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"Punisher" creator Gerry Conway: Cops using the skull logo are like people using the confederate flag

Oct 25, 2017
6,797
#1
https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/punis...sing-the-skull-logo-are-like-people-using-the



What's your take on the Netflix Punisher series? How do you think the showrunners interpreted the character?

I wasn't involved with the show at all. I did speak with the showrunner of the show and I do love what they did with the show.

The Punisher was originally conceived as a villain and was not intended to be an anti-hero. But in the course of writing the first story, I realized that's what he was -- an anti-hero. He had a moral code I could use to resolve story points. And, it was a simpler time in the '70s. You had a very black and white canvas on which to draw and to write --the storylines didn't go into psychological depth of these characters. Mostly, we worked in broad strokes.

Today though, given what we know about PTSD, what we understand about how soldiers are affected our ongoing, multi-generational war in Afghanistan, a character like the Punisher can speak to something that's important for us to come to grips with as writers and artists. The way the writers approached the Punisher as a character in the show, was just perfect. They embraced the insanity and violence of the character but also revealed the depths of pain and anguish he was experiencing. They made him a heroic, damaged figure, someone you wouldn't want your kids to emulate but who you could understand. That was a high tightrope to walk and they did it.
What are your thoughts on the Punisher symbol being co-opted by police or the military?

I've talked about this in other interviews. 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 sysytem, 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. 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.

It goes without saying. 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.

Jerry was also the writer of the Amazing Spider-Man issue where Gwen Stacy died. He was also asked about that:


What are your thoughts on Amazing Spider-Man #121 so many years later? I know you got a lot of heat for it when it happened but how do you look back on killing Gwen Stacy? What do you think of her return as Spider-Gwen?

I'm really proud of my work on that issue — and the work of Gil Kane and John Romita. We had no idea that story would end up having the legacy it's had, but even at the time I was conscious of wanting to drive home what I believed was the core theme of Marvel's approach to superhero storytelling: that being a superhero doesn't make you immune to tragedy, that superpowers don't make you infallible, and that real life doesn't always produce happy endings.

Unfortunately, Gwen's death also inspired some terrible stories, including the "girl-in-a-refrigerator" trope women in comics rightfully decry. I'd like to think that our approach to Gwen's death wasn't a cheap shot to create sympathy for our male hero, especially because I tried to use that tragedy more as a motivation for the emotional growth of the woman who would become the most significant female in Peter Parker's life, Mary Jane Watson.

But creators don't control the response to their work. We can only stand back and observe. It's astonishing to me that forty-five years later readers are still responding powerfully to that story. Astonishing and gratifying. As for Spider-Gwen... I love her, she's a terrific addition to the Spider-Verse.
Gerry is good people

 

Slayven

You probably post about me on another board.
Moderator
Oct 25, 2017
25,554
#4
yep, the punisher is a prime example of people not getting it. He is something that should be pitied and avoided
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,401
Edmonton
#7
He articulates it well.

The Punisher skull has no place being anywhere near law enforcement. Those who put it on their police cars are those who like wielding their justice boners and probably live for the days where they get to shoot a perp (and are the exact people who should not be cops).
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,252
#12
yep, the punisher is a prime example of people not getting it. He is something that should be pitied and avoided
Punishers entire existance form super heroes to cops is criticism of status quo, as a person living in the universe with the punisher even though he may help , generally you don't people like that running around.

And while you can enjoy the character for what he is, and I do. It astounds me so many people don't get. Maybe they never actually read a punisher comic?
 
Oct 27, 2017
2,131
#19
Fucking spot on about what The Punished represents. I haven't stuck with any of the recent runs of the character for long, but it did seem that more modern writers are getting the idea of what the character is, a tremendously broken, violent, unstable and difficult person to be around.
 

Slayven

You probably post about me on another board.
Moderator
Oct 25, 2017
25,554
#21
Punishers entire existance form super heroes to cops is criticism of status quo, as a person living in the universe with the punisher even though he may help , generally you don't people like that running around.

And while you can enjoy the character for what he is, and I do. It astounds me so many people don't get. Maybe they never actually read a punisher comic?
I thought it was always telling Punisher always ended up in wacky situations( angel, etc). The only true end result for him is to turn the gun on himself.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,293
#23
Fucking spot on about what The Punished represents. I haven't stuck with any of the recent runs of the character for long, but it did seem that more modern writers are getting the idea of what the character is, a tremendously broken, violent, unstable and difficult person to be around.
I think it's been a pretty common depiction for a long time now that beyond the superficial catharsis of an uncompromising vigilante mass murdering irredeemably evil criminals, his actions aren't really that helpful to society in a broader sense and all it really does is further seed the cycle of violence and create power vacuums in the underworld.
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,252
#25
Fucking spot on about what The Punished represents. I haven't stuck with any of the recent runs of the character for long, but it did seem that more modern writers are getting the idea of what the character is, a tremendously broken, violent, unstable and difficult person to be around.
I feel like people have gotten what he's about for a while.

