Illustrator receives death threats over children's book

Pages from Michael Whaite's 100 Dogs

Michael Whaite has received online abuse for his portrayal of bull terriers as 'scary' in 100 Dogs.

Last month saw the release of children's picture book 100 Dogs by Michael Whaite, a fun look at all the various kinds of dog in the world as illustrated in charming style by Michael himself. Fast forward to September, and the author has been receiving death threats over the book's portrayal of bull terriers as 'scary', with shockingly one threat even sent to his six year old daughter.

"So far this week I've been called idiotic, vile, disgusting, racist, prejudiced, talentless, ignorant, ugly, scum, foul, evil, mean, cruel... and those are the polite messages," says Michael on Twitter. "My next book will be 100 Insults."

The illustration community has come out in full support of Michael, with illustrator meetup group Yo Illo tweeting that "there’s no excuse for death threats, and even more unbelievable when it’s over a children’s book... We love your book. Sorry for the trolls."

Cover to 100 Dogs

Children's book illustrator Alice Potter responded in similar vein. "Reading this has both shocked and upset me," says Alice on Twitter. "It’s a book for children, and a beautifully drawn one at that. I hate online bullies."

Michael's publisher Puffin Books also weighed in on the situation, publishing a statement as shared by Michael yesterday on Twitter stating "We are proud to publish this book and stand by it and (Michael)."

The online hate campaign even stretched out to review bombing on 100 Dogs' Amazon page and a petition on to censor the book, which was shut down yesterday once news of the death threats reached the petition organiser. It seems, then, that common sense can still prevail in this age of fabricated outrage.

"I refuse to apologise - I have done nothing wrong," Michael tweeted in defiance yesterday. "I will not censor my work to appease a mob. Publishing this book has been a lifelong dream that has turned into a nightmare due to the harassment and abuse I have received online. I will not be intimidated by bullies."

Page from 100 Dogs

Good on you Michael - let art be free, we say, otherwise what'll you have to entertain yourself with once you get bored of scrawling through a social media landcape full of nothing?

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