Gerry Conway who created Marvel Comics’ famous anti-hero Frank Castle aka The Punisher is imploring fans to urge police to stop appropriating the characters logo and align the character’s ethos with the Black Lives Matter movement.
According to The Independent: Over the years, the superhero’s trademark skull symbol has been co-opted by right-wing campaigners. It’s most recently been spotted on police officers fighting against Black Lives Matter demonstrators during the George Floyd protests in the US. In response, The Punisher co-creator Conway, who also wrote for The Amazing Spider-Man series, started a campaign encouraging Bame artists to work with him to reclaim the symbol.
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. https://t.co/QqnHNiPvzw
— Gerry Conway (@gerryconway) June 5, 2020
“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,” Conway wrote on Twitter.
Thanks to such an overwhelming response from some fine young [and not so young ;)] artists I think I need to stop taking contributions for now– just for the time being. I plan to announce the fruits of this project in the next two days or so! Thank you! #BlackLivesMattters https://t.co/jS8iekbf8b
— Gerry Conway (@gerryconway) June 7, 2020
On Sunday Conway wrote, “Thanks to such an overwhelming response from some fine young [and not so young ;)] artists I think I need to stop taking contributions for now– just for the time being. I plan to announce the fruits of this project in the next two days or so! Thank you! #BlackLivesMattters.”
Photo above: A Detroit police officer walks through demonstrators during protests on May 29, 2020. The badge on his chest, depicting Frank Castle’s Punisher skull on a green field alongside the words “Detroit Police,” is one of several designs using the imagery spotted on Detroit PD officers during recent protests.Image: Seth Herald/AFP (Getty Images), Jim Cooke
Gizmodo had previously reported: The appropriation of comic book character Frank Castle’s skull emblem by police and the military has been an ongoing issue for Marvel Entertainment as it wrestles with the questionable embrace of the anti-hero’s extrajudicial violence by real state and federal employees. But as the “Punisher skull” has re-emerged on officer’s uniforms in current crackdowns on anti-racism and police brutality protests, the publisher is being forced to confront it once more. As demonstrations continue this week in the wake of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s killing of George Floyd, in all 50 U.S. states and across the world, pictures of two Detroit PD officers allegedly wearing special operations badges emblazoned with the skull designed by writer Gerry Conway and artist John Romita, Sr. and Ross Andru went viral on social media. As a reminder, the Punisher skull logo itself was inspired by similar imagery of the totenkopf, the skull-and-crossbones used by military forces in the German Empire and, most infamously, the Nazi SS, in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Conway, who has been vocal in the past about the appropriation and evangelization of the Punisher by armed service members and police, also shared the images—showing members of the Detroit Police Special Operations department wearing badges prominently displaying what appears to be the Punisher’s emblem as they violently detain protesters. Although he did not add further comment directly, Conway shared the demands of other Twitter users for Marvel and its parent company Disney to shut down uses of the Punisher skull by police. He also used his feed to reshare links to his prior commentsabout its use, including one from io9.
Marvel Comics was standing by the message delivered on social media by the Marvel Entertainment account this past Sunday: “We stand against racism. We stand for inclusion. We stand with our fellow Black employees, storytellers, creators and the entire Black community. We must unite and speak out.”