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‘2 Guns’ Earns Writer Steven Grant A Major Payday

This Friday, 2 Guns, a movie about two undercover drug agents who begrudgingly have to work together and that stars Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, opens in theaters. Most people who see it won’t have any idea it was based on a comic book by writer Steven Grant and artist Mateus Santolouco. And yet Grant probably made more money from selling the movie rights than anyone who’s written a Wolverine comic will make from The Wolverine, The New York Times explains.

The story goes like this: Boom Studios CEO Ross Richie offered Grant an “insulting” paycheck for the series eight years ago, but what he could offer Grant was a big cut of the rights to a film or TV version of the story. When Universal Pictures came calling, Grant earned a major share of the nearly seven-figure deal Boom worked out, similar to what novelists or other prose writers get if the movie rights to their work sells.

Grant calls 2 Guns the most successful thing he’s ever done and has prepped a sequel, 3 Guns. Of course, it’s a trade-off for creators. Years of waiting for a big payday versus doing what the Times calls “corporate comics,” earning a paycheck and then having to watch a story you helped create go on to make millions or billions at the box office.

Also of note: The Times only names Grant when talking about that huge payday. What about Santolouco? By omission, it would seem he wasn’t part of that deal. So it would appear that even when it comes to creator-owned or independent comics, artists still could be left out of the loop when the movie money comes in.

Not to mention that a whole bunch of comics written specifically for the purpose of being backdoor movie storyboards  have been just plain bad comics. (The Times doesn’t indicate that’s what 2 Guns was, to be clear; in fact, it was a script Grant had been sitting on for years before Boom offered to publish it.)

Looks like the Times might need to look at doing a couple of follow-ups.

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