Friday, July 06, 2012

The Punisher by Gray Morrow

I used to own a painting.

I owned dozens of nice pages of original comic artwork but, among them, just one painting. And it was spectacular.

The Punisher was created by Gerry Conway and made his first appearance in 1974's Amazing Spider-Man #129. The character caught on immediately and, although not awarded a series of his own until the mid-1980s, made numerous appearances not only with Spider-Man but also with Captain America and Daredevil.

The Punisher did appear in one solo story not long after his debut, in 1975's Marvel Preview #2. Marvel Preview was an entry in Marvel's underappreciated black and white magazine line; the first issue of the series had featured stories drawn by Alex Nino and Dave Cockrum under a sharp Neal Adams cover (I do not remember those stories and now I have an itch to dig out that issue and look it over). The second issue of Marvel Preview was dominated by The Punisher, weighing in with a 32-page story by Mr. Conway and Tony DeZuniga. And that spectacular cover. By. Gray. Morrow. Yes it's a bit blood-soaked, but still.

I didn't give the cover all that much thought as I picked that magazine up and bought it off the newsstand. But a decade later I purchased the original painting and I owned it proudly for twenty years. It is the only artwork I ever owned that I framed. The painting was a huge two feet wide by three feet tall if I'm remembering correctly (and I am). You can see a larger version of the above snapshot I took of the painting over here.

Now, listen as I cue the fast-forwarding-tape sound effect and bring us back to the year 2012. Earlier this year I wrote about the cable television disappointment entitled Comic Book Men. I gave you my impression immediately after watching the first episode and planned to report again after seeing the entire six-hours series. I did take notes every week and there were some things I was going to bring up, but guess what. I threw those notes out. Let it go. The show stunk. There is just one last little thing I want to say about it, however.

On one of the episodes, an individual brought a comic book into the store that he wanted to sell to 'the guys' and it was Marvel Preview #2! I said to myself Now this is bloggable! The guys behind the counter blathered on about the history of the character for a while but (now get ready for this) a graphic on the screen incorrectly identified the comic book with the below cover as The Punisher #2 from 1986. Huh?

I wrote yesterday about how seventeen professors of philosophy got every comic book reference correct in their 280-page Green Lantern and Philosophy book. So why would the supposed experts of Comic Book Men not do just a little bit of fact-checking and catch an egregious error like this one before it ran out of the barn?

Just breathe, let the blood pressure come down a bit and, like I wrote earlier, let it go. Please do take a minute to soak in this painting, though. It's a beauty.


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