A rage comic is a short comic using a growing set of pre-made cartoon faces, or rage faces, which usually express rage or some other simple emotion or activity. They are usually crudely-drawn in Microsoft Paint or other simple drawing programs, and were most popular in the early 2010s. These webcomics 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.
Although used on numerous websites such as Reddit, Cheezburger, ESS.MX, Ragestache, and 9GAG, the source of the rage comic has largely been attributed to 4chan in mid-2007. 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.
The subreddit r/FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUU was created in January 2009, and has gained 780,000 subscribers as of September 2017.
On October 10th 2016, an anime was aired, dubbed "Rage Comics: The Ghost Story", featuring rage comic characters as the characters within; mostly the protagonist(s). The show is a compilation of several horror stories, usually related to spiritual matters, featuring the titular Rage Comics.
Google Trends data shows that the term "rage guy" peaked in April 2011 while the terms "rage comics" and "troll face" both peaked in March 2012.
One of the most widely-used rage comic faces is the trollface, drawn by Oakland artist Carlos Ramirez in 2008. Originally posted in a comic to his DeviantArt account Whynne about Internet trolling on 4chan, the trollface is a recognizable image of Internet memes and culture. Ramirez has used his creation, registered with the United States Copyright Office in 2010, to gain over $100,000 in licensing fees, settlements, and other payouts. Notably, the video game Meme Run for Nintendo's Wii U console was taken down for having the trollface as the main character.
- Boutin, Paul (May 9, 2012), "Put Your Rage Into a Cartoon and Exit Laughing", The New York Times
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- "Here's Why Meme Run Was Taken Down From the eShop - Nintendo Enthusiast". Nintendo Enthusiast. 2015-03-04. Retrieved 2017-10-01.
- Life, Nintendo (2015-03-03). "Meme Run Disappears from the Wii U eShop". Nintendo Life. Retrieved 2017-10-01.
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