Corey Lewis, or Rey for short, is one of those rare comic creators who came on the scene and quickly everyone noticed. At the age of 25 the Seattle resident has already had two graphic novels published, "Sharknife" and "Peng," infusing each series with a youthful, frenetic style and bright colors influenced by video games, hip-hop, ninjas (naturally) and skate boarding culture. Both books were instant indy hits and ultimately all his fans want to know is, "When will there be more?"
Rey's next original creation will come in 2008 from Image Comics. A twelve issue limited-series called "Pinapl," Rey's decided to forgo another long form original graphic novel and is going to try his hand at publishing it as a slimline series. Slimline is the format that began with the Image Comics series "Fell," featuring 16 pages of art, 4 pages of back matter, all at the cheap price of only $2 an issue. And naturally it'll feature Rey's compelling artistic sensibilities combined with his unique storytelling talents - in this case, one many trying to deliver a precious object that every else wants, in a city populated by monsters and gangs.
While Rey's still a ways off from getting into production on "Pinapl," he spoke with CBR News to gives us a look at what he's cooking up.
Well, let's see. The main character has been bitten by a vampire, so he goes to his master to find out how to fix the problem. His master gives him the Pinapl and says, "Take it across the city and give it to the Vampirate King (he's a vampire/pirate) and he'll fix it all up." So, Cracker, the main character, has to travel across the entire city which is populated with various monsters and gangs and has to make sure the Pinapl survives the whole trip.
What is the Pinapl itself?
Well, that's the thing. Everyone wants it, but nobody knows what exactly it is. Everywhere that Cracker goes, people want it. There is a reason for its specialness, but I can't reveal that - you guys have to read the comic!
Fair enough. You brought up how everyone wants this item, yet nobody really knows why they want it. We live in a gadget obsessed era today where everyone wants the latest, greatest thing, but it seems most of the time people want the item just because it's the current cool thing. Look at the reaction to the iPhone, there are more powerful phones out there, but that one has really captured the imagination of consumers. But is "Pinaple" a commentary on the current state of consumerism, or are you embracing it?
Yeah, it's me commenting a bit. Probably! [laughs] I do that sometimes, I don't think about stuff quite like that way when I work, but I know that happens on a subconscious level with me and I'm sure that's one of the things I'm critiquing. Now, I pretty much agree with that love of new things most of the time. For instance, I'm pretty into the iPhone, but I don't need to have one right now, but I get why it's so sought after.
You've chosen to publish "Pinapl" as a slimline book. Why?
Well, it just sounded like a good idea on many levels, but here we have comics for under $2! Anyone can walk in with pocket change and grab themselves an issue of "Pinapl?" I like that.
Will you be using similar layout formats as seen in other slimline books "Fell" and "Casanova," or will you keep to your more frenetic layout style?
I've read "Fell," but I haven't read "Casanova yet," but they do follow a similar 9-panel grid format. Mine will be totally different, though. I'll stick to the 16 pages of art per issue and the pages will be quite dense, but I don't usually calculate out my panels - I let it go however it goes.
If I recall correctly, "Fell" creator Warren Ellis has been a big proponent and supporter of your work. Was it his enthusiasm for your work that brought you over to the slimline format?
Well, Image was interested in doing something with me for a while and they proposed the slimline format, at which point I wrote Warren about it and he told me it's a really good idea to do it these days, especially since I was burning out on doing original graphic novels which are so huge and so hard to do. He said, "Try these, man! Cheap comics! They're fun! People like to buy them because they're cheap! Do it."
How much thought have you given to that 16 page format - it's something quite different than what you've primarily worked in OGNs. You're actually constrained more than you have been in the past. How will you change your process in terms of breaking stories for the slimline format?
Since I used to do back up strips for Udon in "Street Fighter" and "Dark Stalkers" comics, I'm somewhat used to condensing my stories to a shorter format since those were mostly one or two page strips. I actually like to draw more condensed and compact, so I'm actually looking forward to this format. I like the idea of limiting my stories and working within those limitations.
"Pinapl" won't be seen until mid-2008, but have you put pen to paper yet?
No, not yet. Probably not until May of next year or something.
Where did the idea for "Pinapl" come from?
I used to have this old online comic called "Gun Fight" that was about a guy who had an item he was protecting. I liked the idea of this single guy having something everyone else wanted, as opposed to him being the one to go after something. So, he becomes the central focus to the story. So, there's a bit of that comic and the "Kill Bill" movies played a part in the inspiration. It was a long time ago that I came up with this concept, thus why I can't remember the exact thing that inspired "Pinapl."
"Pinapl" is also going to be a full color project.
Yeah, I've wanted to do something in full-color really bad for a long time and this seems like a good book to do in color. I'll probably have a colorist named Chad Walker handle the covers for me. He did the little promo image.
Will anyone else be working with you on this project?
Just me and Chad, it seems. I'll handle the lettering and stuff. I like doing that. It's part of my design sense. I like being in control of the whole visual look of the project. For "Peng," my Oni Press kickball comic, I pretty much did 100% of that comic, even all the copyright info.
By working with Image and using the slimline format, you're opening yourself up to a whole new audience. Who do you think "Pinapl" will appeal to?
It's definitely similar to my other stuff like "Sharknife" and "Peng." It'll have that youth energy, but with "Pinapl" I'm really focusing on making it a very concentrated series. I want this to be a solid story from start to finish, so I'm trying to make this for anyone who wants an alternative to mainstream comics and I want them to pick up the book and say, "What the hell is this?"
What else are you working on these days?
Lately I've been getting a lot of opportunities in the music industry doing album and pin up artwork for a bunch of hip-hop bands. I'm doing some stuff for Jeff Blaze, who's this hip-hop producer based in New York. I'm also doing something for Del tha Funkee Homosapien, one of my favorite MC's.
Do you think you'd ever play full time in the world of super heroes? I know you've got something coming up in Marvel's indy anthology series "Marvel Comics Presents."
Yeah, I love super heroes and I'll be doing something forthat anthology, a four-page Longshot story. I love him because he's like this '80s rock star character with these crazy luck powers, which is just perfect for my style. In terms of other mainstream heroes, I definitely want to work on Iron Man someday - I think I could do a really sweet Iron Man suit!
What would a Corey Lewis Iron Man be and look like?
That depends and that's a good question. A long time ago I had this crazy idea that the Venom symbiote would take over the Iron Man suit and you'd have this cool looking, like, black Iron Man/Venom suit, with like teeth and shit, too. It would be crazy. I even drew a picture of it a long time ago and I'm sure I could draw it again and really rock them at Marvel. I also have a pretty neat idea for another Longshot story using those luck powers where I'd like to throw him into an intergalactic poker tournament or something.
Sounds like a blast, man. Thanks for talking with us today.