Rafael Albuquerque brings another dimension to 'Ei8ht'

Best known to U.S. audiences for his work on Blue Beetle and his collaboration with Scott Snyder on American Vampire, artist Rafael Albuquerque is exchanging the world of superheroes and the supernatural for the Meld, an inhospitable dimension littered with, in his words, "temporal garbage."

It's the setting of Ei8ht, the creator-owned miniseries Albuquerque co-wrote with Mike Johnson (Supergirl), debuting Feb. 18 from Dark Horse. Based on the artist's Brazilian webcomic Tune 8, the five-issue series centers on a chrononaut named Joshua who takes on a suicide mission to save his dying wife, only to find himself trapped in the Meld with little memory.

Albuquerque spoke with ROBOT 6 about the evolution of Ei8ht, his love for science fiction, and his creative goals for the series. He also shared an exclusive preview of the first issue.

ROBOT 6: Ei8ht has a lot in common with Tune 8, your Brazilian webcomic. How does the original idea from Tune 8 extend into Ei8ht?

Rafael Albuquerque: Ei8ht is an adaptation of that original idea. The first idea was simply go on on that comic and just republish that along with new pages. However, the way I published it originally was one page a week; the reading of it just worked in a webcomic. We need a hook on every page to keep the reader interested, [but] just putting these pages together doesn't work. Dark Horse offered me a five-issue miniseries, so I felt we’d need to rewrite and redraw the whole thing to make it the best experience as possible for the new readers.

The series plays a lot with science and science fiction concepts -- primarily dealing with a place called The Meld. What exactly is the Meld, and why is it key to the story you're looking to tell?

The Meld is a lost place in time -- almost like a temporal garbage, where everything that ever walked on the face of Earth, or might do at some point, may coexist. The challenge here was creating a believable environment, with the own evolution of this place -- different societies, different kind of people, different fauna, and how they all interact in their own way. When such a different environment somehow gets in contact with our own temporal line it can be very dangerous. That’s when our adventure begins.

Tell us a bit about your main character, Joshua. Who is he, and how does he react to The Meld?

Joshua is a simple man from a near future who accepts a suicide mission to save his ill wife from death. The whole future is messed up for a reason. […]. Joshua’s mission is trying to find the man responsible for that and fix it.

Ei8ht is certainly an interesting title, especially given how the number 8 turned on its side can be used to represent infinity. How does the story play with that concept of infinity and continuous cycle?

It’s a story about circles and how the events will always repeat. How far would you go to break this vicious circle and save the ones you love?

I've seen some of the pages, and it's a very different feel from what you've done on comics like American Vampire -- especially when it comes to colors. How have you shifted your artistic style for Ei8ht?

Colors play a major part in our book. I honestly don't recall something done like that. So, despite the artwork [being] pretty much what I do, usually, this specific palette brings a lot of personality to our book, and is crucial to the storytelling.

What appeals to you about science fiction as a genre? How does your approach to it differ from some of your other work?

I love science fiction but, even working with comics for more than 10 years, I’ve never had a chance to do one. Ei8ht was a chance to expand my range of stories, styles and genres.

You worked with Mike Johnson to help hone the ideas for Ei8ht. Take us through your collaborative process. Where did the idea start, and how did you two work to turn it into what Ei8ht has become?

Since 2008, when we collaborated in Superman/Batman, I have always loved to work with him. So, we discuss ideas for stories, we discuss ideas for the art, for the colors -- every step of it. Personally, it’s my favorite way to work with a writer. So, when Dark Horse showed interest on the project, I couldn't think anyone better to call. I showed him my original webcomic, and from there we worked the whole thing out together, to make sure it would fit in the new format.

Why do you think Ei8ht is an important story?

Personally, [it] is incredibly important. It was my first time creating a series from scratch, so there is a lot of heart on it. For the readers, I think time will tell. This series brings a different tone than my other gigs, such as American Vampire, for example. I wanted something lighter, something funnier, something almost nostalgic, where I could explore everything I like with no boundaries. I wanted to bring the same feeling I have every time I see old Steven Spielberg movies, or so. Those were relevant for me. That's why I wanted to tell stories and working with entertainment, so I think the readers may think it important as well.

CBR Staff Writer Steve Sunu contributed to this report.

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