Some of his most famous stories are people generally getting he's not like a good dude. He can be heroic. He ain't a hero

I thought it was always telling Punisher always ended up in wacky situations( angel, etc). The only true end result for him is to turn the gun on himself.
I feel like sometimes the result is him punishing forever. But generally yeah, he's a miserable dude with a miss shapen form or revenge to cling to. He can do good things, but like its stated in the OP. The reason this crazy person exists to even do his crazy in a good way is because the police and institutions like that have failed in some way. And police not getting it is fucking wild.
 
Oct 25, 2017
10,470
Greater Vancouver
#26
The show really walks this amazing tightrope, creating a Frank Castle that isn't just a rampant murder machine. He's a damaged human being who was once (and still is) capable of love, compassion, empathy, but is so easily and willing to hand himself over to his darker impulses. He's all too willing to let his darkest self out and convince himself that he can return whenever he needs to, whereas anyone else is horrified by how seamless that switch is. For Frank, he doesn't feel a transition - it simply is him. But when he returns from that darker place, the ones who were left waiting to hold him up are gone, and that's where he breaks and is left a shaken and alone. And it has to be those people he lost to fill that void, because anyone else would be a betrayal to his memory of his wife and kids.

The show revels in its action scenes, but doesn't simplify Frank to simply existing within that dark place and nothing else.
 
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Dalek
Oct 25, 2017
6,797
#27
What's Garth Ennis think about all of this?
That’s a good question.

I’ve always struggled with how I feel about The Punisher. When you read Garth’s run it’s just so...brutal and disturbing and yes grounded in a real world situation. Yes, human slavers are in our world. Yes they almost always escape the clutches of the law and life a life of luxury built on the torture and exploitation of others. In that scenario-wouldn’t you want the Punisher?

But then you realize this is a wish fulfillment scenario. The Slavers are real but the Punisher is not.
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,252
#29
The show really walks this amazing tightrope, creating a Frank Castle that isn't just rampant murder machine, but was a damaged human being who was once (and still is) capable of love, compassion, empathy, but is so easily and willing to hand himself over to his darker impulses.
Its one of the best depictions of the punisher i've seen.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,066
#34
I feel like people have gotten what he's about for a while.

Some of his most famous stories are people generally getting he's not like a good dude. He can be heroic. He ain't a hero
He's never really been treated as a hero. Even in his original stories while he provided an interesting foil to the "classic superhero" no-kill rule (if they keep getting out to cause havoc, killing them makes sense, right?) everyone teaming up with him was always wary and conflicted about it.

Even for the "black and white" time period, the gulf between something like the Punisher and 70s ultraviolent films like Bronson's stuff, Dirty Harry, or Taxi Driver was pretty vast. Partially because of the obvious gulf in "allowed" themes between them and amount of violence, but also in Marvel's comics generally having a much more optimistic outlook.

This is just another one of those Fight Club-style "I love the style, let me ignore everything else this work is telling me" failures of audiences.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,525
#35
I’d imagine most people who use the logo don’t know anything about the Punisher other than that he shoots people without following the rules. And that’s what they want to emulate.
 
Oct 25, 2017
6,373
#41
The police use it as a symbol of fear and to advertise themselves as a death squad. There's no other reason for it. I'm one of the biggest Punisher fans, but I never thought the guy was good nor was he a hero. He's an example of a broken system. I gave up wearing any Punisher paraphernalia (aside from my wedding ring) once it started being used by the police to provoke fear and the edgy men who think wearing that symbol means that I should be scared of you. They just don't get it.
 
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OP
Dalek
Oct 25, 2017
6,797
#43
Also, the Punisher sided with Hydra during Secret Empire.
Yeah I'll be honest-Secret Empire was such a fucking mess and there's no way they can square up what the Punisher did. Wanda was controlled by a demon. Vision was reprogrammed. Steve was a magic duplicate. Thor.....explanation doesn't make sense.

fucking Punisher joining HYDRA? They didn't even try to make it seem like he was brainwashed-he was just like "Ok sure, lets go." In his latest Series, Frank is chasing after Zemo - to I guess "make up" for being in Hydra? It doesn't make sense.
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,252
#48
This is just another one of those Fight Club-style "I love the style, let me ignore everything else this work is telling me" failures of audiences.
That's an unfortunate truth and people interacting with art. Though a bit of an aside, the modern marvel landscape and even DC landscape kind of critcisizes the punisher type character even more. I dunno if you read the ... I think it was rucka run of punisher? But Peter comes to the other avengers talking about how they have to do something about frank. And and some of them feel weird about it because... they themselves have bodies. So this is a modern super hero land scape where occasionally people die and its unfortunate . And the punisher due to the amount of murders and how he conducts them, still looks like a crazy person.
Even DC with their no kill rule. Batman of all people lets Jason Todd slide, even batman is more lax these days.

And the punisher still looks nuts