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Ibrahim Moustafa plots a new path forward for 'Cyn'

Comic Books

Ibrahim Moustafa plots a new path forward for ‘Cyn’

The former enforcer new OGN is out this week.

In March 2021, writer-artist Ibrahim Moustafa unveiled Count, his futuristic retelling of the timeless novel The Count of Monte Cristo. And in that project, there was a character introduced called Cyn, who worked as a kind of “masked government enforcer” in this strange new world. As it turns out, Moustafa was so taken by Cyn that he’s given the character her very own titular graphic novel.

Cyn is is described as a “meditation on redemption, self-sacrifice, and found family…with a sci-fi western twist.” In it, Cyn (who also goes by Meris) is aided by a “former Union medic and his two adopted daughters,” and she must reconcile her own bloody past with her current, more idyllic circumstances. That puts Cyn/Meris on path that will have her not only work through her own trauma and unsavory actions, but contend with others whose “secret history is threatening to destroy their present.”

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Due out this week (June 18) from Humanoids, Cyn is a compelling adventure that’s as much about overcoming one’s demons as planning for a future you fear you may not deserve. To get a better idea of the story at-large, we spoke with Moustafa recently via email. There, we talked about the process of spinning Cyn out of Count, the help of his various collaborators, how the book helped Moustafa deal with his own personal issues, and the character’s possible future, among other topics and tidbits.

Cyn

Courtesy of Humanoids.

AIPT: Where did the idea for Cyn come from?

Ibrahim Moustafa: Cyn was a supporting character in my graphic novel Count, and I always wanted to do more with her, and so that was the plan from early on; to do this standalone story within the same world as Count. I love stories about people with violent pasts who are trying to become better and leave that life behind them to become better, and so she was perfect for that kind of tale. The fact that she was literally programmed to be violent added such a unique element to this version of that kind of story, and I think it makes it all the more explosive when she has to make the choice to be violent again for the sake of good.

AIPT: What’s it like to work as both artist and writer? Are there unique challenges and/or opportunities creatively with this approach?

IM: It’s very freeing! I love it and am happiest when I’m creating something that way. I get to play to my own strengths and make what I think is the coolest book that I can, setting myself up to draw the kind of stuff that I have the most fun with, and I think that creates more opportunity for an entertaining read in the end.

Cyn

Courtesy of Humanoids.

AIPT: You do have some collaborators, including Brad Simpson and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. How does that level of talent help you as the writer and artist?

IM: I absolutely cannot say enough about how much I love working with Brad and how much his colors bring to my work. It’s so symbiotic with him, and he just creates the most beautiful and effective color palettes. If you look at individual scenes in the book, you’ll see how he chooses certain colors for every one of them; it’s so cool.

Hass is a brilliant letterer! He really knows how to place things creatively and add little idiosyncrasies that help emphasize the storytelling in certain moments. I’m very lucky to have both of them back with me again on this book.

AIPT: You’ve said you made this book during a “very trying time” in your life. Can you talk more about that? Is it difficult to take your own life and “translate” into a story like this?

IM: My very, very beloved dog became very sick due to a heart condition that she had, and we ended up losing her right as I was sitting down to write this story. As I was about to start drawing it, my sister was diagnosed with cancer (she’s in remission now and doing well, thankfully).

Ibrahim Moustafa plots a new path forward for 'Cyn'

Courtesy of Humanoids.

The element of the characters essentially rescuing dogs in the book was always there, and I was absolutely planning to draw my dogs into the book because I love them and they’re adorable, and after losing our pup, it was very cathartic to draw her into the book and paint her onto the cover. I want to make sure I never forget her sweet face, and there’s something about drawing something over and over again that really helps to solidify it in to your memory in a very unique way.

AIPT: The book is reportedly about losing some part of yourself. Is there a kind of solace in that stuff happens and we persevere, or is Cyn’s life perhaps some kind of “roadmap” for dealing with life (aside from the sci-fi stuff and fighting and whatnot)?

IM: I think a little of both; there’s a lot in the book about accepting what was and what is, and that today is always a chance to be better. Cyn as a character had her humanity stolen from her, and she’s learning how to find it again. When our dog passed, I definitely lost a piece of myself, and that’s a hole I’m still trying to climb out of. So I think I found it helpful to contextualize it by giving Cyn a similar mission.

AIPT: Cyn/Meris is a really interesting figure. Is she perhaps a version of you, or maybe someone you wish you were more like instead?

IM: I don’t think that we have much in common. I suppose, I came from an environment where I was not at all set up for success, and by every metric and statistic it was most probable that I would have gone down a bad path in life, but I persevered and I’ve always tried to use whatever abilities I have to do well by others, and that’s what I wanted for her character, too.

Ibrahim Moustafa plots a new path forward for 'Cyn'

Courtesy of Humanoids.

AIPT: Similarly, were there any specific influences for Cyn from other books, shows, films, etc.? Were you worried at all about typecasting with the “badass warrior with a shady past”?

IM: Let me put it to you like this: most people love burgers, right? We know how a burger is generally constructed, and what to expect from one. I don’t worry about burgers being typecast; they’re exactly what they’re supposed to be. This book is a burger with a sauce you’ve never tried, and a unique flavor combo, and I think you’re gonna be like “wow… that was a really good burger.”
This book is absolutely a genre story, and in the vein of many westerns that I love, and other stories about strangers with mysterious pasts coming into town, etc. But it’s uniquely through my personal lens, inside the world I built in Count, and with my unique sensibilities.

AIPT: Do you have a favorite moment or page from the story?

IM: There’s a lot I’m very proud of in this book; lots of quiet moments and facial expressions and whatnot. But I think my favorite bit is when we really get into the first big action sequence, and there’s a fight that takes place in a high-speed vehicle chase that I’m really happy with.

Ibrahim Moustafa plots a new path forward for 'Cyn'

Courtesy of Humanoids.

AIPT: I love the ending (without spoiling it) because it feels rather earned and deserved. But is there a future for this character/world in subsequent stories?

IM: Thank you! I think there definitely could be. This book is a standalone sequel to my previous graphic novel Count, and I’m excited for new readers to find that book via Cyn, and vice-versa. So, I can definitely see more adventures within this world, and I’ll always have ideas for what those could be.

AIPT: Why should anyone pick up Cyn?

IM: To me, there is nothing more pure than someone getting to tell a story that is their original, singular vision, and Cyn is just that; the exact story that I wanted to tell in a world that I created, that I love very much. I think that love and passion is palpable on the page, and I believe folks who read it will feel that.

Also, a cool thing about this book is that, if you like it, there’s another one waiting for you; my book Count, which is my critically acclaimed sci-fi reimagining of The Count of Monte Cristo. Cyn was created for that book, and these were designed to be read alone or together, in any order. I invite everyone to check them out, and I hope you enjoy them!

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