Last year I took a look at a Ms. Tree comic, and since then I came across a rather unique trade paperback collection that collects three of the comic's major storylines from 1985!
The Mystery Of Ms. Tree
Published Date: July 1988
Publisher: Paperjacks (listed as part of Bogie’s Mystery)
Last year I reviewed a copy of Ms. Tree issue #26, and I had a great exchange with Deni Loubert and the history of her company Renegade Press which continued to published the comic book series after her split with Dave Sims. However during the run an prior to the closure of Renegade Press… A Ms. Tree trade paperback collection was released through Paperjacks, a publisher based out of Canada
I have found very little on the publisher itself, other than it was around at least twice, one from 1974 to 1977, and then again from 1980 to 1988, and it has an online reputation for having some rather ugly covers. And that this little paperback is the only comic listed with their company (at least according to comics.org). One thing that is quite clear, in the introduction written by Max Allan Collins is that if readers responded favorably to Ms. Tree in an actual literal graphic novel, that a second was already being prepared for. Needless to say, the second wasn’t ever produced
That said, this paperback is perhaps rather unusual in terms of presenting a collection of issues. Normally comic book trades are about the same dimensions of the comic themselves or if they are in a digest format, the panels fit the whole page. With this, we have the panels somewhat shrunk down to fit the dimension of a 4 X 7 page with new lettering and go-over over the artwork by Terry Beatty with the assistance of a Gary Kato to help present the stories in readable format.
And yes I said stories… as this trade contains three story arcs that cover Ms. Tree tales from issues #16 to #23 of the comic book run (or basically the entire run of 1985).
“Runaway” (issues #16 & 17)- Ms. Tree enters the world of runaways when her stepson Mike disappears, her search takes her in several directions including something rather… icky… for lack of a better term.
“Muerta Means Death” (Issues 18 to 21) – Ms. Tree investigates a murder that ties into her original back story with a feud dealing with a mobster who killed her husband, putting an ‘end’ to that part of her on going story.
“Right To Die” (Issues 22 & 23) – Ms. Tree investigate someone who is looking to do a very bad thing to an abortion clinic, this was a rather controversial story arc at the time it was published, getting criticism and praised because of the stance the character was presented as having on the issue of abortion.
All three stories are very well written and that even with the conversion of a standard size comic to that of a small trade paperback is done reasonable well. In addition there is an introduction written by Max Allan Collin explaining the history of Ms. Tree as well as profiles on all the primary characters, so if anyone was to pick up a copy of this little book, they would get all the info they need to understand who people are and why they act like they do, so in a way it’s a perfect introduction for new readers.
That said finding a copy of this is rather tough, I consider myself lucky to find it on a fluke search last year. Personally I would recommend getting the actual comics if at all possible, but if you can find a copy of this by some small miracle, then it’s a nice substitute.
Next Week… I finally turn my attention to Image Comics in 1993… and Rob Liefeld… with Prophet #1