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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.
Brazilian artist Rafael Grampá first attracted widespread attention in North America in 2007 with his work on the Eisner Award-winning anthology 5, a collaboration with Gabriel Bá, Becky Cloonan, Vasilos Lolos and Fabio Moon.
Grampá, a former art director for the respected motion-graphics studio Lobo, followed that in 2008 with Mesmo Delivery, his first full-length comics work.
Initially published in the United States by AdHouse Books, the graphic novella is a beautifully illustrated, energetic and bloody story about two delivery men — Rufo, a brawny ex-boxer, and Sangrecco, an Elvis impersonator who views violence as performance art — who are hired to deliver a mysterious cargo. Everything appears to be going fine, at least until they encounter a group of drunken locals at a rest stop.
Next week Dark Horse will release a new edition of the critically acclaimed Mesmo Delivery with a new cover, an extended sketchbook, an introduction by writer Brian Azzarello (who collaborated with Grampá on a story for Hellblazer #250), and pin-ups by Eduardo Risso, Mike Allred, Craig Thompson and Fabio Moon.
Grampá took time over the weekend to discuss Mesmo, his influences, graphic design and his next Dark Horse release, Furry Water and the Sons of the Insurrection.