Punisher co-creator sets out to reclaim iconic skull logo for Black Lives Matter movement

(Image credit: Black Lives Matter - Skulls for Justice)

Punisher co-creator Gerry Conway has launched a campaign intended to reclaim the use of the character's logo from what he describes as "forces of oppression," and for it instead to be a new symbol for the Black Lives Matter movement.

"For too long, symbols associated with a character I co-created have been co-opted by forces of oppression and to intimidate black Americans," Conway said in the announcement. "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."

(Image credit: Black Lives Matter - Skulls for Justice)

Conway has launched a t-shirt line titled "Black Lives Matter - Skulls for Justice" with several shirts using the Punisher iconography with Black Lives Matter and anti-racist messages.

"It's a collection of artist-designed t-shirts raising funds for #BlackLivesMatters #BLM by claiming a symbol of oppression as a symbol of justice," Conway tweeted. "The first three shirts are available for purchase now, and another shirt will be added every two days."

The first three shirts were designed by Wess Hancock, Demonte Price, and Don Nguyen.

"In addition to this going towards a great cause that I'm passionate about as it concerns the futures of young African American men and women like myself, I felt this was a greater opportunity to work with one of my personal favorite writers," Price said. 

The Punisher logo was designed by Conway, with revisions by then-Marvel art director John Romita.

When recently asked by io9 for a statement on the logo's unofficial use, Marvel said it was "taking seriously" any unlicensed use of the imagery but didn't give any specifics.

Chris Arrant

Chris Arrant covered comic book news for Newsarama from 2003 to 2022 (and as editor/senior editor from 2015 to 2022) and has also written for USA Today, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Publisher's Weekly, Marvel Entertainment, TOKYOPOP, AdHouse Books, Cartoon Brew, Bleeding Cool, Comic Shop News, and CBR. He is the author of the book Modern: Masters Cliff Chiang, co-authored Art of Spider-Man Classic, and contributed to Dark Horse/Bedside Press' anthology Pros and (Comic) Cons. He has acted as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the Harvey Awards, and the Stan Lee Awards. Chris is a member of the American Library Association's Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table. (He/him)