Exclusive: Rafael Albuquerque shows off EI8HT #3, and talks about the book's future

If you haven't read the first two issues of Dark Horse's Ei8ht, you're missing out on a time-travel adventure that involves dinosaurs, Nazis, a bit of a Mad Max vibe and a lot of cool science fiction.

From the mind of Brazilian artist Rafael Albuquerque -- who created American Vampire with Scott Snyder and worked on Batman: Black and White and Blue Beetle -- the five-issue miniseries expands on the Tune 8 webcomic that ran on Brazilian outlet IG. Co-written with Mike Johnson, the comic focuses on chrononaut Joshua, who, in order to secure medicine to save his ailing wife, agrees to travel in time to commit murder. However, things don't go as planned when he ends up in The Meld, "a temporal trash can" where all time exists at once.

With issue #2 hitting stands last week, Albuquerque joined us in the following to give a primer on the book for newcomers, as well as provide an exclusive preview of the third issue, available April 15. 

What is the Meld? Is it a time or place?

The Meld is pretty much a "temporal trash can," a place in time where everything that ever walked (or will walk, at some point) on the face of Earth can coexist. The concept is that Earth has some temporal portals. So the Bermuda Triangle, Stonehenge, and many other misterious places like those, can connect different time lapses. These connections might have residues, and these go to the Meld. That makes it incredibly interesting to create and draw stories for, since we can pretty much have anything we like in there. 

Who are the characters we should get to know, and what should we know so far about their motivations?

Our main character is Joshua, a man from the future, who's recruited to this suicide mission in order to have his ill wife cured. Our future is dark and segregated by this mysterious disease that managed to affect only the ones who are not able to afford a cure. The disease is used as a population-control tool. The point here is: Once you understand that time works in infinite loops, how can you break this cycle to save the only person you love? That's what guides our hero. His journey also leads us to Nila, my personal favorite character. She is a badass girl from the Meld who challenges the tribe she lives in in order to fight with this tyrant government that subdue the weaker tribes. The government is ruled with the influence of General Spear, a key character who connects everybody in our plot.

Will we we continue to bouncing around our timeline throughout the series?

Yes. We will show our present time, in a way we can connect more with the readers, and see how it can be connected to the other time lapses. Everything is connected!

What was the origin of this concept?

It's funny how we just sophisticate old ideas and make it something completely different. The very first idea I had was in my teens. It was a fantasy story, where a World War II pilot got lost in the Bermuda Triangle, and was transported to this savage land, with dinosaurs and medieval knights. Looking back, that's pretty much what Ei8ht is, but with a sci-fi dress. So, many years later, I was invited to do this weekly webcomic for a major portal here in Brazil. I had not much time to create something from the scratch, so I just tried to adapt that old idea, and do it quickly. The use of the colors are like this because I had no time to do anything else more sophisticated. Since I would have to be simple, it should have an extra importance on the project. The original webcomic came out in 2011, and it was called Tune 8.

How is this different from your Tune 8? 

The idea is the same, and where the story goes too. But the way it happens is very different -- a bit because I could see what worked and what didn't on the first try, and a lot because of the format. A weekly webcomic must have a hook in every page to keep the reader interested. A five-issue miniseries doesn't read the same way. We can develop the sequences a lot more, and bring stuff that could never be on the original idea. We definitely have a lot more freedom in this new format.

How would you describe you artistic approach for the book?

It's impossible to not mention the colors here. It plays a major role in our book. So, as much as the art is pretty much what I do normally, the colors make it feel completely different than anything else I've ever done. This is a book that would never work with regular colors, or black and white. We tried to explore it as a storytelling tool.

What are your favorite time-travel stories?

Well, Back to the Future is one of my favorite movies ever. So is Jurassic Park, which is not a time-travel story, but deals with the idea of clashing different time periods and how it can be dangerous. I love 12 Monkeys, Planet of the Apes and Land of Lost. I can't deny a huge influence of these movies in our project at all.

You've worked with Stephen King on American Vampires, so have you read his work DarkTower? And did you ever discuss this kind of idea with him?

Shame on me. I didn't. I've read The Shinning, Carrie and Under the Dome. He is amazing, but it's so hard to catch up. He writes faster than I read!

We're revealing the first four pages from issue 3, so what can you tell us about what happens in this issue? 

Definitely. In this issue we learn more about the Meld and how Joshua's future was infected by the scourge. This is the issue where we see how these characters are connected through time. 

How does issue #3 change things and propel us forward?

The Meld is a mysterious place, and obviously it has raised a lot of questions to the readers. Who is the voice on Joshua's radio? What happened in the future, and why was Joshua was sent? What's the relation with the number written on Joshua's arm with the rebel's symbol? Major turning points happen in this issue that will answer some of these questions.

This is a five-issue arc, but is there any word on another volume? What would you like to explore if you do get one?

Dark Horse is interested. Mike Johnson and I are interested. We are right now throwing some ideas on the table. We surely have many more stories to tell in this universe. We are just figuring out which one of these stories will make more sense for this next volume. We couldn't be more excited about it!

Before you check out our exclusive preview, read up on the official synopsis for issue #3 of Ei8ht:

As Dr. Hamm and the black-ops soldier Collins try to survive in the prehistoric past, the fierce warrior Nila and the chrononaut Joshua attempt to convince the rebel council to take up arms against the Tyrant before he releases a dangerous scourge and wipes them all from the face of the Meld!

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