It's not every day that one finds an army of sentient grape warriors bursting out of the refrigerator in the thick of battle. But for young Harmony Treblecleff, such a day did occur - and it was the most important day of her life.
Harmony finds herself in the midst of a great grape war in the pages of "Seedless," the action-adventure comic book created by writer-artist Corey Lewis. Originally published online in partnership with Seattle-based game store Pink Gorilla, "Seedless" is on the verge of its first printed original graphic novel release courtesy of Image Comics. CBR News spoke with Lewis to find out more about "Seedless," the upcoming trade paperback and his plans for the future of the series.
"'Seedless' is about three little alien grape warriors from another planet who come to Earth battling with a crazy grape named Crazy," Lewis told CBR of the story. "Crazy is looking for 'seeds' on planet Earth, and the only way for the grapes to stop Crazy is to use their 'gel powers' and the advanced robots they pilot called 'Robostomps.' I created all these characters when I was twelve years old, so let's just say I stayed true to my 12-year-old mindset! It has pretty common themes as far as an action-adventure story goes: teamwork, friendship, succeeding in the face of adversity and more."
Amidst the chaos of these various grape warriors is Harmony. "When I started the comic for online serialization, I quickly realized I wanted a human character for readers to relate to, and what better type of human than a cute girl," said Lewis. "Harmony is very kind and quick-witted. When 'Seedless' begins, she's the daughter of an inventor and her kindness - getting her dad some grapes from the fridge -Â backfires on her when the grapes attack. But Harmony's role becomes much more crucial when the grapes find that they need an escort around this new planet."
Harmony is quickly joined by a trio of grape warriors: Funky, Pulse and Dash. "They're kind of classic teenage hero archetypes," said Lewis. "Funky is progressive and optimistic, Pulse is a powerful hothead and Dash is a silent romantic ninja. Eventually, a fourth member joins their team, Snap. Snap is very ambitious and somewhat hyperactive. [Funky, Pulse and Dash] are brothers, so they always have each other's backs. They first meet Harmony at the beginning of the series and their relationship with their new human host grows from there. Their relationship with her does evolve and change throughout the first book. It's fun to watch her try to explain human customs to these little grape dudes."
Funky, Pulse and Dash are three of the titular seedless grapes, meaning that they lack seeds inside of them. "I actually struggled for a while to decide what being 'seedless' truly meant to the grapes. In the first book, this issue is addressed, but it will be elaborated on much more in future Seedless stories," said Lewis. "The basic idea behind being seedless is kind of like being a mutant in X-Men - they have something special about them that enables them to use awesome powers. In this case, the grapes that lack a 'seed' are more capable of manipulating the 'gel' in their bodies, able to more easily harness their 'inner swirliness' for epic powers."
Seedless grapes are also immune to the manipulative powers of Crazy, the central antagonist of "Seedless." "He has the unique power to hypnotize his fellow grapes, so any grape - save for the seedless grapes - can become his minions," Lewis said of Crazy. "Initially when they arrive on Earth, Crazy and his minions try to get Harmony's seed, but quickly finds out that humans don't have the kind of seed he wants."
Lewis said that the idea for "Seedless" stems from his lifelong fascination with fruit. "I think I have a strong kinship with fruit, honestly," he said. "The very first comic book I made when I was a kid was called 'Fighting Fruits' which had all sorts of varying anthropomorphic fruit types teamed up to battle candy-themed villains. The original 'Seedless' concept was kind of an offshoot of that. I really wanted to have these cute little grape-ball characters doing really dramatic, bloody things to each other. It was hilarious to me! Of course, the new 'Seedless' is more all-ages friendly. When I was a kid, I thought cute characters cussing and shooting each other up was funny, but I was still more inspired by more all-accessible stuff like 'Dragon Ball.' So the modern 'Seedless' is less crass, more of an inspiring adventure - I hope."
Although the first volume of "Seedless" is fully available online, Lewis said that there are plenty of incentives for fans to check out the upcoming printed edition. "I got about ten artist friends to provide some guest artwork for the chapter breaks in 'Seedless,' along with my own. Having collected all the artwork by these friends, 'Seedless' almost kind of doubles as an anthology art book," he said. "Also, there are bonus comic stories, ones that were made for Pink Gorilla promotions, and some of the original 'Seedless' stuff from when I was a kid, and from when I initially brought it back a few years ago. Beyond that, there is also just extra 'data files,' like world maps, character bios, and other relevant material to enrich the world of 'Seedless' for print. "
"For those who are already 'Seedless' fans, this printed edition of the first arc of the story is pretty definitive," he added. "It's kind of like owning a 128-page instruction manual for your favorite rare video game."
As for the future of "Seedless," the wheels are already in motion on the second volume of the story. "I'm very excited for where 'Seedless' will head for the second book. The first book was intentionally 'light' in nature to kind of establish the mood of the grapes' optimism. But in the second book, many of their issues are brought to the forefront," said Lewis. "Again, to reference X-Men, the seedless grapes are kind of viewed among their other seeded grapes as freaks. And, the actual 'tribes' of the different genus' of grapes will be addressed. Religion, race, politics, etcetera will all be issues flung at the grapes - and they, like many young people these days, probably won't 'get it.' I think it'll be a very exciting development for the grapes and a good contrast against the optimistic build-up of the first book."
Lewis said that fans wouldn't have to wait too long for more "Seedless" stories. "I'll re-launch 'Seedless' after the printed book is out, probably late August or September," he said. "I have some planning to do still. Part of the new plan entails the usual online serialization and possibly some print serialization, too, in part, as a lead-up to the eventual second book collection. The new arc of 'Seedless' will also start fresh, somewhat. The first book ends on a cliffhanger, but I have some clever plot devices to reintroduce many of the core elements of 'Seedless' to new readers. I don't want to reveal too much, but watching the show 'Lost' - which I recently watched the entire series - has shown me many clever ways to briskly pace my new 'Seedless' story. It'll be exciting."
For Lewis, the world of "Seedless" remains fresh and exciting for a simple reason. "I'm a fan of colorful, optimistic adventures, and 'Seedless' is exactly that," he said. "And in this comic, our heroes are edible food confections, so that changes the game a bit, I think! If edible optimistic fruit warriors aren't enough for you, giant robots, space battles and cute wardrobe-shifting girls should entice some of you!"
Corey Lewis' "Seedless" hits comic book stores in trade paperback form on August 4, 2010 courtesy of Image Comics. Check out "Seedless" for yourself at reyyy.com/seedless.