Kung Fu Hollywood: Howard Shum talks "Fat Boy & Harvey"

While fans of "Gun Fu" are still waiting for the next installment of their favorite gun toting, hip hop speaking Asian pimp daddy Bo Sen, series creator Howard Shum is planning to entertain fans of his previous work with a new one shot this summer. Entitled "Fat Boy & Harvey," with E.W Clayton on board as the artist, the one-shot will feature Shum's trademark humor and exploration of Asian integration into western culture. Issue one hits stores this July from AXIOM.

"Harvey is a struggling artist living in Los Angeles. Fat Boy is his kung fu-loving cousin from Hong Kong," explained Shum to CBR News. "Together they have funny crazy adventures with Hollywood celebrities and rock stars. It's written and inked by me and penciled by E.W. Clayton (the creator of Dr. Grave).

"Harvey is a young guy in his 20s. He's way into the celebrity culture and easily star struck. R-Squared is Harvey's best friend. Fat Boy is Harvey's cousin from Hong Kong. He is normally a calm and easy going type of guy, but when he gets pissed off, he goes crazy and uses incredible kung fu on the source of his anger and screams out dialogue that rivals that written by Shakespeare and David Mamet. I just thought it would be funny to have these group of guys interact with Hollywood types.

"The plot is just basically Fat Boy and Harvey's adventures in Hollywood and the people they encounter. It's Cervantesque."

Though "Fat Boy & Harvey" does address race issues, Shum assures fans that he won't be jumping on any soap box and explains that he's just using race as an element at which to laugh. "I can't stand stories that force certain points of view upon me and I don't write that way. I'm not telling people how to live. I'm just writing stories that are funny and entertaining. I think racists and non-racists can equally enjoy Fat Boy and Harvey."

Even a humorous look at racism or racial tension is something uncommon in an otherwise diverse comic book market and when asked why he thinks that is the case, Shum says, "Probably because most comic book writers are white."

"Fat Boy & Harvey" features a lot of pop culture satire, from a very direct shot at "Friends" to a few pokes at Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst. "I just thought those subjects lend themselves to jokes more easily," Shum explained. "At least for me."

While still funny subjects to many, parodying N'Sync, Limp Bizkit and "Friends" might seem a bit dated to some… and Shum isn't going to argue that point. "Yeah, I feel the story is a bit dated. I wrote 'Fat Boy and Harvey' #1 in 2003 and E.W. penciled it in 2003. It just took me so long to ink it because of numerous reasons. I still think the story is amusing nonetheless and readers should keep in mind that I was going after these celebrity folk when they were at the height of their success as opposed to their cellar dwelling status now. It's funny how two years can change so much."

Speaking of being at the height of success, Shum fondly recalls how he met Clayton and how the two basked in their A-list fame. "If I remember correctly, we first met back when I was still married to Halle Berry and E.W. was dating that fat chick from the Drew Carey Show. We were at a party at the Cannes Film Festival. I mentioned to E.W. how I liked his work on his Dr. Grave comic and we talked about working together. I initially created Gun Fu for E.W. to draw, but he couldn't at the time. I'm glad we finally got to work together on Fat Boy and Harvey. E.W. can not only draw funny stuff real well, but he also does intense action amazingly also."

Even though the one-shot originated in such spectacular locations and the brainstorming sessions have, according to Shum, attracted the hottest women in the world, "Fat Boy & Harvey" isn't a sure thing for a return. "Currently, 'Fat Boy and Harvey' is just a one-shot. I really enjoy writing Fat Boy's dialogue when he's fighting, so I can see more stories sometime in the future."

Still, Shum says that there are exciting things in the future for fans of his work and he reveals, "Dave Sim and I are writing the next 'Gun Fu' story. Image is collecting the 'Gun Fu' one-shot and the four-issue 'Lost City' story into a trade paperback to be released this summer. I have other creator-owned books in various stages. I am also forgoing my four years of eligibility in college basketball and making myself available for the NBA draft. Word is that I'll be a lottery pick (I won't play if the Clippers draft me)."

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