The origin of :awesome:

April 16th, 2008

So you’ve probably seen this around:

I’ve been wondering where the smiley came from for a while now (keeps me up most nights), and over the last couple days today I’ve done some digging to find out its history. As :awesome: is part of the emoticon set for the f13 forums, I began by asking schild, f13 founder.

driph: so whats the story of the gigantic smiley anyway?
schild: some guy on something awful made it
schild: some guy on 4chan made it BIGGER
schild: some guy on neogaf made it small
schild: schild made a tiny set of smilies out of them.
schild: fin.

That gave me a place to start, and further searching on the f13 boards led to this post by Fabricated, referring to the use of the smiley by Yahtzee in the most recent Zero Punctuation:

Um no.

That smiley originated from a Cyanide and Happiness comic, and became a smiley on Something Awful’s forums long before it was beaten to death here. He’s a goon.

Ah ha, Cyanide and Happiness! I was getting closer, and a random pumpkin carving blog entry led me to the particular comic referenced:

So, the source was found, or so I’d thought.

This epic thread on Something Awful from January of 2007, over a month before the comic went up, shows the escalation of the icon already well underway.

Originally purchased and added to the Something Awful smiley roster (SA has a pay system allowing members to add smileys) just prior to the above linked thread, it took off like a rocket. Known as :awesome:, the emoticon eventually reappeared as :fuckyou: and later :iamafag: after excessive overuse within GBS and other areas of Something Awful. This explosion of popularity led to its migration onto other forums, most notably 4chan (especially within /v/), where it was embraced with great vigor and enthusiasm.

*** Interstitial! A couple more web comics that have been erroneously linked as the source at one time or another.

After learning that the original purchaser of the smiley on SA was a user named Whalley, my next step was to get in touch with him. Finding Whalley wasn’t too difficult, and we chatted for a bit about :awesome:. Still amused at how widespread the whole thing has become, Whalley told me about its genesis:

driph: you originally bought that one on SA, right?
whalley: that i did
driph: was it a BYOB invention, or did you find it somewhere else?
whalley: much to my dismay of what i started
driph: I’ve heard everything from 4chan to SA to newgrounds, etc etc
whalley: some guy in byob drew it for this tiny little offsite forum he was at
whalley: i can’t remember who it was, i haven’t looked at an internet forum for like two months
whalley: he posted it one day though and i went “THAT IS SO AWESOME”
driph: nice.
whalley: and well now it’s the mascot for 4chan and has infected the entire internet
driph: the internet is a weird place.
whalley: i have come to be afraid of it

There you have it. Even with potential loose ends to tie up (who the artist was and the site he’d originally drawn it for), this wraps things up enough for me. schild was right, :awesome: did originate at SA, and while it was enormously popular there for a while, it wasn’t until its spread to 4chan that things really went nuts. Peaking in popularity in mid to late 2007, the reign of :awesome: has not yet ended. Spend any amount of time in /v/ on 4chan and you’re bound to see it pop up, and with its continued spread across forums and exposure to new audiences, :awesome: is here to stay.

An update!

Yes, as sleuthed by folks in the comments, the icon (and several other expressions) was indeed originally drawn for Pokemopolis. I recently corresponded with the creator of the smiley, and with her permission, here’s the story of the genesis, in her words:

I drew the icon years ago as part of an emoticon set he wanted for their new forum software, and I think he showed you all the other ones that were designed along with it. I’m not really sure what exactly I wanted it to represent but I think the ‘ridiculous childish glee’ that it now signifies is probably close!

I’m also a member at Something Awful and the first time I saw it posted I did a double take… I even remember my mind racing as to why and HOW someone had picked up a crappy lil’ icon off a tiny website, and I’m still not sure to this day… I assume a Pokemopolis member posted it on 4Chan. At that point I thought its posting would be a one time thing, but then I saw it more and more. It got to the point where I couldn’t read SA because everytime I saw it I’d just be completely freaked out, and naturally I came to hate it! I hoped every day that it would become bannable to post it, but the next best thing was replacing the VBCode. I also posted in BYOB in a thread Whalley made saying that I had made the icon originally, trying to get him to divulge where *he* had gotten it from. Most of SA assumed it was a ‘BYOB thing’ which was probably good because they’d probably want to lynch me if they actually knew where it was from.

