From its humble beginnings in a comic book by artist Matt Furie, Pepe the Frog has embarked on a tumultuous journey. Pepe has morphed from a harmless character into a symbol embraced by the alt-right, a popular internet meme, an NFT sensation, and even a viral coin. This captivating evolution highlights the complex and multifaceted nature of Pepe’s cultural impact.
Pepe the Frog emerged as a cartoon character brought to life by artist Matt Furie in his comic book “Boy’s Club”. The print was initially published in 2005. Pepe was first portrayed as a gentle and kind-hearted frog. Pepe swiftly gained traction as an internet meme and found widespread circulation on various social media platforms. However, during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Pepe the Frog underwent a transformation when different online communities co-opted the character. They utilized it in memes that propagated hate speech, racist ideologies, and other forms of discriminatory content.
Furie, filled with sorrow, took charge of the #SavePepe campaign on social media. This led to the successful rescue of Pepe from the clutches of extremists. Following this victory, Pepe has found solace in the cryptocurrency realm. This is where he has become an integral figure in the online culture of the community.
Notably, Pepe now has an exclusive collection of NFTs. The tokens feature images of him resembling iconic figures like Homer Simpson or Satoshi Nakamoto, the enigmatic Bitcoin creator, fetching prices exceeding $100k.
Pepe The Frog: Comic Origins
Pepe the Frog was created by American artist Matt Furie in 2005. The meme originated from Furie’s comic book called Boy’s Club #1. This preceded a zine named ‘Playtime’ that featured Pepe as a character. Furie initially shared his comic on Myspace through blog posts in 2005.
Within the comic, Pepe urinates with his pants down and his catchphrase, “feels good man,” is his reasoning. However, Furie removed those posts when the printed edition of the comic was published in 2006.
Internet Meme History
Pepe the Frog originated from blog posts on Myspace and became a popular joke within the Gaia Online community. In 2008, the image and catchphrase were uploaded to 4chan’s /b/ board. This became the meme’s “permanent home.” The 4chan community embraced Pepe. They adopted his appearance and catchphrase to convey various emotions such as sadness, anger, and surprise. The meme expanded to include different variations like “sad frog” and “smug Pepe,” and it even made its way to Chinese social media platforms.
As Pepe’s popularity grew, 4chan users coined the term “rare Pepes” to describe particularly unique versions of the meme. These rare Pepes, sometimes in the form of physical paintings, were sold online and gained a cult following. However, as Pepe gained mainstream attention, efforts were made by users from 4chan, Reddit, and other platforms to keep the meme exclusive by creating shocking and offensive versions.
Despite these attempts, Pepe became a significant meme in 2015. It started ranking high on lists of influential memes and finding widespread circulation on platforms like Twitter and Tumblr. Here it gained notoriety among the most retweeted and reblogged content.
Pepe as an Alt-Right Symbol
Pepe was also unfortunately co-opted by Internet trolls as a symbol associated with the alt-right movement, featuring themes of hate and extremism. During the 2016 US presidential election, Pepe became linked to Donald Trump’s campaign. This further fueled its association with white nationalism. This led to Pepe’s inclusion in the Anti-Defamation League’s hate symbol database.
However, Furie was determined to reclaim the character from its negative connotations. He spearheaded the #SavePepe campaign, collecting positive and peaceful versions of Pepe to promote a new narrative. Furie collaborated with the Anti-Defamation League to launch the campaign, aiming to associate Pepe with positivity and counter the hate-driven image. Despite the character’s “death” in 2017 as a response to its misuse, Furie later expressed plans to resurrect Pepe in a new comic book, using humor as a means to cope with the situation.
Furie’s efforts have seen some success in combatting Pepe’s association with hate. He has secured legal victories. This includes the removal of Pepe images from websites promoting extremist ideologies. While the character’s reputation was tarnished, Furie remained determined to defend his copyrights. He ensured that Pepe is not exploited for hateful purposes. The journey to redefine Pepe as a symbol of love and positivity continued. And Furie reshaped its narrative and distanced it from its unfortunate alt-right association.
