Rafael Albuquerque is best known for his haunting art on Vertigo's American Vampire comics, but he's running out of time (literally!) in Ei8ht, co-written by Mike Johnson, and due out next February from Dark Horse. We're thrilled to announce and reveal the first details regarding this chronally challenged scifi epic.
io9: What can you tell us about Ei8ht?
Rafael Albuquerque: Ei8ht is a story about Joshua, a chrononaut from the future, who is sent to this inhospitable place called the Meld. By trying to save his wife from a deadly disease he accepts the mission to travel in time to kill someone and, by doing that, accepts that everything will change if and when he returns. But weird things happen when arrives in the Meld. Dinosaurs, humans, and many levels of technology can be found there. It's not a place in time, but something else and Joshua will have to figure it out to stay alive and save his wife.
Mike Johnson: We really wanted to create a setting where we had the freedom to introduce any kind of character, animal, vehicle, and costumes we wanted. The unique nature of the Meld gives us the opportunity to let our imaginations run wild.
How would you describe The Meld?
RA: You've probably heard of the aircrafts that just disappear over the Bermuda Triangle, the events at Stonehenge, or the dark side of the moon? The Meld is a place where some things that inexplicably disappear [or] reappear. So, basically, the Meld is a big "temporal trash can." A place where you can find anything that ever lived on the face of Earth, coexisting.
MJ: The Meld is the place your keys go when you lose them. It's where you'll find the matching sock that disappeared in your laundry. It's where a medieval knight lands after he falls through a "magical" portal. Maybe a mastodon or two. Things pulled out of time and into the Meld. It makes it a dangerous place, because so many different things are colliding in this new dimension.
What inspired the story of Ei8ht?
RA: I think the concept came up by the will to draw everything I like in just one comic. That's very interesting for an artist. Also, I wanted to work in a genre that I hadn't yet and that's why I decided to do sci-fi. The inspiration for this came from my favorite movies and books from the '80s and '90s.
Why are you using the number "8" in the title?
RA: The number eight and the infinity symbol are almost identical except for the orientation in which we see them. This is a story about cycles, destiny. The number eight is what pushes Joshua to his path, and the infinite cycle is what he must to break through to fulfill his destiny.
MJ: Both the number eight and the infinity symbol appear in the story for very different and specific reasons, but they share a connection that ultimately determines the destiny of the characters, and the Meld itself. We also wanted a title that was immediately a little different from the usual, and that extends to the logo Rafa designed as well.
How does Ei8ht connect to Rafael's webcomic Tune 8?
RA: Tune 8 was a webcomic published in Brazil a few years ago, and it couldn't be finished at the time. The original idea was just to republish that story and complete the ending. I wasn't 100% happy with that idea, so I invited Mike to help me out with a "remake", let's say.
We've used the original ideas from Tune 8, but set it up for a different format. This is a five-issue mini series. Its impressive how format might dictate how the story should be, and we experienced this in Ei8ht. We've changed a lot from the original idea, however, the core of the webcomic remains the same.
MJ: This is really Rafa's baby, and he asked me to join him in creating a larger story and world based on his original webcomic. We had a great time working together on the Superman/Batman title for DC comics a few years back, and I was honored when he asked me to join him on Ei8ht.
Rafael, you're best known for your beautiful work on American Vampire. What are you doing differently for Ei8ht?
RA: I think the big game change here are with the colors. We are using a very limited palette and this book would never work without it. The colors are an essential storytelling tool in our book and used in a way rarely seen in comics nowadays.
MJ: Rafa's art in this series looks unlike anything else on the stands, and he's bringing a level of visual invention to the story that is stunning. We really want to give readers a setting and characters they've never seen before, and we hope this is just the start of the stories that can be told in this world.