Trollface Artist Carlos Ramirez Talks 4chan, Incredible Hulk and Viral Fame
Like many memes, Trollface was conceived in the online bowels of 4chan and after-birthed all over the Internet. The squiggly, smiling face is the perfect mascot for /b/, the dank basement of 4chan notorious for racist drawings, homophobic slurs, juvenile pranks and outright attacks. One look at Trollface, and you know you're being fucked with.
With the Incredible Hulk getting the Trollface treatment in the most recent issue of Deadpool, we decided to track down the artist who originally drew that shit-eating grin. Initially nervous about getting trolled ourselves or, even worse, having our personal info posted on 4chan (um, forget we just said that), we found a well-spoken guy who said his name was Carlos Ramirez, an Oakland artist otherwise known by nom-de-troll Whynne.
"I'm 20 years old and attending a local community college, studying art and computer science," he says over AIM. "Most of what I know about art and programming I've learned from books and self-study. Which is to say not that much."
Ramirez is a big fan of video games, and he says a few years ago, /v/, the segment of 4chan devoted to gaming, was overrun by folks from /b/, "many of whom were, quite frankly, not very bright."
"So I would see these people start debates with the other posters on an hourly basis. They'd go at it back and forth, and eventually it would get to the point where you could tell one person had absolutely no idea what he/she was talking about. So instead of conceding, they would tell everyone that they were just trolling, and that they were just out to waste everyone's time. So this was something I observed a lot, people hiding behind the false pretense that they were trolling to escape criticism. So I wanted to make a silly comic to address it, something to help people identify it and laugh at it."
What he created has seeped into the cracks of cyberculture, as you can see in our "Best of Trollface" gallery. The latest peak (or nadir, depending on how you feel about such things) was the cover of Deadpool. "Which I just thought was awesome," says Ramirez, and we're apt to agree.
"I wasn't surprised that Trollface got passed around a lot," he says. "What surprised me was how fixated people were on the face. They would cut it out and edit it onto just about everything, and it eventually took on a whole different meaning."
"No such thing as bad publicity," he says. "If it gets used, that's one more person who will recognize it."
With deviantART slated to begin selling Trollface T-shirts on April 1 (no joke?), we think Ramirez could have some luck leveraging his icon into a larger art career. If Shepard Fairey can build an empire from one image of Andre the Giant, maybe this kid can do the same with Trollface.
Want more trolling? Check out "The Best of Trollface."
Get the Theater
Your weekly guide to local culture with calendar listings and theater, dance, and comedy reviews.