As a comic book writer, Las Vegan Steven Grant, 59, has contributed to franchises ranging from the Hulk and Spider-Man to Robocop and CSI, and is still probably best known as the writer who helped bring the Punisher to prominence in the 1980s. His 2007 Boom! Studios crime series 2 Guns, with art by Mateus Santolouco, is the basis for a big-budget action movie starring Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington. The first issue of the comic-book sequel, 3 Guns, is in stores.
How did the idea for 2 Guns start? A long, long time ago, for some reason I was doing some sort of research on undercover cops. And I thought, this is really kind of absurd, the whole notion of undercover cops. Because you’ve got these guys who are going in pretending to be something that they’re not, and they can’t tell anybody, of course, that they’re pretending. How do they know that all the other people around them aren’t also undercover cops? So originally, it started out with this idea of a gang of undercover cops, all of whom were committing crimes, waiting to catch everyone else in the gang in some sort of crime that they could put them away forever with, not knowing that everybody else in the gang is also an undercover cop trying to do the same thing to them. And I always liked that idea, but it was way too unwieldy. So eventually it filtered its way down to the concept for 2 Guns, which is just two cops who end up robbing a bank, thinking that the other one is a criminal who they’re setting up for robbing the bank.
How involved were you in the efforts to pitch 2 Guns as a movie? That was all [Boom! CEO] Ross [Richie]. I just kind of sat back and went, “Uh-huh.” Until it started happening, I wasn’t taking it all that seriously. But he worked like a dog on the thing. I just sat here in Las Vegas and did other stuff.
Were you involved in the process once the writing started? I was talked to, but I really wasn’t interested in being that involved. Partly because I hate writing stories twice. And also, I have enough experience in Hollywood myself—I never quite got to a paycheck stage, but I did figure out the method, which is the less hassle you give them, the likelier it is that something’s going to be made. I didn’t really feel it was in my best interest to get in their way, because all I’m going to do is start second-guessing them. The book is mine. Everything I had to say about the story is in the book. If they don’t get what I’m going for from the book, my sitting there in a room with them and telling them isn’t going to help.
Did 3 Guns come about because of the movie? Oh yeah. The fact that we sold the movie did kick it into gear. I actually hadn’t planned on any sequel to it, because every other time I’ve done a creator-owned book that I planned a sequel to, there ended up never being a sequel. When I did this, I just did it as its own story, and hadn’t really thought about it. And then Ross started getting strong enough feedback from everyone that he said, “Okay, start on 3 Guns.” I had never really considered doing a sequel, but about four hours after he called me up, I had three sequels mapped out.
Has the movie deal helped you get more comics projects off the ground? I’m doing another one with Boom! right now. I’m probably going to stick with Boom! for the time being. Boom! has been very, very good to me. I’m not going out of my way right now to get a lot of projects off the ground, because then I’d have to do them. But I do have a couple of things that I’ve got going, little things here and there. I kind of like being able to relax. This is the first time in my life I’ve ever had money to speak of. So now I can relax a little bit, and I can just work on things that I want to work on. I don’t have to scramble for work.
Do you feel like you are part of the local comics community? Yes and no. I’m not that eager to be part of a community, to tell you the truth. I don’t really leave my house anymore. I work, and I walk my dog, and I go grocery shopping, and once in a while I get to the movies, and that’s about it.