Many years ago, a 12-year-old Corey S. Lewis drew this:
It was a picture featuring a bunch of little grape warriors, each with a Smurf-like adjective name, distinguishing characteristic and weapons or powers.
He also drew mecha-battle suits for the characters, called “Robo-stomps,” and made up a bunch of video game-like special moves and special weapons for them.
If you look at that picture and think, “Wow, not bad for a 12-year-old,” then you and I think alike. If you think you see a little Japanese influence in the art, then I think you’re right—it does resemble modern pop Japanese art, as filtered through Nintendo video game design, doesn’t it? And if you find yourself remarkably impressed with this 12-year-old’s lettering ability, and wish the grown-up you could draw and letter like that then, well, I think you and I have been spending too much time together lately, because it’s almost like we’re reading eachother’s minds.
So, what ever became of this Corey S. Lewis character? Well, he kept drawing, and grew up to create such comics as Sharknife and Peng! for Oni Press, and to contribute shorter stories to a variety of anthologies for a variety of publishers.
His comics-creating style grew into a fusion of myriad influences—video games, manga, anime, kung fu movies, cartoons, toys, graffiti and hip hop, rock and roll and advertising imagery—influences that weren’t available to artists from previous generations, at least not in the quantities they were available to Lewis. He was able to internalize these influences, giving him a potent, unique style that was personal rather than a pastiche, and is therefore poised to become one of a handful of artists who might ultimately prove emblematic of his generation of cartoonists, along with the likes of Brandon Graham and Bryan Lee O’Malley.
Oh, and he also went back to his 12-year-old’s designs for grape warriors to produce Seedless, first as a webcomic and now a trade paperback collection from Image Comics.