Pepe The Frog was a character created by Matt Furie for his comic book Boy’s Club, published by Fantagraphics in 2005.
A couple of years later, without any particular reason, it became a very popular meme image, used as avatars and emoticons in forums such as Myspace, Gaia Online and 4chan.
However by 2016, the character’s image had been appropriated as a symbol of the alt-right movement. The Anti-Defamation League included Pepe in its hate symbol database though they pointed out that most instances of Pepe in its history were not used in a hate-related context.
Matt Furie creator has expressed his despair at Pepe being used in this fashion. He tried killing the character off, and then reclaiming it, and then suing a number of organisations such as Infowars for their use of Pepe, recently settling for $15,000, the money they had charged for the poster they had sold, with Infowars promising never to use the character again.
However, this week, it looks like a very different group have been claiming Pepe The Frog for their own, repeatedly used by protesters in the Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests against China as a symbol of liberty and resistance.
And Furie has signalled his approval of this, posting on his Tumblr…
And with other people starting to use the Pepe The Frog imagery in association with the Hong Kong protests, could this be a successful re-appropriation of the character?