The Punisher‘s iconic skull logo has become increasingly visible over the last two decades. We saw it on military hardware in Iraq and Afghanistan and it’s become popular with law enforcement, too. The skull hit the headlines last week when we saw it on uniforms of riot police beating protesters, causing disquiet from Marvel Entertainment, Disney and the Punisher co-creator Gerry Conway, who said that the skull must not be “a symbol of oppression.”
As such, he launched a campaign “to reclaim the Punisher skull as a symbol of justice,” calling on young comic book artists of color to redesign it for Black Lives Matter with the intention of raising money to support the cause. The response was encouraging and now, just a few days later, we have a range of shirts available with the new designs.
On the sales page for each shirt, Conway states that:
“For too long, symbols associated with a character I co-created have been co-opted by forces of oppression and to intimidate black Americans. This character and symbol was never intended as a symbol of oppression. This is a symbol of a systematic failure of equal justice. It’s time to claim this symbol for the cause of equal justice and Black Lives Matter.”
After just a day on sale, he’s sold nearly 3,000 and raised $40,000 for Black Lives Matter Los Angeles. Beyond these initial four, we’re going to see a new shirt added every two days. All in all, they’re cool designs and definitely go some way towards Conway’s mission of taking back the Punisher skull as a force for good.
If these continue to sell this well, expect to see them being worn by protestors in pictures very soon. And hey, if the Punisher skull really does become more linked with Black Lives Matter and its mission, then I’d expect to see them being unstitched from police uniforms and peeled off vehicles. I don’t know whether Frank Castle would approve of BLM, but recent comics indicate that cops using his logo is not something he’s down with.
Whether Conway achieves his goal or not, at least he’s raising money for a good cause.