You saw the movie, now read the sequel.
With the comic-book-turned-blockbuster-movie 2 Guns with Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg still going strong in movie houses this week, you can already plunk down some change to read what happens next – in the story’s original form, comics. Launched last month, the miniseries 3 Guns sees writer/creator Steven Grant returning to his successful “buddy cop” franchise to tell what happens after those end-credit scenes with Trench and Stigman – and doing it in a special effects budget only comic books can afford.
In 3 Guns, Steven Grant is joined by up-and-coming artist Emilio Laiso to take Steadman and Trench out of the frying pan and into the fire – the crossfire, that is. Already on the run from the federal government and drug kingpins, 3 Guns sees the duo at odds with new threats from the Russian mafia and some rebellious anti-American revolutionaries. And as the title suggests, Steadman and Trench have a new partner that they might get along even less than they get along with each other.
Newsarama: Steve, where does 3 Guns pick up after the end of the first series, 2 Guns?
Steven Grant: Somewhere in the neighborhood of a couple of years. They haven’t had any contact since the end of 2 Guns. Bobby’s hiding out on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state, keeping a very low profile. Marcus has been a little more active, but nothing Bobby would’ve heard about. Then they suddenly find themselves on opposite sides of the situation.
Nrama: In this one you have Marcus and Bobby getting along just enough to go against some Russians and some homegrown revolutionists. What’s the score?
Grant: Getting along is a stretch. The Russians & the anti-government gang are doing a gun deal, with the latter buying from the former. The gang becomes aware of the Bobby Beans story and are so impressed they blackmail him into stealing their money back from the Russians after the deal goes down. When scoping out the Russians, Bobby spots a very familiar face, and he’s not very pleased by the development. In fact, he finds it quite suspicious.
Nrama: In the original Bobby and Marcus were as much feuding with each other as they were the bad guys – has their relationship developed much in this new serial?
Grant: It has deteriorated, because of their situations. Neither’s with their old agencies anymore, due to the fallout from 2 Guns, and both have been off the grid, so neither of them can trust a thing the other one says. But they end up striking a bargain that’s really them sort of blackmailing each other to keep their covers from being blown, since they’re both hooked up with very violent men who’d kill either or both of them in an instant if there was ever a whiff they were ever government. It’s less a mutual admiration society than a mutually assured destruction pact. It’s a common story, really; you know someone in one context, then you don’t see them for a long time, then you’re thrown in with them in a new context and you just aren’t sure where you stand with them. That’s Bobby and Marcus at the beginning of 3 Guns.
Nrama: The title of the original refers to two competing government agents, Bobby Trench and Marcus Steadman. Who’s this third gun coming in?
Grant: Let’s just say there’s someone else involved who’s running games on them both, aware of their legends but unaware of their real names or real pasts. But that person also has a rather sketchy backstory and is juggling more balls than they can handle. Like Bobby and Marcus, their official status is pretty questionable; for them, this is intended to be a career-repairing operation, but they end up moving the wrong Jengo piece.
Nrama: You wrote 3 Guns with the shadow of the 2 Guns movie in development. Did that movie influence the story of 3 Guns?
Grant: Only insofar as I didn’t want to do anything that directly contradicts the film. We all understand that the books are the books and the movies are the movies, and the former are my work and the latter their work. I’m not going to kill either of the main characters, obviously, or have them turn radically evil or anything like that but I wasn’t going to do that anyway, and no one from Boom! nor the movie side has hinted that I should change anything. I think they want to be surprised too.
Nrama: The original book came out back in 2006, and you’d been thinking about it for awhile before that. Did you think much about the continuing adventures of these characters in the off-time between finishing 2 Guns and before the movie got off the ground?
Grant: Honestly, I didn’t. Every time I’ve ever thought of sequels to projects, those sequels never happen. So with 2 Guns, I just wanted to do a single story that I was happy with. Obviously, it’s open-ended in that the heroes are still alive at the end, but until Ross Richie said last summer, “Better think up a story for 3 Guns,” I hadn’t given it any thought at all. Not consciously, anyway. Within about four hours of being asked I had the rough framework for the story, so on some level I must’ve been thinking about it.
Nrama: You read stories online of comics being optioned as movies seemingly everyday; several of your own have been optioned. At what point in the 2 Guns movie process did it turn from just another option deal to being a real thing?
Grant: By the third time they renewed the option, and it was a decent option price, it was pretty clear someone was intent on getting it made. It wasn’t just the sort of Russian roulette production companies often play with properties. I was never sure until filming began it was actually going to happen, but I was pretty sure people were out there working very hard to make it happen, especially Ross Richie, Adam Siegel and Mark Wahlberg.
Nrama: You’ve got a great assortment of other creator-owned works that seem like possible stories for movies, from My Flesh is Cool to my favorite, Damned with Mike Zeck. Any news on any of your other comics being adapted in some way or another?
Grant: Mortal Souls was optioned awhile back and is proceeding slowly, and My Flesh Is Cool was set up for awhile, then fell through as is common with movies, but suddenly we’re (Shane Riches, the producer I work with on some projects, and I) getting a lot of action on it again, so maybe. Damned is definitely a possibility, especially with the re-release out from BOOM! on July 31. There are a few other things.
Nrama: It’s great to see you returning to comics; can we look forward to seeing you do more work in the feature, either creator-owned like new Whisper stories or working with a company?
Grant: I have recently gotten the urge to do some new Whisper material, so I’m considering storylines and publication options at the moment. I already have another project set with Boom! that ought to be announced fairly soon, and we’re in discussion on a couple others. Considering how well BOOM! has treated me with 2 Guns, I’ll probably be doing most new work there for the foreseeable future, especially since they’re eager to build my crime comics into a sub-genre. At minimum, they have a first look option on everything as far as I’m concerned.