License To Kill: Howard Shum talks "Gun Fu: Showgirls Are Forever"

Fri, December 16th, 2005 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Arune Singh, Staff Writer

Cover To "Gun Fu: Showgirls Are Forever #1"

When it comes to Howard Shum and trends, let's just say he doesn't like them. Actually, he crosses them and steps on them for fun. Can't make a successful comic book about a non-white protagonist? Shum did it with "Gun-Fu." Humor comics don't sell? Shum did it with "Gun-Fu." Can't work your way up to be courted by Image Comics and work with one of the most well-known talents? Shum has done it, bringing "Gun-Fu" to Image and getting the aid of "Cerebus" creator Dave Sim. CBR News spoke with Shum, one of the most sarcastic men in comics, who explained the absence of new "Gun-Fu" since the last mini-series.

"I've been working on numerous freelance art jobs, developing a couple of animation properties, and writing some screenplays. There's also all that crazy stuff about Angelina Jolie and me that you all heard and read about," he smiles. "'Gun Fu: Showgirls are Forever' is about four Nazi-collaborating French showgirls who are on a secret mission to attack a neutral United States of America. British secret agent Cheng Bo Sen is sent to stop them. It's set in 1941 after France set the world record for the quickest surrender without putting up a fight.

"Besides Cheng, the other regular characters, the Queen and her aide Alistair Houseman show up. Dr. Eleanor Dumple from 'Gun Fu: The Lost City' makes a cameo. New characters include four Nazi-collaborating French showgirls: Chantez d'Elyse, Douceur de Miel, Parlez Voom-voom, and DesCuisses Sucre. FDR and Cordell Hull also make an appearance. There are also some more new Nazi villains and British spies that I'll let readers discover in the book. It's coming out in March 2006 from Image."

The move to Image, from Shum's Axiom Press, is a big step up for the series, allowing for better placement in retailers' "Previews" ordering catalogue and adding legitimacy to his efforts. "'Gun Fu' is at Image because Erik Larsen is publisher of Image. Some

retailers were reluctant to order Gun Fu before because it wasn't from a major publisher. Now, I expect the orders to be on level with X-Men (give or take a few copies)."

Possibly even bigger is the collaboration with comic book legend Dave Sim, renowned for his "Cerebus" series, and his involvement dates back to Shum's "Lost City" mini-series. "Dave and Gerhard did a pinup for 'Gun Fu: The Lost City #4.' When he did

a rough of the pinup, Dave had a short backstory of what was going on in it. I was goofing around and elaborated on the story and sent it to Dave. He responded by asking if I would be interested in finishing writing it together. I, of course, did not turn down a chance to work with one of the few masters of the comics medium. It was an honor to

collaborate with an artist of his caliber. This is his first work after 'Cerebus #300' and it's so cool that he chose to spend his time doing 'Gun Fu.'"

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Dave Sim is seen by many as a serious writer, with Shum being more geared towards humor, and so the two seem like an odd combination, but Shum says they work. "I think Dave and I both write funny dialogue. We find humor in similar things. We are also writers who can draw (albeit he can draw a hundred times better than me). Dave is a professional and was able to slide into the 'Gun Fu' world and adapt to it. On a different project I'm currently working on, I was surprised how similarly we both saw how things should look visually with this project. Also interesting was in rewriting some dialogue for this other project, a week later Dave suggested a line that was almost exactly the same as I added in. That may mean our styles aren't that different or that it's unavoidable that all those years of reading Cerebus didn't somehow influence me or we're on some weird telepathic connection caused by a bizarre mating ritual performed by Tom Cruise and my ex-fianc Katie Holmes.

"The tone of this Gun Fu is the same goofy-fun and excitement as the previous ones. The Queen's and Houseman's dialogue are more British-sounding due to Dave."

Shum has kept his "Gun-Fu" stories have taken place around World War II and as far as he's concerned, that's the only era for Bo-Sen. "Actually all the previous issues took place in 1936 (pre-WWII) and this one takes place in 1941. I can only see stories from this era and in my head Bo Sen doesn't survive to see the end of the war. That's not necessary a story I would ever write, but guys like him don't die of old age."

This series also marks the first appearance of Bo-Sen without artist Joey Mason in tow, and newcomer Darryl Young taking over artistic duties. "Joey and I may be working on a major licensed property, but that depends on the decision on the owners of the property.

"Most people know Darryl Young from when he was working as a concierge in a fancy New York hotel and Russell Crowe beaned him in the head with a telephone. What people don't know is that blow to the head did something to his brain which sparked artistic skills that he never knew he had. When I became aware of his stunning artwork I was pleased that he wanted to pencil Gun Fu. If you didn't know anything about his history, you would have thought Darryl must have spent years working as an animator producing powerful images. Thank you Russell Crowe for your violent tendencies."

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With Shum's love for "James Bond" shining through in his work, CBR News thought it'd be interesting to see if Shum approved of the new Bond, Daniel Craig. "I would have chose Clive Owen as Bond. The only thing I've seen Daniel Craig in was "The Road to Perdition" and nothing he did in that stood out to me, but that doesn't mean he can't be a good Bond. The writer of the new Bond movie is Paul Haggis and I think he's really good. He did mention that he would be limiting the gadgets and I think would be a

mistake."

So what's next for Howard "Playboy" Shum? "Darryl Young and I are developing a new project that if we execute it correctly, will cause countless number of creators to quit working because they will realize that they can never achieve the mastery of

what we have accomplished," he says modestly. "Queen Elizabeth will also most likely give us knighthoods even though we are not British subjects and Darryl will end up marrying both Olsen twins.

"I will also make a serious foray into feature films. It's time I took destiny into my own hands and not wait for things to happen."

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