In August 2010, Penny Arcade posted a comic strip involving a character who said he was "raped by dickwolves". Some people pointed out that rape jokes aren't funny but nothing much came of it at the time.
Later (in October of that year) Penny Arcade decided to sell "Dickwolves" tshirts in their online store. The tshirts were in the style of a sports team shirt, i.e. the wearer would be supporting "Team Dickwolf". There were more complaints about this. Courtney Stanton was one of those who objected, and started to offer Dickwolves Survivors Guild tshirts of her own. She was later invited, and declined to speak at, PAX East, a convention run by the Penny Arcade folks.
Arguments over whether or not the "dickwolves" meme was a joke or not and whether it was offensive or oppressive flared up in late 2010 and into January and February of 2011. Penny Arcade supporters created Team Rape to harass anti-rape activists. Numerous threats were made against women who complained about the "dickwolves" comics and merchandise (Stanton documented the frequency of people saying they hope she's raped, in her troll data analysis post.) Similarly supporters of Courtney Stanton proceeded to message Mike Krahulik asking if he would find comedy in them coming to his house and murdering his wife and children.
The debacle came to an end when the Dickwolves merchandise was removed from the PA store and Mike Krahulik made an apology for the statements made during the arguments that had occured on blogs and Twitter. Jerry Holkins made a final post on the matter summarizing that while Penny Arcade know they create a crass, snarky webcomic that is reliant on this type of humour, they were in no way supporters of rape culture.
The entire situation is documented in great detail and in timeline form at http://debacle.tumblr.com/post/3041940865/the-pratfall-of-penny-arcade-a-timeline
Notable posts to read
- original comic
- Penny Arcade announces tshirts
- Penny Arcade mocks trigger warnings
- Courtney Stanton: Why I'm not speaking at PAX East 2011
- Data analysis of pro/anti dickwolves comments
- Feministing: Gaming with the wrong controller