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‘Life Lessons with Frank’ Category

  1. Do The Job

    August 22, 2014 by Arch Stanton

    Life Lesson With Frank: “Do the job. Like a 9 to 5 stockbroker working in the pit on Wall Street… ‘cept my job may be less bloody at times.”  Whether you’re one-handing an M-16 in the jungles of Vietnam, or cleaning up the trash from someone else’s party, there’s two kinds of people out there, Those Who Do The Job, and Those Who Bitch.  When you’re the hardest worker on the block, you don’t call out “lazy people”, they’re just called “everyone else”.

    From "Punisher Invades The 'Nam" with Don Lomax (W), Alberto Saichann (A), Steve Dutro (L), and John Kalisz (C)

    From “Punisher Invades The ‘Nam” with Don Lomax (W), Alberto Saichann (A), Steve Dutro (L), and John Kalisz (C)

  2. Forty Years of Mayhem!!!!!

    August 17, 2013 by Arch Stanton

    Forty years ago today was the origin of the greatest character to ever grace paper!


    Artwork by Marco Checchetto, news clipping from the Top Secret Files Punisher Source Book by Carl Potts from 1990.


  3. One Man’s Work is another MansLaughter

    July 5, 2012 by Arch Stanton

    Establishing some structure here for a moment: There will be plenty more War Journal and Punisher issue breakdowns forthcoming (found a bombshell in a couple War Journals that slipped by the editors, stay tuned), and I’ll alternate some additional commentary on what makes Frank Frank.

    In the strangest twist in comicdom, Frank is Most Hated #1 by Marvel characters, yet killin’ aside, lives the model Puritanical lifestyle. I can think of few other characters whose fans will light the internet on fire over a writer who shows Frank sipping a beer, then an issue later flame up with the same zeal if his bodycount/page ratio drops under 1 in 5. He’s a family man, a patriot, war-hero, a teetotaler, abstinent, former seminary student, and is required to be the most carefully protective of innocents of any hero. If Spider-Man misses a shot, Mary Jane gets some web in her face (if you either don’t know what “double entendre” means or don’t understand how it currently applies then come back when you hit puberty, you’re too young to be reading this). If Frank misses a shot, some bystander loses a face. In the circus of earth 616, is it more exciting to watch clown Daredevil twirling batons over the masses, or Frank wandering the crowd juggling his shotguns, chainsaws, and hatchets? Which one requires the most care, and who bears the greater responsibility to those around them?

    Work Week Begins: Monday Morning, June 20, 1988. Thirty seconds prior to the invention of “Pistol Shaving.”

    In short, Frank Castle has a Code, it is literally the only thing that defines his actions as a profession rather than a butcher’s bill. Every writer from Grant to Ennis thinks they have Frank dialed in, but really, all they’re doing is tweaking the boundaries of that code. In order for readers to go along with Frank, to allow these books to exist and to allow him his extremes, he has to be penitent, always has. He must be self-aware, decisive, sober, confident, enduring, and above all, he must constantly suffer. He cannot enjoy what he is doing, or we won’t accept it. That’s how guilty pleasures work. You put Peter Parker or Tony Stark’s personality on Frank and you have a lunatic psychopath;  he either becomes a lampooning jester like Deadpool, or just another non-powered flavor of the week Joker carbon-copy.

    So for this week the first of Frank’s Manly Virtues: Motherfuckin’ Work Ethic. The James Brown of the superheros, he doesn’t take a break. He doesn’t love his work, he is his work. He has 10 whole issues of Punisher Armory just dedicated to what he does fartin’ around the house. Has any comic character EVER had an entire series devoted to what they do in their garage? And all of it involves guns, cleaning guns, building guns, or shit he found at the Sharper Image that you can hide a gun in. Morning, day, night, he’s killin’ it. You know why Punisher writers love Holiday Issues? So you can be sure to understand that no, he doesn’t take holiday breaks, but he will kill your ass in a Santa hat. His super power is that he works harder and longer than anyone else. It is the forgotten virtue of our fathers that we all want to believe we have, but then go ahead and sneak a double lunch break every Wednesday to head down to the comic book store. Do you think Frank stops killing early on New Books Day? Frank doesn’t give a shit when its New Books Day. Frank is Old School, he is Goddamn Man, he has a Job, he has Shit To Do. Frank Castle is a Worker.