Pepe: Becoming An NFT Icon
Pepe the Frog and its derivative, Rare Pepes, made their way into the world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on the Counterparty marketplace. As early as 2016, Rare Pepes were tokenized on the Bitcoin blockchain, preceding the popularity of Ethereum-based NFT collections like CryptoPunks. The growing demand for digital collectibles led to the emergence of platforms where creators could publish their art as tokenized assets, allowing for trading and storing of these digital images.
One notable development in the Pepe NFT ecosystem was the creation of the Rare Pepe Wallet, a secure digital storage for trading and collecting Rare Pepes on the Counterparty network. The wallet also introduced PepeCash as a medium of exchange within the Pepesphere community. You can acquire PepeCash, which has a supply of around 700 million, on decentralized exchanges or platforms like Zaif and TuxExchange.
For newcomers to the Rare Pepe scene, resources like the Rare Pepe Directory exist to help navigate the world of collectible Pepes. Despite the complexity, collectors and traders have shown enthusiasm, with some rare Pepes fetching high prices. In 2018, a one-of-a-kind Homer Pepe sold for $39,000. Its value soared when it was resold for $312,000 in 2021. Pepe’s journey also made its way to the Sundance Film Festival in 2020 with the documentary “Feels Good Man,” which chronicled Matt Furie’s efforts to reclaim Pepe’s image from the alt-right.
In 2021, NFT marketplace chainsaw.fun introduced an NFT card called FEELSGOODMAN Rare Pepe to commemorate Pepe’s crypto legacy. The marketplace collaborated on the release of the card on both the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains. It symbolizes the unity between Bitcoin and Ethereum communities and recognizes Pepe’s significance in the NFT space.
$PEPE The Pepe Meme Coin
The introduction of NFTs allowed Pepe to thrive as a digital collectible, and the community continues to evolve with new creations and collaborations, further cementing Pepe’s position as an icon in the crypto world. Enter Pepe Coin.
Pepe Coin achieved a market capitalization of over $1 billion in just three weeks after its launch. Compare this to the four years it took for DOGE memecoin to reach the same milestone, and we see the insane potential in memes. Despite its volatile price, the number of individual $PEPE holders continues to grow steadily.
Interestingly, the official website of Pepe Coin states that it is purely for entertainment. The coin itself carries no intrinsic value or financial return. Nevertheless, more than a hundred thousand investors have bought $PEPE. Also, major exchanges like Bybit, Gemini, and Binance recognize and list the memecoin on their platforms.
The maximum supply of $SPEPE tokens is 420,690,000,000. With 93.1% of them residing in the liquidity pool and the remaining 6.9% allocated to a multi-signature wallet for future purposes. Pepe Coin incorporates a deflationary mechanism. This mechanism burns a small percentage of tokens during each transaction. Ultimately, it aims at scarcity and potentially enhance the value of the remaining tokens over time.
Furthermore, it implements a redistribution system. Current token holders receive a portion of every transaction. This also incentivizes user engagement and promotes long-term investments. To acquire Pepe Coin, investors must create a MetaMask, Coinbase, or Uniswap wallet capable of sending and receiving Ethereum and ERC-20 tokens. After setting up the wallet, users can exchange ETH for $PEPE.
The unofficial roadmap of Pepe Coin consists of three phases. These are:
- The initial phase involved the coin’s launch and promotion on Twitter.
- The second phase concentrates on forging community partnerships and securing listings on Tier 1 centralized cryptocurrency exchanges (CEXes).
- The third phase aims to establish a Pepe Academy and promote Pepe merchandise.
In conclusion, Pepe the Frog’s journey from a simple comic book character to a symbol embraced by different communities reflects the complexity and depth of its cultural impact. Pepe has found a new home in the world of NFTs and crypto. With its exclusive collection of NFTs and the emergence of Pepe Coin, the excitement for Pepe’s future in NFTs and crypto continues to grow.
Finally, Pepe’s cultural significance and his evolving presence in the digital realm demonstrate the power of creativity and resilience in shaping our online culture.