We were rather impressed with the first issue of Sun Bakery, an anthology published by Image Comics and fully created by Reyyy, aka Corey Lewis . The contents seem to be drawn from a number of self-published works, some newer, some older, and remastered into this unique format, with a few pages from each story per issue, and new serialized stories or short one-pagers popping up from time to time. That’s an exciting thing–you never know what you might encounter, and this is all backed up by commentary and little notes from Reyyy that make you feel part of the compositional world of the anthology.
The art on all these stories is ferocious and varied. Drawn in a number of styles, nevertheless the aesthetics are bold in a similar way. There is very specific use of contrast in inking and in laying down color that you’ll see in the covers and well as the interiors, and that signature boldness is part of the book’s selling point. There’s a firm comics identity that fans can find in Sun Bakery.
One of the smartest thing I’ve seen in comics in a long time is a practice Reyyy introduces here in Sun Bakery #2--of having small thumbnail pages in outline form only to catch readers up on previous installments of the story in case they haven’t read them or have forgotten what happened. Sure, it’s a kind of short-form and not like the original reading experience, but it gives readers that extra little nudge to stay in the world of the story.
If all anthologies did this for their serialized stories, perhaps they would retain readership a little better. This also adds to the generally layered aesthetic of the book. We have little asides and notes tucked into the pages, making sure no space is wasted, in this publication, and it almost feels like having a social media feed directed by Reyyy scattered throughout, rounding off with an essay at the back walking us through this issue.
Another really compelling thing about Sun Bakery is that it engages casually but substantially with technology and our relationship to it. As futuristic and fantastic as many of the stories are, and the first story “Arem” involves wearing full tech suits, sci-fi style, there is a recognizable looping in and out of media connection for the characters in a way that feels relevant to our current lives.
I recently read an article in a tech periodical about the ways in which smart phones will fade out in the next 10 years to be replaced by projected screens or images “beamed” into our eyes, and that’s essentially the experience our protagonist has in “Arem” as she travels in her mech suit on alien worlds, then uploads her adventures to millions of social media responses. Technology also pops up as an enveloping plot element in “Dream Skills” where Xasha’s magic sword can provide wifi but the only coffee shop they can reach in a storm is denying customers access without a showdown fight. It’s a funny, poignant situational story that just feels relevant in the midst of the fantasy elements.
We already see plenty of commentary on different storytelling genres in Sun Bakery, that seems like part of the enjoyment and point of the stories–to turn things around, and point out what stands out about the types of stories we love. But I think we’re going to see even more of that as new stories are introduced.
We have “Bloodshed” debuting in short form in this issue, and that’s literally a revenge protagonist trope that Reyyy is telescoping. The intro page even says he’s a 90’s revenge character and he urges you to call on him if you “need a villain dead”. And like many revenge heroes, he’s driven by the ghost/memory of his slain love. It’s tremendously funny to see the structure of these stories laid bare and taken to their extremes, and reminds us how we tell stories and why.
Sun Bakery #2 is out this week, and is well worth your time and support.