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Pepe the Frog – meme, hate symbol and fashion icon – is dead

RIP u lil racist

Pepe the Frog – the beloved meme, fashion icon, and accidental right-wing hate symbol – has officially been killed off by his original creator.

Artist and author Matt Furie, who first drew the character back in 2005, decided to end Pepe’s life in a special one-page comic strip this week. It shows the frog lying dead in an open casket, being mourned by his friends from the original Boy’s Club cartoon. “Here’s to you lil’ buddy”, says the character Landwolf, before pouring a hipflask of whisky in his face. His cause of death is never made clear.

For Furie, killing off Pepe was presumably a symbolic move. The character has been co-opted by right-wing trolls and racists, and has now become a kind of emblem for the “alt-right” movement. This is despite Furie’s attempts to rebrand him as a “peaceful frog-dude”, with the artist launching a “Save Pepe” campaign in an effort to shake off any hateful associations. “The frog was just a chilled-out frog who likes to eat snacks and talk on the phone, smoke weed,” he said at the time. “All the characters are an extension of different parts of my personality, but particularly Pepe. He has these heavy eyelids and laid-back nature that I think I have.”

The extent of the frog’s fascist associations was revealed last month, when high street clothing chain Zara came under fire for selling a skirt that had a Pepe-lookalike sewn onto it. The company was criticised for “flirting with racial controversy,” and swiftly pulled the item. 

Although it's unlikely that Pepe will stop being a symbol for the extreme right, his death is seen by many as Furie’s last attempt to reclaim the character. “Having your creation appropriated without consent is never something an artist wants to suffer, but having it done in the service of such repellent hatred — and thereby dragging your name into the conversation, as well — makes it considerably more troubling,” the artist added

See his final strip below: