"Three" doesn't necessarily make a crowd. Sometimes, it makes great comics.
The "three" in this case refers to the addition of acclaimed artist Rafael Albuquerque to a pair of DC writers: Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder. This fall, Albuquerque will be creating comics with both writers, as he starts in October on Animal Man with Lemire, and returns in December to American Vampire with Snyder.
Lemire and Snyder have both referred to their friendship frequently in interviews, particularly when they were publicizing their Animal Man/Swamp Thing "Rotworld" crossover last year. (Lemire even mentioned his friendship with Snyder last week when we talked to him about Green Arrow's tie-in to Snyder's current Batman: Zero Year story.
So it probably shouldn't come as a surprise that they're both friends with Albuquerque. But featuring his art on two different comics every month? One at Vertigo and one in the DC Universe? We didn't see that coming.
But the Brazilian Albuquerque is that type of artist. While he was designing and drawing the diverse world of American Vampire over the last few years, he was also able to draw several other projects (including back-up stories for Batman), while dabbling in writing (see his writing/art combo in Legends of the Dark Knight #33).
Of course, it also helps that Albuquerque has the ability to alter his style depending on the story — after all, he's drawn everything from the clean style of Blue Beetle to the gritty, horror-based world of AmVamp. So readers should get a whole new approach to Animal Man (as evidenced by the preview pages we've included with this interview).
Newsarama talked to Albuquerque about his upcoming work on Animal Man and whether he's going to really be able to continue on American Vampire.
Newsarama: Rafael, what got you involved with the creation of Animal Man? What made you want to work on the project?
Rafael Albuquerque: I'd say the opportunity to work with Jeff. Something we both were trying for a while, and for a reason here or there, never happened.
Nrama: Were you familiar with the character?
Albuquerque: I wasn't. I knew the character, of course, and heard a lot of good things about Grant Morrison's run, and I was following the raves for Jeff's new book as well, but when it was offered, I had to really catch up on what was going on. I really loved the whole concept, and that's one of the big reasons that made me say yes.
It's not a secret that Lemire is one of the best writers in the business. He can manage some crazy and bizarre stuff, but in a kind and heartwarming way. We can see that in everything he does. Sweet Tooth, The Underwater Welder... Animal Man is not different, and I think he brought this unique and perfect approach to the character.
Nrama: How did you find time in your schedule for this? I know you recently took a break from AmVamp, but you and Scott are returning to the title in December. Right?
Albuquerque: Yes! I have the luck to be a fast artist. That allows me to do more than one book a month. Also, we coordinated the schedules really well, to avoid problems over this run with Jeff.
Nrama: I know you always tweak your style a bit for each project you do. How would you describe the style you're using for Animal Man?
Albuquerque: I think it's more detailed, but also, the inking is more expontaneous. I'm using a lot of brushwork. Animal Man is being a challenge, but it's been a while I've had so much fun doing a book.
Nrama: How would you describe Buddy Baker, and how are you approaching him visually?
Albuquerque: Buddy and his family have a very regular superhero look, comparing to everything else in this book. They should be like that because they are what connects the reader to the reality.
I'm trying to follow up what was (well) established before by [former Animal Man artists Travel] Foreman and [Steve] Pugh, but also, bring some new flavor to it. Make the characters my own as much as I can.
Nrama: Who else is playing a role in the issues you're getting to draw? And how would you describe your approach to them?
Albuquerque: Brother Blood plays a big role in this. I've followed up the pre-established designs, but as usual, tried to make him more villainous. Evoking Dracula, almost.
Nrama: In AmVamp, you've created so many new characters and concepts. Are you getting to create any new characters or worlds in Animal Man?
Albuquerque: No new characters so far. Hopefully on the next issues.
Nrama: How has it been working with Jeff Lemire?
Albuquerque: Jeff and I met in San Diego at Comic Con [International in] 2010. We became friends quickly, and since there, we were trying to work together. We've pitched several things, but somehow, it never happened.
Animal Man is that opportunity we were waiting for for years. Right moment, right project. Also, his scripts are amazing. Helps a lot the fact that he is also an artist.
Nrama: Is there anything else you want to tell fans about your upcoming work on Animal Man?
Albuquerque: Two things: I'm putting a lot of heart on it, and I can say that's one of my favorite works so far.
And don't worry about American Vampire! It will come back in the top of its game.