Matt Furie (born August 14, 1979) is an American comics artist and illustrator. He is known for creating Pepe the Frog, a character from his Boy's Club series that debuted in 2005. The anthropomorphic character became a popular Internet meme in the late 2000s and early 2010s. After the meme was co-opted by the alt-right in 2015 and designated a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League in 2016, Furie campaigned to reclaim the character, pursuing copyright infringement cases against its use in hate-related contexts.

Matt Furie
Born (1979-08-14) August 14, 1979 (age 44)
Alma materOhio Wesleyan University
Occupation(s)Comics artist and illustrator
Known forPepe the Frog

Furie is from Columbus, Ohio, and graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University. In addition to the Boy's Club series, he has created paintings and published the children's book The Night Riders (2012), and the books Mindviscosity (2020), and Trigore Labyrinth (2023).

Early life and education


Matt Furie was born on August 14, 1979, in Columbus, Ohio.[1][2] His great-grandfather was from Sicily. He attended summer classes at the Columbus College of Art and Design and then studied art at Ohio Wesleyan University, earning his BFA in 2001.[3]

Following his graduation, Furie moved to San Francisco[4] where he worked in the toy department of the store Community Thrift.

Art and comics


Furie has produced comics and paintings since the early 2000s. His artwork has been described as mixing psychedelic imagery with the "charming spontaneity of children's drawings". His creations include "twisted versions" of characters from pop culture.[3] He once described his style as "kind of a mix between Bosch and Breughel and then, like, the Muppets and the Simpsons."[5] Furie has exhibited his work in the United States and Europe. He received a Goldie award for best visual artist from the San Francisco Bay Guardian.[2]

Boy's Club


Furie created the anthropomorphic amphibian character Pepe the Frog around 2004,[6] first appearing as a character in his zine Play Time in single-pane comics created using Microsoft Paint.[3][7] The character was a "peaceful frog-dude" with three animal roommates.[8] He posted the comic in a series of blog posts on Myspace in 2005.[9][10] His comic book Boy's Club #1 was published by Tim Goodyear's Teenage Dinosaur in 2006.[11]

The Pepe the Frog character became a popular Internet meme by 2008. Furie's comics were printed in color in the magazine The Believer.[3] He continued producing Boy's Club until 2012, with Boy's Club #2 and Boy's Club #3 both published by Buenaventura Press. Furie licensed Pepe the Frog for use in playing cards, a clothing line, indie video games, and a plush toy.[12] He later published Pepe comics with the website The Nib in 2015 and 2016.[3] For the April 2017 issue of Mad magazine, Furie created a version of Alfred E. Neuman as Pepe the Frog.[3]

In 2012, Furie published the illustrated children's book The Night Riders. The dialogue-less book, published by McSweeney's, concerns the nighttime stroll of a frog and a rat.[12]

Memefication of Pepe the Frog


By 2014,[8] memes involving Pepe the Frog had become popular on the internet forums 4chan and 8chan. While most instances of Pepe were not used in a hate-related context, the character was co-opted as a mascot by the alt-right movement and by white nationalists and was used in memes supporting white supremacist and neo-Nazi ideologies. Pepe's image was then used in 2016 by supporters of Donald Trump's campaign for president. Trump himself and his son both shared memes using the character in social media posts.[13]

The Anti-Defamation League designated Pepe the Frog a hate symbol in September 2016.[11] Furie expressed dismay at his character being used as a hate symbol and started a campaign to reclaim it, saying, "ultimately, I hope Pepe will live on as a symbol of peacefulness and of being a cool, chill frog that kids like to share with each other on the Internet."[8] He led a #SavePepe hashtag campaign and depicted Pepe having nightmares about his transformation into a symbol of hate in one of his comics.[14] In 2017, he wrote a storyline for the comic where Pepe dies and is given a funeral.[15][14][16]

Lawsuits involving Pepe the Frog


To counter the use of Pepe the Frog as a hate symbol, Furie partnered with the law firm WilmerHale and lawyer Louis W. Tompros. They pursued copyright infringement cases against commercial uses of Pepe, using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and cease and desist letters.[8] Among the first works to be challenged for copyright infringement was Eric Hauser's 2017 children's book The Adventures of Pepe and Pede, a book using the Pepe character that had "racist, Islamophobic and hate-filled themes".[8][15] In August 2017, Hauser was forced to stop selling the book and donate proceeds to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.[17]

Protesters in Hong Kong in 2019 with Pepe the Frog masks

Furie sued the fake news website InfoWars in March 2018 for copyright infringement for its use of an image of Pepe the Frog in a poster that it sold on its website. In a settlement, InfoWars agreed to pay $15,000 for its use of the image.[8] Furie announced his intentions to donate the proceeds to the amphibian conservation organization Save the Frogs.[18] Furie also filed lawsuits preventing the sale of Pepe-related merchandise by the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer and the subreddit r/The_Donald,[8] and pursued legal remedies against prominent alt-right figures who were using Pepe images, including Richard B. Spencer, Baked Alaska, and Mike Cernovich.[17] Furie settled a copyright infringement lawsuit against Jessica Logsdon, who produced paintings including images of a rifle-wielding, masked Pepe in front of the White House and a Pepe aiming a gun over a U.S. border wall.[11]

In 2019, Pepe the Frog became a symbol of the 2019–2020 Hong Kong protests in a context apart from U.S. politics.[19]

Later works


Furie and his partner exhibited their works at the Left Field Gallery in 2018.[20] He was the subject of the 2020 documentary film Feels Good Man.[21] Furie's 2020 book Mindviscosity was published with Fantagraphics.[5] In 2023, he published the book Trigore Labyrinth, a collaboration with artists Skinner and Will Sweeney.

