The following is an interview with Eisner-nominated writer/artist Ibrahim Moustafa regarding the upcoming release of the graphic novel, Count, from publisher Humanoids. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Moustafa about the inspiration behind the Count of Monte Cristo adaptation, his creative process in bringing the story to life, what he hopes that readers will take away from the project, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of Count! What can you share with us about your reimagining of The Count of Monte Cristo in light of its modern, science fiction-infused adaptation?
Ibrahim Moustafa: Thank you! With COUNT, I set out to take the seeds of the original story and replant them to grow something unique. So, fans of the classic will recognize the broad strokes, but likewise, someone who is unfamiliar with the original work by Dumas will be standing on equal ground. There is abundant action, intrigue, cool sword fights, cool robots, heartbreak, and retribution.
BD: What can you tell us about your creative approach to the classic story, and what (or who) were some of your creative influences?
IM: Essentially, I stripped the original down to its barest essentials and rebuilt it from there. That allowed me to do all kinds of cool stuff with world-building, and inject action and adventure (something that wasn’t in the original). The 2002 film adaptation was certainly an influence, as it rather deftly condensed a 1200-page book into a 2-hour movie. The Mask of Zorro (1998) was a huge influence, as well.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Count will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
IM: For me, one of the most important aspects of making this book was making it relevant to our time, while making it timeless. COUNT is a story about classism, wrongful imprisonment, altruism, and fighting corruption. It’s a book that endeavors to reflect real people in it, refusing to ignore that the world is diverse. It’s my hope that everyone can read it and walk away from it feeling that they count.
BD: What makes Humanoids the perfect home for this Count?
IM: Humanoids is one of the world’s premier publishers of cutting edge comics, and has been for decades. I set out to cut some edges with this book (hopefully that was successful), and I think the folks at Humanoids saw that and felt that their visions aligned with mine in that sense.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to learn more about Count and your other work?
IM: I’ve created a website for the book: www.countcomic.com. There folks can watch a cinematic trailer that I put together, order their copy from a variety of sources (Please support your local comic shop or bookstore if possible!), and sign up for my newsletter. There is also a link to my website and online store.