WWC: War Journalists Walker & Stewart talk "Punisher War Journal"

Cory Walker is best known as the co-creator of the teen superhero-vigilante title, "Invincible," but this November the artist will be depicting the exploits of a costumed vigilante with a more extreme approach to crime fighting, Marvel Comics' the Punisher. Walker and colorist Dave Stewart are set to take the artistic reigns of "Punisher War Journal" for a three-part arc beginning with issue #13. CBR News spoke with the duo about their work on the series.

When Assistant Editor Aubrey Sitterson called Cory Walker to offer him a "Punisher War Journal" arc to draw, the artist very enthusiastically accepted the assignment. "I am a huge Punisher fan," Walker told CBR News. "I know I could never draw Garth Ennis' Punisher, because my style wouldn't suit the MAX 'Punisher' book, so for me, 'Punisher War Journal' is where it's at. It's the punchy superhero kind of stuff that I'm suited for, and I couldn't be more thrilled about it. The opportunity to work with [series writer] Matt Fraction was a draw for me as well. That guy is aces."

Sitterson was also responsible for recruiting colorist Dave Stewart for the arc. "He gave me a call after he saw some work I was doing on an Iron Man series," Stewart said. "He thought Cory and I might make a good team. I liked Cory's design work and the pages he had already worked on. Real nice acting in the characters. ['Punisher War Journal'] seemed like a fun book to work on also."

"Punisher War Journal" is a book about Frank Castle hunting super criminals, and Walker and Stewart's arc will feature another character renowned for his hunting skills. "I can tell you that it features Alyosha Kravinoff; we're bringing Kraven back," Walker confirmed. "With input from Matt and Aubrey Sitterson, I got to design Alyosha Kravinoff's new look.  Say goodbye to the dockers, work boots and club shirt, Alyosha's got a new look that is fresh and different, but unmistakably Kraven the Hunter."

Walker's art for "Punisher War Journal" will also have a new look to it. "In the past, I think my work has had a somewhat sterile look to it from using French curves and templates too much in the inking stage, and trying to make every little line so sharp and perfect," Walker explained. "In the end, it just winds up taking all the life out of my drawings. For this book, I'm trying to get a more organic feel, and by ditching the templates and French curves except where absolutely necessary, I hope to achieve a look that is better suited for a Punisher comic than say, Ant-Man. Eventually, I'd like to be able to do more of the actual drawing in ink, over loose penciled layouts, instead of what I do now, which is meticulously inking over my own tight pencils. I think it will look better, and I know it will save time."

Dave Stewart's task is to enhance the mood of Walker's work on "War Journal," which is a book with a very unique tone. "I'm going to be working with more limited palette to create a grim mood grounding it in crime book feel," Stewart said. "Then I'll punctuate it with splashes of color, highlighting the superhero action."

Matt Fraction's "Punisher War Journal" scripts are a highlight of the assignment for both Walker and Stewart. "Working with Matt is rad," Walker said. "I've been a fan of his for years, so it's very exciting to have this opportunity to work with him. Matt writes great, fantastical action. We've got explosions, a man dressed as a Rhino smashing through walls forwards and backwards, neck-punches and everyone's favorite, kicking. There's never a dull moment. It's great fun."

"I'm looking forward to working with Matt's storytelling," added Dave Stewart. "I like the hard-edge action."

Walker and Stewart are also excited for the chance to work with each other. "We were lucky enough to get Dave, one of my favorite colorists, on for this arc, and I could not be more thrilled about it," Walker said. "Dave is one of the best in the industry, and it's such a pleasure to have the opportunity to work with him. I've seen a few pages from issue #13 colored and they look fantastic. I think people are going to be blown away by the magic he works."

"Cory has got these real nice, open lines," Stewart stated. "Lots of room to have fun with light sources and rendering. Nice design sense in his page layouts let me create that nice contrast that pulls your eye through a page. His drawing is inspiring. I love working with a new artist, figuring out what makes the project work. It's cool to change gears."

While "Punisher War Journal" has been a pleasant experience for Walker, it's also presented him with some challenges. "Trying to let go and ink the way I want to instead of the way I feel I have to has been a challenge," Walker explained. "I would get things done much faster if I could get over that particular hump, but it's hard to just switch off like that."

As readers may have guessed, regardless of any challenges he had to face, Walker considers the chance to work on "Punisher War Journal" a career highlight. "I get to draw one of my favorite characters, written by one of my favorite writers, and I get to work with one of my favorite colorists," he said. "There's no topping that."

Stewart echoed Walker's enthusiasm, saying, "This should be a great project. Nothing inspires me more that a team working at it's best, and that's what we have on this one."

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