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Pepe the Frog Creator Speaks Out on Character Becoming Hate Symbol

by  in Comics, Comic News Comment
Pepe the Frog Creator Speaks Out on Character Becoming Hate Symbol

Before Pepe the Frog found internet fame and infamy, the “chill frog-dude” was merely a “blissfully stoned” character created by Matt Furie for his comic book “Boy’s Club.” However, over the past year Pepe has devolved into a popular emblem of the alt-right political movement, and garnering widespread attention, and notoriety, in the U.S. presidential campaign. Just last month, he was designated as a “hate symbol” by the Anti-Defamation League.

Needless to say, this wasn’t what Furie had in mind. “It’s completely insane that Pepe has been labeled a symbol of hate,” the cartoonist writes in an essay for Time magazine. “It’s a nightmare, and the only thing I can do is see this as an opportunity to speak out against hate.”

RELATED: Fantagraphics Denounces Trump and the Alt-Right’s Use of Pepe the Frog

In the article, Furie traces the rise, and fall, of the smiling face that launched a million memes, writing,  “[Pepe] has gone through thousands of user-made Internet incarnations, expressing rage, smugness, violence, happiness, coolness and, most notably, sadness … I have a stack of Pepe fan art sent to me by school children.”

Pepe the Frog as Donald Trump

He even benefited from Pepe’s popularity by licensing the characters for video and card games. “I was thinking, Memes rule!” he writes, echoing a June interview with CBR in which he said, “I’m proud that Pepe is a celebrity now.”

But that’s not the case anymore.

Furie ends his essay by trying to reclaim Pepe from the “racists and anti-Semites” who have made him their calling card. “I understand that it’s out of my control,” Furie concludes, “but in the end, Pepe is whatever you say he is, and I, the creator, say that Pepe is love.”

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