I have a bit of a history with Fantagraphics Books. The dumb pseudonym “Jim Treacher” came about waaaaaay back in the 20th Century, when I wanted to post to the Fantagraphics message board (back when they had a message board and were publishing stuff I cared about) without anybody at work finding out (back when I had a real job). I think I picked this idiotic pen name because it sounded like “gym teacher,” but I can’t even remember. Anyway, the jerks at Fantagraphics kicked me off their message board because they didn’t like me, but I kept using the name when I started blogging (instead of my real name, back when it was Sean Medlock). I’m just a silly goose, I guess!
Now I find myself sympathizing with those jerks at Fantagraphics. Well, a little bit. Okay, not really. But they do make a good point when they tell us “The Truth About Pepe the Frog”:
Fantagraphics Books and Matt Furie, the creator of the eternally chill comic book character Pepe the Frog, condemn the illegal and repulsive appropriations of the character by racist fringe groups linked to the alt right movement and the Donald Trump presidential campaign. Furie’s character has been categorized as a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League as a result of these uses, creating significant emotional and financial harm for the creator…
Fantagraphics Books wants to state for the record that the one, true Pepe the frog, as created by the human being and artist Matt Furie, is a peaceful cartoon amphibian who represents love, acceptance, and fun. (And getting stoned.) Both creator and creation reject the nihilism fueling Pepe’s alt-right appropriators, and all of us at Fantagraphics encourage you to help us reclaim Pepe as a symbol of positivity and togetherness, and to stand by Matt Furie.
On one hand, I feel a bit of schadenfreude that the jerks at Fantagraphics have finally met a force that’s even more insufferable. On the other hand, the alt-right sucks. Nationalism sucks. Racism sucks. Anti-Semitism sucks.
I’m not exactly sure how Pepe was appropriated by these alt-right morons. I assume it has something to do with Reddit and 4chan and other delightful online gathering places. It’s a meme. It caught on. It took on a life of its own. But however it happened, it’s not Matt Furie’s fault. It’s not Fantagraphics’ fault. It’s bizarre to me that a heavy-lidded cartoon frog can be a “hate symbol” in the first place, but if it is, the cartoonist and his publisher had nothing to do with it.
I just got a copy, and if you don’t like what’s going on, maybe you can buy one too. It’ll help Furie out a little bit, and putting a few bucks in his pocket will troll the trolls right back. Trump doesn’t have to ruin everything.