SDCC '08 - Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon Talk Punisher

SDCC 08 - Ennis & Dillon Talk Punisher

Yesterday at the Mondo Marvel panel at San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel announced that the fan-favorite Punisher team of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon will be the creative team on Punisher: War Zone, a six-issue weekly mini-series slated for a December release that coincides with the release of the Punisher: War Zone film from Lionsgate. Ennis and Dillon aren’t the only two returning to the pages of a Punisher comic book either, Punisher War Zone also marks the return of mob boss, Ma Gnucci from Ennis and Dillon’s original work on the Marvel Knights’ Punisher title from 2000.

Newsarama contacted Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon, and Marvel Executive Editor Axel Alonso to talk about the particulars of the mini and to the ask the question: What else can the Punisher do to a burnt, polar bear-mauled old lady who is missing all of her limbs?!?

Newsarama: First off, Axel, this project is a six issue weekly book--does this project have any ties to Punisher: War Zone which hits theaters on December 5th?

Axel Alonso: Nope. No tie-in at all. This is just Garth and Steve returning to the character and having some twisted fun.

NRAMA: Garth, you've chopped all of Ma Gnucci's limbs off, you've fed her to a polar bear; and kicked her back into a burning house that she escaped from; how much more can one lady endure? How much vengeance can one person exact--she owes Frank quite a bit...

Garth Ennis: You'll have to read the story. I can't really talk about Ma's vengeance or what might happen to her without giving away an important part of it.

NRAMA: Steve, how does it feel to be working with Garth on the Punisher again?

Steve Dillon: It's always great working with Garth, especially on the Punisher. He has a real feel for the character and writes him with just the right mix of darkness, brutality, pathos and humor. It's been quite a while since we worked together so I'm enjoying it all the more for that.

NRAMA: What's going down in this mini-series exactly? How much trouble is Frank in exactly?

GE: Frank's heard a rumor that an Italian branch of the Gnucci family are on their way to New York, intent on revenge for what he did to Ma. His subsequent investigation reveals that Ma herself may be making a re-appearance, presumably from beyond the grave. We'll also see the return of Elite, one of the would-be vigilantes operating during the original Gnucci affair, and Molly Von Richtofen, long-suffering NYPD detective and probably the only voice of sanity in the entire story.

NRAMA: With War Zone being weekly, you guys have to work quite a bit in advance. Axel, how tightly are things scheduled to have six books come out properly?

AA: We’ve got lots of lead time, and Steve is taking full advantage of it. He’s already working on the third issue. When Steve gets his ass out of the pub, he’s actually quite fast.

NRAMA: Steve, how do the two of you work in confines of a deadline--do the two of you have a method to your madness together?

SD: Considering the quality of his scripts, it's amazing how prolific Garth is. It's all there waiting for me to draw it and I never have to worry that I'll be sitting around waiting for pages to trickle through. We've done so much work together that there's rarely, if ever, any misunderstanding about how to interpret the script. I can tell what he's after and he has a pretty good idea of what he's going to get from me--though I like to think I can give him a few pleasant surprises along the way.

NRAMA: Who had the bright idea to bring a burnt quadriplegic former mob boss back into the Punisher's life? Does she have any resources left at her disposal?

GE: It was actually Joe Quesada's idea; he figured people would want to see her again. I wasn't all that keen initially, being very much finished with the dafter Punisher stuff I started out with, but my brain has a habit of serving me up ideas for stories regardless of my wishes. This one soon took on a life of its own.

Again, exactly what resources Ma may or may not have left is a question best answered by reading the story; I don't want to wreck the surprise.

NRAMA: Garth, the sadistically funny nature of your work on Punisher has taken Frank's popularity to new levels. For other writers working with the character, what do you think the next step will be to take the Punisher beyond the ideal you've created? Or does the old adage "if it ain't broke..." apply here?

GE: For me, the goofier aspect of some of the earlier stories is nowhere near as important as the harsher material in the MAX book; I rarely think about the Marvel Knights stuff at all anymore. As for what comes next, I've always thought of Frank as a pretty difficult character to get wrong--although it can and has been done, many times.

This time around, I think Axel Alonso has brought in just the right guys to keep the book on-track.

NRAMA: Steve, between you and Garth, who has the sicker sense of humor when it comes to Frank Castle?

SD: Well, Garth comes up with the sick ideas and I'm sick enough to get great enjoyment from illustrating them so there seems to be a useful balance of sickness at work.

NRAMA: Axel, what other Punisher projects can fans expect to see before Punisher: War Zone hits theaters?

AA: Currently on Punisher MAX, we’ve got three story arcs by three of my favorite crime novelists, Gregg Hurtwitz’s “Girls in White Dresses,” Duane Swierzynski’s “Six Hours to Kill,” and Victor Gischler’s “Welcome to the Bayou.” They’re all great stories, sure to appeal to Punisher fans. It all starts this month in Punisher #61 and winds up in Punisher #74; which leaves us with issue #75, about which I have nothing to say…yet

Also in December, keep an eye out for the Punisher Christmas Special, written by Jason Aaron and illustrated by Roland Boschi.

NRAMA: Are there more Ennis/ Dillon Punisher stories left to be told? Or does this tale bring the two of you full circle with the character?

SD: If Garth ever fancied doing more Punisher with me I'd be well up for it. We've other stuff we'd like to do together so only time will tell.

GE: This is definitely the last of the old-style Marvel Knights Punisher stories--it's a little darker than most of those, but its roots in that period can't be denied. It's been a real pleasure working with Steve again--like coming home, as he himself said--but whatever we do next, Punisher or not, will be very different.

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