‘Captain Underpants’ book pulled for ‘passive racism,’ author apologizes and vows to donate sales

Nina Crow
Written by Nina Crow

'Captain Underpants' book pulled for 'passive racism,' author apologizes and vows to donate sales

A children’s graphic novel from the immensely popular “Captain Underpants” series will no longer be found in library and book store shelves after the publisher deemed it to contain “passive racism.” 

The book in question is 2010’s “The Adventures of Ook and Gluk” by Dav Pilkey, who has apologized for the work saying it “contains harmful racial stereotypes” and is “wrong and harmful to my Asian readers.”

The book follows a pair of friends who travel from 500,001 B.C. to 2222, where they meet a martial arts instructor who teaches them kung fu and they learn principles found in Chinese philosophy. However, its publisher Scholastic has decided to remove the book from its websites, stop processing orders for it and is seeking a return on all inventory. 

“We will take steps to inform schools and libraries who may still have this title in circulation of our decision to withdraw it from publication,” the publisher said in a statement.

Dav Pilkey’s graphic novel in the ‘Captain Underpants’ series apologized for having ‘passive racism’ in his book that will now be pulled from store and library shelves. (Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)

In a statement on YouTube, Pilkey wrote that he planned to donate his advance and all royalties from the book’s sales to groups dedicated to stopping violence against Asians and to promoting diversity in children’s books and publishing.


“I hope that you, my readers, will forgive me, and learn from my mistake that even unintentional and passive stereotypes and racism are harmful to everyone,” he wrote. “I apologize, and I pledge to do better.”

The decision comes amid a wave of high-profile and sometimes deadly violence against Asian Americans since the pandemic began.

The “Captain Underpants” series is not the only book franchise that’s taking steps to ensure past racially insensitive material doesn’t see the light of day as easily.

Earlier this month, the estate of Dr. Seuss said six of his books would no longer be published because they contained depictions of groups that were “hurtful and wrong,” including Asian Americans. The move drew immediate reaction on social media from those who called it another example of “cancel culture.”


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Nina Crow

Nina Crow

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