Two years after their run on Marvel's Star-Lord, writer Chip Zdatsky, artist Kris Anka, and colorist Matt Wilson have reunited for something completely different.
Goodbye Abs-Lord (as fans of their Star-Lord run called Peter Quill), and hello to the fantastical world of Blacksand.
In the new two-issue series The White Trees debuting this week from Image Comics, the comic creator trio tell the story of a fictional soldier trio who are reuniting to prevent a simmering war from boiling over into their homelands. As the story begins, Blacksand is already ravaged by a war in the past - but they are careful not to reveal too much.
"That’s the beauty of creating a wholly new fantasy world, the unveiling of it," Zdarsky said.
The White Trees is a very tight story, with only two issues and three lead characters.
"Krylos is our main character. Out of our trio, he’s the one who suffered the most as a result of the war," said the writer. "A hard, lonely man who leads a simple life now. Scotiar and Dahvlan also lead simple lives now, but they’ve found solace in each other as they raise their daughter and tend to their blacksmith shop."
While all three men have moved past the war in their own ways, the divisions between them serve as a reminder of "what happened all those years ago" said Anka. While their uneasy alliance might be at the center of the story, Zdarsky said the story is about being a parent and the complications of sacrifice, but also the consequences of war.
"It’s about winning a war but not knowing what to do with that after the fact," he said.
As the plot progresses, readers find out that it wasn’t just a war that brought the men together, but also a romantic tryst. Zdarsky elaborted his feelings on queer representation in fantasy and stated how the three creators are obviously all for it.
"The beauty of fantasy is that you can do whatever you want with a blank slate world, so why not create a world that you want to see?" Zdarsky said. "I especially wanted to see this world as illustrated by Kris and Matt."
The White Trees came about after Anka approached the writer to reunite for a short project, but he had limited time to do it.
"Schedule played a huge part, for sure," Zdarsky said. "Kris let me know he had a gap in his workload that would work out to be roughly 60 pages of comics. And you just don’t say no to working with Kris Anka, especially if you can also get Matt Wilson on colors! But 60 pages felt slight for an OGN, and I liked the idea of larger issues, so we gave this a shot. I don’t know if there’ll be a collection down the line, so the idea of making single issues feel important sounded good to me."
While the scheduling was a bit unusual, the writer said it all came together relatively easily.
"Kris reached out to me in December and I wrote the full script over the holidays, just because I was so excited to work with him again," Zdarsky said. "Matt came on board soon after, thank God, as he’s crazy in demand. I genuinely think they’re the best art team in comics."
Wilson, who has worked with Anka extensively, said that colloborating ith the artist is "easy" because of his strong fundamentals.
"He's easy to work with because of how strong his fundamentals are," said the colorist. "He's already using his poses, character acting, and compositions to make his storytelling dynamic and interesting and easy to read."
"There's a flow to his action and compositions that lay down a visual beat for the readers to follow. I just try and take my queues from that," he added.
Wilson said that Anka's work is easy to be inspired by, making the coloring work relatively effortless.
"And on top of that, he leaves me a lot of room in the art to bring my ideas to the table. So not only do I get to take his lead, but he's trusting me to bring creative solutions to the storytelling," said Wilson. "Which is the most fun part of the job, to me. It's just a great recipe for a fun and fulfilling, and hopefully successful, collaboration."