Illustrator Matt Furie Talks About the Origins of Pepe the Frog Which Didn’t Include Becoming a Symbol of Hate

During the 2018 XOXO Festival in Portland, OR, illustrator Matt Furie took to the stage to talk about his most iconic character, Pepe the Frog. Furie shared the origins of Pepe, what Pepe meant to him and how he felt about his original character being co-opted as a symbol of hate within a certain sector of society.

Furie further explained how he tried to stay positive and reclaim Pepe, but it proved too difficult. Instead, Furie’s wife connected him with an attorney to help him take back his beloved, easygoing character. So far, Furie’s been successful in his reclamation, has raised money to save real frogs, fought of hatred and has a law firm that’s sticking by him.

Anyway, this dude was making this Islamophobic kids’ book with Pepe in it and I was able to get a law firm to represent me pro bono to get him to stop that and we donated the profits to the Council on American-Islamic Relations and that was a big win for me. I was like, oh, cool. I can do something about this now because I have this billion-dollar law firm behind me now and they are continuing to help me, and it’s rad. They are working really hard in copyright law to aggressively pursue anyone using Pepe as an identifier for the alt-right agenda and hitting them where it hurts in their wallet.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.