Victor Gischler Tackles Punisher in "Little Black Book"

For The Punisher's next delivery of justice, Frank Castle is armed with perhaps his deadliest weapon ever – a call girl's client list.

That's right. In the MAX one-shot "Punisher MAX Special: Little Black Book" – due in stores this June – acclaimed crime novelist Victor Gischler ("Gun Monkeys," "Pistol Poets"), The Punisher will name names.

"The little black book lists some very important people," Gischler told CBR News in an exclusive interview. "Imagine if that got into the wrong hands."

One name of particular interest to The Punisher is Carlos Ramirez, a powerful Miami drug lord who for all intents and purposes is untouchable. That's where Vette comes into play. "I was really keen to tell the story from a non-Frank point of view, so the story is told through the eyes of Vette, a very high-class and high-priced prostitute," teased Gischler. "But Punisher isn't relegated to the background. He's right there doing the dirty work."

What Gischler loves most about Frank Castle is that he isn't looking to be loved. "The guy doesn't want or need anyone's approval," laughed Gischler. "He sees what he needs to do and does it. It's especially great to be let loose with Frank on a MAX title. It's pure kick-ass fun."

MAX is a Marvel Comics imprint geared to adult audiences. Currently "Punisher MAX" is the line's only ongoing title.

Gischler said he is a big fan of The Punisher, dating back to the Frank Mille "Daredevil" days. "Punisher, Bullseye, Stick all those characters are great," said Gischler. "I fell out of reading comics for a good long while, and now I see what I've been missing. I really dig the MAX stuff, although I've made a point to pick up [the Marvel Universe's] 'Punisher War Journal' too, my last few trips to the comic shop."

As a well-established crime novelist, Gischler said what he feels he brings to The Punisher is the notion that crime, in a fictional sense, is a world all its own. "It's a place where things operate according to their own natural order and a bit differently than the real world," explained Gischler. "Things like order and justice work themselves out differently. But this is not something I understand exclusively by any means. There are a lot of good folks working with Punisher. I'm very aware that I'm following in some sizable footsteps."

Providing art for the special is Jefte Paolo, who last flipped the comic world on its collective head at the end of 2007 with his work on "Moon Knight" Annual #1. "I've glimpsed a few advance pages of 'Little Black Book' and his work has gotten even better since the 'Moon Knight' Annual," said Gischler. "I'm chomping at the bit to see the finished issue. So far, Jefte's actual renditions look even better than what I imagined in my head."

In regards to Gischler's own novels "Gun Monkeys" and "Shotgun Opera," the writer said he recognizes a few characters that appear to take their cues from The Punisher. "A few of them think the best way to make a problem go away for good is by pulling the trigger," said Gischler. "I can see some Frank in there."

Gischler said a few years back he was looking to break into comics so he changed agents and landed with David Hale Smith and his galaxy of stars. "David is a great agent, and one of the reasons I went with him was that he had good connections in the comic industry," explained Gischler. "He hooked me up with [Marvel editor] Axel Alonso and we started tossing ideas around until something seemed good. Axel has a gift for spotting the one good idea among the big pile of things that don't quite hit the mark. Even I was surprised how good things turned out with Axel's guidance."

As for what else he has cooking, Gischler offered, "In July, Simon & Schuster will publish my next novel 'Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse.' It's a bawdy, violent, satirical story set after the fall of civilization. A bit of a departure from my crime stuff, but readers will still very much be able to tell it's a Gischler novel.

"And there's always a few extra secret projects simmering in the stew pot."

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