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 colour 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.
“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.”
Referencing questions as to whether The Punisher’s ruthless and violent methods made him the best representative for the cause, Conway continued: “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.”
The Punisher’s skull first became an authoritarian political symbol during the Iraq War, when it was painted or sewn onto uniforms as an unofficial symbol of the US military, and was later associated with the “Blue Lives Matter” movement.
Speaking about the co-opting of the symbol by authority figures, Conway previously said: “To me, it’s disturbing whenever I see authority figures embracing Punisher iconography because the Punisher represents a failure of the Justice system… In a way, it’s as offensive as putting a Confederate flag on a government building.”
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