Pepe the Frog is Dead, Long Live Pepe

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By Joe Simonson | 1:30 pm, May 8, 2017
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The creator of Pepe the Frog has killed the beloved amphibian in his latest installment of his webcomic “Boy’s Club.”  In an exclusive for Free Comic Book Day, Pepe’s creator, Matt Furie, published a six-panel strip showing Pepe’s friends mourning the dead frog in a casket.

Originally a character in an alternative online comic strip, Pepe became an Internet meme popular on message boards like 4chan in 2008 when a user uploaded a comic featuring the frog urinating with his pants down.  When asked why he was using the bathroom this way, Pepe simply responds “Feels good man.”

In the wake of the 2016 US presidential election, Pepe turned into a symbol for white nationalists and supporters of Donald Trump—although most uses of Pepe by 4chan users remain ironic.

Pepe is no fan of immigrants.

The frog reached such ubiquity that even Hillary Clinton declared him “sinister” and “associated with white supremacy.”  Pepe was also added to the Anti-Defamation League’s hate symbol database.

Attempting to salvage Pepe’s identity proved fruitless.  Furie, an illustrator and artist, tried generating a #SavePepe campaign to prevent his creation from being hijacked by 4chan and asked the people on the Internet to post their own “peaceful or nice” depictions of Pepe.

Pepe in Nazi garb.

“Pepe transcends all these kind of sociological boundaries. He’s just a cartoon frog that’s sad and people can relate to that,” Furie once said.

Rather than try to take Pepe back, Furie has opted to kill him off instead.  In a column for Time magazine last year, Furie called Pepe’s transformation a “nightmare” and has also said that the entire episode has caused him “significant emotional and financial harm.”

“Having your creation appropriated without consent is never something an artist wants to suffer, but having it done in the service of such repellent hatred—and thereby dragging your name into the conversation, as well—makes it considerably more troubling.”

Meanwhile, users on 4chan reacted to the news of Pepe’s death by vowing to continue posting the frog, with one user sagely posting “You can’t kill an idea.”

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