A good partnership is a balancing act. It’s push and pull, give and take. Ross Richie, CEO of Boom! Studios, understands this. Whether it’s working with creators like Clive Barker or Mark Waid, or companies like Disney or 20th Century Fox, Richie makes that delicate balancing act look easy.
Recently, Boom! Studios and its comic 2 Guns teamed up with their biggest partner to date — Hollywood.
2 Guns is based on the action comedy graphic novel of the same name by Steven Grant, and is Boom! Studios’ first comic to become a feature film. Denzel Washington stars as Bobby, an undercover DEA agent who realizes too late that his partner in crime, Stig (Mark Wahlberg), is an undercover NCIS agent. Their wits and their patience with each other are put to the test when they discover they have been set up by the CIA. Hilarity, violence and friendship ensue.
Richie, who serves as a producer on the film, has worn a lot of hats in his day. His experiences as both a comics bigwig and a movie producer helped him to appreciate the sheer scale of the page-to-screen process which began when he chose Universal Studios for 2 Guns.
“You know, there’s a certain point, when it’s a Denzel Washington/Mark Wahlberg movie that it’s all much bigger than you, and that’s the natural course of business. But it was a lot of fun to be at the ground floor,” Richie says.
He feels that his role as co-producer on the film isn’t to dictate and debate, but to pass the torch to creative people that love the project as much as he does.
“You don’t want to be in a place where you’re having an argument about why it’s cool,” he says. “You want to be in a place where the thing that got you excited about the project is what got everyone else excited in the project. The hope is that you get enough talented people involved that it attains a life of its own. That’s the way it should go, and we were very fortunate that that’s what happened.”
Grant’s comic was adapted by Blake Masters, screenwriter and creator of the Showtime cop drama Brotherhood. Though the tone of Brotherhood and 2 Guns couldn’t be more different, Richie saw a link between the two writers that he felt made Masters the best man for the job.
“Both of their voices are very masculine and (they) are very interested in how men communicate to each other and the ways that they don’t communicate to each other, and really, that’s at the core of what the story is about.”
Though Boom! Studios has always pushed the boundaries of the medium and is excited about its first comic-turned-film, it’s clear that the company’s focus remains on publishing comics.
“There are other companies in the space who have predicated their whole reason to exist on publishing a comic book so they can leverage it for a Hollywood deal, and their publishing has not been very successful because it’s not been focused on publishing. They’re not interested in the comic book space, they’re interested in movies.”
While the surge of new readers brought in by movie adaptations may draw the ire of some old school comic fans, Richie, who is a veritable comic historian in his own right, is just glad to have more people to share his love of comics.
“I don’t want to naysay a writer or an artist because they got excited about comic books through movies and TV because they might discover that (comics) are a unique, amazing medium. I remember that the Tim Burton Batman movie was a huge recruiting tool and brought a lot of my friends into reading comic books.”
As an artist-turned businessman and a lifelong comic fan himself, Richie seems to know what writers and authors from all over the spectrum want out of a publishing company.
“I think that a lot of creative people want to sing the song that’s in their heart, but that doesn’t mean that they want to be a one man band. A lot of guys don’t want to be a self-publisher. They want an editor. They want suggestions, but they want the suggestions to be story-driven, not driven by arbitrary marketing concerns.”
The message is clear: collaborators from all walks of life are welcome.
“We hit it off with people who are looking to partner and work shoulder to shoulder. I think those are the most satisfying relationships.”
2 Guns, which was filmed around Louisiana, including New Orleans, and in New Mexico, hits theaters Friday. The sequel to Steven Grant’s original comic, titled 3 Guns, hits shelves soon.
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