I recently re-watched Punisher War Zone (my favorite Punisher flick, by the way) and then watched all the extras. They went through a lot of trouble to make the film resemble the comics and that got me thinking about my favorite Punisher stories and artists. I came up with a 5 favorite artist without trying and decided to make a Top 10 list. It actually wasn't as easy as I thought but here's what I cam up with!
10. Goran Parlov.
I had noticed Parlov's Punisher art on covers but wasn't reading any of his stories, so his name never clicked. It wasn't until I read Fury My War Gone By with the story of Nick Fury and Frank Castle sneaking around the Vietnam/Cambodian jungles, that it came together. I could read volumes of those two silently making their way through fields and jungles, just beautiful!
Parlov brings us a very down to earth, dirty, Punisher. He doesn't look neat and clean with brand new weapons, straight off the shelf, and that's really the way the Punisher should look. He looks strong, rough around the edges and like he could pull an extra weapon out of anywhere, at any moment.
9. Ariel Olivetti.
Again, I don't think I've read a Punisher story drawn by Olivetti, but his work really makes me want to! His Punisher is a huge, bruiser who looks like he could kill you without any weapons! This is a big, intimidating Punisher. Olivetti's style is clean but not overly so. The Punisher looks like he's been through some nonsense and he's not going to let you get away with anything!
8. Mitch Gerads.
I'll admit, I'm in love with Mitch's Punisher! His Frank Castle looks unkempt but serious. Gerads decks him out in real world gear, keeping the skull logo front and center, and it works! This is the Punisher I want to see kicking in doors and shooting more bad guys than I can count. Thankfully, Nate Edmondson supplies Mitch (and Frank) with plenty of moving targets!
7. Whilce Portacio.
Ok, Whilce didn't have a big run on Punisher. He didn't have to, his Punisher looked like a super hero running around taking out scum! It was fantastic! And he went up against the Kingpin, epic! Whilce's style has always been super detailed and his Punisher was no different. Slicked back hair, ripped muscles and plenty of guns, this Punisher honestly made my initial Top 5, but I had to make room for the greats!
6. Mark Texeira.
Somehow Tex brought us a grim and gritty bad ass without losing any of the "super hero" flavor. This Punisher looked like he had been drug through an alley before showing up on the comic page. With muscles that could snap a neck with ease, the towering figure of the Punisher looks like he really has been waging his war for years!
5. Joe Jusko.
I love that Jusko can make the Punsiher look like a super star and keep him a grounded character, What other character looks like he was ripped off the cover of a Men's Pulp Action novel. This is seriously the Manly Man's Punisher!
4. John Romita JR.
Sure it was the 90's but everyone wanted JR JR's Punisher War Zone #1! Why? Because the Punisher had never looked more like the thug he was hunting. Built like a tank, sweaty, greased back hair and a big broken nose, this Punisher was all business! Load him up with enough guns and grenades to take out a large city and this Punisher is ready for war!
3. Jim Lee.
Yes, Jim frigging Lee! He not only draws a killer Punisher, he drew him in every environment, with every weapon. This was a seriously cool, straight out of a Hollywood Movie, Punisher. Even when he was done on the book, I can't tell you how many covers Jim Lee did for the book, every one a solid hit!
2. Tim Bradstreet.
There's no way a list like this can be made without Bradstreet! I think he actually goes down into the sewers, finds the Punisher and draws him. This is the most realistic looking, photo accurate, dark and moody Punisher there could be! I can only say, Bravo!
1. Mike Zeck.
Without a Mike Zeck Punisher this list wouldn't exist! Maybe you would switch him and Bradstreet, I wouldn't. When I met the Punisher for the first time, I was introduced to him by Mike Zeck. This was a solid workhorse that you knew would look you in the eyes as he pulled the trigger. This Clint Eastwood/Sylvester Stallone looking machine carried the biggest guns and fought armies of the baddest thugs. I can never get enough on Mike Zeck's Punisher.
Honorable Mention: Eliot Brown.
This is the guy who gave us hundreds of the coolest Punisher pin-ups, ever! You don't know the name? Shame on you! Pick up any Marvel Technical page or even better, an issue of the Punisher Armory! Elliot Brown is the artistic genius who gave us all of those awesome shots of the Punisher's favorite weapons and gear on the work bench, gun range or back alley! Thank you for making the Punisher even cooler, Mr. Brown!
There it is! I may have overlooked someone. There's been so much incredible Punisher art, over the years, I tried to keep it to people who worked on the actuall title, too. There were a few I considered but they just drew Frank Castle in a pin-up or cross over. Who do you think should have made the list?