Today, Drew and Ryan are discussing Trees 5, originally released September 17th, 2014.
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet
William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
Drew: I kind of resent that works of art need titles. I appreciate the necessity of distinguishing one book from another, but titles seem to always inelegantly summarize or gracelessly fix some piece of authorial intent I’d rather not be privy to. I’m the least offended by more utilitarian titles, (coincidentally) like Romeo and Juliet, which doesn’t assert anything beyond the play’s focus on those two characters.With Trees, writer Warren Ellis certainly captured that utilitarian spirit by simply naming the thing that makes his science fictional world unique, but then he goes and re-muddies the waters by ending each issue with a pull quote. He removes them from any context, stripping them of any attribution or even punctuation — as if to hint at some kind of greater truth in his characters’ words — but that repetition alone is enough to lend those words an unwieldy significance that asserts someone’s subjectivity. As issue 5 takes an even closer over-the-shoulder view of many of the characters, the nature of that subjectivity becomes a central concern. Continue reading →
Today, Greg and Spencer are discussing Trees 3, originally released July 23rd, 2014.
Greg: At my high school, marching band was a huge deal. It had all the emotions, pressures, and big personalities of a championship football team. I played in the pit upfront (marimbas, vibraphones, xylophones) my entire high school career. My freshman year was the long-running, much-loved band director’s swan song — he also happened to be my dad, which definitely didn’t help with the pressure thing. We won state championships for the first time that year, meaning my sophomore year definitely didn’t help with the pressure thing. Certain instructors and students started treating it like a military outfit, and it was too much for me. I took to my LiveJournal and posted an obscenities-and-hormones fueled diatribe on the people who I felt were taking it too far. My parents immediately found out. My dad, no longer the band director but now the assistant principal, ordered me to face the new band director in a one-on-one. I went in expecting to be eviscerated, but was surprised to find the director met me with patience, understanding, and forgiveness. I was primed and ready for battle, but instead had a deep, insightful, mutually respectful conversation. This sense of narrative rise-and-hard-left-turn happens in Trees 3 as well, and left me feeling similarly satisfied.
Today, Patrick and Greg are discussing Trees 2, originally released June 25th, 2014.
Tallahassee: My mama always told me someday I’d be good at something. Who’d a guessed that something’d be zombie-killing? Columbus: Probably nobody.
Patrick: Disaster narratives are always going to be rooted in the hardships of survival. When the aliens invade or the world starts to crumble on its foundations, that’s how we insert ourselves into the story: “how would I survive?” Zombie stories have permeated the zeitgeist so thoroughly that that question has slowly evolved into “how would I thrive?” That’s why Zombieland is so successful – instead of dwelling on the nitty gritty day-to-day of not-dying, the movie speedily gets around to the business of defining and achieving success in this world. Tallahassee isn’t a crass opportunist, he’s a man that understands his skills in the zombie apocalypse, and he’ll use those skills to better his quality of life. Trees, despite its unique premise, is also able to quickly move on to the business of understanding and taking advantage of the disaster. Continue reading →