Ross Richie is the founder of Boom! Studios, a company that puts out 20 comic books each month and has had the film rights to some 20 projects optioned, and yet, in an interview ahead of the release of the first of those film adaptations he said, “I was a guy who thought that I would never publish comic books.”
This revelation came during his account of the founding of Boom! Studios while sitting in a quiet (by San Diego Comic-Con standards) hotel lounge. Richie explained that he started the company out of his spare bedroom in 2005 at the urging of friend and comic book legend, Keith Giffen. As Richie described it, that urging encouragement involved beers and the repetition of the idea to an extent that the morning following their meeting he thought, if a guy like Keith Giffen thinks I should do this, maybe I should listen.
“I was incepted!” he declared, laughingly agreeing that his origin story is not unlike a trick out of a certain Chris Nolan film. Richie and his company have come a long way since the extra bedroom, having recently acquired Archaia Entertainment. Now he, and “2 Guns” author Steven Grant will see the adaptation of the graphic novel they made together take over movie screens everywhere in the same week the first issue of the sequel, “3 Guns” is set to drop.
Richie said he met Grant some 20 years ago, and first heard about the idea of “2 Guns” way back in 1998. The pair met after Richie began publishing to discuss working on a book together. After cycling through a dozen of Grant’s ideas and not finding the one they wanted to pursue together, Richie brought the idea of the undercover DEA agent and undercover naval intelligence officer (unaware of each other’s true identity) attempting to bust one another into the conversation. Grant was initially surprised at the suggestion, but “2 Guns” turned out to be the one.
After the project was complete Richie said that two studios wound up in a bidding war for the option, but Universal walked away the victors. Richie was a producer on the film and acted as a “shepherd of the material.”
Speaking about his experience working on the film he said, “Once the script came in and it was really, really good, the process kind of took over. Extremely talented people were attracted to it.” Interest in the project came from many directions.
“Ultimately, it was Mark Wahlberg with Denzel. When you have good material you end up attracting talented people,” Richie said, adding that working with two of the biggest names in the industry on the project was, “A dream come true.”
The movie, which is triumphantly fueled by the chemistry between Wahlberg and Washington, is faithful to the source material, but the adaptation is not slavish, a truth that is a hallmark with most adaptations, and, while something that may irk fanboys at times, a part of the process that Richie feels is inevitable.
“When you take something and you translate it into a play or you turn it into a song, it’s going to change. What you need to do is protect the central elements that make it special. Are the action sequences different? Yeah. But, it’s the same story.”
“2 Guns” is a crime story derived from a graphic novel, but Richie feels there is still plenty of mass appeal to be found in the tale.
“One of my favorite sayings is that women complement each other and don’t mean it, and men insult each other and don’t mean it, and that’s really what ‘2 Guns’ is about. Two guys who are extremely different that really, intensely dislike each other, but discover that they work really well together, that they need each other, and everybody can relate to that,” he said. “ I think that’s what the story is really about, different ways that we can find commonality together, and then…stuff explodes, and that’s cool.”