The superstar writer is not alone in looking forward to the return of the Eisner Award-winning Vertigo series, as artist Rafael Albuquerque tells CBR News that it’s been downright painful being away from Pearl Jones, Skinner Sweet and the rest of the cast.
With the title returning March 19 after nearly a year’s hiatus, Albuquerque spoke with CBR about the ever-evolving title and its antagonists, explaining that the story picks up with Pearl protecting some lost children, which is no easy task with the Gray Trader on the hunt. And friend or foe, one can never be too comfortable with Skinner Sweet around — a now iconic bad guy Albuquerque likens to Batman’s archenemy, The Joker, with vampiric powers.
CBR News: It’s been more than a year since the last issue of “American Vampire” was released, so I am assuming it’s was a year since you drew the characters. Have you missed Sweet, Pearl and the rest of the cast?Â
Rafael Albuquerque: I did, and I can speak for all the crew that getting back to it is a relief, somehow. Staying away from these characters for so long was painful for all of us.Â
What can you tell us of what’s to come in the second cycle?
After Henry’s death, Pearl went back to her family’s farm, where she is finding out what to do with her grief and darkness. She is sheltering some lost children in her house, and we will find out that protecting them won’t be so simple.
Skinner is pretty much getting back to his roots. He was an outlaw in the past, and he is trying to somehow recreate that old west life for himself as a mercenary, riding a chopper on the roads.Â
“American Vampire” debuted at the height of “Twilight,” “Let Me In,” “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Killer” and dozens of other blood-sucking contenders and pretenders. What do you think separated your creation from the rest of the pack?
I think our main goal was bringing vampires back to the horror genre. Make them scary again. I admire revisions on the vampire legends, but horror is what we like, and we tried to make them scary again while also bringing something fresh to their mythology.
When developing the look and feel of the vampires featured in your series, what was your inspiration?Â
Well, it depends on what we want for the character. We always start trying to do something new, unseen. With that said, we also have to consider things like what makes a vampire iconic and what makes a vampire recognizable? So this grey area between ‘go crazy’ and ‘try to find the right elements’ is pretty much our playground.
Visually, what defines an American vampire?
Definitely the jaws and fingers, and, of course, the bright yellow eyes. One thing I like to play with is that they are in constant evolution. If you notice, in the first arc they look a bit different then as opposed to how they are now. That’s intentional. They are constantly learning how to control their powers, and that gives them more control on their body as well, somehow.
The look of the vampires has changed, but has your style evolved, as well, since the series debuted?
Yeah — totally. I’ve been researching the first volumes and thinking how bad some panels look there. I think all artists are constantly criticizing themselves, but looking to the bright side, my art is better now. And after all, we are talking about evolution.
What makes Skinner Sweet the nastiest American vamp of them all?
He has nothing to lose. He is there just for the fun. Can you imagine the Joker with all those powers?Â
Earlier, you mentioned that being away from “American Vampire” for so long was painful, a sentiment I know Scott Snyder echoes. What makes you partnership with him work so well?
I think the heart of “American Vampire” is the friendship I have with Scott and Mark [Doyle], our editor. We respect each other very much, and we are all very open to ideas that will make the book better.Â That makes the whole project work easier.Â
“American Vampire: Second Cycle” #1, by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque, lands in stores March 19.