I never expected it to become such a widespread meme, and I can’t say I even understand why its popular or why people want to make bag pins of it (Sure wish I could get some commission for the design though haha). It still weirds me out when I see webcomics use it though I’ve grown used to it now, sometimes I even tell nerdy neckbeard types that my dirty secret is *psst I drew THAT smiley*, which makes them say “MOAR!” or whatever is cool on 4Chan this week.

Though just for clarity sake my excuse for being on a Pokemon site in the first place was that I was young and stupid. But that’s the price of Internet fame!

So there ya go, mystery solved.


108 Responses to “The origin of :awesome:”

  1. Curtis Brown on April 18, 2008 8:34 am

    LOL dude hehehe I waonder if cliffy B has anything to do with it and i must say 4chan for the win!

  2. tfo on May 1, 2008 5:47 pm

    Thank you. You have helped unfog the mists of internet time. <3

  3. running on May 4, 2008 7:01 am

    thank you

  4. Matt on May 4, 2008 8:27 pm

    God, that was bothering me for so long. thanks for clearing that up.

  5. Anonymous on May 5, 2008 8:52 pm

    goddamn, you did your homework.
    finally i can sleep easy knowing that this corruption has gotten out of hand and is completely-gay now, instead of the earlier slightly-gay.

    thank you for clearing this up for and -most- of the tubes.

  6. anonymous on May 8, 2008 1:48 pm

    Rules 1 and 2, newfag.

  7. aaaa on May 8, 2008 1:56 pm

    :awesome:

  8. Chris on May 8, 2008 1:58 pm

    Wrong board, anon.

  9. dicks on May 8, 2008 3:14 pm

    add this to encyclopedia dramatica

  10. Legion on May 11, 2008 4:16 pm

    In no way shape or form was the “/b/” word mentioned in this article, Anon.
    Stop failing.

  11. S. M. on May 13, 2008 9:48 am
  12. Chris on May 13, 2008 3:13 pm

    Hahah. Gaiafag.

  13. someone on May 13, 2008 8:39 pm

    Nice post, haven’t been wondering that myself though..
    STUMBLED

  14. [C]Arowman on May 21, 2008 12:26 am

    @reggin

    you really don’t want to know what 4chan or /b/ is. Lets just say it is the sewage of the internet, the cancer of humanity… what ever you prefer.

  15. Warsie on May 21, 2008 1:00 pm

    Erm…well, C]Arowman it’s not so bad.

    also see a list of *chans, not just 4chan

    http://www.2ch.us/

  16. Warsie on May 21, 2008 1:01 pm

    Well let me take it back, it is pretty bad. But I think he’ll be interested in it. But yah it is bad

  17. Sean on May 31, 2008 6:32 pm

    Rules 1 and 2 are only for raids or places full of faggots, the latter being the entire internet.

  18. wat on June 7, 2008 7:59 pm

    and here we are

  19. 64bitllama on June 9, 2008 9:52 pm

    Indeed, I remember when that smiley started to gain popularity on the forums. Eventually Lowtax got tired of seeing it overused. :awesome:

    So then he changed the image of the emoticon to another image that was much more… grotesque.

    And soon :awesome: disappeared. Not Before multiple spin offs and a Santa variation though.

  20. Dodge on June 10, 2008 4:51 pm

    Actually, it seems to have come from the Pokemopolis boards.

    http://pokemopolis.net/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1195648914/

  21. Chris on June 11, 2008 12:20 pm

    Interesting link, Dodge. I’m talking to the folks over at Pokemopolis now, I’ll post an update if I find out anything. Perhaps they are the original forum that whalley refers to in the interview.

