Matt Furie—the comic-book artist who created a friendly stoner frog named Pepe and then watched with horror as it was co-opted as a symbol of the loose collection of misanthropes and bigots known as the “alt-right”—has, to his eternal credit, refused to acquiesce to the meme Nazis. First he killed off Pepe back in May, and then he launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to resurrect the character as the chill, non-racist party dude he was originally intended to be.
Now Furie is going on the offensive, as Vice News and the Dallas Observer report that Furie has successfully petitioned to shut down an “alt-right” indoctrination tool/children’s book called The Adventures of Pepe And Pede, which pits Furie’s creation and a caterpillar named Pede against a bearded alligator named “Alkah”and his minions, “pink creatures covered in mud that look similar to women in burqas.”
As soon as he found out about the book, which hit Amazon in August 1, Furie lawyered up. (The book is still on Amazon, but listed as “currently unavailable.”) His attorneys contacted the book’s author, Eric Hauser, who promptly confessed to copying Furie’s art. “Mr. Hauser admitted it,” Louis Tompros, one of Furie’s attorneys, tells Vice. “There’s no question it was copyright infringement. [We] were able to negotiate [settlement] over the course of just a few days.” Aiding in the settlement were notes from Hauser to illustrator Nina Khalova, including one that says, “I want The Frog to look very similar to this frog. He will have a blue shirt.”
According to the settlement, Hauser is prohibited from selling any more copies of the book, and must donate all the profits he’s made so far, such as they are, to the Muslim rights advocacy group Council on American-Islamic Relations. Hauser has also resigned from his job as an assistant principal (!) at a Denton, Texas middle school, and publisher Post Hill Press, which picked up the book for wide release after Hauser initially self-published it, has removed the book from its release schedule.
Earlier this month, Post Hill told Vice in an email, “We do know that some are trying to make Pepe and Pede controversial, but we do not consider it to be ... It’s unfortunate that an educator who has written a book that uplifts the virtues of truth and honesty has received such scrutiny.” Still on the publisher’s docket for the fall are a children’s book called Thump: The First Bundred Days, which re-imagines President Trump as an equally effective, far cuter bunny rabbit, and something called The Social Justice Warrior Handbook: A Practical Survival Guide For Snowflakes, Millennials, And Generation Z that features a prominent pull quote from Ann Coulter on the cover.