You might think that for someone whose creation turned into one of the most popular memes online, the most frustrating part would be the complete lack of payment that comes with that type of fame.
But for the artist who created the famous Pepe the Frog meme, it’s more complicated than that.
You may not know Pepe the Frog by name, but you’ve definitely seen him before. The viral meme is practically everywhere, from the @f–kjerry Instagram account to a subreddit devoted entirely to the cartoon amphibian.
Matt Furie created Pepe in 2005 and first posted him to MySpace, according to Vice’s Sean Collins. He also included Pepe in a comic called Boy’s Club.
Pepe became popular on 4chan first, according to Vice. Now, he can be seen on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and elsewhere. Furie has completely lost control of Pepe — and he’s definitely not profiting from all of the reinterpretations of his character.
Surprisingly, though, in his interview with Vice, Furie said the lack of royalty payments for the frog he created isn’t what bothers him about Pepe’s fame.
Instead, Furie’s not a fan of two things: the outfit his frog’s been given and another meme, Feels Guy, that people often stick Pepe with.
“He’s got, randomly, a blue shirt and brown lips, and that’s his accepted outfit now,” Furie lamented to Vice. In the original cartoon, Pepe was drawn in black and white.
Furie’s also irked that his frog is often paired with an unrelated character named “Feels Guy.”
Feels Guy is usually used to express feelings of melancholy, according to KnowYourMeme.com, and his unofficial tagline is “I Know That Feel Bro.” He often appears next to Pepe in memes.
Furie doesn’t know why people have turned Pepe and Feels Guy into best buds, but thinks it might have to do with some of his comics. Furie liked to draw Pepe peeing with his pants pulled down to his ankles. He’d explain to the other characters that doing so “feels good, man.”
“Why are they linked together? Is it because he’s called the Feels Guy and the frog is the Feels Good Frog?” Furie asked Vice. “The kids know what it is, but I don’t.”
Apart from those two gripes, Furie doesn’t mind that Pepe has developed a following that’s beyond his control.
“I think it’s cool,” Furie told Vice. “In fact, I’m getting kind of inspired by all the weird interpretations of it.”
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