    Come back in a couple days for a breakdown of War Journal #1-5.

  4. Frank’s Wild Years

    June 21, 2012 by Arch Stanton

    “Frank settled down in the Valley, and he hung his wild years on a nail he drove through his wife’s forehead.” – Tom Waits ForNoMan

    Motherfuckin’ Frank Castle.  If comic books are bands, Frank is Black Flag, born in the 70s, dangerous by the 80s, focused to a fault, one-dimensional as a flatline, and by God somebody’s guaranteed to get fucked up by the end of the evening.  The embodiment of the worst fears of parents and social experts of what all music (and comics) would someday become, but never really came to pass.  And the fans never stopped coming back.

    Frank is legendary for his cool head, calm under fire, and progressive stance on complex urban social issues.

    As a kid I thought comics were great, I didn’t mind eating my Wheaties for Captain America as long as he threw a few punches around to make it interesting, Spider-man’s one liners were still funny because a cliché’s just a joke the first time you hear it, and Wolverine sure looked badass even with that goofy haircut.  This Punisher guy here with the all-black vibe is kind of cool, pirate flag on his chest, and HOLY SHIT he just blew that guy’s face OFF!!!  They make comic books all about the bad guys, too?  Waitaminute, this is a good guy?

    In the 1980’s in the US, boys were exposed to an unprecedented experiment in desensitization to violence.  GI Joe and Cobra blasted the shit out of each other every day for years on end, but everyone was still around at the end for their PSA spot.  Autobots and Decepticons ripped limbs from torsos and just plugged them back in.  Batman and the Joker go round, and round, and round, and the A-team cobbled together firebreathing tanks and rivet gatling guns; rest assured that all the baddies would surrender unharmed by the time the credits rolled.   Pretty much the only overarching message for 80s kids was “violence is freakin’ awesome, and everyone gets to come back tomorrow to do it all over again.”

    In Frank’s books, people didn’t get to come back tomorrow.  They didn’t get to come back at all, and if you were writing for Frank Castle, you weren’t recycling shit, Frank was the paper shredder at the end of comic character continuity.  You want your bad guys to still be around for the West Coast Avengers to pound on, you better keep them the hell away from a Punisher book.

    So Frank got his own strange little world, sometimes the rest of the Marvel cast would dip in and out, but they never wanted to.  EVERYONE hated him, the good guys, the bad guys, the thugs, the citizens.  Over in the other books, not even the worst villans were so lonely, Dr. Doom had a country, Galactus had the Silver Surfer, even the Sinister Six would occasionally team-up out of boredom.  All Frank had was a single fat computer programmer, a dead family, and you, the faithful reader.  What a wonderful little secret; never had a comic book reader had such a direct connect to a character, hey, this guy NEEDS me, if I don’t read this book, then no one will give a shit about Frank Castle.  And clearly, shits need to be given, because he’s going through all the motions that we grew to know and love with the other 80’s series, but the bad guy doesn’t trail off in the distance, shaking his fist over “To Be Continued…” at the episode finale.   Frank knows how to punctuate the end of his stories.

    Which is why we’re here.  The first Punisher continuous series debuted in 1987, and marginally-controlled chaos reigned for another 8 years.  In this book, all Story Arcs ended in tombstones, and Character Development meant finding novel ways for Frank to kill your ass.  Part goofy, a little campy, but 103% fascinating, there was literally nothing like it.

    There were some common themes to hold it all together, and no one reads anything on the internet that isn’t a List, so I’ve broken down the reviews.  If you want to hear about plot and all that bullshit there’s tons of websites of reviews that will oblige.  Here I’ve distilled it to the Shit That Matters. Up First, we’ll review Punisher issues #1-5.