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SYFY WIRE Image Comics

Preview: Jeff Lemire and Phil Hester bring on the body horror in Image's 'Family Tree'

By Jeff Spry
Family Tree Hero

Sprouting out of the latest renaissance of fright-fueled comics hitting the stands lately, a disturbing new series from Image Comics titled Family Tree enters into the body horror arena with its premiere issue, arriving Nov. 13 — and SYFY WIRE has an exclusive sneak peek at all the growing insanity.

Eisner Award-winning writer Jeff Lemire (Black Hammer, Descender) and artist Phil Hester (Shipwreck, Green Arrow) join forces in this unsettling creator-owned project destined to become a genre classic. 

Family Tree Cover

The fertile plotline comes alive when an 8-year-old girl named Meg starts transforming into a living tree. Yep, a tree! To try and save her as twigs and vines begin bursting through her skin, her single mom, disturbed brother, and potentially crazy grandfather embark on a strange and heart-wrenching odyssey across the lonely highways of America, desperately searching for a cure to her horrifying disfiguration before time runs out.

As they venture farther from home and the closer the ailing girl comes to totally losing her humanity, external forces threaten to rip the family apart as maniacal cults, mercenaries, zealots, and rogue tabloid paparazzi follow in her wake, determined to destroy the girl or use her for their own gains.

This bizarre nightmare blends mystery, action, and Cronenbergian body horror into a story about what perils a mother will face to keep her children safe from the jaws of unspeakable terrors.

Here, Lemire's considerable storycraft talents are on full display, all complemented by Hester's harrowing artwork, colors by Ryan Cody, inks courtesy of Eric Gapstur, and letters by Steve Wands.

Family Tree combines all of my storytelling obsessions into a love letter to David Lynch and Alan Moore, all filtered through Phil Hester’s incredible vision and a sprawling new horror mythology set against a family road trip across America in the 1990s," Lemire tells SYFY WIRE. "It’s a book about the bond, and roots, that tie families together, and the things in the world that can threaten to pull them apart. It’s also about one woman’s fight to keep her children safe when the world turns on her and begins to unravel. We hope we’ve created something weird, scary, heartfelt, and totally unpredictable.”

Family Tree Slice

Hester thinks the best horror always grounds its most fantastical elements with the relatable, mundane details of everyday life.

"Conversely, depicting even the most conventional scenes in an off-kilter, vaguely ominous way also primes the reader to accept the tidal surge of weirdness when it finally hits," Hester tells SYFY WIRE.

"I hope my art puts this story in that visual space. There are no straight edges in the world of Family Tree. Every line creeps, every shadow crawls, every texture itches, all meant to imply the unseen struggle between otherworldly forces that wriggles just below the surface of our ordinary world, a war that finally splits open under the feet of one unlucky family.”

Family Tree Slice 1

Now go green and step into our exclusive preview of Image Comics' Family Tree #1 in the full gallery below, then tell us if this plant-based horror title might take root in your pull shelf this month.