A Dark Reign of supervillainy has fallen over the Marvel Universe, which means Frank Castle -- The Punisher -- is going to have to change tactics in his ongoing war against super crime. Castle's new war begins in January's "Punisher" #1, but on before that, the first leg of The Punisher's crusade against masked miscreants comes to an end with the release of "Punisher War Journal #26, the series' final issue. CBR News spoke with artist Andy MacDonald ("NYC Mech"), who's doing his best to make sure the series goes out with a bang instead of a whimper.
It was editor Axel Alonso who asked MacDonald if he'd like to work on "Punisher War Journal" #26 "After a long pause to consider the half-done popsicle model of The Predator I was building, I chucked it into the airshaft outside my apartment and replied 'YES.' That was pretty much how it came about without getting too far into my Predator obsession," MacDonald told CBR News.
"There's actually a few things that really made me excited to work on this issue of 'Punisher War Journal.' Firstly, 'Punisher War Journal' [Volume 1] was one of the first comics I ever bought, read and re-read as a kid and it's great to be able to add to that line. Then there are guests showing up in this issue that I've always really enjoyed. On top of all that, working with [writer] Matt [Fraction] is also a lot of fun. He's a great guy and a very talented writer that writes a story that's as fresh and exciting for the artist to draw as it is for the reader to read."
Andy MacDonald found the ways Fraction handled character interactions and armed his protagonist to be the most compelling elements in "War Journal" #26 "As an artist, showing the more subtle points of an interaction successfully can be as exciting as drawing a fight scene on an exploding jet crashing into a 50-car pile-up," the artist stated. "Also: Frank has a big ass gatling/minigun like Bill Duke has in 'Predator'. I love drawing those things and I take it as a nod to The Predator and the movie, so it's kind of a win/win for me."
Frank Castle may have a clear view of his mission and what he's out to achieve in "War Journal" #26, but in bringing the character to life, MacDonald wanted to capture the fact that The Punisher's world is often lot more multifaceted and ambiguous than he'd like it to be. "The world that Frank Castle lives in is for the most part black and white, but once in a while there might be a little more white or a lot more black," MacDonald said. "I wanted the art to contrast in a way that reflects the idea that his world can be dark and stark, but isn't completely lost to light and the lighter side of things."
MacDonald didn't just produce interior artwork for "War Journal" #26; the issue also gave him some opportunities for a little character design work as well. "Frank has a general look that changes with the demands of his missions, so it was fun to play around with that a little," MacDonald explained. "One of the perks for drawing this issue is the Rhino showing up. I've always enjoyed the classic look of the character, so there wasn't much derivation there except some artistic license and a few plot-specific aspects of his costume. Designing the thugs in this issue was a lot of fun as the script gives them a lot of character and personality. I've done my best to do them justice on page."
To do justice to the characters and story in "War Journal" #26, MacDonald had to slightly alter his artistic style. "I've used a lot more brush for this than I have for projects in the past," he said. "The brush has a more organic feel that suits the tone of this issue more than using mostly tech pens as I have in the past on projects like 'NYC Mech.'"
For Andy MacDonald, the the book's distinct mix of realistic action and fantastic elements was one of the appeals of drawing "Punisher War Journal." "I'm always trying to push my work in that direction to try and live up to the potential that comics offer, where the real and the fantastic are blended and given life on the page.
"There wasn't too much about the project that was difficult, some things just required more attention than others. My natural tendency was to revise/revamp Frank's gear every panel because it's so much damn fun to draw him in different getups, but I reigned myself in to keep him consistent throughout the story. The most rewarding aspect will probably be holding the issue in my hands, reading it. It hits the stands on January 2, kids! Run, don't walk!"
"Punisher War Journal" #26 is in stores January 2 from Marvel Comics.