The Punisher's skull logo has been appropriated a lot over the years by members of law enforcement and the military. Members of both groups put the logo on their uniforms, vehicles, accessories, and even as art displayed in not just private homes but offices as well. Recently, the logo has been spotted on police officers confronting demonstrators at protests against racism and police brutality and now, Punisher creator Gerry Conway has had enough. Conway seeks to reclaim the Punisher skull as a symbol of justice, not brutality.
On Twitter last week, Conway posted that he is seeking comic book artists of color to participate in a fundraising project for Black Lives Matter that will attempt to reclaim the skull logo -- a logo he has long said should not be used by those charged to protect and serve as Frank Castle/Punisher's motives are in opposition to their charge.
"I'm looking for young comics book artists of color who'd like to participate in a small fundraising project for #BLM to reclaim the Punisher skull as a symbol of justice rather than lawless police oppression," Conway wrote. "Respond and follow so we can DM."
I'm looking for young comic book artists of color who'd like to participate in a small fundraising project for #BLM to reclaim the Punisher skull as a symbol of justice rather than lawless police oppression. Respond and follow so we can DM.— Gerry Conway (@gerryconway) June 5, 2020
He continued, " To be clear, this little project is open to anyone who wants to contribute their time and effort. It's not a paying gig, it's intended to raise funds to support BLM. I hope to use multiple artists with a variety of styles and artistic approaches. As to the debate over whether the Punisher symbol can ever be a symbol for justice — I agree that's an open question. What it must *not* be is a symbol of oppression. I want to deny police the use of the symbol by claiming it for BLM. Call it irony. I hope the results will speak for themselves."
Conway has long been outspoken about his thoughts on the police and military co-opting the logo. In 2019, he said that he found it "disturbing" and that the police and military fundamentally misunderstand the Punisher character, a character who is a violent criminal.
"I've talked about this in other interviews," Conway said. "To me, it's disturbing whenever I see authority figures embracing Punisher iconography because the Punisher represents a failure of the Justice system. He's supposed to indict the collapse of social moral authority and the reality some people can't depend on institutions like the police or the military to act in a just and capable way."
"The vigilante anti-hero is fundamentally a critique of the justice system, an example of social failure, so when cops put Punisher skulls on their cars or members of the military wear Punisher skull patches, they're basically sides with an enemy of the system," he said. "They are embracing an outlaw mentality. Whether you think the Punisher is justified or not, whether you admire his code of ethics, he is an outlaw. He is a criminal. Police should not be embracing a criminal as their symbol."
Conway has even gone so far as to compare the use of the Punisher skull by the police to the display of the Confederate flag on government buildings."0comments
"It goes without saying," Conway said. "In a way, it's as offensive as putting a Confederate flag on a government building. My point of view is, the Punisher is an anti-hero, someone we might root for while remembering he's also an outlaw and criminal. If an officer of the law, representing the justice system puts a criminal's symbol on his police car, or shares challenge coins honoring a criminal he or she is making a very ill-advised statement about their understanding of the law."
What do you think about Conway's efforts to reclaim the Punisher logo? Let us know in the comments below.