I recently got a chance to catch up with the very busy creators behind the recently acquired Dark Horse property, White Savior, Scott Burman and Eric Nguyen, the master minds behind this brilliant concept which I had the pleasure of reviewing the debut issue back in 2019, where I described it as a “cross between Back To The Future and Real Genius” but also an old school fan of the show Heroes in its first few seasons , it absolutely harkens back to Hiro’s storyline, if you know, you know.
Graphic Policy: How are you doing during the Pandemic? How has it influenced your art/comic?
Eric: Pandemic was a killer for comics – I know a lot of stores had trouble staying in business, but I think things are picking up again.
GP: Let’s talk about how the deal with Dark Horse came about?
Eric: The whole thing started when Scott sent me a blind email. No idea who he was, but I read one of his scripts – How I Got Drunk and Saved the World – and it was the funniest thing I ever read. I was working for Marvel at the time, but we kept in touch. And when I was free, I called him up, and said, let’s make something funny.
Scott: I think he’s crazy going from Marvel and DC to some nobody named Scott Burman, but I wasn’t complaining. So we brainstormed, came up with this idea, and went to work. We did this without any publisher interest at all, and we actually self-published the first issue – very briefly – when we heard from Dark Horse.
Eric: Yeah. I got an email about them wanting to turn another one of my books, Gigantic, into a movie. So I sent them White Savior and within one day, Mike Richardson, the president of the company, read it, said it was hysterical, and gave us a deal.
GP: What were your favorite comics growing up?
Scott: This is when I want to be cool and pretend like I was into stuff that wasn’t totally mainstream, but I’m not cool at all, so Spider-Man and Batman. Every comic that involved the two of them was solid gold for me.
GP: Are there any specific comics creators that influenced you?
Eric: Todd MacFarlane. When he came along, he changed the game.
GP: Since normally we see people of color in supporting roles in books, movies and television shows with the exception of the most recent reboot of Quamtum Leap, did you feel a need as creators ot subvert expectations?
Eric: That’s an interesting question, because oddly enough, when we first started writing this, we didn’t set out to do anything except make readers laugh and give them a good story. The whole concept started from a joke about the movie The Great Wall, with Matt Damon.
Scott: Yeah. We basically said, what if the guy destined to save everyone was an idiot? And from there, we started developing it.
Eric: And it was only when we started writing and researching a bit more, that we realized the underlying importance of what we were doing.
GP: With Octavia Butler’s book, Kindred being made into a television show, what was your initial reaction and , having read it myself multiple times, to include the john Jennings graphic adaptation, Butler never wrote for the faint of heart, where many of her scenes were tough to read and even see in the graphic novel, do you think the world is ready for it?
Scott: Even though the title is definitely head-turning, I like to think our book is a very light-hearted comedy. So in terms of the world being ready, I don’t know if the world is ready for any comedy in general. That’s why you’re seeing a lot less comedy movies and comics, mainly because the reaction, no matter what, is always so divided. So I guess my answer is, ready or not, here we come.
GP: What influence do your parents have on your work? What was their reaction, when you told what you wanted to do for a living?
Eric: My parents wanted me to be anything but an artist. Steady income, that’s what they definitely were insistent on. When I got my first big two paycheck, it definitely helped sway their opinion.
Scott: So I’m Jewish, and I think there are certain similarities between Jewish and Asian parents. The stereotype of Jewish parents wanting their sons and daughters to be doctors and lawyers may be rooted in a little bit of truth. Or, a lot of truth. My parents were supportive, but they also wanted me to have a back up plan, and in hindsight, a backup plan might have helped out during some tough times. I’m 40 and this is my first break, so maybe they had a bit of a point. I’d never admit that to them, though. You’re not going to print that, are you?
GP: How did you get started in comics?
Eric: I got started doing Strange Girl for Image and Rick Remender.
Scott: And I got started close to twenty years later when I somehow convinced him to work with me.
GP: I read the review about the original script from The Black List, do you still have some hopes for a movie?
Eric: We do. And I think the hopes are becoming closer and closer to a reality every day.
