inside the buckwild sun bakery oven

I’ve been a big fan of Corey Lewis ever since I first read his Sharknife graphic novels. His art and storytelling both have an intense energy about them that’s hard to nail with the right level of sincerity, and he’s only gotten better since. His current project, Sun Bakery, has become one of my favorites, and it recently moved from the self-published zone into the gin-yoo-wine world of Image comics.

That means issues are even easier to pick up now, and I highly recommend doing so.

Besides Lewis’s incredibly bold artwork, the best thing Sun Bakery has going for it is its overall structure. It’s essentially a one-man anthology, so every comic within is a shotgun blast straight from the same barrel. It’s like Image’s Island anthology… if every comic in Island was drawn by the same dude. Or maybe it’s like Creepshow 2, except it’s a comic and it’s more Redline than The Raft. I probably could have just left this at “it’s a one-man anthology,” but I really like anthologies in general!

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I’m really into Lewis’s anything-goes approach to making comics, from the broad strokes to the tiniest details. There’s a lot of imagination in each issue of Sun Bakery, and most of the stories carry on with new chapters throughout the run. Dream Skills, for instance, is exactly what you get when you give a fighting game fan free reign to unleash his own world. In this case it’s a world in which swords rule as the ultimate weapon; just like in real life, guns are for wimps and you won’t find any here.

Look at this Dream Skills-based cover issue #3 sports. It’s one of those images you can get lost in, and I love all the movesets pulled straight from a 2D Capcom fighter.

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Arem is another standout. It’s basically a Metroid fan comic that skirts all the nasty copyright issues associated with a typical Nintendo property. Only in this story, Arem Lightstorm—the Samus Aran analog—travels to exotic planets for the perfect Instagram snaps. Arem is as solid an argument as any for Lewis’s expert handling of color and powerful layout decisions.

Here’s a cool splash page from Arem:

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And a second example of that instruction manual aesthetic I dig so much:

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There’s also choice content here for those who prefer their comics in black and white. Batrider stars a hero with a supernatural skateboard, which is about as much of an elevator pitch as I need. The layouts and direction are particularly strong here. Just dig this two-pager that’s straight off the screen. You can practically feel the animation when the Beetle crests the hill and slams down next to Batrider.

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There’s plenty more within the pages of each issue, but I’ll leave the rest for you to discover on your own. My key takeaway from Sun Bakery is nothing short of a boatload of inspiration. The one-man anthology isn’t just a great idea, it would make for a killer exercise for comic artists of all levels. Do you have a ton of ideas you want to workshop all at once? Why not do exactly that? Focusing on one story is all well and good, but sometimes you just need to break out your Contra Spread Gun and fire away with reckless abandon.

That’s what Corey Lewis is doing, and maybe everyone else should, too.

You can see more of REYYY‘s work on his website and tumblr. His GI Joe one shot is also rad. And get Sharknife, because he’s coming back in the next Sun Bakery! 

 

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the silent journey of sam alden’s haunter

It’s no secret that Sam Alden is an incredible cartoonist. Like other top-tier talent, he eventually made his way to storyboarding for Adventure Time, which is like the mothership for people who are great at comics. This post isn’t about Finn & Jake, though, it’s about Alden’s 2014 Study Group Comics release Haunter, a 96-page journey that reads like a dream.

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Anyone who regularly follows Alden’s work is probably like, “yeah, DUH, Haunter is rad as hell.” After all, this was his first long-form work, but it’s also something I just happened to stumble upon at NYC’s Forbidden Planet. The story follows a young woman who runs into an ancient evil while exploring, and from that moment on the two are entwined in a fierce hunter x hunted chase.Haunter01_01.jpg

As the title of this post suggests, Haunter is a completely wordless comic. These are tough enough to pull off even marginally well. Comics are by no means dependent on dialogue or narration, but without them you really need someone who specializes in visual clarity. Alden demonstrates his skills as a soon-to-be storyboard artist with a comic that flows perfectly from moment to moment. When the action picks up, your reading pace follows suit naturally, and Haunter takes a few opportunities to dial it down and change the timing of panels to what’s practically a frame-by-frame piece of animation.

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Sam Alden is some kind of wizard with brushes and watercolors, or whatever was used to create Haunter. Streamlined characters intermingle with deep environments, and the stark black ink outlines are used to great effect, almost like an animation cel. The color scheme is reminiscent of Katsuya Terada’s classic Zelda art. Appropriately enough, it’s also been compared to a video game. I can see that; it has kind of a Fumito Ueda (Ico, Shadow of the ColossusThe Last Guardian) vibe to it.

