GVN Talking Comics Interview: Eisner Nominated Creator Ibrahim Moustafa for Humanoids ‘Retroactive’

Ibrahim Moustafa is an Eisner Award nominated comic creator. His work has been published by some of the best companies out there. Including Marvel Comics, DC Entertainment, Image Comics, Humanoids Inc., BOOM! Studios, Valiant Entertainment, Dynamite Entertainment, Dark Horse Comics, and IDW Publishing. When we last had the pleasure of talking to Ibrahim, he had just introduced the first of his three books for Humanoids entitled Count. Now, arriving on April 26th, Ibrahim is bringing his second book called Retroactive. A time bending, mind twisting secret agent romp that as Ibrahim tells it, combines a touch of “James Bond meets Groundhogs Day.” With that as a backdrop, it is our pleasure to once again welcome talented creator Ibrahim Moustafa to GVN Talking Comics.

GVN: Thanks once again for sharing some of your time Ibrahim.

IM: My pleasure, thanks for your interest!

Last Time

GVN: Last time we talked, you were just releasing Count, which was the first of a three book deal you had signed with Humanoids. I believe you were already in the midst of that next book, which I assume is Retroactive. As a creative veteran, how do you balance helping to promote a current release with working on the next project? Does it just come naturally or is that a skill you had to develop over time?

IM: It’s quite difficult, to be honest. COUNT was the hardest I’ve ever worked to promote a new release, and I learned a lot about it, where my time is best spent, etc. So, I’ve done my best to roll that experience into RetroActive, and tried to schedule myself with lighter work (script writing) during this promo period. I look forward to hopefully getting better at the balancing act by the time the third book comes around!

I’ve also got the benefit of working with David Hyde and Hanna Bahedry of Superfan Promotions, who are tremendous with scheduling and coordination. I’m very grateful to get to lean on them heavily for pointing me in the right direction, sending me reminders, etc.

Retroactive

GVN: I certainly agree with you about David and Hanna, as they have been instrumental and giving us opportunities to speak to great talents, like yourself. But speaking of Retroactive, it is an intriguing mix of time travel and secret spy missions with the problems inherent of both. If you would, share a little bit about what Retroactive is about and the inspirations behind it?

IM: Certainly! The elevator pitch for RetroActive is essentially “James Bond meets Groundhog Day.” Both of those are a major influence on this, conceptually. I LOVE time loop stories, and I’d long-wanted to tell one of my own, and being such a fan of espionage stories, it seemed like the perfect fit.

Here’s a quick synopsis:

In a near future where time-travel is real, but a secret controlled by government agencies, Temporal Agent Tarik Abdelnasser is in pursuit of new rogue anomalies showing up in the timeline. When he gets close to uncovering their origin, they trap him in an inescapable time loop. He must find the event that’s triggering the repeating day, and try to prevent it from happening in order to escape his quotidian prison, return to his own timeline, and confront an even larger villainous plan.

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Working Through Time

GVN: It is an exciting premise. For anyone who has followed or read different works that revolve around time travel, they know that keeping the storyline from getting convoluted is a real challenge. You seem to embrace this task in Retroactive. How difficult was it for you to create the story without creating the inherent possible continuity issues (headaches) as most such stories tend to cause? Did it require any rewrites on your part as you went?

IM: Thankfully it stayed pretty tight from the beginning. I think that had a lot to do with the rules I set up for the time travel within the world of the book. My plan was to keep it pretty simple, and fairly grounded (as much as time travel can be), and that made it easier to keep the story as water-tight as possible. I also made a few diagrams along the way to help illustrate the intent/logic to Rob Levin, the fantastic editor I was working with on the book.

A Current Reflection

GVN: Sometimes you don’t realize the planning that goes into these narratives. Sounds like you dotted all the i’s and crossed all the T’s. So, in your story, you touch upon some of the prejudices and close mindedness that is prevalent in today’s society while framing it in a near future environment. Was this an important part of the narrative as you outlined Retroactive?

IM: Definitely. There are so many media-driven falsehoods, skewed statistics, and stereotypes that we’re met with on a daily basis. I wanted to confront some of those within the story in hopes of doing my part to reframe how we perceive and interact with that kind of information.

Time and Dementia

GVN: I also was moved by the plotline involving Tarik’s Mother and her situation. As someone who has lost both my mother and mother-in-Law to the cruel effects of dementia, I understand the difficulties involved.  Not only for the person afflicted but for family members in dealing with their loved ones. Not to mention the worry that this might be something that might come their own way some day. You handled this with a great deal of sensitivity. Was this a plot device that was present from the beginning, or did you add it during the book’s development? (In a sense, dementia and Alzheimer’s is all about losing time and your place in it).

IM: My condolences, and may they rest in peace. Yes, that was definitely something that was present from square one. I’ve dealt with a bit of that myself in my family, and I felt it was really important to ground Tarik to something very real and relatable while he’s doing this extraordinary job of traveling back in time, getting trapped in a time loop, etc. The notion that he is losing the thread on what’s what as he’s been trapped in this repeating day for so long, and that maybe it’s actually a hereditary condition presenting itself really felt like it would heighten the dilemma that he’d found himself in, in a way that would be very palpable to the audience.

Upcoming Projects

GVN: I appreciate the condolences and would say that his connection to his mother worked very well. Thank you once again for spending some time with us Ibrahim. Before I let you go, do you have any other projects you are working on that you can share? (Like your third book for Humanoids? …Just thought I would throw it out there).

IM: Thanks again for having me! A bit too early to share anything about book three, but I *do* have two projects coming out within weeks of RetroActive: “Doctor Strange: Nexus of Nightmares,” a one shot story about everyone’s favorite Sorcerer Supreme vs Baron Mordo. That’s out 4/20 from Marvel.

Then in May, I’ve got “JAEGER” coming out, my Eisner-nominated graphic novella about a Nazi-hunting spy just after WWII. It’s something that I wrote and drew for a digital-first publisher that’s now being collected and printed via Fair Square Comics and will be available in comic book stores, and it’s got fantastic variant covers by Phil Hester and Denis Calero.

GVN: Sounds like some really good stuff coming our way. We look forward to all of it. Ibrahim’s Retroactive by Humanoids hits stands April 26th.