10 January 2015

Trees by Warren Ellis is as strange as it is beautiful

It does not take much to get me to buy a Warren Ellis comic and I jumped in to Trees with issue #1 in May 2014 and I was hooked immediately. Now the first arc has just concluded with issue #8.

Warren's name may have been the main reason for reading Trees but Jason Howard's name helped. The two first worked together in 2013 on Scatterlands, an experiment in producing a weekly comic in the style of a newspaper strip. That experiment may have been inconclusive but it brought Warren and Howard together, so that part worked.

The other bit of good news is that Trees is published by Image Comics, currently my favourite publisher thanks to their diverse range of top-quality comics. As with all Image Comics, I bought Trees in digital format.

The idea behind Trees is simple enough, the Trees, as we called them, are an alien life-form that arrived on Earth, planted themselves across the globe and stood there doing nothing for ten years. That's when the comic starts.

The people of Earth reacted to the Trees differently, some studied them while other ignored them. The comic tells the story of some of these groups of people. These include a test community created by the Chinese around the base of a couple of trees, an Arctic science station and a retired secret service agent in Italy.

Dramatic things happen to each group thanks to the indirect influence of the Trees that just stand there motionless throughout the story.

I like Warren's writing style as he is economical with words and lets the pictures tell the story when they are all that is needed to do so. In issue #8 their is a four page section that just has one word and that is a person's name. The lack of words gives more space to the art and that is a good thing as Jason's art is beautiful. It has a gritty, linear style that is entirely suited to the story and helps to make it stand out from the usual.

This early scene shows the arrival of the Trees in Rio.

The first story-arc ends on a dramatic point and while that may be where the story was going to end I am delighted to say that other people like Trees as much as I do and so a second story is on the way. This will be called Two Forests, which sounds somewhat ominous. I'll be there to find out.

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