Tom Jane at Comic-Con

When I arrived to check out the RAW Studios Panel, the brainchild of actor/writer/director Tom Jane and master illustrator Tim Bradstreet, I was a bit early and took a seat for the 10th Anniversary of something called Courtney Crumrin, which from what I could tell, was an innocent enough book as they talked about there being no real cursing, no sex, and a children friendly Victorian something or other. As they went on and as the RAW panel came closer and closer, the room got decidedly more rock and roll as guys dressed as The Punisher came in with girls in tight mini-dresses and the number of beards in the room roughly quintupled.

Once our rough and tumble crowd of around 250 people took over the room, it was time for the RAW panel to begin – though some technical difficulties shifted the schedule around and we started with an announcement that the 1980’s anthology series Alien Worlds was being relaunched by the team, with master fantasy artist William Stout on board to rock out one of the first stories: Before & Afta, which will feature dinosaurs!

The panel then shifted gear to the announcement of the Bad Planet video game, a third person shooter game that brings the RAW Studios comic book series to life via Austin based video game makers Red Fly Studios. Jane and Bradstreet appeared in a video talking about wanting to maintain complete control of the video game, as they have with their comic book, and to do so, they’re using Kickstarter to finance the game. They have a hefty sum of $575,000 to raise, but with more than a month to go, they’ve already raised more than $7,000. You can find the Kickstarter Campaign for Bad Planet here.

Next we were shown a reel of cut together imagery from westerns ranging from classic John Wayne flicks to Seraphim Falls and Once Upon a Time in the West. The footage was pieced together to give an overall feel of what the guys hope to achieve with their upcoming western, A Magnificent Death from a Shattered Hand, which the crew plans to film this fall in the iconic Monument Valley, the backdrop for dozens of famous westerns. The screenplay was penned by Jose Prendes, who has several writing credits for The Asylum, including The Terminators and The Haunting of Whaley House. He also wrote the surprisingly entertaining film The Monster Man.

The overall tone is promised to be dark, violent, full of whores and guns, and in-line with Spaghetti Westerns rather than John Ford tales.

Finally, in what was a combination reveal of a short film and Tim Bradstreet’s new design for The Punisher skull, we got to see something awesome that may never be shown again.

The short starts with a man, played by  Tom Jane, asleep in a van on dirty street. While attempting to do his laundry, he witnesses several acts of brutality by a street gang. First, they rough up a working girl and then they start beating up a kid who refuses to sell drugs for them. The man heads into a liquor store where he buys a Yoo-Hoo, informing the clerk he’s sober now. The clerk, played excellently by Ron Perlman, notes the look in the man’s eyes and, from his wheelchair, tells of how he tried to intervene once, but that it wasn’t worth it. Take five punks off the street and soon five more will take his place.

The man sips his Yoo-Hoo and then decides to do something about – he buys a bottle of Jack Daniels. He doesn’t take a single sip, rather, he uses it to beat the thugs half to death. When the guns come out, the man displays an awesome awareness of ass kicking, smashing faces, shooting faces, and otherwise just destroying anyone who gets in his way. Finally face to face with the gang leader, he roughs him up something fierce – breaking his leg in two or three different places, before dousing him in bourbon. He asks “What’s the difference between justice and punishment?” He sets down a lit Zippo style lighter and walks away, leaving the bloody man laying in a puddle of booze.

The man returns to the laundromat to gather his belongings while the roughed up prostitute stands over the downed gangster – and lights him ablaze as the man walks out like a badass in front of the flames. The kid calls out to him – “You dropped this” – a piece of laundry. He tells the kid to keep it, “It’s got a hole in it.”  The kid examines the black article of clothing, unfolding it to reveal: The Punisher.

The audiences ate it up, loving every bit of violence, every broken bone, every smashed face. It was a true hard-R short film experience, showing The Punisher we know from the comics and the one we long to see on the screen.

Unfortunately who knows if this will ever be shown again. In the middle of 2011 Marvel, now Marvel/Disney, regained the rights to Blade and The Punisher. Does the newly minted kings of the box office have the stones to make a hard-R Punisher movie? Would they bring back Jane? Would they throw a fit and a cease and desist order if the guys put this up on their website? There’s no way of telling yet, but one thing is for certain: Tom Jane and the guys at RAW Studios are big comic fans, they love the character, and they proved at the panel that they know how to make a gritty, bad ass, violent Punisher. I’d love to see them get the chance.

Remember: Bookmark this page for more from Comic-Con 2012.


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