2013: Interviewing Ross Richie Pt. 2
"We Need Talented People
To Do Amazing Things"
Friendliest man in comics? Could be..
In Part 1 of our interview, Ross Richie talked with Fanboy Planet about Boom! Studios' acquisition -- and perhaps financial salvation -- of Archaia, a very eclectic imprint that, too, is only getting bigger. In fact, the entire market is getting bigger; comics are on an upswing.
Is that because of the Hollywood connection? Well, Ross might have some opinions about that, so with about a week before 2 Guns, the first Hollywood adaptation of a (great) Boom! Studios graphic novel, we're talking about it. (And a complete and utter mea culpa -- no, I forgot to ask Ross anything about their upcoming tie-in series for Sons of Anarchy, a show I know people love that I have just never gotten around to watching. Send your angry cards and letters to me here.)
Anyway, back to Ross...where we left him he had just asked if being crazy is bad, because he just might be crazy.
Derek McCaw: Crazy isn't bad. Crazy is creative. And in my day job in education, we're starting to rightly push creativity. I think that might be one reason comics are doing so well. People are looking around and looking for founts of creativity. I have more and more people coming to me, who aren't readers, asking "what should I read? Because I heard these are cool..."
Ross Richie: Thank you.
Derek McCaw: So let's talk 2 Guns. Just before the Con, I could NOT find a copy of this book, because I think what it is is that suddenly people realized hey, this movie is coming out and it's a graphic novel, and they bought it up. But I did get it here and signed by Steven Grant. I remember Steven talking about this book years ago, in Comic Book Resources, about how he had this great idea but nobody seemed to want to bite... why did you bite?
Ross Richie: Where's the downside? What's funny is, I was here at the show, I think it was 2007, might have been 2006, and we go over to the Hyatt and we sit down. And I've known Steven since he did Edge for Malibu; the great Gil Kane drew that.
Steven and I would keep up through the years, maybe at Wondercon or San Diego, whatever. I'd been publishing a little bit, so he saw that I'd kind of gotten my sea legs at what we were doing. So he was like, hey, let's figure something out.
We sat down, and he went over about twelve ideas, but we couldn't really find anything on the list that we felt like really clicked. Back in 1998, he and I had talked about 2 Guns, and I was like (snaps his fingers) "what was that thing? You know, the thing with the guy and he's undercover DEA and the other guy is undercover..." and he asked "2 Guns?" "Yeah! What are you doing with that?"
He was like "you want that?" And I said, "it's brilliant, it's amazing." And I remember as we stood up from the meeting just saying, "we are doing that." We had to get back to L.A. and figure it out. You know, he's in Vegas, so we had to work it out fast. But I knew on my agenda items that THAT was the book.
Derek McCaw: Boom has adapted film properties like Die Hard and Hellraiser, but this would be the first time it's gone the other way -- a graphic novel to a movie. Does a publisher need to have that kind of Hollywood cred? Does this suddenly give Boom a little cache to the outside world that it didn't have before?
Ross Richie: Sure.
Derek McCaw: What was the road to getting it there?
Ross Richie: Filip Sablik has a joke. When you publish comic books and you say that you don't have a Hollywood strategy, you're one of two things. You're lying or you're stupid.
"If you don't have a Hollywood strategy..."
The way I look at my relationship with Hollywood is that it's not core to my business. Our business is publishing comic books. And we can make a great 2 Guns story. And if it ever turns into a good movie, or it happens to turn into a bad movie, who cares? It doesn't matter, because we have at our core a great graphic novel that sits on the shelf, something that we're proud of.
I sort of approach the Hollywood interest in graphic novels -- I think it's fantastic, I think it's driving a lot of business into comic book stores. The Walking Dead is huuuuuge for our business. Robert Kirkman -- we all owe him, what he's done for the space and made people interested in comic books.
But my relationship with Hollywood goes like this: it's Rorshach from Watchmen. You remember when Rorshach got captured, he turned around and said "you think that I'm stuck in here with you; what you don't know is that you're stuck in here with ME."
