avoid any attention from outside forces. So, the violence is kept mainly in the past tense, a thing that happened once that lets us better understand the people who either fell victim or perpetrated the act. But when things in the modern day get serious, the violence lurches to the foreground, destabilizing everything around it.
THE HERO STANDS ALONE: Mark is a part of the town, but he stands apart from it, too. He's the son of the town's mayor, the woman who runs the town with an iron fist, and his absentee father is spoken of only in hushed, terrified tones. Rather than being treated as royalty, Mark is left alone, avoided, and treated with kid gloves. This puts him in a fascinating position for a hero—or maybe just a focal character—in a crime story. He moves among the people, but is separate from them. He has their trust, but not their love. He has a job that makes him invisible in a town full of people seeking the same. He is uniquely capable of examining and making waves in the town. So, what does he do? Anything he wants.