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[Editor’s note: Every Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss “The best in comics from the last seven days” — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
A new Warren Ellis comic book, particularly a new creator-owned Warren Ellis comic book, is a big deal. Trees has the added bonus of absolutely fantastic art by Jason Howard. Image Comics celebrated the release by making the digital version of the first issue free pretty much everywhere.
“It’s not every day that a writer as important and influential as Warren Ellis launches a major new series, so making sure Trees reaches as many readers as possible is an ongoing priority for us here at Image,” Publisher Eric Stephenson said in a statement.
Debuting May 28, the sci-fi miniseries is set a decade after enormous, sentient tree-like creatures arrived on Earth, putting down roots and standing silent vigil, without even acknowledging the planet’s inhabitants.
“When we were developing the idea Warren asked me what kind of things I wanted to draw,” Howard, who previously collaborated with Ellis on Scatterlands, told Comic Book Resources. “I sent him a folder of a bunch of images that inspired me. From there he sent me the basic idea of, what if aliens landed and didn’t seem to do anything? What happens to society when these alien structures land but nothing comes out and after a while they become normal and they just stand there, like trees? I thought that sounded fascinating and could immediately visualize situations and story potential. I excitedly told him I loved it and we were off.”
In an industry that’s quick to trumpet distributor-level sellouts and multiple printing, publishers and creators are generally reluctant to reveal any actual sales numbers. Sure, there are those monthly direct-market sales estimates, but they’re just that — estimates (and most anyone who attempts to divine meaning from them is usually quickly reminded of their inaccuracy).
And so it was refreshing to see Warren Ellis disclose orders for the first issue of Trees, his new Image Comics collaboration with Jason Howard, in his Orbital Operations e-newsletter. Or, as he puts it, “I am going to tell you a thing that I probably shouldn’t.”
Retailers ordered about 38,500 copies — “I don’t recall the precise number and can’t check it right this second,” he writes — and he and Howard authorized a print run of 50,000.
Ellis confesses, “That’s a big overprint, and it could easily blow up in our faces — if the overprint doesn’t sell, then the print cost is taken out of our hides. On the other hand: if you go looking for it, and your store tells you it’s sold out or that they couldn’t get any, you can tell them that I told you we printed 12K extra copies.”