So at the core of this is, if you want 2 Guns, you've got to deal with me.
And it was a fantastic experience. It really was one of those Cinderella amazing things. I think at the core, if we go back and look at anything we did well, it's that we picked the right partners. I think that's critical. It's like when you're a writer, having the right artist, the right inker, the right colorist, letterer, person doing the cover. It's about the team. All this is team sports.
So at a certain point, if you're going to have one of your comic books getting made into a movie, you're going to lose control. Because you can't write a hundred and twenty million dollar check and get it made. Right? The guy that writes the check is the one that calls the shots.
What I did is that I chose Universal as my partner, and it turned out to be the right choice, because they really understood it. There were other people that wanted it, but I specifically chose Universal because I believed in them.
Moving past that, I picked Marc Platt and his partner Adam Siegel because Adam made Drive and Adam made Wanted, and he does guys with guns, and he does it very well. And I looove guys with guns. It's one of my favorite things to publish.
I thought we had this team, and it proved out. We interviewed Blake Masters, to talk to him about doing the adaptation, and he crushed it. He always understood it. During the phone call, Adam said, "if you take this graphic novel, what would you do with it?"
"...you've got to deal with ME."
And Blake said, "I really think it's all here, guys." And Adam said, "yeah, but what would you change up, what would you do different?" And Blake said "ehhhh, I don't really think I would do anything different. I'm gonna take this and I'm going to put it into a screenplay and then we'll look at it and see if we need any more action sequences or where the act break is going to go, but we'll have that discussion after I finish the script."
Blake was the right guy and he just killed it.
Derek McCaw: I have the book, and finding time to read at Comic-Con is ironically pretty hard to do, so I'm only a few pages in. But I talked to Steven Grant, and he seems so happy with this movie. And I've never really talked to him before, but from reading his column from years back, he's always seemed like the kind of guy that if he wasn't happy, he would have said it. He'd be honest about it.
Ross Richie: I think you're exactly right.
Derek McCaw: I'm so excited to see a guy who has been kicking around the industry for so long finally achieve this level of success at this point.
Ross Richie: He's such a talent. Such a solid writer, and his ability to deliver on this kind of material, guys with guns, done with such a sardonic, witty, dark complex way -- you know, he has tools in his toolkit that he doesn't get to use in conventional superhero writing.
It's so much fun to give him a stage and to showcase him. When you dig in, you'll see. Great switchbacks, excellent reveals... he's brilliant!
Derek McCaw: One of the things I really love about this is that when people see the movie, it's not obviously a graphic novel. I mean, it's not a genre that in this country people will realize oh -- and then we get to say "see?"
Ross Richie: When is a comic book movie not a comic book movie? What is the sound of one hand clapping?
Derek McCaw: You've got so much going on THIS summer, what's the NEXT thing for you?
The funniest thing my son has ever read.
Ross Richie: We signed up George Perez to an exclusive. We're going to be up to some hijinks with George, so that should be fun. We landed a really big license, and we got the guy who originated it to come back to it.
And it'll be pretty mind-blowing. When we announce it, you're going to hit me up on Facebook and be like "no waaaay!" I promise. I'm not that guy. I'm not the hype guy. People are going to be really happy.
It's a lot of fun. I mean, you've got to do licenses that are awesome. I mean, you look at Robocop, and there's Frank Miller's lost screenplay for Robocop 3, let's turn that into a comic book.
Derek McCaw: Another thing I have to give you guys credit for, that impresses me, is that you're able to do such a great kids' line. My son has gotten into Bravest Warriors, and he tells me "Dad, this is the funniest thing I've ever read..."
Ross Richie: It's one of my favorites.
Derek McCaw: You've got a fantastic kids' line, a great regular line, and I think I want to end on that note. Boom! is going forward...
Ross Richie: Thank you. I appreciate it. The name of the company ain't whimper!