Personal life


Furie lives in Los Angeles. He and his partner, artist Aiyana Udesen, have a daughter.[3]


  1. ^ Trippe, John (November 22, 2006). "Matt Furie Interview". Fecal Face. Archived from the original on March 8, 2013. Retrieved October 2, 2023.
  2. ^ a b "Matt Furie's Creatures". Juxtapoz. March 22, 2013. Archived from the original on August 4, 2023. Retrieved August 4, 2023.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Knudde, Kjell. "Matt Furie". Lambiek. Archived from the original on April 21, 2023. Retrieved August 3, 2023.
  4. ^ Miller, Matt (September 28, 2016). "Exclusive: The Creator of Pepe the Frog Is Voting for Hillary". Esquire. Archived from the original on May 15, 2023. Retrieved August 4, 2023.
  5. ^ a b Thielman, Sam (October 29, 2020). "Matt Furie on life after Pepe the Frog: 'You have to lead by example'". The Guardian. Archived from the original on May 12, 2023. Retrieved August 4, 2023.
  6. ^ Scolyer-Gray, Patrick (2022). Artistic Works of Fiction and Falsehood: An Analysis of the Production and Consumption of Knowledge on 4chan. Patrick Scolyer-Gray. p. 355. ISBN 978-0-6456044-0-5. Archived from the original on 2023-08-04. Retrieved 2023-08-04.
  7. ^ Furino, Giaco (August 3, 2016). "Pepe the Frog's Creator Talks Making Zine History". The Creators Project. Archived from the original on October 11, 2016. Retrieved August 11, 2016.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Epstein, Kayla (June 14, 2019). "Pepe the Frog's creator just won a $15,000 copyright settlement against Infowars". Washington Post. Archived from the original on October 17, 2021. Retrieved August 4, 2023.
  9. ^ Kiberd, Roisin (April 9, 2015). "4chan's Frog Meme Went Mainstream, So They Tried to Kill It". Motherboard. Vice Media. Archived from the original on January 26, 2017. Retrieved January 4, 2016.
  10. ^ Mazur, A.J. (August 7, 2010). "Q&A with Matt Furie". Know Your Meme. Archived from the original on April 3, 2019. Retrieved January 4, 2016.
  11. ^ a b c Kunzelman, Michael (March 9, 2018). "Settlement resolves lawsuit over Pepe the Frog paintings". The Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. Archived from the original on February 8, 2023. Retrieved August 4, 2023.
  12. ^ a b Furie, Matt (October 13, 2016). "Pepe the Frog's Creator: He Was Never About Hate". Time. Archived from the original on December 28, 2021. Retrieved August 4, 2023.
  13. ^ Stack, Liam (June 10, 2019). "Infowars Agrees to Part Ways With Pepe the Frog (Published 2019)". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved August 4, 2023.
  14. ^ a b Brügger, Niels; Milligan, Ian (2018). The SAGE Handbook of Web History. SAGE. ISBN 978-1-5264-5546-8. Archived from the original on 2023-08-04. Retrieved 2023-08-04.
  15. ^ a b Haggart, Blayne; Henne, Kathryn; Tusikov, Natasha (2019). Information, Technology and Control in a Changing World: Understanding Power Structures in the 21st Century. Springer. p. 176. ISBN 978-3-030-14540-8. Archived from the original on 2023-08-04. Retrieved 2023-08-04.
  16. ^ "Pepe lives! Artist Matt Furie says internet-famous frog will 'rise from the ashes'". CBC Radio. May 9, 2017. Archived from the original on December 5, 2022. Retrieved August 4, 2023.
  17. ^ a b Gault, Matthew (September 18, 2017). "Pepe the Frog's Creator Goes Legally Nuclear Against the Alt-Right". Vice. Archived from the original on July 19, 2023. Retrieved August 4, 2023.
  18. ^ Neuman, Scott (June 11, 2019). "Alex Jones To Pay $15,000 In Pepe The Frog Copyright Infringement Case". NPR. Archived from the original on October 26, 2021. Retrieved August 4, 2023.
  19. ^ Jacobs, Katrien (2022). Tit-For-Tat Media: The Contentious Bodies and Sex Imagery of Political Activism. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-000-59794-3. Archived from the original on 2023-08-04. Retrieved 2023-08-04.
  20. ^ "Rainbow Life – Aiyana Udesen & Matt Furie". Left Field Gallery. Archived from the original on May 12, 2023. Retrieved August 3, 2023.
  21. ^ Limbong, Andrew (September 4, 2020). "'Feels Good Man' Traces Pepe The Frog From Hate Symbol To Democracy Icon". NPR. Archived from the original on May 15, 2023. Retrieved August 4, 2023.