Matt Furie created the cartoon character Pepe the Frog in 2005 as a kind of peaceful stoner animal for his comic "Boys Club." By 2008, the frog had become a meme at 4chan. In the 2016 election cycle, though, Pepe became something completely different—an ever-meme of the alt-right. The Anti-Defamation League characterizes Pepe as a hate symbol and has catalogued some of the most viciously racist and anti-semitic examples.
Now Furie wants his comic frog back. After years of letting it slide, Furie has lawyered up and sent demand letters to several alt-right personalities, including white supremacist Richard Spencer, Mike Cernovich, and the subreddit "The_Donald."
Last month, Furie took legal action against a man in Texas who created an Islamophobic version of Pepe for a children's book. That matter reached a settlement. Now, Furie's lawyers have spoken to Vice about his determination to reclaim ownership of the image and the demand letters they have sent out.