Scott: That’s all we’ll say about that for now. Cause I’m sure what we are and aren’t allowed to say at this point.
GP: Is there any “white Savior movie you think was completely horrible in message and story or either? Are there any that you like?, mine is Cool Runnings, but I am a big John Candy fan, and it was based on a true story
Eric: I think that just because something is a “white savior” movie doesn’t mean it’s a bad movie. Our book spoofs The Last Samurai a lot, and we both love that movie. Same with Cool Runnings. Same with dozens of other similar stories. I think our book just focuses on the fact that the majority of these stories, where an outsider comes to a town and saves them from whatever ailment, had protagonists who were….
Scott: Who looked like me. A white guy. Well, usually a taller, more handsome version of me. And there weren’t enough stories being told from a different point of view.
GP: Is there any musicians you listened to that molded your consciousness?
Scott: Not sure if they molded my consciousness. And even if they did, they definitely wouldn’t want to be responsible for whatever craziness my consciousness possesses. But I can tell you, to get the energy cranked up, I throw AC/DC on Spotify and I’m ready to go.
GP: Eric, what is your favorite Marvel character to draw? Favorite DC character?
Eric: I did Old Man Logan with Jeff Lemire, and I got to say, there’s just something so badass about Wolverine. You can’t go wrong with Logan. For DC, I did a little work on Batman, and would love to take another crack at that.
GP: Scott, I was scrolling through your Instagram, and saw your favorite background is McDonald/s can you tell us more about it?
Scott: Ha! I’m not a social media guy – which is either a good or bad thing for our comic, depending on how you look at it. But I went on a 4 month Eurotrip, and whenever I saw a McDonald’s, I took a pic in front of one, and sent it to my family as my “Europe photos”. Instead of the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben, I showed them photos of McDonald’s. People seemed to like it, so I said, what the hell, and posted them on Instagram.
GP: Do you have any favorite comics you are reading right now?
Eric: Everyone should read The Good Asian by my buddy Pornsak Pichetshote.
Scott: Seconded on that. Too many other ones to name.
GP: Are there any current artists/writers out there you admire and would like to work with?
Scott: So one of the best parts of this experience, for me, has been interacting with some awesome creators I admire. I try not to be too much of a fan, but it definitely comes out. I’ve spoken to Mark Russell, Michael Avon Oeming, Skottie Young, Darick Roberston, Cliff Chiang… so many great creators, and I’m still floored they’re talking to me. I should be washing their cars, not talking to them about comics.
GP: When was the first time, you identified with a character on TV/in the movies/ or between the pages of a comic book?
Eric: I never really saw myself in any comic. I never thought about it too much, but that might be one of the reasons we created this. The main character, Todd, is very similar to me. He’s not a kung fu guru, not good at math. He’s just, a regular guy.
Scott: I always thought Batman was basically Scott Burman. We’re pretty much the same person. That’s a joke, folks.
GP: What do you want readers to get from” White Savior”?
Eric: Honestly. Just a good time reading a funny, action packed comic. If a message comes across, even better, but ultimately, the goal is to bring people together through the laughter and fun of our comic.
GP: What is your favorite word?
Scott: In honor of our book, I’m going to go with “Fugnuggets.”
GP: What do you value most in your friends?
Eric: Loyalty. Can’t beat that.
GP: If you were reincarnated as some other plant or animal, what would it be?
Scott: A very fat dog.
GP: What is your favorite occupation?
Eric: That’s easy. What I do now.
GP: Who are your favorite fictional heroes?
Scott: Spider-Man’s always been my guy.
Eric: I’m going with Todd Parker. Can’t go wrong with that.
GP: What natural gift would you most like to possess?
Scott: I wish I could draw. I think my goal is to be like Eric.
GP: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Eric: Video games. Either owning the company or designing them.
Scott: For me, retired billionaire. That’s the goal.
GP: What profession would you not like to do?
Eric: Anything with math.
GP: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Scott: Can I get your autograph? White Savior was my favorite comic.