As DC's Mother Panic series jumped ahead (and sideways!) into an alternate version of Gotham City, the Young Animal editors turned toward artist Ibrahim Moustafa to bring the new vision of Gotham to life.
Mother Panic: Gotham A.D., one of the recent relaunches in DC's Young Animal line, has thrust the character into a version of Gotham where Batman has been missing for more than a decade and the familiar faces of Gotham have evolved in surprising ways.
The changes have given Moustafa the chance to redesign fan-favorite villains like the Joker and heroes like Catwoman, working with series writer Jody Houser to give the characters a new twist.
As the series just released its second issue, hoping to attract new readers who can jump on board with this new direction, Newsarama talked to Moustafa about his artwork, the designs for this alternate Gotham, and what readers might expect next.
Newsarama: Ibrahim, when you began deciding how to approach the "Gotham A.D." world, what did you want to bring to this book and this new setting?
Ibrahim Moustafa: I'm from Portland, Oregon, a city that has gentrified at an astounding rate over the last five years. So a lot of my thought process was based on seeing what's been happening to my hometown.
In Gotham A.D., we've got sparkly new high-rises, people out enjoying neighborhoods that used to be too dangerous to walk around in, and in the midst of it all, the heroes and villains we know from Gotham trying to find their place in all of it.
I think it's a really interesting view of Gotham that we haven't seen before and for my part, I'd really like to make it read as a logical next-step for the city were there to be no Batman in it.
Nrama: For fans of your work on other titles, what might they notice you've done differently for Mother Panic?
Moustafa: I've been progressively working to streamline my process both on and off the page, making fewer marks that are more efficient. That's something that Tommy Lee Edwards and John Paul Leon do exceedingly well, and I'm hoping to pick more of that up along the way as I study their work and play in the sandbox after them.
Nrama: How do you and Jody work together to invent the altered Gotham characters in this series?
Moustafa: I feel like Jody and I have a really strong synchronicity with our take on this post-Batman Gotham. She'll include a brief description of how she envisions them, and I pretty much go to town on them. I think we both have a strong sense of this version of Gotham and how these characters would evolve to fit within this particular setting. I absolutely love re-imagining characters, so that has been the most fun part of the book for me.
Nrama: Any characters you designed in particular who you enjoyed working on? Or even that you picked up from the last series?
Moustafa: Yes! I absolutely love drawing Mother Panic. I think that costume is one of the greatest character designs in recent memory.
We've also got a few protégés and successors to existing characters, future iterations a la Batman Beyond, in a way, that show up later in the series that were an absolute joy to get to create.
Nrama: How did you first get interested in drawing comic books, and what experiences informed your style?
Moustafa: I've always loved superheroes (namely Superman) and drawing, and when I first saw an Alex Ross painting of the Man of Steel, I didn't know how he did it or what he used, but I knew I had to learn to do it myself. That sent me down a rabbit hole of discovering other writers, artists and editors.
One of the most formative experiences I've had was meeting legendary editor Bob Schreck at a convention years ago and having him review my portfolio. He extolled the virtues of inking with a brush (I was just using pens at the time) and that unlocked a new world for me. I'm forever grateful for Bob!
Nrama: How would you describe your style?
Moustafa: I think "stylized realism" is a good tag for it. I enjoy stripping away unnecessary information using a bit of bendy/wonky camera angles while trying to maintain a believable look to everything and bring some cinematic sensibilities to the page.
Nrama: What are you hoping to achieve overall (visually) with your work on Mother Panic: Gotham A.D.?
Moustafa: I'm hoping that my work will feel like a good fit to longtime readers of the book while hopefully engaging some new ones.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans of Mother Panic?
Moustafa: If you're a fan of "Elseworlds" DC stories, and What If?-style peeks into the future, this really is the book for you!