Before I actually tell you what Night Post is and why I think it’s brilliant, I just want to say thanks to Laura for the awesome personalised doodle she drew for my niece when she turns up in April, I’m sure she’ll love it.
Night Post is a picture book by Benjamin Read and Laura Trinder that I got from their table at True Believers last week, and it tells the story of a postman. But this nameless postman doesn’t deliver Amazon parcels to Mrs Frenly at number 22, he delivers all sorts of packages to all the creatures and fairy tale characters of the world, on his bicycle, the black pale horse, number four, with its magic TARDIS-like satchel and a bell that lets him phase through walls and fly through the air, as he delivers to all the monsters and creatures you can imagine, and quite possibly some you can’t as well.
Remember when Disney did 2D animation, and they had all those films that started with the Once Upon A Time book opening before the film? In much the same way, Night Post’s cover, depicting the Postman flying above the city on a beautiful night with all kinds of creatures from ghosts and gargoyles to mice and withes, mermaids and a Cthulhu-esque tentacle thing in a chimney opens up a whole new world for the reader, inviting them in and showing us that just maybe, despite all the fables, legends and fairy tales we hear about them, monsters aren’t quite so bad after all.
The art here, by Laura (I’m assuming, judging by the illustrator credit in the back of the book – apologies if I’m wrong), is striking in its simplicity, easy to scan and follow, yet each panel is intricate and loaded with all kinds of details; from the creator cameos on the storefronts, Rad Books and Trinder Treats in one early panel as the postman makes his way to work, to the trinkets and treasures the dragon has collected in his lair (yeah, there’s a dragon in this book. Did I forget to mention that? Sorry!) which range from the Mona Lisa to Ganesh and Anubis statues, from the Love Bug car straight out of the sixties to the statue of Discobolus of Myron (the discus thrower, which you can see at the British Museum), from Aladdin’s magic lamp to Helga Hufflepuff’s goblet, there are enough things like that to make several bingo cards out of, and it’s this care and attention to detail that I love about Night Post.
And even though there are no words, save for the epithet at the start which reads simply ‘At midnight, when all good folk should be abed, the Night Post rides forth to serve the dead’, a Victorian children’s verse, according to the book, the book positively oozes with character in its art; we know exactly what the Postman is feeling in every panel we see him in, feeling his exhaustion as he walks through the mortal, mundane streets to work.
The splash pages show us all kinds of locations, some of which we know, like the Night Post mailroom, with its sorters and packers making sure that all the exotic mail is correctly processed, be it a crocodile or a sentient severed hand, and some of which we can imagine happening, like the rooftop with the Cupids and the gargoyles fighting over a package while the Postman has his midnight snack and the Man in the Moon watches. And it’s that which makes me most happy about this book – it has a simple idea that I’d never considered before, and it’s opened up a whole new world for me.
Which, considering I bought it for my niece who’s due in April, means I probably shouldn’t have gotten quite so attached to this. I hope she takes care of it.
I was told when I bought this that it was for all ages, and it really is. It works as a bedtime story to read with your child just as well as it does to read as an adult – as I’ve previously mentioned, you can pretty much play bingo with the references in here to start with, or a drinking game, if you don’t mind having one heck of a hangover in the morning. And, having met Laura personally, it’s obvious that she and Ben care about this piece; anyone who didn’t care wouldn’t spend five minutes drawing a personalised picture in the front of their work for a kid they hadn’t met. It really was a joy to talk to them and I hope I can do so again in the future. I spent a lot of money at True Believers last weekend, but I honestly think this was the best tenner I could’ve spent.
(I’m taking what follows from the back of the book).
Night Post is published by Improper Books, a comic and graphic novel studio focusing on stories that have a touch of the fairy tale, the Gothic or the macabre. Their website is improperbooks.com and they are on Twitter @ImproperBooks
Benjamin Read writes comics and makes films. He wrote the multiple (TGWTSS: it’s ‘multiply’ in the book for… some…. reason) Award-nominated Porcelain: A Gothic Fairy Tale, the silent comic Butterfly Gate, and children’s book, Night Post, as well as the True Grit and Super 8 comic adaptations. He also wrote and produced the films Armistice and 500 Miles North. He is one of the founder members of the Improper Books comic collective and is fuelled principally by tea and whimsy. He is currently working on the rest of the Porcelain sequence, alongside writing the next piece of illustrated spooky mischief with Laura Trinder. His website is benjaminread.co.uk and his on Twitter @Bookpirate.
Laura Trinder is a freelance illustrator, bookseller, and co-founder of Improper Books. Her days consist of reading, recommending and creating books, which for a book-lover isn’t half bad. As a member of the Improper Books studio, she is working on comics and picture books for younger readers. Night Post is her first venture into the world of sequential art. Her website is lauratrinder.co.uk and she is on Twitter @Trindles_ (TGWTSS: Not xbirdyblue, like the book says).
You can buy Night Post in hardback or digital form on Amazon.