After trying to reclaim the feel-good image of his popular character after it was co-opted by the “Alt-Right” movement, cartoonist Matt Furie laid to rest Pepe the Frog in Fantagraphics’ Free Comic Book Day offering, “World’s Greatest Cartoonists.”
In a one-page strip, Pepe lies in an open casket while “Boy’s Club” friends Landwolf, Brett and Andy mourn him.
As reported by CBR.com “Furie debuted Pepe and the “Boy’s Club” characters on his MySpace blog in 2005 and published four issues of the crew’s adventures through Buenaventura Press, stories that were collected into a single volume by Fantagraphics in 2016. Pepe, as seen in “Boy’s Club,” is a mellow dude getting stoned with his friends, regularly engaging in gross-out humor. But more recently, Pepe has been adopted as an icon and mascot by the extreme conservative movement, and as memes showing the chill frog promoting white nationalist and anti-semitic messages graduated from 4chan and Reddit into the mainstream, the Anti-Defamation League last year designated Pepe a hate symbol.”
“Before Pepe the Frog was a meme designated a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League, he began his life as a blissfully stoned frog in my comic book ‘Boy’s Club,’ where he enjoyed a simple life of snacks, soda and pulling his pants all the way down to go pee,” Furie wrote in TIME. As early Pepe memes elevated his popularity and Furie was entertaining multiple licensing deals, the cartoonist recalls thinking, “Memes rule!”
Pepe skyrocketed into mainstream stardom by the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, becoming the most influential meme in history. Memes were effectively weaponized by 4Chan, /Pol/, and the millennial vote to make politics fun and entertaining for newcomers, helping the presidential campaigns of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders tremendously, with Trump even tweeting out a picture of him as a Pepe.
Many argue, including myself, that Pepe’s more controversial memes have been used in the war being waged against free speech by the Democratic party, prompting younger “trolly” conservatives and free speech advocates to push the boundaries to the extreme. Do I believe some are posting Anti-Semitic Pepe memes because they are Anti-Semites themselves? Of course some are. Anti-Semitism exists, but most are looking to just anger anyone who would choose to censor them. Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton devoted an entire campaign speech to Pepe, memes, Alex Jones of Infowars.com, and the “Alt-Right”, further pushing the Democratic censorship campaign.
Furie ended his essay in TIME by stating that “Pepe is love.”
We agree. Long live Pepe. Feels bad man.
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