In 2011, American Vampire writer Scott Snyder started listing artist Rafael Albuquerque as "co-creator" on the Vertigo series, motivated by his significant contributions to the comic's direction.
But now, Snyder is opening the door for Albuquerque to actually co-write one of the upcoming stories, before the American Vampire series returns next fall after a scheduled hiatus. In an oversized one-shot in June titled American Vampire: The Long Road to Hell #1, Albuquerque and Snyder will co-write a story that brings back fan-favorite rockabilly vampire hunter Travis Kidd.
"Last year, at San Diego Comic-Con, Scott and I we were talking about ideas for stories and I told him I wanted to start writing more," Albuquerque told Newsarama. "He then asked me if, at some point, I'd like to write American Vampire. Sounded scary at first, because... hey, this book already has the best writer around here."
But when the writer and artist decided to take a hiatus from the comic this year, Albuquerque saw "the perfect opportunity" because he would be given the lead-time necessary to help co-write and draw it.
"We would stay almost a year without it," he said, "and the idea of doing something, out of the main storyline was stuck in my head. I suggested to Mark, our editor, the idea of doing a special. Mark liked the idea of doing this one shot, and I asked if I could... pitch an idea. So I did it. I sent him a really rough pitch.
"That's how we basically started to work it out — everybody brainstorming the best way to tell the story we felt that was there, somewhere," he said. "Can't thank enough the script classes I had with those guys by doing this collaboration, and I believe we all are very proud of it."
A Brazilian artist, Albuquerque was first noticed for his American comics work with Boom! Studios and later Blue Beetle for DC.
But his critical acclaim came in 2010 when he released his Oni series Mondo Urbano and started on American Vampire. As he told Newsarama before the latter comic started, the book was "more experimental" and "more personal." The AmVamp series ended up winning the creative team the 2011 Eisner Award for Best New Series, as well as multiple other awards.
Albuquerque and Snyder are currently taking a hiatus from the comic as they catch up on other projects. For Snyder, that means he gets six months to write his upcoming series Superman Unchained, as well as working ahead on Batman: Zero Year and finishing his upcoming mini-series The Wake.
For Albuquerque, the hiatus gave him the time to write and draw The Long Road to Hell. "Technically, i have never stopped working on American Vampire," Albuquerque said. "I have been writing these scripts along with Scott and Mark since then. Now I'm back on the art duties, and I can say I've missed that a lot."
Albuquerque said the story in Long Road to Hell is about a couple of teenagers in love, who were turned into vampires.
"They jump into a journey through the roads of the USA, looking for some kind of cure," he said, "and we follow them living the agony of becoming a creatures.
"This is a love story," the writer/artist said. "Done in our own bloody and violent way."
The young lovers are being followed by a pack of angry vampires and by Travis Kidd, which gives readers the chance to catch up with one of the more popular characters from past American Vampire issues. Travis is the rockabilly vampire slayer from the comic's "Death Race" arc from 2012.
"Travis plays a different role in The Long Road to Hell," Albuquerque said. "We've portrayed him in here like we have never done before."
But Travis' role in the story was a must for Albuquerque's debut co-writing issue. " Being my favorite character in the American Vampire universe, he had to be there!"
What other American Vampire characters will show up in the series? "We are introducing new ones," Albuquerque said. "Billy Bob and Jolene, a lovely couple of thieves, and Jasper, a talented boy, looking for the father he has never met."
Readers will recognize Albuquerque's approach to the art in Long Road to Hell because it's still set in the '50s, which was the decade featured in the recent "Death Race" and "The Blacklist" storylines. "My goal is making every decade have a different flavor," he said.
Albuquerque said he hopes readers will be pleased with his first foray into writing American Vampire, because he recognizes how much fans have helped the series stay so successful this far. "I'm so thankful for all the support we have from our fans," he said. "They love it as much as we do, and that's what pushes us to do the best we can every time."Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!