What do you think of when you hear the term "alien invasion?" If you are like most people, images of slender green men recklessly wielding laser guns or Tom Cruise running for the hills spring to mind, but the premise of Warren Ellis's groundbreaking comic book series Trees turns all of that on its head.
Picking up on the brilliantly original narrative and finely-tuned visual landscape of Ellis and Jason Howard's comic, Tom Hardy under his production company 'Hardy Son & Baker' has chosen to adapt 'Trees' for the screen with NBCUniversal taking on the rights to the series. This is hugely exciting for fans of the comic, fans of Howard and Ellis and more generally, fans of quality science fiction who are eager to discover a lush new world filled with obscure, allegorical dangers.
Whether you're already a fan, or have never heard of Trees, Ellis or even Tom Hardy we've compiled everything you need to know about what will undoubtedly become your new favorite TV show, right here, in one glorious article.
'Trees' - Who Wrote It?
Warren Ellis - Writer
Warren Ellis is something of a legend in comic book and graphic novel circles. Renowned for his phenomenal world-building craftsmanship, the British author has carved out a stunningly impressive career for himself to date. Managing to juggle working for both huge mainstream publishers such as Marvel and DC and smaller names such as Avatar, Cliffhanger and Homage Comics, Warren is somewhat of a rarity and accordingly, always in demand.
Gaining early notoriety for his work with Marvel developing Excalibur, a superhero series set in Britain, Ellis then hopped over to DC, Caliber Comics and Image Comic's Wildstorm Studio. At the latter he worked on Stormwatch and its spin off The Authority, and in doing so coined the term "widescreen comic" which aptly describes the visceral cinematic style he often depicts in his work. Consequently it came as no surprise when in 2010 his three-issue comic book series Red hit the big screen in a film adaptation starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman and the delectable Dame Helen Mirren.
With such a visually gripping narrative structure, it seemed only natural that Warren's work would be subject once again to the Hollywood treatment. In Tom Hardy, Ellis has found a worthy figurehead to take the helm in the bid to guide his two volume series Trees to the big screen. If you've seen Mad Max: Fury Road you'll understand that frankly, his beloved comic could not be in a safer pair of hands.
Jason Howard - Artist
Having previously worked with Warren on their graphic novel series Scatterlands, Jason has proven to be a phenomenal pairing for the narrative wizard. Realizing Ellis's artistic vision with such an impressive clarity that his illustrations permeate your subconscious and linger there for all eternity. Jason's work in Trees really sets the bar for conveying a sense of latent complexity in a relatively minimal set of brush strokes.
Having earned his industry kudos working on an impressively varied back catalogue including Super Dinosaur, The Astounding Wolf-Man, Sea Bear & Grizzly Shark and Amazing Cow Heroes, Jason is fast becoming one of the most respected comic illustrators in the business.
'Trees' - What Is It About?
Set a decade after the mysterious arrival of a series of huge, foreboding, black, cylindrical obelisks which destroyed many major cities and humanity began referring to as "trees," Ellis's graphic novel doesn't focus on the drama surrounding the trees immediate invasion, but instead turns its gaze to the eerie aftermath where nothing much seems to have happened.
As mankind adapted to the presence of these obscure, indifferent entities, life pretty much continued as normal. Except that Rio de Janeiro is now a police state ruled by robotic dogs and drones, New York has transformed into a canal city and China has built a new walled city around its trees, keeping the rest of the world at bay.
With the narrative dividing itself across the different landing sites including Rio, New York, Mogadishu, Spitsbergen in Arctic Norway and the newly formed Chinese 'Special Cultural Zone,' The City of Shu, 'Trees' becomes as much an ode to world-building as it is to intelligent narrative arc design. But what the first few issues lack in sensationalized, cliff-hanger drama, they make up for in universal depth and subtle pacing. Essentially with 'Trees,' Warren Ellis and Jason Howard play the long game, and boy does it pay off.
'Trees' - How Is Tom Hardy Involved?
Known for his remarkable roles in Mad Max: Fury Road, Bronson, The Dark Knight Rises, Legend, Locke, Inception and Layer Cake, Tom Hardy has stealthily become one of the greatest actors of our time. Not satisfied with his already rather astonishing success, Tom partnered up with producer Dean Baker in 2012 and they created their own production company 'Hardy Son & Baker.'
Currently working on BBC miniseries Taboo with Steven Knight and Ridley Scott which is set to air next year, Hardy and Baker entered a two-year first-look contract with NBCUniversal International Television Productions to help them break into the US and international markets. Having already proven themselves immensely capable with their primetime ITV documentary series Poaching War, this deal couldn't have come at a better time for the duo.
Citing in particular a shared love of '70s cinema, including the likes of Altman, Kubrick, Scorsese and Coppola and seeing contemporary television as the modern day equivalent of their aesthetic style, Hardy Son and Baker is firmly pushing the envelope of the television format. This bodes incredibly well for Warren Ellis and Jason Howard given that Hardy and Baker have started adapting Trees for the small screen, with NBCUniversal optioning the rights. No details as of yet for when we can expect to see the result of their hard graft, but you can bet we'll be following this story eagerly over the months to come.
Do you think Tom Hardy will do a good job adapting 'Trees' for TV?