Sharknife creator Corey Lewis has returned to comic book shelves with a new THB-style anthology of his own work titled Sun Bakery. The series, which was originally published by the small press outfit Press Gang, is being republished and expanded at Image Comics with new stories, including the promised return of Sharknife after a five-year hiatus.
Lewis, who came out of the same webcomics scene as Bryan O'Malley and others, has found a format for his admittedly frantic storytelling sense with the anthology - three serials to start out, with some ending and others beginning as the series progresses.
Newsarama caught up with Lewis to talk about bringing his anthology to Image Comics, the three launch serials, as well as his return to Sharknife.
Newsarama: Corey, what led you to bringing Sun Bakery from Press Gang to Image Comics?
Corey Lewis: I was thinking about doing a collection of all the Sun Bakery stories up to #4. Jason Levian, publisher at Press Gang was cool with the idea of me pitching it to Image, since I wanted to reach a broader audience. I think Jason and I both just wanted to put out some low-key good comics on our own - which we did with the first four issues through Press Gang. It was a fun experience. Ultimately at this point it's about me wanting to reach a bigger audience, and I think everyone understands that. Also, I've wanted to do something monthly with Image forever. This is kind of like me realizing a lifelong dream.
Nrama: What can you tell us about the stories beginning in Sun Bakery #1?
Lewis: They all started as personal self-published comics "zine" projects, but have since become so much more to me. There are three main stories: “Dream Skills,” “Arem,” and “Bat Rider.”
“Dream Skills” is about a couple of girls in a city where guns have been rendered obsolete, and swords are the ultimate status symbol. It's pretty much "what if guns never existed, and everyone uses swords still?”. There's more to the swordplay - it's a kind of spiritual / social game they play with each other, making it less brutal. Though there IS a "brutal mode," too.
“Arem” started as a video game fan comic, with a modern Instagram twist. It's basically an armored space adventurer going to foreign planets, documenting the various local flora and fauna and getting into trouble with it. Space explorer documentarian comics.
“Bat Rider” is a supernatural skateboarding comic with hints of romance. It started as a smart phone comic - hence the panels are pretty vertical. Because of that and the nature of the story, it's a fast read - very about the action. Though as it goes on, it has some surprising substance, I think.
“Dream Skills” is the primary comic of the first four issues of Sun Bakery. “Arem” is a two-parter, appearing in the first two issues. “Bat Rider” I plan on being the mainstay of Sun Bakery - popping up in every issue, I hope.
Nrama: Have you changed, adjusted or elaborated on anything from the original Press Gang releases?
Lewis: The actual content of the main comic stories are the same, but I am making some design tweaks. Including a new intro page that will better explain what Sun Bakery is to brand new readers. There may be a brand new bonus "Micro Comic" at the end, too.
In #4 of the Press Gang release, I actually missed putting “Bat Rider” in the issue. As I mentioned before, I want his comic to be a mainstay in the series, so I'm hoping to fix that for the Image release, and get him in #4.
Nrama: Since some of these stories have been released before, what are you working on now - and how far ahead are you in terms of issues of Sun Bakery?
Lewis: Right now I'm very pumped to report that I'm working on new Sharknife for future issues of Sun Bakery called "Sharknife Lives." It'll start in Sun Bakery #5 to be exact. I already have the first issue drawn out. The whole story is planned out. It'll basically be the first truly self-contained, awesome Sharknife story. I'm extremely excited about it.
The old Sharknife books have their own over-arching story, a kind of nebulous spiritual action thing... but in "Sharknife Lives" I'm putting in motion a decisive story that Ceasar and his pals really have to deal with immediately. It's absolutely a new thing for Sharknife. It has a lot of things I've wanted to do with the character for years. Plus, I'm very excited to finally be presenting Sharknife to the world in an issues-based format.
Besides “Sharknife Lives” - there will be some other New Throwback Reyyy stories in future Sun Bakery issues such as "Freeze," a breakdancing comic featuring the characters from PENG!, my old kickball / sports comic.
There's lots more planned beyond that. Basically, if you've ever been a fan of any or all of my properties, you will find a lot to love in Sun Bakery. Or even if you're not. I think this is new material from me. Me reaching for new plateaus in my comics.
It's all working in tandem as well - the stories in Sun Bakery aren't strictly independent of each other, I'm kind of building my own Sun Bakery Universe, here.
Nrama: I've been following your work since the early 2000s when you and Bryan O'Malley were doing webcomics. I've seen you bounce around to numerous projects, in comics, animation, and other work. How does doing an anthology like Sun Bakery help you keep up with your various ideas you carry all at one time?
Lewis: Yeah, I am a rapid-fire idea man, for sure. Honestly, I love jumping around ideas. It keeps me motivated. The thing is, I do jump around a lot, but when I'm on an idea, I actually do work really hard and focus on it. That's actually why Sun Bakery is a good fit for me. I can jump around while simultaneously getting the work out there, and being motivated by people's impressions and feedback.
The key for that method being a success I think is; I have to have an endpoint for these stories in mind. “Dream Skills,” “Arem,” and “Bat Rider” all have endings (“Dream Skills” and “Arem” do end by Sun Bakery #4). That's a problem I had earlier in my career with like Sharknife. Again, nebulous free-flowing stories. Which is fine and cool - but yeah, the stories in Sun Bakery aren't overly long to begin with, and I almost always have an endpoint in mind. Ever since spending years on one graphic novel, I've transitioned to being more of a shorter story kind of guy.
Nrama: What are your big goals for this new iteration of Sun Bakery?
Lewis: I'm hoping to reach a wide audience, to get my work out there, and to really display the kind of stories, energy, I've always wanted out there, consistently. Graphic novels are cool, but I'm really excited to have my work be on the shelves consistently. I'm hoping to engage more with comics fans and the industry more than I ever have before, and deliver some really fun content.