He tried to #SavePepe but in the end, Matt Furie had to let the frog go. The Guardian reports that Furie, the cartoonist who created the amphibian character that was appropriated by the alt-right in internet memes, killed off Pepe the Frog to coincide with Free Comic Book Day on Sunday. Furie—who said in an October YouTube video that the hijacking of Pepe "melts my spirit"—decided that, despite his best efforts, he couldn't reclaim Pepe after white supremacists and a contingent of President Trump supporters (and even Trump himself) embraced Pepe as their own, earning the "Sad Frog" a place on the Anti-Defamation League's list of hate symbols. And so Furie worked up a panel showing his "chill frog" in a casket, a smiling memorial photo by the coffin's side.
Furie created Pepe in 2005 as a character for his Boy's Club series, and he described the frog as an extension of himself, "a chilled-out frog who likes to eat snacks and talk on the phone, smoke weed," and who had the same "heavy eyelids" and "laid-back nature" as Furie himself. Publisher Fantagraphics Books had joined Furie in his mission to take back Pepe from nefarious corners of the internet, noting Pepe is a "peaceful cartoon amphibian who represents love, acceptance, and fun. (And getting stoned.)" But some say the effort was futile from the start, with Comic Book Resources noting it would've been difficult for Furie to work up new Pepe cartoons knowing some could be viewing the frog through "tinted lenses." "Pepe's soul has returned to his creator. Rest in Peace," CBR notes. (A white nationalist wearing a Pepe the Frog pin got punched at Trump's inauguration.)