Friday, March 14, 2014

So You're Nathan Edmondson: The Punisher in LA Interview

Two young boys walk up to him inside Meltdown. They see the Punisher and Black Widow on comic covers by artist Mitch Gerads. One of them, the younger brother, reads his name, almost sounding it out, "So you're Nathan Ed-mond-son?, " he asks. "Yes, " he goes, "that's me."

Nathan Edmondson looks like Ryan Gosling, at least he tells people that. I see it. With that and some quick thinking and some friends he'll be coasting that idea into a bit part on Rizzoli & Isles, one of the most popular drams on television as Chip, some character he made up at a party. Right now he has a gun on him provided to him by the store, just a toy gun, but still fun to twirl and fake fire off at fans.

He's busy the week he's in LA, where the Punisher now roams in his current arc with the character. The Punisher like Ryan Gosling-looking Nathan is not a LA native, though Nathan is living the LA dream with projects in development around at Fox and other studios including his previous work "Who is Jake Ellis?" an Image title about American espionage and remote viewing.

Back at Comic-Con 2012, Holly Interland, editor for Famous Monsters of Film land and Meltdown employee interviewed Edmondson briefly. "He was signing at Image's booth, he was just nominated for an Eisner Award for Who is Jake Ellis?, " she said. On Nathan stopping by for the signing, "It's fun to enjoy the book and be able to tell the author." She continued, "It's always New York, New York, New York and we have a hero in LA again."

In LA for only two signings was Mr. Edmondson, the night of March 12 he was at Meltdown, but the night before he was hanging out at the Nickel Diner eating Maple Bacon donuts and meeting fans. Why the Nickel Diner and those specific donuts? The Nickel Diner is a venue that the Punisher hangs out in Edmondson's run on the title and those donuts are favorite of the diner. One fan who attended both events told me he got an entire box of the favored donut to take home at the previous get together.

Edmondson has never tried it before, "
Y'know I don't know if I ever felt a great urge in my life to seek out a maple bacon donut, but I did try it and as far as I can tell I haven't had any heart attacks. It was something really interesting and a very good gourmet donut, " he told me.

Why the Nickel Diner was chosen was not only due to asking friends but as Nathan put it, "... in part because of the gentrification of skid row and downtown was emblematic of what the Punisher's trying to do, which is chase away the criminal elements and bring some order. So, it's a place that had a history of violence and  criminal behavior seemed apropos."

Nathan was setting up and getting his books in order while signing and handing out special "I Punish LA" posters and stickers for fans. Before I could start the formal interview, fans asked questions that I was going to pose to Nathan. "Will Kate Bishop be meeting the Punisher, since they're both in LA?," one fan asked. "No, we sort of put up a China Wall between them, " answered Edmondson as he signed the fan's books.

"What about Loot?, " the Punisher's coyote friend in the current arc. Nathan merely went, "Loot will play a larger role."

Another fan brought up how he was getting books signed for his wife and how she loved his pacing of the story.

"Who's the Punisher?," that little boy continued from earlier." He's the coolest Marvel character ever," Nathan answered him.

Nathan and I discussed much of the Punisher's progress in LA and how he operates with the character in our interview.

I started by asking him if he stole any baguettes before the interview. He replied, " Did I still any baguettes before the signing? No, I did not still any baguettes before the signing." A few days ago an LA Weekly article revealed that at his first job in France, while staying and working at a castle, he stole a baguette when he was hungry one night due to no other place being open to get food. The next morning one of the chefs was outraged one was missing. I just had to rub it in. "But, before coming here I ate with my pal Rob Ginny at the Pearl. Let me see, we had a flat bread with lobster and some appetizers and drinks."

With the Nickel Diner, a local well known eatery being apart of Punisher's current arc I asked about similar LA spots being used for the Punisher's LA outings. "Well, there's going to be more scenes at the Nickel Diner, but we're going to throw the Punisher all over the LA area as well as outside of the LA area, we'll see a large scope..." I interrupt and ask if he'll visit Pomona, the death toll would be so high. Nathan continues after a small laugh, "... all I can say is he's going to play all over his new playground."

I asked Nathan about a prediction of mine about the Hollywood Bowl being the showstopper with a big explosion. He reveals that it's not part of the story so far; Nathan's written the story up to issue #9 so far.

After being asked what he would rather blow up after being told the Hollywood Sign is to cliché, he says no to a few places I list and settles on the Nakatomi Tower out of Die Hard. A real building used on the Fox lot, where he's been working on his own projects for a few days.

"What about a new West Coast Avengers that's a lot more bloody?"; off of an earlier question from a fan, I ask. "No, we have no plans for linking or assembling any of the characters right now, " Nathan answered. "Would you want to though?,"  I asked. "I don't think I'm really interested in writing those stories. We have the stories in mind we want to tell and things want to do... that's my focus," Nathan answered.

"You based the Dos Soles Cartel off of the real world MS-13?," I asked Nathan. "Only in as much that they're both of a sort of massive and unconquerable criminal force and they both have similar South American origins and have infiltrated the US, but I think the similarities end there," he told me.

Were interrupted by Mitch Regard's brother-in-law. Mitch Regard's is the artist for the current Punisher series. He's just one of many friends stopping by, some who didn't even know Nathan was signing.

Back into our interview I ask if he'll be up for the free screening of  The Raid 2 at The Cinefamily nearby the following night for the love of violence.

"I don't love violence and I honestly think our version of the Punisher is a lot more restrained and tactical and a precise version, that's less about slinging blood on the walls and more about using as few bullets as are required to accomplish a task."

On that task, I bring up the Howling Commandos, a team of elite soldiers that uses the latest tech of the Marvel universe in the fight between them and Frank that's building up. Nathan said, "Yeah, they're watching him and plotting around him right now. They have the resources of the military; they have Stark tech; they have all kinds of things and he has, y'know recycled M4's and whatever he can piece together from stolen armory goods and used military weaponry.  We've specially set up that confrontation because the Punisher is going up against everything that he lacks."  Adding, "They're also a team and he's just one man."

One man with a new look. I asked about the new hood. Nathan explained details about the Punisher's whole armor, "Well, first of it's a gas mask. He [Punisher] puts it on first when he fires tear gas and then when he goes against the Dos Soles when he knows they have chemical weapons. Additionally, it's a visual element that works really well. And tactically it works very well for additional protection and it gives a fear element with his face with a skull on it. In the same reason, why would he paint a skull on his chest? He wears Crye precision modular tactical body armor that was just released this year. We were given an advance look at that so that we could integrate it into our designs for the character and everything else is real commando utility elements."

On asking about the Punisher moving to LA from New York, Nathan told me, "His home is where his hunt is and his hunt has led him to the west coast."

Edmondson is currently writing Marvel's The Punisher and Black Widow and has a one-shot story titled Genesis coming out this April.