  22. wat on June 12, 2008 4:55 am

    anonymous on May 8, 2008 1:48 pm
    “Rules 1 and 2, newfag.”

    m00t himself says that those rules were made up. They were never official rules on /b/, and were barely used on /i/.

    NEWFAG.

  23. Chuck on June 16, 2008 2:54 am

    cheers dude, you have no idea how long i have been trying to figure out where this came from for. good work

  24. Kent on June 26, 2008 1:15 am

    I found the true beginning of the “Awesome” face. Its coming from Sean William Scott’s face in “Dude where’s my car?”. I cant remimber when exactly this happen but he says “Awesome” with that marvellous look. I know, i know…

  25. Chris on July 3, 2008 1:15 am

    More from pokemopolis, perhaps a lead towards the ur site whalley referred to above?

    http://pokemopolis.net/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1213219220/11

  26. caia on July 5, 2008 7:20 pm

    not to offend you or anything, but this smiley originated on deviantart: http://imhappyplz.deviantart.com

  27. Chris on July 5, 2008 7:51 pm

    caia:
    It’s been around longer than that deviantart account has been in existence. :]

  28. ryan on July 12, 2008 2:13 pm

    HOLY SHIT THANKS SO MUCH I WAS WONDERING ABOTU THIS ALSO.

  29. Shii on July 23, 2008 7:16 pm

    You should remove the Cyanide and Happiness images. They’re misleading and people who don’t like to read text will think they were the origin rather than a copy.

  30. Interfags on July 25, 2008 2:43 am

    I hate to poop on the parade but without knowing who Whalley got the image from in the first place and whether or not that guy just made a smiley out of an expression he’d seen elsewhere in cartooning (which seems likely) all you really know is the person responsible for popularizing it and that he got it from someone else.

  31. doit4tehlulz on August 8, 2008 6:17 am

    thank you so much for this, i have been wondering about the origins of this smiley for quite some time

  32. Jeshi on August 9, 2008 5:26 pm

    It sure is nice to know that the origin of awesome.

    Even if it turned out to be Pokemopolis O_O

  33. sage on August 14, 2008 7:54 am

    :awesome: Thanks for the info.

  34. nooodl on August 19, 2008 6:35 am

    “Shii on July 23, 2008 7:16 pm

    You should remove the Cyanide and Happiness images. They’re misleading and people who don’t like to read text will think they were the origin rather than a copy.”

    Well, that’s their own stupid fault, you know.

  35. Chuint on September 1, 2008 12:54 pm

    Ah, and so the origin has been found.

    Honestly, where else could it have come from? ;)

  36. Drokevoxhearne on September 22, 2008 6:10 am

    favorited this one, bro

  37. ghost of spokkerjones on September 27, 2008 11:38 am

    formula for 4chan

    1. steal source from somethingawful or something else
    2. add some kind of pedophile joke
    3. use in repetition

  38. Fragger on October 5, 2008 5:52 pm

    I always thought it was a reference to this girl:
    http://blog.jimmyr.com/Meet_Mouth_Open_Girl_13_2008.php

  39. Daniel on October 7, 2008 4:08 pm

    Lol, this smiley makes me laugh everytime I see it. :D

  40. moi on October 7, 2008 5:43 pm

    Sorry but no, this particular facial expression has been around for YEARS, I’ve seen it on the internet and various webcomics since at least 2002, the origin is probably unknown.

  41. Anonymous on November 2, 2008 7:59 pm

    To clear something up that i read up there, to be honest i don’t care if it has been said.

    Rules 1 & 2 are for raids yes.
    But it is also practiced for both real life, and other parts of the internet.

    I have seen a 16 year old kid running down the street screaming, “Mudkipz! EFG!” while with his friend, i then proceeded to chase this teen and tackle him. I got right up and stared him in the eyes from 2 inches away and said in a monotone, “Rules…1…and…2, you fucking newfag.” i then threw him back to the grass in which i tackled him, and walked away.

    They should be practiced to avoid such incidents as this.

