What someone gives someone else as a gift can tell you a lot about a person. And this holiday season, James Bond has a unique gift for his long-time handler M - taking a mission to track down a Russian spy.
The November one-shot James Bond: Solstice by writer/artist Ibrahim Moustafa and colorist Jordan Boyd is the answer to James Bond editor Nate Cosby's request for a "James Bond Holiday Special" that would still fit within the framework of creator Ian Fleming's ouvre.
Moustafa, an avowed Bond fan, took to the challenge with aplomb as his second project writing and drawing after the Eisner nominated webcomic Jaeger. Newsarama talked with Moustafa about his work, his Bond fandom, and what exactly 007 would do for the holidays.
Newsarama: Ibrahim, a James Bond holiday special sounds... surprising. What's going on in this issue?
Ibrahim Moustafa: It does, doesn't it? That was kind of the question posed to me when I was asked to pitch something for it, and I thought "What would that look like?".
In Solstice, M has intel that a Russian agent is using the relative of someone in MI6 as a means of compromising the Intelligence Service and Bond is sent off-book to shut it down quietly. Bond obliges as a favor to M; 'tis the season, after all.
Nrama: So, what is 007 up against here?
Moustafa: Bond's loyalty to M and sense of duty are tested in this one. He's got to get in and out discretely, as any missteps could lead to much larger political problems for M as head of MI6. But that's easier said than done when a ruthless Russian asset has you in their sights.
Nrama: What do you think James Bond does over the holidays? Does he celebrate?
Moustafa: Bond was an orphan who spent much of his youth in boarding schools, so I think he probably dislikes the holidays. I'd bet that he drinks alone or takes a trip to somewhere sunny where they don't care about Christmas.
Nrama: Is this an idea you brought to Dynamite, or one they came to you with?
Moustafa: Editor Nate Cosby and I have been working on collaborating for some time now, and he approached me with the tagline of "James Bond Holiday Special," telling me that it would be in the same format of Antonio Fuso and Kieron Gillen's James Bond: Service one-shot. He cut me loose from there, and being that I'm a Bond fanatic, I think I had a pitch to him within 24 hours. [Laughs]
Nrama: Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe this is your debut writing comic books. Is this something you've been wanting to do for some time? What made this the right project to do it with?
Moustafa: To answer the last part of the question first: I'm a massive Bond fan (particularly of the Ian Fleming works), bordering on obsession. Two of the things that I love most in life are drawing comic books, and James Bond. So, this project is quite literally a dream come true for me.
This will actually be my sophomore writing attempt! My first professional/published writing debut came about a year ago with my digital-first book Jaeger, which was lucky enough to receive an Eisner nomination for Best Webcomic this year.
I love the collaborative aspect of working with a writer, but I've been looking to transition into becoming more of a writer/artist as I evolve and grow as a storyteller.
Jaeger is a post-World War II espionage story about a spy hunting down escaped Nazi war criminals, so I'd already cut my teeth with spy fiction to some success when the opportunity to write and draw this 007 one-shot came along.
I think that's what made me the right person for the job as far as editorial was concerned, and I suppose my obsession with the character is what made it right for me. [Laughs]
Nrama: On the art side, what's your approach to this issue?
Moustafa: I'm trying to bring my particular sensibilities and experimentation with page layouts and comics storytelling to the table. My hope is that my love for the character and his world will be very evident on each page and that even folks who may not share a particular affinity for the genre will appreciate and enjoy my use of the medium here.
I think sometimes when a popular character from other mediums makes their way into comics, there can be a reluctance to really embrace what comics can do with that character. I'm certainly not reinventing the wheel here, but my intent is that I'll be telling a Bond story with some visual elements that haven't been employed in quite the same way before.
Nrama: Are you coloring or lettering your own work? If not, who is - and how did you go about determining who it would be?
Moustafa: I'm not, thankfully. [Laughs] There are much more capable people riding with me on this one! I'm lucky enough to be collaborating with my Savage Things partner Jordan Boyd on colors, and letterer extraordinaire Simon Bowland, who has been a mainstay on the Bond books at Dynamite. I'm very happy and privileged to be sharing page real estate with those two!
Nrama: What are your big goals with this 30-page issue?
Moustafa: I really want to tell a fun story that appeals to both fans of the character and folks who only know him colloquially.
It's very much inspired by his short stories like “For Your Eyes Only” and “Risico,” which are some of my favorite Bond stories. I can't think of any better way, as a visual storyteller, to share my love of Bond with other people than this comic. I'm very, very excited about that.