Rafael Albuquerque and the Time-Bending Colors of ‘Ei8ht’
In Rafael Albuquerque and Mike Johnson's Ei8ht, a time-traveler named Joshua crash-lands in the Meld, an illogical place where past, present, and future seem to collide. With frequent jumps back and forth, messages from the past, and flashbacks to the future, it could be very difficult for readers to know when they are, if not for Albuquerque's ingenious use of color.
Ei8ht originally began as a webcomic by Albuquerque called Tune 8, and his crafty approach to coloring the series came as a necessity. With little time to spend on the project, the artist wanted the coloring to be quick and easy, and needed an uncomplicated method of conveying the frequent time-shifts without cluttering the story.
His solution is simple, elegant, and absolutely brilliant. In Ei8ht, each color denotes a different temporal location, delineated by the legend on the inside cover. "The past is green. The present is purple. The future is blue. The Meld is something else entirely." By "something else entirely," they mean that the Meld is an out-of-time dimension; also, it's dull yellow.
Whenever the story shifts through time, the color changes, and the results are remarkable.
In the first issue of Ei8ht, most of the time-shifts are between the future and the Meld, so the dominant colors are blue and yellow, complementary colors that create the biggest contrast when paired together. In marketing, they're also thought of as having disparate emotional connotations: blue is associated with technology, intelligence, and calmness, but also melancholy; yellow is believed to promote energy and anxiety.
Each tone is a perfect choice not only to convey the setting, but also the emotional states of Joshua. In the technologically-advanced future he hails from, there seems to be an oppressive sadness blanketing him; something broken-down and desperate about his mission. In the Meld, everything seems frantic and chaotic; without order and yet controlled. The characters are shaded in grayed turquoise tones much cooler than yellow, and they seem to almost recede into the background, enveloped by the dusty skies of this place that quarantines them from time.
Albuquerque's cleverness also contributes to the leanness of the story, omitting the need for any explanation. When Joshua crashes to begin the story, the panels flash from blue to yellow in quick succession, creating a distinctly disorienting effect that broadcasts the confusion he's going through unlike any clunky exposition ever could.
With a narrative as looping as the infinity symbol in its title, Rafael Albuquerque is blazing trails with the deviously simple color design of Ei8ht.