Pepe the Frog, a cartoon frog that became a white supremacist symbol, has been killed off by its creator. (See the final strip at the bottom of this post.)
Pepe’s creator and illustrator Matt Furie drew the frog lying in open casket as part of a one-page strip for publisher Fantagraphics Books over the weekend.
“While it’s unlikely Pepe’s official death will stop extremists from co-opting his image, this was, perhaps, the most effective way for Furie to reclaim his character; Pepe’s soul has returned to his creator. Rest in Peace,” Comic Book Resources author Shaun Manning wrote.
Last year, The Anti-Defamation League declared Pepe the Frog as a hate symbol.
According to the organization, the cartoon was added to ADL’s online “Hate on Display” database, because the meme was used on websites like 4chan, 8chan and Reddit to promote “anti-Jewish, bigoted and offensive ideas.”
Pepe the frog wasn’t always a Nazi sympathizer. The friendly amphibian started off as as a comic drawing by Matt Furie, which took off in the MySpace era, becoming one of the most popular memes on Tumblr in 2015. The symbol was then co-opted by former Ku Klux Klan imperial wizard David Duke.
After Hillary Clinton’s campaign called Pepe “a symbol associated with white supremacy, Duke lashed out, saying it was the “#LyingPress and #LyingCrookedHillary” who turned “an innocent frog into a symbol of hate, shameful.”
Pepe was even mentioned by Richard Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute — a white nationalist think-tank — as a way to wink at fellow white supremacists. Asked last year to explain how the cartoon became a neo-Nazi mascot, Spencer told a reporter that Pepe was simply a “smug frog” who’s “willing to speak the truth.”
Furie said in an interview with Esquire that he never imagined his once-beloved character — known for the catch phrase “feels good, man” — would make anybody feel bad.
“I woke up one morning to a flood of emails and calls from media trying to interview me. I had never heard of the alt-right or any of that stuff — even white nationalism — I don’t know about that s–,” Furie told Esquire.
Here is the final Pepe strip: