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The surprising ubiquity of artist KC Green's 'This Is Fine' meme

by Michelle Lanz and Paola Mardo | The Frame

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The first two cells of artist KC Green's comic "On Fire." It has since become a meme online called "This Is Fine." KC Green

Unless you've been offline the past few years, you've probably come across the internet meme, "This Is Fine," by KC Green, a comics illustrator and writer based in Massachusetts.

The infamous meme was from Green's "Gunshow" comic series, in a short comic titled "On Fire." The first two panels feature the image of a dog wearing a hat, calmly sitting at a table with a cup of coffee. Though the entire room is on fire, the caption above the dog says, "This is Fine."

Green drew the comic back in 2012, not long after moving from Oklahoma to Massachusetts and began taking medication to combat depression. He was working a day job while trying to kickstart his comics and graphic design career and was feeling overwhelmed. It was then that he came up with the idea, which has since taken on new meaning in Internet culture.

Just one search on Twitter and you'll see a variety of takes on the meme, with users replacing Green's text in the quote bubble with their own additions.

When Green stopped by The Frame, he talked about the comic that "This is Fine" comes from and the meme's impact on popular culture and his own life.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS:

On the origin of the meme, "This is Fine":

It's a very simple feeling that we all have, of things going bad around us and ignoring that feeling because there's not much you can do about a house on fire. So a house is on fire and a dog who's kind of the first comic character in the comic "Gunshow" I did. He's sitting there completely happy, very wide eyes, and just says, This is fine, when everything is burning around him. Like, literally everything is just on fire. He continues to say, Uh, I'm okay with the events that are currently unfolding. Then his arm catches fire and he [says], That's okay. Things are going to be okay. And then he melts away. Most people have probably seen the first two panels, which is him sitting quietly in the fire and then saying, This is fine.

On when Green realized his art work became a meme:

It ran in 2012. About a year later I got people messaging me on Twitter and other things saying, I've seen this on Instagram. And people were posting on Instagram saying, This is what finals feel like. This is what end of the semester feels like. School stuff. I've sort of gotten used to the idea of that happening, even though it's still surprising to see it happen. You never know what's going to resonate with anyone. I didn't even think about the comic when I first drew it until people started to find new meaning without my help.

On meme culture:

I sort of got used to the idea and I grew up doing that myself. You know, the whole meme culture, the whole sharing images, that's just what happens. And it's not like I want to get paid for every tweet. People share these jokes and memes with each other because that's how they communicate and that's how they see things.

On the Republican National Party's use of "This is Fine":

They used it like anyone else would. It was a meme for them. They can do that. But I still had my say ... There's also a part of me that's like, Get my name out of your mouth.

On The Daily Show's use of "This Is Fine":

They did a similar thing, but they went a weird step too far, watermarking it with "Daily Show" in the top left corner. That's a very small but very real form of advertising that they're using my work to be like, Share this and make sure to watch The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. I'm not going to take on Viacom, suing them for that. Before I even knew what was happening, I already had several mentions saying, Please credit KC Green — everyone tweeting at them. I still was able to talk to someone at the "The Daily Show." They actually contacted me about paying me for that tweet. They wanted to use it as a form of advertising and, at the same time, all I wanted was someone to ask, someone to treat me like a business, because this is what I do for a living.

How memes have helped Green as an artist:

I hope people care enough to look into the artists ... I also get that the people who share that meme probably don't normally read comics or anything like that. It's just a funny image for them. I can only just put it out there and let people know and the rest is up to them.

To hear John Horn's full interview with KC Green, click on the player above.

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