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Awesome Face, also known as “epic smiley”, refers to a drawing of a round yellow-colored smiley face with upturned eyes. It has been predominantly used on sites and web forums like Something Awful and 4chan as a reaction face indicating approval, but can also be used ironically to convey disdain.
According to Chris Ainsworth of the gaming blog Driph, the Awesome Face was part of a series of emoticons designed and illustrated for the Pokemon-related web forum Pokemopolis. He claims to have contacted the creator of the image, and published the following correspondence:
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!
The Awesome Face gained popularity through popular forums and image boards, most notably on the SomethingAwful forums and 4chan’s image boards. On January 30th, 2007, a forum thread was posted to SomethingAwful titled “NEW EMOTICON HITS SOMETHING AWFUL – BUT HOW POPULAR IS TOO POPULAR?” that complained about how the emoticon and its derivatives were becoming too prevalent on the SA forums. The face spread to 4chan where it was often featured in wallpaper threads dedicated to awesome face desktop backgrounds.
A Facebook fan page has 42,649 likes as of August 26th, 2011. An awesome face Firefox browser theme is available on the site Get Personas. On Newgrounds an entire flash game dedicated to the face was uploaded by creator juegos.
Portraying Other Emotions
Numerous derivatives of Awesome Face have been seen portraying emotions other than “awesomeness”, such as sadness, pain and surprise.