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Black Flag Logo Parodies are fan art illustrations that riff on the iconic logo of the American punk rock band Black Flag. Since being introduced in the late 1970s, the original logo, which features four askew rectangular black bars with the band’s name, has grown into a popular Anarchist symbol and spawned dozens of parody artworks online and in real
Black Flag was founded in 1976 by guitarist and songwriter Greg Ginn. Both the band’s name and logo design were conceived by Ginn’s brother and bandmate Raymond Pettibon, who thought a black flag would represent anarchy as the polar opposite of the white flag typically used to signify surrender during wartime. The band featured the logo on many of their album covers and merchandise, making it one of the most iconic symbols in punk rock.
One of the earliest parodies of the logo to appear online was created for the Black Flag parody band BLACK F∆G[3 ](shown below), who launched a MySpace page in 2005. The band, which bills itself as an “absolutely fabulous” tribute band, uses a rainbow version of the logo to represent their LGBTQ-themed parody songs.
On February 24th, 2010, Tumblr blogger Josiah Hughes posted a Black Flag logo parody with “Justin Bieber” in place of the band name (shown below, left). On April 25th, Hughes announced in a follow-up post that he had turned the logo into a t-shirt (shown below, right) for sale on Etsy, apparently inspired by a similar shirt design for the Canadian indie rock band Tegan and Sara. Between April 26th and 28th, the Bieber shirt was featured on Fashionably Geek, BuzzFeed, the Village Voice, Metal Insider, MTV Buzzworthy, LA Weekly, Hearty Magazine and BoingBoing.
In October 2010, t-shirt fashion blog Shirts of Satan ran a compilation of band t-shirts parodying Black Flag’s logo. On January 18th, 2011, Tumblr user abloodymess submitted a photoshop request for a parody of the Black Flag logo featuring four black cats, which was fulfilled later that same day by Tumblr user artyucko (shown below). That month, compilations of Black Flag parody images were featured on Next Round, YardBarker and Geekosystem.
On July 7th, 2012, the single topic blog Black Flag Logo was created, collecting both parodies of the logo as well as fan art for the band using the classic bars. On July 27th, Vice published a blog post expressing concerns of the band’s logo being overused in parodies. On December 15th, a Facebook fan page for these parodies was created. In February 2013, Stewart Dean Ebersole’s Barred for Life, a photo essay documenting the presence of the logo in tattoos, was published. That March, Black Flag-style parodies of the Red Equal Sign images supporting same sex marriage began to circulate around social networking sites. In June, the logo was discussed in the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art documentary (shown below) about Black Flag’s influence in art and music (shown below). On September 15th, 2013, DNAInfo Chicago posted a compilation of photographs of attendees sporting Black Flag parody shirts at the Riot Fest music festival.
Cease And Desist
On sites like Etsy, merchandisers selling t-shirts with parodies of the Black Flag logo have been served a cease and desist order from SST Records and Black Flag, most notably Josiah Hughes’ Justin Bieber parody and Tumblr user Artyucko’s Black Cat parody. In February 2013, Hughes wrote about the ordeal for Aux got it! in an article titled “The Justin Bieber/Black Flag shirt that ruined punk forever.”
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