Talking With Ibrahim Moustafa

With the release of his new graphic novel, Retroactive next week on April 26th from Humanoids. We are delighted to be joined by Eisner nominated artist and writer Ibrahim Moustafa. He is best know for his work on CountJaeger and High Crimes. He has worked on numerous titles such as James BondMother PanicMoon Knight and Guardians of the Galaxy

Hi Ibrahim, we are delighted to have you here with us again.

Thanks so much for having me, I really appreciate it.

When we last chatted, your graphic novel Count had just been released. What has the feedback been like for Count?

It’s been really wonderful. People have been incredibly supportive of the book, and I’m so grateful for it. It was added to the Young Adult Library Services Association 2022 list of Great Graphic Novels For Teens, and as of yesterday we were nominated for an Ignyte Award from Fiyah Literary Magazine, which highlights the work of marginalized creators. And hopefully more folks will be discovering it with the release of RetroActive.


How would you describe the Retroactive graphic novel?

In short it’s “James Bond x Groundhog Day”. RetroActive is a time travel story with lots of heart and relatable human experiences to ground the more fantastical elements. With this book I set out to not only do a story in a genre that is fairly unique to comics, but I really tried to take full advantage of what the medium can do to tell a story like this. And just like the circular nature of time travel and time loops, my hope is that those elements will give people a lot of reasons to go back and experience the book over again.

What can you tell us about Tarik Abdelnasser?

He’s an idealist when we first meet him, and over time we see how the job of being a time-traveling spy affects him and his view of things. All the while, he’s trying to care for him mother with dementia by himself. So, he has this real dilemma of being “on-call” in both his job and his personal life, and there are really high stakes for both.


Brad Simpson and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou; both join you again after working with you on the Count graphic novel. What was it like working with them again?

Just an absolute pleasure. Brad and Hass are two of the very best in the business, and to get to collaborate with them again is the best. I hope to keep them as a forever-team if they’ll have me. We have a really great, intuitive flow when working together.

What is the Bureau of Temporal Affairs?

It’s essentially the CIA of time travel in the world of the book. They are one of five agencies in the world that act as an intelligence and counter-intelligence outfit, running operations throughout the past to avert terror attacks and thwart attempts from hostile nations to change the US’s past for their own benefit.


Did you enjoy creating the visuals for the different time periods?

I did. I love a good WWII era story, and there’s a lot of aesthetics to appreciate about midcentury America, so it was really fun to get to put those into the book.

Who is Lucia Olmos?

Lucia is a new trainee at the BTA, and sort of our eyes and ears as we learn the ins-and-outs of time travel from Tarik, who is giving her an orientation briefing. She’s very dedicated to being a good agent, and as Tarik starts slipping, she has to call him out on his shortcomings.

When you started to work on Retroactive, did you write a full script?

Not initially. First came the pitch document with the broad strokes, then I had to tighten that up into an outline and really make sure the time travel stuff was as airtight as time travel can be. Then came the full script.


What has it been like working with editor Rob Levin?

The best. Rob is the best editor I’ve ever worked with. He’s always on top of things, he replies quickly to emails, and he really keeps the trains rolling on time. And he’s a great person to boot.

As Retroactive involves time travel, how difficult was it to keep track of the time travel logic?

Overall not too bad. There were a lot of threads to keep track of, but I didn’t want to overstuff the plot because the story itself is the important part. So I set rules for it early on and stuck with them and it was pretty smooth sailing.


Has it been a challenge working on Retroactive?

A little! But I feel like I thrive with a challenge.

Any message for the ComicBuzz readers?

RetroActive is a story that is all about the cyclical, repetitious nature of time, and as such, it’s made in a way that multiple readings will reward folks with stuff they may have missed the first time. I hope they enjoy it!

We would like to say thank you to Ibrahim for chatting with us. We wish him all the best for his new graphic novel, Retroactive releasing on April 26th from Humanoids.

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