Pepe the Frog
Pepe the Frog is a cartoon character that got away from his initial inventor and became an Internet meme supporting white nationalism, Breitbart and Donald Trump. Despite attempts by cartoonist Matt Furie, who came up with stoned lily pad inhabitant, to reclaim his invention, he instead resorted to violence and killed off his creation.
Pepe's career as icon for trolls dates back to 2015 when their earlier symbols of choice — the Swastika, Celtic Cross, and images of Ann Coulter — were judged offensive even for Facebook and YouTube. Pepe was co-adopted as he was already a figure of fun as the drug-taking amphibian who also happened to be a in a comic aimed at children — at least in France. He was designed to represent "cool rebellion", including waving his weiner and indulging in LCD toilet humour. This latter aspect appealed to Internet trolls whose average age is 12, who had grown up (if that's the operative word here) with Pepe and wanted to be as famous as a green frog. He was also the anti-Kermit. No being a nice frog!
Matt Furie had long wanted to draw his own cartoon frog. Artists and comics have always loved frogs rather than toads or newts. Furie's frog would be one cool dude, though he had competition from the hyper druggie Crazy Frog and SpongeBob SquarePants — who of course isn't an amphibian, but has to absorb a lot of water to survive.
In 2005, Furie published his comic book, Pepe the Frog and His Hallucinogenic Hangovers. The comic's supposed audience of potty-sitters didn't get the drug references but liked the comic strips showing Pepe regularly barfing up his breakfast of dead flies and generally getting into trouble.
Adoption as a hate symbol
Since this humor has always had its target audience (potty users and downwards), perhaps Furie was being naïve not to think his creation would start appearing in some strange guises, like joining the Nazi Brownshirts. But he was wrong; in 2015, Pepe escaped from his liberal-nice-guy pond to head for the swamp, where stormtroopers and stiff-armers liked to congregate and exchange opinions that Pepe was the most misaligned figure in history, excepting only Jesus Christ and Ivanka Trump.
The more Furie attempted to return his character under his control, the more it literally spawned another 1,000 memes. Suppression always leads to the Barbra Streisand effect. The less you want people to know where you live, the more they will click on the links to find out more.
In the end Furie gave up. He hoped the "trolls" would soon tire of the meme as the next generation will look for someone (or something else) to target. When they didn't happen, Furie killed his character. Except of course, next up will be Zombie Pepe.
The show will go on.
Some claim that Pepe is the reincarnation of the ancient Egyptian frog god of darkness Kek (also known as Kuk or Keku), and worship him as such as part of a 4chan in-joke. This meme sprung from the shocking similarity between the Channer term for laughter, "kek", and the name of said ancient Egyptian frog god. Internet denizens believe that this coincidence is due to the influence of "meme magic", a mystical force that causes Internet memes to cross over into real life.
Further contributing to the mythology is the Kek-oriented catchphrase "Shadilay", derived from the title of an '80s Italo disco record by the band P.E.P.E. Since this record was not only was made by a band that shared its name with the famous frog but also had sleeve art depicting a frog holding a magic wand, it suddenly went from previously being heard of by three people to gaining national attention following Trump's election. They even made a Kekistan nation and a flag of Kek to LARP along with.