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Pepe: The Evolution of a Meme Icon in Web3 and Cryptocurrency

Pepe the Frog is a cultural icon that has gained widespread recognition and popularity since its creation as an Internet meme in 2005. Over the years, Pepe has evolved from a simple image macro to a symbol of internet culture, a subject of controversy, and even a valuable NFT artwork.

In this article, we will explore the history of Pepe and how it has become an integral part of the internet’s cultural landscape, even in the Web3 world.

The History of Pepe the Frog

Pepe the Frog was created by artist Matt Furie in 2005 as a character in his comic book series called Boy’s Club. The character gained popularity on MySpace and eventually made its way to the internet imageboard 4chan, where it became a meme.

The original pepe from the Boy's Club comic strip

image credit: Wikipedia

Pepe was initially a lighthearted meme used for humor and entertainment, with users creating variations of the character and spreading it across the internet.

However, Pepe’s association with the alt-right movement and white supremacists sparked controversy in 2016, leading to the Anti-Defamation League categorizing the meme as a hate symbol. This controversy has overshadowed Pepe’s original lighthearted and harmless origins and has led to many online platforms banning the use of Pepe images.

Pepe the Frog Throughout the Years

Despite the controversy, Pepe has remained a popular and iconic internet meme. The character has evolved over the years, with users creating derivative works such as Pepe in different costumes, Pepe as famous characters, and even Pepe as a cryptocurrency. These derivative works have made Pepe more versatile and have helped keep the character fresh and relevant.

In recent years, Pepe has made the transition from Web2 art to Web3 art. With the advent of NFTs and the rise of the digital art market, Pepe has become a valuable NFT artwork, with some pieces selling for millions of dollars. This transition has not only made Pepe a cultural icon but also a valuable asset in the digital art market.

Pepe in the Crypto World

Pepemon – The First Pepe in Crypto?

Pepe has also entered the world of cryptocurrency, with the creation of Pepemon, a blockchain-based game that allows players to collect, trade, and battle with Pepe-themed NFTs. The game has gained a significant following, with its native cryptocurrency, PEP, being listed on several popular cryptocurrency exchanges.

Pepemon screenshot

The rise of Pepe in the cryptocurrency world has not only made the character more valuable but also shows the potential for blockchain technology and NFTs to revolutionize the art and gaming industries.

Popular Pepe-inspired NFT Projects

Here are some of many Pepe-inspired NFT projects – with #1 – #4 is courtesy of The NFT Brief.

1. RarePepes

RarePepes was a Counterparty NFT initiative that featured the Pepe the Frog meme. Between 2016 and 2018, the project produced 1,774 NFTs in a series of 36, with many artists collaborating to design the Pepe cards. The owner of a Nakamoto Card has entry to the 300 Club.

In 2021, a Sotheby’s auction sold PEPENOPOULOS, 2016, for $3.6 million, while Satoshi Nakamoto and Pepeair sold for $240,000 and $520,000, respectively.

2. Pegz

Matt Furie’s Pegz project consists of 100 hand-drawn illustrations of Pepe and other characters with a similar aesthetic. Although not every image in the collection resembles Pepe, Peper, called Pegz 100, is the most similar to the original Pepe and costs 84.5 Eth.

3. Opepen Edition

Opepen Edition is a project launched by Jack Butcher comprising 16,000 Pepe-themed NFTs, with holders potentially able to burn it for a PFP project.

4. Notable Pepes

Notable Pepes is an open edition NFT collection created on Manifold by Vincent Van Dough, using minting principles similar to Meme Cards by Punk 6529. Despite generating high trading volume, the project’s floor price has now plummeted.

5. Pixel Pepes

Pixel Pepes┬ácomprises of 1,563 Ordinal Inscriptions – similar to NFTs, but on the Bitcoin blockchain. Pixel Pepes is the first ever airdrop on the Bitcoin network for users who completed a transaction on ordinalswallet.com before block 777888.

Pixel Pepes

What about Pepe Coin?

Pepe Coin is a new meme-themed cryptocurrency (memecoin) that capitalizes on the popularity of Pepe the Frog. Pepe Coin wants to combine the trustworthiness and transparency of blockchain technology with the explosive virality of the Pepe meme, resulting in a one-of-a-kind and unforgettable experience for its holders.

Pepe Coin

Pepe Coin is a promising addition to the cryptocurrency industry, leveraging the power of memes and internet culture to create a different user experience.

Conclusion

Pepe the Frog has come a long way from its origins as a simple comic book character to a cultural icon, an NFT artwork, and even a cryptocurrency. Despite the controversy surrounding the character, Pepe remains a beloved meme and a symbol of internet culture.

The evolution of Pepe from Web2 art to Web3 art and the rise of Pepe-inspired NFT projects show the potential for NFTs and blockchain technology to disrupt traditional industries and create new opportunities for artists and gamers alike.

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