When Skinner Sweet burst forth from his grave to wreak bloody havoc in the pages of American Vampire, it was hard not to get the sense that artist Rafael Albuquerque was also breaking out of his own constraints.
At the time, he was best known for his work in the superpowered corners of the DC universe as a regular artist on Blue Beetle and the pencil behind some excellent issues of Superman/Batman. In 2010, though, Albuquerque took on his new role as chronicler of the supernatural flipside of the American Dream, bringing Scott Snyder and Stephen King’s world to life with his menacing, cinematic flair. Many of his pages offer the unsettling experience of drawing you in with their kinetic composition, then gradually revealing the nightmares lurking in the shadows.
Since then, Albuquerque has not only stayed the course as American Vampire artist extraordinaire, but also challenged himself to continuously raise the bar for his art—in more ways than one. Today marks the debut of Ei8ht, a sci-fi miniseries he’s not only drawing, but also co-writing alongside Mike Johnson.
Ei8ht follows the adventures of chrononaut Joshua in a place called the Meld, a quantum physicist’s wet dream where cast-off people, animals, and things from different times exist side by side. If that sounds like a departure from AV’s more grounded, gritty setting, that’s no accident. “[I] wanted to work in a genre that I hadn’t yet and that’s why I decided to do sci-fi,” Albuquerque told iO9. “The inspiration for this came from my favorite movies and books from the ‘80s and ‘90s.”
Albuquerque is no stranger to shifting genres. As a regular penciller on DC’s Blue Beetle, he used a more animated style to chronicle the superpowered hijinks of teen hero Jaime Reyes – “less heavy blacks, and ink splats,” as he mentioned in a Newsarama interview. His work on American Vampire shows a more cinematic style, starting as a fascinating blend of Dust Bowl desperation and Hollywood glamour that evolves with each new era.
Below is a gallery of some of Rafael Albuquerque’s most stunning work to date. Ei8ht #1 is on sale today.
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