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The act of reading Haunter flies by in a flash, but it’s also a comic I’m more likely to revisit from time to time. Do yourself a favor and pick up this and pretty much anything else by Sam Alden. I also highly recommend his Frontier book, which is available from Youth In Decline. Actually, it’s out of print, but maybe you can dig around and find it somewhere. That’s half the fun!

His site isn’t showing up at the moment, but you can check out more of Sam Alden’s comics on his tumblr.

catch one of my comics in comfort food zine!

Heyyyy… I’ve been busy! Sadly, most of what I’ve been busy with is stuff I can’t post on the blog, hence the lack of updates. Anyway, here’s one for you. I recently contributed a two-page comic to a zine by Lauren Jordan called Comfort Food Zine. The book was successfully funded through Indiegogo, and in it you’ll find a bunch of food-related comics by myself and 33 other artists.

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My comic, naturally, is about bagels. Here’s what it looks like in the book:

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It’s pretty simple. I did it all on paper in brush pen with Photoshop for the grays and a tiny bit of gradient. It was fun.

As far as I know Lauren has had the book with her at various conventions, and will be updating her store with them at some point. If you’re really interested in one you can contact me, because I have about 5 on hand.

That’s it for now! I also still have a very small amount of SLIME minis still available on the bigcartel store.

slime update and mocca grabs

I updated the Slime page on the site today, because the comic is now available at a couple more shops! In addition to Forbidden Planet NYC and Desert Island (Brooklyn), you can pick up Slime at JHU Comics in NYC and Staten Island.

There are under 10 copies left now, so grab it quick, either in person or on the online shop!

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This past weekend was MoCCA Fest in New York, which meant multiple levels of way too many cool comics to buy. I wasn’t able to scratch the surface of what I wanted, but I had a really good time, picked up a few choice comics, and dug the new venue way more than last year’s.

Here’s some of what I grabbed:IMG_1481

Clockwise from top left: A.T. Pratt‘s Good Garbage, Rob Corradetti‘s Artists of Today, Youth in Decline and Jillian Tamaki‘s Frontier #7, Andy Ristaino‘s Night of the Living Vidiots, and Wren McDonald‘s What’s in Brick’s Bag.

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This past Saturday I hopped over to Brooklyn to check out CAB (Comic Arts Brooklyn), which I had been looking forward to for a while. The day I went is basically just all exhibitors selling stuff, which is the best, because I was able to buy a bunch of new comics and get most of them signed on the spot.

I posted a general pic of my haul on Instagram and Twitter and whatnot, but I figured other big nerds like me might want a closer look at some of the stuff I picked up.

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I really dig Jonny Negron‘s stuff, but the only thing I have of his that isn’t part of an anthology is more of an art book. I think his work really explodes in color, but it’s cool to see it in a more lo-fi look, and the way Song of Mercury was printed gives it an ethereal quality that plays nicely with its theme.

This is the only one of my new purchases I’ve had a chance to read, so I won’t really be commenting on the content of the others yet.

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One of the books that was hyped prior to the show, Earthling, is the graphic novel debut of German artist Aisha Franz. Apparently she also has a ton of minis, though, so I really need to pick those up somewhere, too…

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Patrick Kyle‘s Distance Mover has been on my list for a while, and this was a really good time to finally buy it since he was sitting right at the table behind the stack.

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I’m really looking forward to Alex Degen’s Mighty Star and the Castle of the Cancatervater. Koyama Press isn’t putting it out until April 2015, though, so thankfully there’s this supplemental comic to tide us over until then. I haven’t read any of Degen’s work yet, but I dig what I’ve seen on his tumblr so far. He was there at the Snakebomb table, too, and was really nice and excited that people were seeking out The Philosopher.

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Ryan Sands’ Youth in Decline label does some of the best work for comics out there. The Frontier series, which is leading the charge both in printing quality and featured artists, is only getting better as it goes on, so I was glad to finally nab the Sam Alden issue.

Let me pull you aside and tell you something not-so secret: Sam Alden is awesome. His pencil work first blew me away in Backyard, and I love the two-color tones in this one.

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Emily Carroll‘s Through the Woods is one of the top comics of 2014, and it looks like she might have just the best issue of Frontier on top of that. I don’t know nothin’ about that myself, though, ‘cuz I haven’t read it yet. Just sayin’… it looks like it.

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Michael DeForge is great so I try and grab everything he puts out. First Year Healthy is his newest book, making its debut at CAB, and it looks like another departure, if not in style than in narrative at least. I can’t wait to read it but I also really want to savor this stack of comix and not blaze through them like I normally do.

ANYWAY, yeah! CAB was really cool! I want to have some comics of my own there in 2015!