PARIS A new satirical comic book is out in France entitled "The Dark Side of Marine le Pen" whose authors say they hope to educate young people about the true colors of the National Front (FN) as the party strives to adopt a mainstream image.
Le Pen, the FN leader, has softened the party's tone in hopes of luring center-right voters to her run in next year's presidential election, riding disenchantment with immigration and the European Union.
But Riss, a cartoonist with satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo who co-produced the new comic, says first-time voters may not grasp what he regards as the FN's core extremism. That's where "The Dark Side of Marine le Pen" comes in.
"Time is passing and a new generation of voter is coming through. You realize that there is a young set of voters who aren't very demanding ideologically and who sometimes don't even know the history of the National Front. So the book is a way of reminding people what this party really is, what it still is.
"Is she really so opposed to the traditional extremist ideologies of her party? I sometimes doubt it," Riss said.
A National Front spokesman said he doubted Le Pen had read the comic book. "It's of no interest to us."
The caricature on the comic's front cover shows Le Pen in a billowing white dress standing over a ventilation cover and with a cigarette dangling from her mouth, parodying the iconic Marilyn Monroe image.
"She's not a monster from morning until night, but she is worrying," said Riss's co-creator Richard Malka, a lawyer and scriptwriter. "And if you demonize her, people won't listen to you. We want to show who she really is, with her dark side and her light side."
Marine Le Pen may well wake up on May 7 to contest the second-round run-off vote. But she will almost certainly lose, to whichever mainstream candidate - Republicain or Socialist - she faces, opinion polls indicate.
(Reporting by Johnny Cotton and Noemie Olive; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Mark Heinrich)