The following is an interview with writer/artist Eric Nguyen regarding the upcoming release of the comic book series, White Savior, with Dark Horse Comics. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Nguyen about the inspiration behind and creative process for bringing the story to life, what he hopes readers will take away from the story, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming launch of White Savior! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the series’ premise, and what was its inspiration?
Eric Nguyen: Thanks for the congrats.
First and foremost, we want to make sure everyone knows that the “White Savior” title is satirical. Our book is a comedic spoof of films like The Last Samurai and Dances With Wolves, or any story in which an outsider comes to a foreign land and saves under-represented people from various unfortunate circumstances. We’re taking that entire genre and spinning it on its head. In our case, the guy destined to be the “savior” is actually an idiot, and the hero of our book is Todd Parker, an Asian American teacher who time travels to feudal Japan, where he has to convince everyone NOT to follow the “white savior.” I was brainstorming with my co-writer Scott, and this was right around the time the movie, The Great Wall, with Matt Damon came out. And we just joked, “What if the guy destined to save everyone was an idiot who got everyone killed?” And from that one tiny joke, we came up with the idea.
BD: How would you describe your shared creative process in bringing this story to life alongside co-writer Scott Burman, and what (or who) were some of your creative influences in terms of the characters and tone?
EN: So, Scott’s a maniac, and I mean that in the best possible way. He comes up with more ideas and jokes in a minute than most writers I know come up with in their entire career. And it had been a while since I had drawn my own stuff – by that I mean, creating my own characters/story as opposed to drawing Wolverine, Batman, etc. And I wanted to be a bit more unfettered in my art and break some of the rules. So, we realized the best way to take advantage of both our strengths was to employ the Marvel method – we created a basic story outline, then I would create the artwork, and then we got together and went about rescripting the pages in response to my art. And we’d just have fun littering the pages with the funniest jokes we could come up with.
As for tone and creative influences, the script and story definitely have a Mel Brooks/Blazing Saddles-esque influence to them, in addition to stories we’re obviously spoofing like The Last Samurai. For artwork, I come from an industrial design background, specifically entertainment/transportation design, so a lot of my “style” is probably grounded in that kind of technical drawing foundation.
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 Todd’s story will connect with and impact readers, and why was it important to bring the story to life?
EN: Great question. So, I think the #StoriesMatter hashtag is the perfect one for our book. In fact, we’re going to add that to our list of hashtags. It seems that recently there’s been a long overdue push for under-represented people to finally have a chance to shine in the spotlight.
For a long time, stories have been showcasing the same kind of heroes, and in our book, we’re bringing that issue to the forefront, but ensuring that the story is just as important as the message. To do that, we created the exact type of comic we’d want to read – filled with hysterically funny moments, badass samurai action, and a message we hope resonates with all readers.
BD: What makes Dark Horse Comics the perfect home for White Savior?
EN: Their name alone perfectly describes why they’re the best fit – while Marvel and DC dominated the industry, Dark Horse came about like a literal dark horse, and started bringing unique stories that you wouldn’t typically see at the big two. Dark Horse became synonymous with quality, original, cutting-edge comics, and I think that describes our book perfectly. As a creator, it’s easily the best place you could be. Not only do they give the best profit-sharing model – but as far as creative license – they’ve given us free reign, which, for a book with a title like White Savior is incredibly amazing. I’ve worked with Dark Horse for a while, and this was the first time I spoke directly with Mike Richardson, and he’s just about the coolest guy you could meet, and a true comic book fan. You’d have no idea he was in charge of this huge comic company because he’s so down to Earth – it was literally like talking to someone at a comic convention, and to get his stamp of approval on our book means we’re definitely doing something right.
BD: How many issues do you have planned for the series’ first story arc?
EN: Our first arc is a four-issue mini-series, with the first issue releasing January 18th, then once a month until April. The sequel idea is all set, but we do want to work on something else before doing a follow up. We also hope to bring other diverse writers and artists on board to have various spinoffs concerning similar “white savior” narratives.
BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
EN: I just put the finishing touches on our final issue, so I’ll be looking for the next gig soon. This was my first comedy book, and Scott’s first published book – so I hope companies take notice and support us as a team. I love working with Scott – he just makes it fun and is beyond collaborative. His dream book is an update of a very obscure DC hero called The Heckler, and a lot of people have compared the humor in White Savior to Deadpool, so I think a Scott Burman/Eric Nguyen Deadpool miniseries is something the fans would like.
We have a laundry list of original ideas, and I think it’s a matter of how this book does and who we talk to that will determine our next project.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about White Savior?
EN: Well, I’m not nearly as funny as the book. And I’m definitely not as cool to look at. So, I would say, support your local comic shop – and on January 18th, be sure to ask for a copy of White Savior!