Have you heard of Pepe the Frog? Depending on what kind of person you are that could be either good or bad news. You see, these are two Pepe’s in the ether — there’s the lovable cartoon stoner frog created by Matt Furie for his comic strip called “Boy’s Life” who loved smoking big blunts and peeing with his pants down. Then there’s the Pepe the Frog meme — the ugly looking caricature of Matt Furie’s lovable stoner who has been co-opted by the alt right — aka the modern Nazi party. The Pepe the Frog symbol was used to harass many — specifically minorities — and was later labeled by the Southern Poverty Law Center — sort of the authority on what is or isn’t a hate symbol — as a hate symbol. The Donald Trump campaign also co-opted the symbol.
This was incredibly distressing to Matt Furie — whose hard left politics could not be more disparate than that of Donald Trump’s hard right, bigoted, war friendly policies. Matt Furie has at first tried to dissuade it — then when Trump won, Furie did a comic for The Nib showcasing his anxieties about what occurred in a now classic comic “To Sleep, Perchance to Meme”.
There was also the #SavePepe campaign to use the Pepe symbol at more positive outlets — but none of it took, and how could it? There was no other choice. Pepe had to die.
And die he did. Unceremoniously, in a book from Free Comic Book Day from Fantagraphics — World’s Greatest Cartoonists. You can read it above. The other members of “Boy’s Life” poured a beer on his face and sent him into the great beyond. A pretty unceremonious end to a once beloved character with shocking crossover appeal — but it had to happen.
This entire situation is upsetting — in no small part because the Boy’s Life book is just so good. Matt Furie hit a cord with the pleasure seeking, irony loving millenials who found it, and his comics were small brilliant slices of absurdity. That it became this thing so far beyond his control is very sad, and it really feels like Furie had no other choice.
What do you think of Pepe? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter at @WhatsTrending.