  42. Me on November 25, 2008 2:42 pm

    Rules 1 and 2 dont apply, as the rule does not apply to 4chan itself, just /b/

    and does anyone know his real name, its not awesome, its something like Xynta (sounds like Zinta) but i dont know how to actually spell it

  43. Marisabel on November 26, 2008 5:57 am

    o.oUUU
    this is so lol…

  44. KingofRetards on November 30, 2008 11:47 am

    My life is completed now that I know where the thing that is held so close to my heart came from.

  45. max on December 12, 2008 10:14 am

    thank you so much for the research. not knowing the origin of this face was destroying my life. and whoever speaks ill of the 4Chan needs to GTFO

  46. onetruepurple on December 28, 2008 2:58 pm

    @below: wtf, why would cliffyb have anything to do with it

  47. onetruepurple on December 28, 2008 2:59 pm

    wow i fail at commenting, i meant comment #1

  48. BF2s.com User on January 1, 2009 3:02 am

    That’s from BF2S…

    tards

  49. Chris on January 1, 2009 1:33 pm

    Sorry BF2s guy, the emoticon pre-dates the domain registration of bf2s.com, but nice try nonetheless.

  50. phillip on January 2, 2009 9:53 pm

    it comes from the welcome page of jj.am the not-so-soft-porn site with questionable-age girls on it

  51. Whinnyinach on January 11, 2009 2:44 pm

    There are 5 houses in five different colors
    In each house lives a different nationality.
    These 5 owners drink a certain beverage, smoke a certain brand of cigar and keep a certain pet.
    No owners have the same pet, smoke the same brand of cigar, or drink the same beverage.

    The CLUES:

    The Brit lives in the Red house.
    The Swede keeps dogs as pets.
    The Dane Drinks tea.
    The Green House is on the left of the White House.
    The Green House’s owner drinks coffee.
    The person who smokes Pall Mall rears birds.
    The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhill.
    The man in the center house drinks milk.
    The Norwegian lives in the first house.
    The man who smokes Blends lives next to the one who keeps cats
    The man who keeps horses lives next to the man who smokes Dunhill.
    The man who smokes Blue Master drinks beer.
    The German smokes Prince.
    The Norwegian lives next to the Blue House.
    The man who smokes Blends has a neighbor who drinks water.
    The QUESTION:

    Who owns the fish?

  52. Anonymous on January 14, 2009 8:19 pm

    So what is the identity of the original artist?

  53. Ichiro Ino on February 15, 2009 11:25 pm

    yeah
    what’s the name of the original artist?

  54. Wikipedia admin on March 4, 2009 9:36 am

    The real origion is East718 on Wikipedia. He created the image long before, and it’s his creation. It spread to 4chan, where it was discovered.

  55. Chris on March 4, 2009 10:47 am

    Hi Wikipedia admin, [citation needed].

  56. fhjdfghfdgh on March 13, 2009 8:46 am

    Awesome! I think I’ll run down the street and yell “MudKIPZ” again.

  57. Jordan10la on March 25, 2009 1:50 pm

    God I have wondered for so long too. Thank you for your research in this. I really appreciate it.

  58. Hemostats on April 20, 2009 10:51 pm

    hahaha

    good sleuthing sir, FUCKN AWESOME SON!

  59. Lupi on April 29, 2009 2:13 pm

    She was :awesome: until she expressed a shame at being on a pokemon site.

    Seriously.

  60. Skyler on May 2, 2009 10:37 am

    Awesome!

    (Seriously though, thanks for clearing that up. Been wondering where it started for a while now since everyone seems to have an opinion about it. I’ll make sure to link back to this frequently.)

  61. Jacob on May 4, 2009 8:46 am

    so can you post what the original drawing looked like?

  62. Rolando Garza on May 11, 2009 12:11 pm

    That was an :awesome: investigative job.

  63. JD on May 13, 2009 12:31 pm

    HOT. A girl made it x]

  64. Falinsky on May 31, 2009 9:23 am

    schild: some guy on 4chan made it suck*

    Had to correct a typo.

