Ei8ht is Rafael Albuquerque and Mike Johnson’s new series with Dark Horse Comics. It’s about a chrononaut that travels to the mysterious dimension called The Meld in order to save his wife’s life. The first of five issues of Ei8ht will be at your local comic shop and Dark Horse’s digital store February 18th.
Ray Sonne for Comics Bulletin: So I tell us something about Ei8ht.
Rafael Albuquerque: It’s an important series for many reasons. The first of them is that this is my very first creator owned project, which was originally published in Brazil in 2012. It was written and illustrated by me as a web comic and now being adapted by me and Mike Johnson.
Secondly, I think the series aims to bring that “adventure feel” that I think comics has lost in recent years. So many serious and dark series are around so our main inspiration is Steven Spielberg Movies from the ’80s. We want that feeling of something definitely lighter than American Vampire, or Mondo Urbano (my most recent projects) but also interesting and not silly.
CB: Very cool. So if this is your first creator-owned venture, is that why you took the series to Dark Horse? They are releasing some very cool original stuff lately, your series among them.
Albuquerque: Well, these guys published some of the greatest modern classics. Hellboy, Sin City among many others. I’ve met Sierra Hahn, our lovely editor, in Brazil years ago, and since then we’ve been trying to work together. We never really had the opportunity so, when I decided I wanted to publish this story in US, they were definitely my first choice to show the project.
CB: When you put it that way, it makes sense. Dark Horse does a lot of licensed works, but it has a legacy going for it.
Albuquerque: Exactly. Also, I think they have a lot of respect for creator owned books. And working with Sierra is great. She is a phenomenal editor. She is definitely one of the reasons why I’ve chosen Dark Horse for it.
CB: From my understanding, it’s not always easy to get or find an editor you click with so it’s awesome to have a project where you work with someone where you do.
On that note, have you been waiting as long to work with Mike Johnson or is that a more recent thing?
Albuquerque: No, Mike is a good friend and we worked together on Superman/Batman. Since then we’ve been in touch and trying to do something together. It took a while but I couldn’t think anyone more perfect for Ei8ht. We had a lot of fun working on it.
Mike is a great writer, he has this energy in his scripts that I’ve rarely seen before. Also, he does have a huge Hollywood background, working with Orci/Kurtzman awhile ago. The guy understands storytelling a lot.
CB: I was impressed with his run on Supergirl. I thought he handled the character really well. This seems to reflect with your characterization of Nila in Ei8ht. She’s very strong-willed.
Albuquerque: Totally. We wanted a strong female character on the book. Personality, attitude, and let’s say…boldness. Originally, Nila was a kid, and the romance wasn’t there. Mike and I worked hard on getting her perfect for this version of the story. I couldn’t be happier. Nila is my favorite character.
She is definitely one of our main characters, maybe even more than Joshua or the Spear. We are really looking to a bigger picture here and we definitely have many more stories to tell in this universe. Nila is one of the pilars of it.
CB: Awesome. So you said that you and Mike are adapting this from your web comic in Brazil. How do the US and Brazilian audiences differ and are you changing things about this series to reflect this?
Albuquerque: I’d say that the core of the story remains the same, but since we have a different format we needed to tweak the story a bit in order to make it work out better. I’d say that the audience will be the same: People who enjoy a nice action/adventure sci-fi, no matter if in Brazil, in US or anywhere else. Good stories are universal.
The format however, really differs on the way the story is paced. When you have one page a week, for example you always need a hook. In every page. When you read online it is nice, but once you collect it, it feels weird. We did what we thought it would be the best experience possible for the reader.
CB: That makes sense. Weekly webcomics are so short too in comparison to monthly comics.
Albuquerque: Different formats demand different kinds of stories. The core of it, though, is the same
CB: Now, about Ei8ht‘s concept. The very beginning of Ei8ht designates colors to ideas of time. “The past is green, the purple is present, the future is blue.” Are you working with some kind of previously conceived color theory here or is this something you’ve come up with for the series?
Albuquerque: It’s funny. When I started the webcomic, I had absolutely no time to do a colored comic and my budget at that point didn’t allowed me to hire a colorist. I needed to find some clever idea to make the colors work on the comic without take me too long to do it.
So, I came up with the concept of having simple, basic colors to help on the storytelling. [It gave it a loose feeling] and that somehow made it look even better than if I had the resources for a traditional colorist. I like the palette, I think it couldn’t work better in the story we are telling so I’m glad I had to overcome that challenge.
CB: I do too. I think that since you’re working with time travel, the colors really help to note where everything in the Meld is from.
Albuquerque: Exactly. Colors tend to be something “extra” in most of the comics. I wanted to do something special on it. This book would never work in Black and White, for example
CB: Right. There’s something very magical about time travel that differs from other elements of sci-fi and fantasy. And that kind of magic requires color.
CB: So is there anything else you wanted to say before we wrapped up?
Albuquerque: I just want to thank you, first of all, all Dark Horse people, who are being amazing on every step of this project, and ESPECIALLY, the readers. Mike and I put a lot of heart on it and we think it’s a very special book. Hope you all like it as much as we loved to work on it.