Late last month, CBR News brought you an exclusive prologue from the Image Comics series “Rumble In La Rambla.” Featuring the work of Brazilians Felipe Ferreira (writer) and Rafael Albuquerque (artist), the first issue by these two lands in comic shops shortly. Now, after we posted that preview three weeks ago, I received a number of phone calls from editors at a variety of publishing companies that were just blown away by Rafael’s work, what the guys are calling “Tropical Noir.” Clearly, Felipe and Rafael are already turning heads.
With the first issue landing in comic shops shortly, we decided we should catch up with the duo for a look at the series and to learn a bit more about their plans, as well as their backgrounds as they make their first entrance into the American comics scene.
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CBR News: Hey guys, thanks for talking with CBR today. Felipe, why don’t you start by introducing “Rumble in La Rambla” to our readers. Tell us a bit about the story you’ve cooked up for this mini-series.
Felipe Ferreira: Sure! Rafael and I had this idea since New Year’s Eve 2004. We were completely broke. I was working at a bank and Rafael was working at a low profile studio with no future ahead for him. As a New Year’s resolution, we decided to leave our crappy lives behind us and bet everything on this comics career. We bought airplane tickets and went to San Diego Comic Con ’04. We got some gigs and returned the next year.
Rafael Albuquerque: Man, you’re digressing completely! He wants to know about the mini-series story not your senseless and meaningless life story!
Felipe Ferreira: Oops! My bad…
CBR News: No problem. Why don’t you pick it up from here Rafael.
Rafael Albuquerque: The main story is set during a few days of July, 1983, when the 10 year truce is broken and our characters have to fight for their lives. But the side stories go as far back as 1955 in an attempt to show our readers how a crimelord persona is built: upon destroyed dreams and a harsh reality superseding what one may expect for himself.
Felipe Ferreira: Wow, I couldn’t say it any better myself.
CBR News: Felipe, Give us some background on the characters that inhabit this story.
Felipe Ferreira: There is Dozer, an assassin who replaced the former top mobster, Squallo. Dozer’s archnemesis, Santo, is a Cuban, ladies’ man and a top gangster as well. Along with Albino Jensen, they ruled from 1973 to 1983 until someone shattered their decade-long peace. Besides them, you’ve got Nash, a young fighter who has much to prove yet; Officer Lilly, a girl who might have done some wrong choices in the past; and Freddy, her boss at the precinct and one of the few good cops in this wretched SoCal city.
CBR News: You’re both based in Brazi, so why set this story in Southern California versus say your native country? And, outside of San Diego, have you explored much of Southern California?
Rafael Albuquerque: We had this idea for some years, but it always felt like it was stolen from a Guy Ritchie’s film. We struggled a lot, but had a hard time to find the proper way to develop it. Then one day, going from San Diego to Los Angeles, the story came as a whole! The idea was already there and the development was solid, so I started sketching. When we finally arrived three hours later, it was done.
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Felipe Ferreira: We preferred to set the story in America so as not to shock readers with the many differences there are between USA and Brazil. For instance, how many times has an average American has been mugged? I, for one, have been more then ten times in Brazil and the last time I was carjacked, too! It was funny, because I said: “If I get out of this one alive, I promise I will go after my dreams” It was that kind of a “Fight Club” thing. We could bore you with tales about a violent and corrupt country or create a city from scratch. So, we decided to tell the story in the worst American city ever!
CBR News: You mentioned you’ve had this idea since the end of 2004, but give us some of the genesis of this project. How did it come together and what were some of the inspirations behind it?
Felipe Ferreira: Rafael wanted to do a gangster story and I hated the idea! I offered him a comedic one and another about vampires, but he really wanted to do one about crime and noir and all that jazz.
Rafael Albuquerque: He tried to convince me, but I was adamant. So, he asked if we could do something in a “Dick Tracy” style, where the villains would either wear always the same outfit or the same themed costume and I gave him the thumbs up!
Felipe Ferreira: Besides that, I already had a short story — eight pages long — and it’s the backbone to the whole mini-series. It was called “The Villain from Hong Kong”
CBR News: Rafael’s work on this looks gorgeous. Literally hours after I posted the prologue, I had editors calling me up asking about his work. Felipe, how did you and Rafael end up getting together on this book?
Felipe Ferreira: Yes, the day after the prologue appeared, our website was flooded! We were shell-shocked! But getting back to your question, Rafael and I used to do some fanzines together. We’d go the copy parlors with a bunch of sketches and the guys already knew us by our name! He’s improved much since then (fortunately for me!) and I’m confident readers will appreciate this “Tropical Noir” he developed for our mini-series.
CBR News: For both of you, “Rumble In La Rambla” marks your first foray into the American market. What’s your impression of the American comics scene compared to the Brazillian comics scene? And how did this book end up with Image Comics?
Rafael Albuquerque: In Brazil, we have no market whatsoever, so when I got to Comic-Con, it was this jaw-dropping experience! Lots of nice people, beautifully printed comics and all the pros we used to read in our early teens. Unfortunately, in our country, you can self-publish and never reach the newsstands, or you can work for free to reach your readers. And most of the few paying gigs end up being unpaid as some editors are magicians with the ability to vanish after you deliver the artwork.
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Answering your second question, in 2005, we took only two copies of the Rumble In La Rambla” project to show, because we finished the last pages just a few hours before getting on the plane. The first editor was very nice, but declined, so we were left off with one remaining copy. We gave it to Erik Larsen and never heard from him. We were in tears when, I think one month later, he gave his thumbs up, contracts were signed and we began the hard work!
CBR News: Will this book also see publication in Brazil?
Felipe Ferreira: I hope so!
CBR News: Since you’re pretty much unknown in America right now (although it’s clear that’s changing fast), give us some background on the two of you. Felipe, we’ll start with you.
Felipe Ferreira: Prior to being an indie comic book writer, I was a webdesigner (and I sucked) and after that, a video editor. I worked for Brazilian TV stations and one crappy feature movie which was a romantic love story where the main characters never even meet, oh yeah, and the bank thing, too. When Rafael called me into this unknown journey, I was more than glad to accept it!
Rafael Albuquerque: I used to work in a print house and gave some drawing lessons, but since I turned 20, I’ve been working as a penciler. That’s when I began working with AK Comics publishing in the Middle East! But I always dreamed of working for the American market and this year it has finally become true!
CBR News: Guys, thanks for taking the time to talk with us.