  65. Napoxx on July 9, 2009 3:24 pm

    YOU ARE :awesome:

  66. Where is My Car Dude on July 20, 2009 5:14 am

    I personally try to avoid reading boards of any type, so what year did the “Awesome Smiley” Appear.
    Coz i’m pritty sure i saw that face in dude where’s my car.
    just saying that if it was after 2000 or 1999 or what ever, the awesome Smiley would have come from that movie

    Fink about it :j

  67. Anonymous on July 23, 2009 10:55 am

    “Rules 1 and 2, newfag.”

    Only applies to raids, newfag.

    Also: :awesome: find on the origin.

  68. dante on July 31, 2009 8:58 pm

    now everyone that wants the origen of that memorable picture will be able to find it here .

  69. Oscar on August 28, 2009 7:26 am

    I just went and joined Pokemopolis and it’s known as “Cheesy” over there.

  70. Jasper on September 6, 2009 7:54 am

    where can i get more of these awesome faces? im in love with them i want like all of them

  71. David on September 11, 2009 2:34 am

    What the hell does BYOB stand for here??

  72. Wow. on October 1, 2009 5:05 pm

    Awesome. The source of “Awesome” has been found

  73. byob on October 12, 2009 1:14 am

    BYOB is a SomethingAwful subforum (along with GBS)

  74. Ryuco on November 6, 2009 5:48 am

    so I presume there *is* no copyright on the face, correct?

  75. TB on November 22, 2009 2:47 pm
  76. jakeus on December 2, 2009 5:40 pm

    good research, though i can’t help but wonder if you could have found where osama bin laden has been hiding in the time it took you to figure all that out. next time think about your country before going and using your valuable resources on such hosh posh. shame shame!

    kidding of course :D

  77. :) on December 2, 2009 9:01 pm

    Hi guys, I have managed to find the girl.

  78. :) on December 2, 2009 9:08 pm

    Oh, and I found ‘proof’ that regardless of what she has said, she is, in fact, proud of her work!

  79. UberPubert69 on December 15, 2009 8:07 am

    Nope, all of those are wrong. The true origins of the Awesome Face is in the Koffing sprite in Pokemon Yellow. Play the game or look up the sprite, its definately fucking Awesome Face.

  80. ShinyEevee on December 26, 2009 11:57 am

    o-o that “awsome face” is so dang popular! thanks for telling me were it came from…. now i can sleep one agen ^-^

  81. Jared on March 13, 2010 7:38 pm

    It’s all over Flipnote Hatena as well.

  82. An!m3Fr3@k on March 17, 2010 9:36 pm

    :awesome: has now officially infected Flipnote Hatena! p.s. my username is An!m3Fr3@k p.p.s im posting this from my DSi !!! /b/

  83. lol i totally trolled boxxy the queen of memes on March 20, 2010 12:39 am

    RULES 34&35!!!!!!!!!!!!! NAO!!!!!!!!!!!!

  84. Patrik on March 29, 2010 8:29 am

    Is there any copyright on this image? my bank wont let me put it on my creditcard.. so i need to prove to them that its not copyrighted..

  85. dox on May 27, 2010 9:46 pm

    This icon looks suspiciously like the “sun” enemy in Saturn Bomberman Master Mode.

    Here is a link to a video, but the resolution is to small its hard to tell for sure, but it predates this by alot.

  86. Waffo on September 17, 2010 10:15 am

    Guys, this post is about the origin of the IMAGE, not the EXPRESSION. The expression has undoubtedly existed for decades, and it may have been in a movie or game or two, but the IMAGE originated from a smiley made for the Pokemopolis forums, which was redrawn into its current version. The only other pre-dating “source” that sounds plausible is the Koffing sprite in Pokemon Yellow, and since the image was made for a Pokemon-related forum, the image may very well be based off of Koffing’s expression. Koffing’s expression isn’t the source, but it could be the inspiration (key difference).

