Punisher: Nightmare was first reported on back in 2009, from the creative team of TV and comic book writer Scott M. Gimple and acclaimed artist Mark Texeira, of Ghost Rider and Punisher War Journal fame. Three years later, the five-issue miniseries now has an official release date, announced Saturday afternoon during Marvel's "Cup O' Joe" panel at New York Comic Con: It'll be out weekly throughout the month of January, telling the story of a soldier who experiences a tragic loss of his family much like Frank Castle did — which either makes him Punisher's greatest ally or worst enemy. Newsarama has the first interview with Gimple, now a writer on The Walking Dead TV series, about Punisher: Nightmare, the effect it'll have on Frank Castle and working with a comic book veteran like Texeira. Newsarama: Scott, you're clearly been a busy guy with your work on AMC's The Walking Dead, but you're returning to comics with Punisher: Nightmare. To whatever degree you feel comfortable with sharing, how did the series come to fruition? Is the Punisher a character you've wanted to take on for a while?
Scott M. Gimple: I feel comfortable. Actually, it's a little hot in here, but I'm happy to answer the question.
I've been a comics reader and a comics writing hopeful since I was a kid, so I've always had stories cookin' — my own stuff, and then stuff I hoped to do for Marvel. I became friends with Mark Waid after he read a series I co-created and wrote at Bongo Comics (Heroes Anonymous, with Bill Morrison) and Mark, in turn, introduced me to Tom Brevoort. I wound up haranguing Tom with pitches. I'm a huge fan of Garth Ennis' work on the Punisher, so Frank Castle is always occasionally bouncing around my head.
Nrama: The concept of the series suggests that with the Punisher dealing with a victim of a very similar tragic circumstance, he might actually feel some empathy for the guy (at least momentarily), a quality the character's obviously not known for. Is that an accurate assessment?
Gimple: It's accurate, but that empathy, that human moment that Frank has is a millisecond of hesitation at a pivotal moment — and it sets all of the events of the story into motion.
Nrama: Though the Punisher has a clear consistent quality, he definitely has had multiple different interpretations over the years. How do you describe your "take" on the character?
Gimple: My take is pretty similar to the more recent takes on Frank in the Marvel Universe — he's not quite the character from the excellent MAX stories. I portray Frank as a man who lives as kind of a vengeful ghost — he doesn't live as regular people do. He doesn't have good days, he doesn't really have any sort of emotional life. I don't imagine he even really tastes the food he eats. He just lives for the mission.
And yet, the whole reason he's on this mission is because he's lost people that he loved: his family. To me, that's evidence that he does have a spark of humanity within him. And that's the thing that can trip him up: however much he doesn't want to be a human being anymore, he is one. And human beings react to things, they feel things… Frank would like to be a mindless killing machine, eliminating those who would hurt, victimize, and kill innocents. But it just doesn't work that way. That's the guy who's at the center of Punisher: Nightmare.
Nrama: You're paired with Mark Texeira, a comics veteran who drew the just-wrapped Space: Punisher series — how has the collaboration been thus far?
Gimple: An insane dream. I used to read Mark's comics when I was a kid… I've been saying I've been reading Mark's stuff since high school, but I realize I got my first Texeira stuff when I was ten years old: Hex #1. Mark's stuff is expressive, kinetic, immersive, amazing.
Nrama: Much like a TV series, Punisher: Nightmare is coming out weekly. How do you think that type of velocity will affect the reading experience rather than the traditional (and seemingly evolving) once-a-month format?
Gimple:I think this title will lend itself to being a weekly. It's an intense story that plays around with time a bit and switches perspectives — and though it's five issues, each issue tells a complete story that builds into a whole. I think the books coming out every week will possibly make the way things stack up even more satisfying.
Nrama: Is Punisher: Nightmare meant to be a standalone story outside of current continuity, or maybe set somewhere in the past? Or is worrying about such things totally not the point?
Gimple:If you dig comics, if you follow a character a long time, you want to know how all the stories fit together… You could say the events of this book occurred in the recent past — and it does reference a few past Marvel Universe events, as well, like Civil War. Not exactly current continuity, not exactly ancient continuity either. Not totally the point, but not totally not the point either... More from Newsarama:
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