[Comic Book Review] GHOST TREE #1 from IDW Publishing

PopCultHQ received an advanced review copy of GHOST TREE #1 from IDW Publishing. Available April 24th, 2019, the creative team for this issue features writing from Bobby Curnow, art from Simon Gane, colors by Ian Herring and Becka Kinzie, and letters by Chris Mowry.

Here’s PopCultHQ’s Spoiler-Free Review of…

Ghost Tree #1

Writer: Bobby Curnow
Artist: Simon Gane
Colorists: Ian Herring with Becka Kinzie
Letterer: Chris Mowry

Cover Artist: Simon Gane

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

Seeking a refuge from an unhappy life, Brandt returns to his ancestral home in Japan to find a haunted tree and the departed souls that are drawn to it, including his Grandfather. Brandt attempts to heal some of history’s wounds but will he be able to find any measure of peace for himself when someone special from his past returns?


PopCultHQ’s Comic Book Review:
GHOST TREE #1

Young Brandt makes a promise to one day return to his roots. When he grows up to keep that promise, amidst the undercurrent of adult life, his life is changed.

Writing:

Take a creator who has predominately written licensed material, and they will give you something truly different when given the chance to work on something new. Bobby Curnow is the man when it comes to writing great Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles books, and My Little Pony is popular for more reasons than a loyal fanbase.

Curnow gets the wonder of childhood; his writing is in tune with it on a vibrational level. So, it’s with that in mind that the opening pages are filled with pure wonder. It’s captured so perfectly by the writing, in the interaction and exchanges of the child Brandt and Ojii-Chan. This could have been a whole issue of Brandt running around playing as all children do at the best of times and I would have been in awe of its preciseness and familiarity.

To then go on and convey the problems of adulthood that hide behind a simple smile while dropping in direction and a hook, only adds to how special this book feels. It lays the groundwork for a creative team who are also tuned in to Curnow’s frequency, to continue to paint so well this small, yet poignant tale.

Art: 

Simon Gane (They’re Not Like Us, Godzilla, The Vinyl Underground) plays his cartoony style like a harp with his artwork here. In the past of Brandt’s childhood, it’s used to evoke how the world looks to a small child and the scope that a big imagination can widen one’s eyes to.

In Brandt’s adult life, the present, his mastery of subtleties accurately portrays what it’s like to juggle mixed emotions daily while still functioning on the surface. The respect and warmth that is given to character designs and the detail, without going too crazy on the settings, is such a pleasure to see. His rendering of the eponymous tree really nails it down as a center point of the story. Who’d have thought a simple tree would get such props?  Such is the strength of what Gane has put into his work that you’d be hard-pressed to not stop and appreciate it when it’s featured.

Colors:

Ian Herring and Becka Kinzie have previously collaborated on the visually distinct Hacktivist and combine to wash every panel in earnest warmth and reverent tradition.

The use of specific color palettes to distinguish childhood memory, uneasy nights, and quiet evenings, is supremely effective and strongly contributes to the book’s air of warm emotion.

It’s in the quieter moments that the colorwork takes over and just lets the beauty of the moment and the imagery do all the stimulating for the reader. It’s not often done so well and it’s rarely as satisfying as this.

Letters:

Although this issue is completely devoid of sound effects, do not sell short the effort of letterer Chris Mowry and his understated efforts in this issue.

A house letterer for IDW, this isn’t a title that calls for the bombast of a Transformers or Godzilla book or the craziness of an Angry Birds license.

This story is mostly dialogue-driven and Mowry holds down his part by using perfect placement, subtle whisper lines, and different texts to distinguish the types of lives that are intersecting in this story.

It would be too easy for a letterer to just letter a book and move on to the next one, but none of IDW’s staffers, least of all Chris Mowry with this issue, ever just phone it in.

A beautiful book full of serene moments and imagery and unique pacing. Strong writing really communicates the subtle emotions beneath the smiles and pleasantries of each character. This could have been a one-shot and I would have enjoyed it. The fact that there’s an issue to follow is a bonus.

4 out of 5 Stars

PopCultHQ Rating - 4 Stars
PopCultHQ Rating – 4 Stars

GHOST TREE #1 can be pre-ordered on ComiXology
and available at your local comic shop and
online retailers Wednesday, April 24th!

Comixology button


Writer – Bobby Curnow

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Artist – Simon Gane

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Colorist – Ian Herring

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Colorist – Becka Kinzie

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Letterer – Chris Mowry

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Publisher – IDW Publishing

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