That’s an understatement, because in the internet ecosystem, to “kill” a popular character it is not enough to stop drawing him or her or to draw his or her death. When a drawing enters the meme universe, there is little the author can do to remove it. The usual thing is that attempts to make it disappear multiply its presence.
The comic, published by Fantagraphics, presents in its first cartoon its iconic dead character in a coffin next to an easel with his portrait. His companions appear in the scene. Landwolf raises a toast to his partner with a “XXX” bottle and pours a shot over Pepe’s face. Andy responds with a long “Ummm.” Brett closes his eyes. Landwolf takes a swig from the bottle.
From left to right and top to bottom: Landwolf, Brett, Andy and Pepe
Pepe the Frog was born in 2005 on Furie’s MySpace page as a character in the Boy’s Club comic. In 2006 he went from being an innocent meme to express emotions to starring in hate messages.
Ten years later, on 27 September 2016, Pepe was officially deemed a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League.
Matt Furie denounced that white supremacists and other people linked to thealt-right had appropriated Pepe and decided to start a campaign called #savepepepe to try to clean up his image.
#savepepe explained in less than two minutes by Matt Furie
The author was within his rights to claim as he pleased. He believes that his character was not born to accompany bigoted, racist or anti-Semitic messages and that Pepe the Frog “was love”. Unsurprisingly, Furie’s action did not work.
I take it for granted that Furie already knew this. His claim would be nothing more than an anecdote to add to Pepe the Frog’s biography.
Hundreds of notes have been written about Pepe’s death, so in noise it has been a success. Recreating his death has given the frog even more life.
Ben Garrison stepping in puddles
Ben Garrison, cartoon 9 May 2017- *B-But… I killed you! * Who the hell are you?
Ben Garrison dedicated a cartoon to Furie’s campaign in a short piece titled“Matt’s Rage” that began with the line,“Matt Furie, you’re doing it wrong.” While he is partly right when he says:
Pepe is a meme that cannot be removed with an official statement or hand wave from some ‘authority’. He is part of the public domain and part of free speech.
According to Garrison, Clinton opened the melon
He took the opportunity to wade into his usual absurd political puddles and blame Hillary Clinton for pointing out the use of the frog to disqualify Trump voters. And in the process denying the obvious, that Pepe the Frog is already a symbol used, not only by the alt-right, but also by people with openly Nazi ideology.
Hillary Clinton claimed that Pepe was a ‘racist’ fear symbol in order to smear Trump supporters during last year’s presidential race. It didn’t work and Pepe is not a symbol of the ‘alt-right’ simply because she says so. It is a vehicle used to express many political emotions and beliefs. But Hillary pompously self-appointed herself as a hate-message curator and tried to kill Pepé. She failed.(*)
(*) He alludes to this text published in September 2014 on Hillary Clinton’s campaign blog.
However, Garrison is not the best person to give lessons. It should not be forgotten that he tried to prevent his cartoons from being manipulated with racist, Nazi and anti-Semitic messages and went so far as to threaten to denounce some websites to have them removed, and in 2014 he even went to The Online Hate Prevention Institute to ask for protection in order to give more publicity to his claims.
Some notable uses of Pepe the Frog
It is difficult to list and date the infinite versions of the Pepe the Frog image, but one can start with the use as “reaction faces” given to it on 4chan, such as Feels Good Man, Sad Frog, Angry Pepe, Smug Frog and Well Meme’d.
From there, Pepe’s mutation is unstoppable.
Source Facebook Pepe the Frog.
8 November 2014, Kate Perry used Pepe on Twitter to express how she felt about jet lag.
18 December 2104, singer Nicki Minaj posted an illustration of Pepe showing his ass along with the text: “Me on Instagram for the next few weeks trying to get my followers back”
22 July 2015, what is believed to be the first Pepe -Trump posing in front of some Mexicans behind a border fence appears on 4chan.
13 October 2105, Donald Trump publishes on his Twitter account a Pepe-Trump standing at a lectern with the seal of the President of the Seal of the United States and a link to a video titled “You Can’t Stump the Trump“, a slogan widely used by Trump supporters to say that critics cannot defeat or rattle Trump.
9 January 2016. The Russian Embassy in the UK posts a Smug Pepe on its Twitter account in reaction to reports of a possible meeting between British Prime Minister Theresa May and presidential candidate Donald Trump.
11 September 2016, Donald John Trump, Jr, Trump’s first son, posts this image, which he says was sent to him, on his Instagram account.
10 November 2016, shortly after Donald Trump’s election as President, this image appears on a subreddit by supporters of the French nationalist party (FN) entitled“Welcome, Veterans! Let’s start the fire” in support of Marine Le Pen’s candidacy for the 2017 presidential election.
On the same day, user Globalism_sux uploaded what is believed to be the oldest known illustration of Pepe Le Pen.
On 2 January 2017, the Twitter account of the fast food restaurant chain Wendy’s responded to a user who asked “Do you have any memes?” with an image of Pepe the Frog drawn as the Wendy’s mascot figure.
After receiving criticism they deleted the message explaining that they did not know its meaning.
“Our community manager was unaware of the recent evolution of the meaning of the Pepe meme and the tweet was quickly deleted.”
And more and more
27 January 2017. Users of Booru.org set up a forum entitled Pepe de France, now defunct and untraceable, where they collected memes and satirical comments in support of Marine Le Pen.
17 April 2017. The Spanish firm Zara, known to have been singled out more than once for for plagiarismZara, put on sale a skirt with several patches of a character very similar to Pepe the Frog. After the uproar and the controversy appeared in several media, Zara removed the skirt from its website.
On 19 April, a spokesperson for Zara told The Guardian said that there was no relation between its design and that of Pepe the frog, that the author, Mario de Santiago (aka Yimeisgreat), used the design of a mural painting he had done with some friends years before.