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Phil Zimelman

Punisher limited series issue 5, cover pencils by Mike Zeck and airbrushed over by Phil Zimelman.

Punisher limited series issue 5. Cover pencils by Mike Zeck, which were then airbrushed over by Phil Zimelman.

When I started collecting comics hardcore in 1986 (meaning, monthly or bi-weekly visits to an actual comic shop), one of the first comics I snapped off the rack was Punisher issue 5 — that’d be the limited series that preceded the ongoing.

Man, what an f’in cover! It was my introduction to the massively talented Mike Zeck (whom we’ll have future blogs about), but really, what made that cover leap off the rack was the striking airbrush painting by Phil Zimelman.

Does anybody know where this Zimelman guy is now? Google searches don’t come up with much…if anything, I’d just want to thank him for producing many comic book cover (and poster) illustrations, which made me want to learn how to use an airbrush. (Which I did years later, but never reached the heights Zimelman did…I guess one day I’ll try to digitally!)

Their collaborative process probably was Zeck tightly pencilling on illustration board, then handing it off to Zimelman to airbrush over. Or something like that.

Aside from the Punisher limited series covers, they did quite a few Punisher posters, at least two Captain America posters, and at least one Iron Man poster. The Iron Man poster I’m having a bitch of a time finding a shot of with a Google image search…I’ll know it when I see it, because at one point, I owned it! It was Iron Man flying towards the camera, with a background of the armor’s schematics, sorta blueprint looking. Would love to see it again…for Copper Age Comic nostalgia’s sake!

Oh, and almost forgot; I have seen a Zeck / Zimelman original in-person, the cover painting for the Punisher: Return to Big Nothing hardcover, published through Marvel’s Epic line. It was on display at one of the legendary Creation Conventions (probably over the Thanksgiving weekend in ’89 or ’90), that’d take over the Hotel Pennsylvania aka Penta Hotel in NYC, before the place started to really fall apart. More about that in a future blog!

More info / resources:

Here are the covers of the Punisher limited series from 1986, on Comics.org…

…there’s a shot (but unfortunately, not a great one) of one of the Captain America posters here

…and here’s an interview with Chuck Costas, an original art collector, who owns the actual original paintings to the first two issues of the Punisher limited series!

2 comments to Phil Zimelman

  • Phil Zimelman

    Thank you for the kind comments. I was blessed to get to do those covers with Mike Zeck back then. I have since lost the desire to do any airbrush work, but I am gratified to know that others have been inspired by my work.
    Thank you, again.

  • admin

    Thanks Phil! Your work was absolutely a huge influence; thanks for giving us such great iconic covers (and posters!) during the era. Would love to interview you for VF / NM, if you’re up for it; can be reached at veryfinenearmint(at)gmail.com.

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