    And for the love of god, check your goddamn dates before claiming a different source. JJ.AM, DeviantArt, Something Awful, Wikipedia, etc. are not the real source, and each one of those had the supposed “source” image being created/submitted WELL after the original was made. Some of the users that were the so-called “source”, and some of the sites even, didn’t exist when Pokemopolis made their smiley pack.

    Things don’t suddenly become insanely popular overnight. Their popularity grows as time goes on until it has a growth spurt. That is exactly what happened with the alternative “sources” being mentioned: they’re dated before it’s popularity encountered a growth spurt, but after it was originally made. That’s why there’s so few of them dated in ’07 or prior, and so many dated in ’08 or later. But that does NOT mean that one dated in ’07 or prior is the original, it means whoever posted it jumped on the bandwagon early on.

    TL;DR: Read this shit lazy asstard

  87. Chris A on September 17, 2010 10:48 am

    Thank you.

  88. Sunny on September 23, 2010 3:15 am

    My god. This is the first time I have ever read a thread and not look at the size before i read it. You kept me interested and informed about a topic I just need to know about and in the same minute findind it. Thank you[;

  89. ShinyEevee on January 13, 2011 2:21 pm

    xD the Awesome Face is just amazing, it makes people laugh! i use it all the time in my Silly Flipnotes!

  90. Sniffadoodledoo on January 18, 2011 9:52 pm

    Haha goodness, I’m surprised people are still commenting on this article (or wondering about where the thing came from.) At least the meme is dying off though, finally. Maybe it’s slightly retarded for me to step forward as the maker, but I’m sure nobody gives a toss by now ;)

  91. Chris A on January 18, 2011 10:00 pm

    @Sniffadoodledoo You’d be surprised, this article still pulls in a couple hundred or so visitors each day, with the occasional spike here and there.

    Congrats on stepped out from behind the shadows. :]

  92. Cb on May 25, 2011 2:45 pm

    It was actually a one Evan Klug of Raleigh NC, look it up!

  93. SonzOfBambi on June 14, 2011 6:04 pm

    Actually, before the asian chick’s prom photos. There are chances the awesome face originated from a famous pose of Dylan and Cole Sprouse on the Suite Life of Zack and Cody. Search for “Zack Cody” on Google.

  94. Lianne (Sniffadoodledoo) on June 14, 2011 8:44 pm

    It amazes me that not only can the origin be right there, and the person who made it comments (hi) and yet people will still post “ACCCCTUALLY I think it came from the side of a mouldy hot dog that Sir Reginald Fartypants stepped on in Episode 305 of Spiderman the Animated Adventures”.

  95. Vicky Biosfera on July 29, 2011 10:39 am

    By the way, that was an awesome investigative article =)

  96. Herobrine on August 20, 2011 3:34 pm

    Says the girl that screams “Cheerios!” …

  97. Samzapp on September 25, 2011 8:50 am

    There was an Awesome Face sticker on the interior of a bus I ride. It showed up last year. This year, however, the bus driver removed it. I’m contemplating whether or not to make another one, maybe put it in the bus driver’s pocket to freak them out.

  98. Cheese on January 27, 2012 3:24 am

    the epic face was actually invented by will epucfas in 1934 and then yaers later in 2000 someone found a copy of the picture on the ground and made the first CARTOON epic face

  99. qubodup on July 15, 2012 8:20 am

    So, can we have the contact info of the original author for copyright inquiries? :)

  100. Gluehead on August 13, 2013 1:44 pm

    Does no one find it weird that shortly after this story was first published, Whalley went off the grid? His last known whereabouts were in the Australian outback with his longtime lover Tangerina and it’s been years since we’ve heard a peep from them. To be frank, they’re probably dead, and it doesn’t take much to realize how convenient their deaths would be for those who want to obtain full credit for the :awesome: image. Yes, this artist from a Pokemon site claims to have first drawn the image, but can we really verify that now that Whalley is encased in concrete underneath the Sydney Opera House and unable to answer our questions? There are so many who’d love to profit off the proliferation of this image and I find it laughable that some would believe it’s such a cut and dry case.

Trackbacks

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