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Book Review: 'Postcards & Doodles'

Tim Hodge’s new self published book is a fun collection of hand drawn postcards and decorated envelopes.

Postcards & Doodles, by Tim Hodge.  Foreword by Tom Bancroft.

Thompsons Station, TN, self-published e-book, July 2012, $3.99 (83 pages).

Sometimes an art book does not have a serious purpose.  Not to teach how to draw; not to document the making of an animated movie; not to present an artist’s life work.  Sometimes an art book is just for fun. 

Hodge has been an animation artist and cartoonist for over twenty years.  At Disney Feature Animation, he worked on such films as The Lion King, Pocahontas, Mulan, John Henry, and Brother Bear.  At Big Idea Productions, he worked on

several episodes of Veggietales.  As a freelancer today, he has written and worked on storyboard art for several studios, as well as illustrating and designing dust jackets for books.  He has one book of self-illustrated poetry and is working on another.

Tim Hodge’s Postcards & Doodles; A Collection of Hand Drawn Postcards and Decorated Envelopes is over seventy pages of colorful close-ups of miniature paintings on postcards, decorated envelopes, and doodles on odd scraps that Hodge has done since 1985.  Except for some black drawings on bright red NetFlix® envelopes, they are all in full color. Since they are all attractive small paintings and cartoons, Hodge’s recipients have tended to keep them, pinned up on refrigerators or even framed.  Hodge has documented all these with crisp scans, some recent ones for this book made before mailing so they would be pristine.  There are no postcards crumpled or bent or defaced with postmarks here.

There are a few serious paintings here, but for the most part, as could be expected from a veteran Disney artist, these are colorful cartoons of funny animals and attractive young women, many in Hawaiian, South Pacific native, or Latino dress.  Hodge shows a preference for humorous elephants; there are elephants drinking chai, elephants watering flowers, elephants dressed as Marvel Superheroes, elephants strumming ukuleles, elephant cowboys, an elephant Santa Claus, an elephant mermaid, and more. 

Postcards & Doodles is grouped into six chapters.  Chapter 1, Small Beginnings, is Hodge’s paintings and cartoons on blank postcards.  Many of these include production notes.  “Markers on illustration board.”  “Pen & ink with watercolor wash.”  “Pen & ink with colored pencil.”  “Acrylic, felt brush pen, and colored pencil.”  “Scratchboard with watercolor tinting.”  “The Rani and Dutchess here were an experiment on a paper sample I got in the mail.”  Chapter 2, Scraps, is Hodge’s experimental work on toned paper such as scrap cardboard.  Hodge says, “There’s no pressure not to make a mistake like there is when you paint on expensive paper.” (p. 26)  These include experiments in acrylics and oil paintings on scrap paper and even corrugated cardboard.  Chapter 3, Coffee Break, is drawings painted in instant coffee.  Hodge says of a cartoon gorilla Western sheriff, “Coffee tends to be thicker than watercolor paint.  Especially when I make it very concentrated to get the color and density I want.  However, when it’s this dark, it doesn’t soak into the paper very well.  It just sits on top until it dries.  You can see where it puddled up on his left hand.” (p. 54)  Chapter 4, Pushing the Envelope, consists of illustrated envelopes.  Chapter 5, DoodleFlix, is all black line drawings or paintings on dark scarlet NetFlix® return envelopes.  The final Chapter 6, Thank You, presents illustrated postcards from other artists, family and friends including other animators, that Hodge has been sent in return. 

Postcards & Doodles is a gaudy frill that nevertheless may inspire other artists as to the fun of quick, throwaway art, including some quick and cheap experimentations, that is so attractive that most recipients won’t want to throw it away.  The eBooklet also has embedded animations and videos.  For $3.99, how can you go wrong?  “This book is available for download on your iPad with iBooks 2 or on your computer with iTunes.  To read this book, you must be using an iPad with iBooks 2.”