The Art Of Rafael Al­bu­querque

The Amer­i­can Vam­pire artist talks us through some of his favourite work

Comic Heroes - - Contents -

Al­bu­querque started his ca­reer work­ing for in­de­pen­dent US pub­lish­ers such as Boom! and Im­age but moved onto DC’s su­per­hero book Blue Bee­tle. This led to the ti­tle that made his name, Amer­i­can Vam­pire, co-cre­ated with writer Scott Sny­der. Thanks to this hit Ver­tigo se­ries, he is now able to pick and choose his own projects, of­fer­ing him a lux­ury that not ev­ery artist is able to en­joy.

Comic He­roes: You first got no­ticed in Amer­ica draw­ing teenage su­per­hero comic Blue Bee­tle for DC. How did you find work­ing for a US comics pub­lisher?

Rafael Al­bu­querque: “When I started work­ing on Blue Bee­tle, I was al­ready work­ing for for­eign com­pa­nies such as the Egyp­tian AK Comics, Boom! Stu­dios and Im­age Comics. Be­fore that, my only work for the Brazil­ian mar­ket was a few ad­ver­tis­ing pieces.”

CH: Af­ter Blue Bee­tle, you co-cre­ated Amer­i­can Vam­pire with Scott Sny­der. Is hor­ror some­thing that you have al­ways had a nat­u­ral affin­ity for?

RA: “I’ve al­ways tried to man­age my style to fit in any kind of story. Amer­i­can Vam­pire is not dif­fer­ent. As much as I like hor­ror as a genre, it wasn’t the main mo­ti­va­tion for this book. My re­search lay a lot more in the his­tor­i­cal as­pects than the hor­ror it­self. I was afraid that since that’s the core of our book, if I tried to mimic some­one else on this, it would look fake and ob­vi­ous.”

CH: On a re­lated note, how lib­er­at­ing was it to move from a su­per­hero book to a cre­ator-owned Ver­tigo se­ries?

RA: “A lot. Su­per­heroes, es­pe­cially DC ones, have a lot – a lot – of back­ground. It’s hard to put your per­sonal vi­sion into huge fran­chises such as Bat­man or Su­per­man. Don’t get me wrong, I love them, but pub­lish­ers tend to be very pro­tec­tive about dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to their main char­ac­ters. Ver­tigo is a place where you are work­ing on your own stuff. You are

build­ing some­thing from the ground up, so all that mat­ters is your per­sonal vi­sion. That made me grow a lot as an artist, and also, it let me show my vi­sion to the read­ers. That also al­lowed me, at this point in my ca­reer, to ex­plore my own vi­sion even in big main­stream char­ac­ters.”

CH: Amer­i­can Vam­pire has been one of the big­gest hits at Ver­tigo of the past few years. How sur­prised were you?

RA: “Very much. We were very con­fi­dent about the book, but that was also un­known ter­ri­tory for Scott and I. It was his very first big gig, and I was hired to do some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent to what I was do­ing at the time. The story is amaz­ing, but we can’t praise enough the work of our edi­tor, Mark Doyle, as to how well it was re­ceived. Hav­ing Stephen King aboard also doesn’t hurt!”

CH: You have also worked on a Bat­man Black And White story which was pub­lished last year. How was it work­ing

on such a recog­nis­able comics char­ac­ter?

RA: “I did and it was great. The orig­i­nal Bat­man Black And White was one of my favourite minis­eries when I started to get into comics, so be­ing in­vited to be part of it, was first of all, a big hon­our. The other great thing is that Mark Chiarello, the edi­tor, let me do the story my way. I could write and draw it the way I wanted, and again, show­ing the read­ers my own take on this huge char­ac­ter.”

CH: You’ve been lucky enough to work with Jeff Lemire on An­i­mal Man. How did this come about?

RA: “Very lucky. Jeff is amaz­ing. We’ve known each other for a long time and we both have a mu­tual ad­mi­ra­tion for each other. We were try­ing to work to­gether for about four years, and for one rea­son or an­other, we never could find any­thing. An­i­mal Man came up at the per­fect mo­ment, and it couldn’t have been bet­ter.”

CH: Amer­i­can Vam­pire re­turns in March. How does it feel to come back to the se­ries that has ce­mented your name as a cre­ator?

RA: “We’ve done more than 30 is­sues and right now, I’m as ner­vous as I was when the book was about to launch. We are do­ing our best. The script for #1 is phenom­e­nal. Prob­a­bly the best thing I’ve read from Scott up to now. We are re­ally con­fi­dent it’s gonna be bold, and people will un­der­stand why it took so long, and why we are restart­ing it from #1. The whole story will change a lot and a lot of ques­tions, es­pe­cially about Skin­ner, will be fi­nally an­swered.”

CH: The se­ries al­ways feel very col­lab­o­ra­tive – and you’ve writ­ten some of the sto­ries – so has it be­come more of a team ef­fort as the se­ries has pro­gressed? How closely in­volved are you with the writ­ing?

RA: “Ev­ery time Mark, Scott and I have the chance to meet, usu­ally at con­ven­tions or some­thing, we have a big Amer­i­can Vam­pire brunch. That’s where we pretty much dis­cuss a year of sto­ries. It’s a big brain­storm, where we have free rein to put our ideas out. Scott is a ge­nius. He has this amaz­ing skill to take all those ideas and make them work in the script. I was flat­tered when he let me write Long Road To Hell, an over­sized tale that came out last year. We are al­ways Skyp­ing as well, so he al­ways helps me out a lot ev­ery time I’m try­ing to write some­thing my­self.”

CH: It seems that South Amer­i­can artists such as yourself, and Ed­uardo Risso and Ariel Olivetti, who are both from Ar­gentina, pro­duce work with a very dis­tinc­tive flavour that’s dif­fer­ent from the Amer­i­can ap­proach to comics. Do you think that’s a fair com­ment, and if so, why do you think that’s the case?

RA: “I ap­pre­ci­ate that. I be­lieve they are both amaz­ing artists. I can­not speak for ev­ery­body, but I be­lieve my style is a bit dif­fer­ent from the usual be­cause I have some un­usual in­flu­ences. Ital­ian and Ar­gen­tinean comic book cre­ators are among my favourites and they def­i­nitely shaped a lot of my artis­tic ap­proach.”

CH: Fi­nally, now you’ve taken the leap into writ­ing your own work, will we see more stuff that is both writ­ten and drawn by yourself?

RA: “Def­i­nitely. I’m work­ing on an­other cre­ator-owned book that will be an­nounced soon. Some­thing I’m co-writ­ing and il­lus­trat­ing. I’m very pos­i­tive about it.”

Artist pro­file

Info

Brazil­ian comic artist with a dis­tinct scratchy style and a pen­chant for the dark and gritty

Lo­ca­tion

Porto Ale­gre, Brazil

Web­site

http:// rafae­lal­bu­querque.com/ blog

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