Artist Rafael Albuquerque at a signing at NYCC 2009You only think you know Rafael Albuquerque.
Debuting professionally in 2002, the Brazilian-born Rafael Albuquerque began working for Egyptian company AK Comics and later BOOM! Studios on such titles as Savage Brothers, Pirate Tales and Jeremiah Harm. In 2005 he co-created a graphic novel with writer Felipe Ferreira called Rumble In La Rambla which was released in 2007 as Crimeland in America.
It was about this time that DC Comics took notice, and snapped him up to be an exclusive artist and primary artist for the Blue Beetle series. That series saw Albuquerque change things up, moving past his darker roots into a brighter and mainstream tone – more superhero, without sacrificing his artistic skills. It's that series that made him known for much of the comics world, but with it now in the rear-view Rafael has moved on to work in the upcoming Stranger Adventures series as well as becoming the regular artist on the Superman/Batman series with writers Michael Green and Mike Johnson.
A commissioned Wolverine drawing by Rafael AlbuquerqueLooking over the body of his work, you can easily see a profuse diversity of styles. Although best known for his work on Blue Beetle, Albuquerque shows a darker and more iconic style in such works as Crimeland and his South American work that is begging to be seen more in the United States. Albuquerque's on the cusp of being a major player in comics, and we're looking to him as a fan and a news venue to find out more.
Newsarama: Thanks for talking to us, Rafael. What are you working on today?
Rafael Albuquerque: I'm currently doing some art for Strange Adventures, a book written by Jim Starlin.
NRAMA: What's the story you're doing about?
RA: It's a Bizarro section on the book where he is on a journey of discovery, heading toward a new phase in his existence. Someone that appears to be Superman sends him off on his quest where he'll encounter Megalodon-7, a very tough hunter that I designed for the book.
NRAMA: You've also got Superman/Batman on the schedule as its new regular artist. How's that been going?
Cover to 'Overdose' by Rafael AlbuquerqueRA: Awesome. They are both great writers and also very kind guys. They let me collaborate a lot with ideas for the stories and that's the first time I'm doing it in an ongoing book. Great experience.
NRAMA: What else do you have planned for 2009?
RA: Definitely looking forward to do some owner creator stuff over the year while I'm running a monthly book in DC.
NRAMA: Let's talk about that creator-owned work. On your website you mention comic called Overdose. Can you tell us what that's about?RA: Yeah, Overdose is the 2nd part of a story called Sex Drugs and Rock'n Roll that I have created a couple of years ago with my friends Mateus Santolouco and Eduardo Medeiros under the imprint Mondo Urbano (www.mondourbano.com). We are finally publishing it in Brazil and at New York Comic Con I began looking for the right American publisher to put it out in the States.
NRAMA: Can you tell us what Sex, Drugs & Rock'n Roll is about?
RA: Sex, Drugs & Rock'n Roll is a nine chapter book, and the story happens in a concert of the band De-Mo. Each chapter shows a different point of view of it, introducing different characters like Van Hudson, the lead singer and guitar player, Vinnie, an owner of a music shop that tells a lot of funny and creative stories about rock, Molly, a groupie that is totally and crazy in love with Van, and other typical characters of this rock universe.
NRAMA: On your DeviantArt account you post that your favorite writer is Brian Azzarello. Why is that, and has there ever been talks of you working with him?
RA: I'm a huge fan of everything he writes. 100 Bullets is definitely one of my favorite books ever and I'm always reading over and over. I have met him last year trough Eduardo Risso, but it was really quick. I never talked to him, or anyone else about working together, but it's something I would love to do.
NRAMA: That'd be a great team-up, I agree. Speaking of crime books, your pre-DC books look quite darker than your recent work: specifically, Crimeland and Savage Brothers. What led you to going to a more mainstream superhero style?A 'Lil Leaguers drawing by Rafael Albuquerque RA: Yeah, my vibe was always a lot darker and adult. So, in a first moment I didn't think Blue Beetle would be a good book for me, but with the time I found it great because I had to re-think my way of drawing comics, and I'm feeling more complete as storyteller now.
NRAMA: Let's talk more about you rethinking your style for Blue Beetle. If we could get inside your head, can you tell us what you thought to transform to this lighter style?
MB: I tried to use less heavy blacks, and ink splats. Also for the expressions and storytelling, I tried to do it in a more cartoony way, so it came trough a little softer, and more appropriated for the book.
NRAMA: And will you be returning to that darker style anytime soon?
RA: I hope so, Sex, Drugs & Rock'n Roll is definitely a lot darker and dirtier.