The artist Rafael Grampá first came to my attention through Gunned Down, a 2005 small-press anthology of Western stories done largely by South American creators. Joining him were then-unknowns Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá. Although the book didn’t sell well, flipping through it I realized I was holding something special. Moon and Bá rose to fame pretty quickly with works at AiT-PlanetLar, their self-published projects, and comics at Dark Horse and Vertigo. But Grampá’s work was few and far between.
With the release of the anthology 5 in 2007 and his first solo work Mesmo Delivery in 2008, American comics audiences got their first real taste of what Grampá could do. Vertigo hired him to contribute to a milestone issue of Hellblazer; Marvel, with a milestone issue of Daredevil; Dark Horse reprinted the sold-out Mesmo Delivery, which goes for over $125 new at Amazon. Recently Marvel put him as the lead feature in the second volume of Strange Tales, and Dark Horse contracted him for his second standalone graphic novel.
His work evokes easy comparisons to Geoff Darrow, but deeper analysis shows an appreciation for detail, not for detail’s sake, but to add flavor and weight to the scene he depicts in a panel, a pin-up or a cover. Rather than just drawing to tell you where someone is and what they’re doing, Rafael’s illustrative line adds texture, tone, mood and atmosphere — and that’s before a colorist touches the page. Although well-known by some in the industry, by and large the mainstream comics public doesn’t know the full scope of what the artist is — or could be. Maybe this interview will help.