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On The Punisher

To be brutally honest, the Punisher was never a character that appealed to me until editor Stephen Wacker approached me to write the book. Prior to that, I’d always felt him to be remarkably two-dimensional, and that’s saying something about a character from a medium where two-dimensional characters are the rule, not the exception. Add to that the lingering Reagan-era right-wing Tough On Crime wrapping, and Frank Castle had always been something of a turn off for me.

But Wacker is a good editor in all the ways that matter, and he knew the right questions to ask me, and the right stories to show me, and all of the sudden, I found myself thinking that the Punisher was far more than I’d given credit. The revenge story is a staple of literature, stretching back to word one, really, and in all that time, there are certain tropes that we’ve seen replayed over and over again. But the nature of comics forces some of those clichés into question, even if – in my opinion – nobody has really stopped to try and answer the questions that have been raised. After all, almost every revenge story ends the same way. Almost every revenge story ends like Moby Dick or Hamlet.

But Frank… Frank keeps going. He took his revenge long, long ago, and he continues, and while the market reasons for that continuance as obvious, the market reasons don’t factor for the character, they don’t matter in the world. In other words, Frank Castle doesn’t know he’s owned entirely by Marvel Entertainment, and that they make a pretty penny off of his continued vendetta.

That was the entry-point for me, and that, in very large part, is what my run on Punisher seeks to explore; how is it that Frank can continue, can survive, so long after his initial revenge has been exacted? How is it that he hasn’t gone mad, committed suicide, come off the rails and started murdering at random? How is it that he has maintained this position as an extraordinary anti-hero and general bad-ass in a universe with Captain America and Spider-Man?

Greg Rucka is the New York Times bestselling author of a dozen novels, including the Atticus Kodiak and Tara Chace series, and has won multiple Eisner awards for his graphic novels. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and children. Mulholland Books will publish his next novel ALPHA, the first in a new series featuring retired Delta Force operator, Master Sergeant Jad Bell, in May 2012.

Stay tuned tomorrow for an excerpt from the The Punisher, Vol. 1, the first six issues of the Rucka-penned series, in stores this Wednesday.