The aim of the Save Pepe campaign is to resurrect Pepe the Frog in a new comic book reclaiming his status. (Supplied: Matt Furie)
Pepe the Frog is coming back from the dead.
Los Angeles-based cartoonist Matt Furie told AP he intends to resurrect the character he killed off last month after racist, anti-Semitic internet trolls hijacked his creation and transformed it into a hate symbol.
Furie and his brother, Jason, have launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $10,000 for a new comic book featuring Pepe.
“Once we get the money together, we’re going to do it from scratch,” he said, adding he’s also trying to “gain some entrepreneurial control” over Pepe with his attorney’s help.
“It’s a very American tale, trying to control that which cannot be controlled.”
His attorney, Kimberly Motley, is also exploring possible litigation against those profiting from Pepe’s image without Furie’s permission.
Mr Furie said he was surprised by the wave of publicity generated by Pepe’s “death”. (Supplied: Matt Furie)
In May, Furie released a cartoon showing Pepe in an open casket.
Furie said he created the cartoon as “art therapy” shortly after November’s presidential election and nearly forgot about it.
He said he was surprised by the wave of publicity generated by Pepe’s “death”.
A social media campaign using the #SavePepe hashtag attempted to reclaim the character. (Supplied: Never Is Now)
“It was supposed to just be a joke,” he said.
The Save Pepe campaign Furie launched on Monday on Kickstarter said its aim was “reclaiming his status as a universal symbol for peace, love, and acceptance”.
If the campaign meets its goal, Furie said he would see that as “proof that Pepe is still a positive thing”.
Furie’s “chill frog-dude” debuted in a 2006 comic book called Boy’s Club.
What happened to Pepe?
Pepe’s likeness became a popular canvas for benevolent internet memes.
But the user-generated mutations became increasingly hateful and ubiquitous more than a year before the 2016 presidential election.
Furie was horrified to see his creation become a mascot for the ‘alt-right’ fringe movement, a loosely connected mix of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other right-wing extremists.
“It all just happened so fast,” he said.
“Make no mistake: They’re basically the new [Ku Klux Klan].”
The Anti-Defamation League branded Pepe a hate symbol in September 2016 and promoted Furie’s efforts to reclaim the character.