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A rage comic is a short comic utilizing a growing set of pre-made cartoon faces, or rage faces, which usually express rage or some other simple emotion or activity. These comics have spread much in the same way that internet memes do, and several memes have originated in this medium. They have been characterized by Ars Technica as an "accepted and standardized form of online communication."
The popularity of rage comics has been attributed to their use as vehicles for humorizing shared experiences. The range of expression and standardized, easily identifiable faces has allowed uses such as teaching English as a foreign language.
The first rage comic was posted to the 4chan /b/random board in 2008. It was a simple 4-panel strip showing the author's anger about getting "splashback" while on the toilet, with the final panel featuring a zoomed-in face, known as Rage Guy, screaming "FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUU-". It was quickly reposted and modified, with other users creating new scenarios and characters.
Although used on numerous websites such as Reddit, Cheezburger, ESS.MX, and 9GAG, the source of the rage comic has largely been attributed to 4chan in mid-2007. One very notable site is Ragestache, the most popular of the Spartz Media sites, which is devoted exclusively to rage comics and has over 1,900 pages, as of January 2014.
Phrase Rage Comics
Phrase rage comics are a type of rage comic that caption pictures with a specific phrase to emphasize one's feelings in real life scenarios in a very simplistic, funny way. They were started in 2008 and became popular in 2009.
Picture Rage Comics
Picture rage comics are a type of rage comic that are simple comics drawn to display real life scenarios in a very simplistic, funny way. They were started in 2008 and became popular in 2009. Many faces for many real life situations have emerged, such as “forever alone,” “smile,” and many others.
Obama - Not Bad
The Obama Not Bad rage comic face is a drawing of President Barack Obama wearing a suit and bowtie making a sturgeon face. This drawing is based on a face that Obama made in May 2011 while visiting the United Kingdom.
This rage comic was created to resemble a sturgeon face Obama made in reaction to something pleasantly surprising at the Buckingham Palace while visiting the Queen of the United Kingdom. A picture was taken of Obama making this face and it soon became the “Picture of the Day” by The Daily Telegraph, becoming popular quickly. A couple days later, an active Reddit user posted a rage comic with Obama’s sturgeon face and the words “Not Bad” written below. After this Reddit post, many coming strips and other similar platforms* posted the picture to their websites; this led the rage comic to go viral. This led the words “Not Bad” to be associated with many other sturgeon faces already flowing around the web.
Yao Ming - Bitch Please
The Yao Ming drawing comes from a still shot of a playoff interview with Yao Ming and Metta World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest. During this time, both athletes play for the Houston Rockets and are talking with the press. Artest is cracking jokes, making not only the reporters laugh, but also Yao. At one point in the interview, Yao makes the face that is depicted in the drawing.
Then on July 11th, 2010, a Reddit* user with the username “downlow” posted the Yao Ming drawing. Another user, “alkalait,” responded to the original post with a post that said, “Yao Ming is saying ‘Bitch Pleeease?’”
The Yao Ming face is used in a couple of different ways. The most popular way in which the face is used is to convey the messages of “fuck that.” The “fuck that” meaning is akin to the original posting of “Bitch please.” When used this way, the face becomes sarcastic and usually puts down or mocks a situation.
A user of FunnyJunk named Azuul first created the original “Forever Alone” rage comic on May 28, 2010. The stick figure was designed to display a large, defined, and bulging face usually expresses an emotion of sadness with tears streaming from his face. He is an offshoot of the original Rage Guy, and one of the most, if not the most, popular Rage Comics published on the Internet. There have been many comics created with the “Forever Alone” character along with many other characters such as Advice Animals and the look-alike “Forever an X”.
If You Know What I Mean
If You Know What I Mean is a rage comic character based on a black and white outline drawing of English actor Rowan Atkinson in his role of Mr. Bean, based on a still taken from the 2007 comedy film Mr. Bean’s Holiday. In the Internet meme, Atkinson’s face is pointed downwards and to the side, his eyes are fixed on the camera, his eyebrows are raised, and he is smiling deviously. In addition to four panel rage face comics, the rage comic character is also used in vertical panel comics and can even be simply inserted onto an image. Two variations of the meme exist: one contains the words “If you know what I mean” in red lettering below Atkinson’s image and the other does not contain the lettering. Both variations can be used interchangeably.
- Boutin, Paul (May 9, 2012), "Put Your Rage Into a Cartoon and Exit Laughing", The New York Times
- Connor, Tom (11 March 2012). "Fuuuuuuuu: The Internet anthropologist's field guide to "rage faces"". Condé Nast. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
- Hoevel, Ann (11 October 2011). "The Know Your Meme team gets all scientific on the intarwebs". GeekOut (CNN). Retrieved 9 December 2011.
- Wolford, Josh (2 November 2011). "Teaching The English Language With Rage (Comics)". WebProNews. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- Ben Dennison. "Our 8 Favorite Rage Comic Characters: a Case Study". www.weirdworm.com. Retrieved March 30, 2014.
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