The illustrator behind Pepe the Frog, a cartoon frog initially created in the 2000s as a fun-loving post-college grad but eventually designated as a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League, has forced the removal of a children’s book from distribution that featured the frog.
A legal team representing Matt Furie, the cartoonist, said that the book, titled “The Adventures of Pepe and Pede,” “espoused racist, Islamophobic and hate-filled themes, included allusions to the alt-right movement.” Mr. Furie threatened legal action, citing intellectual-property infringement. The book, released earlier this month, was written by Eric Hauser, who lost his job as an assistant principal at Rodriguez Middle School in Denton, Tex., as word of the book spread on social media.
As The Washington Post has noted, the villain in the book is an alligator named Alkah, which many took as a reference to Muslims, and the farm where the story takes place is Wishington, a play on Washington. In recent years, the protagonist, Pepe, became a symbol of the so-called alt-right and white supremacy.
Mr. Furie has vigorously fought against the co-opting of his cartoon, even starting a Kickstarter campaign in June to “to resurrect Pepe the Frog in a new comic book reclaiming his status as a universal symbol for peace, love and acceptance.”
Mr. Hauser, for his part, said that his book was merely meant to be a children’s book with a conservative viewpoint. “I’m not concerned with using those characters because there is nothing wrong with those characters,” Mr. Hauser told The Dallas Observer. “They’re not bad characters.”
“I disagree with the label,” he went on, referring to the allegations of links to the alt-right.
“I think that label was put on Pepe in an attempt to silence conservatives,” Mr. Hauser said, adding, “That’s not what Pepe was about.”
As part of a legal settlement, Mr. Hauser must donate his profits from the publication of his book to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an advocacy group for Muslims.
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