Kirby is one of Nintendo’s cutest characters.
A small pink bubble with tiny slippers, Kirby is the essence of innocence and joy. A new meme, which imagines Kirby with real feet or legs, turns the adorable ball into a grotesque image. The appeal behind the meme is just how disturbing — and ultimately hilarious — the image is. It’s also the reason the artist behind the meme drew it in the first place.
Marie Blue, as the 24-year-old art student living in Angoulême, France goes by, was talking wit friends over Skype one night when they started joking about different video game characters would look with different human appendages. Blue, who was disturbed by the idea at first, told Polygon that as the night wore on, the concept became funnier. By the end of the conversation, she decided she had to draw it.
“Kirby is rather cute and has very round features,” Blue said. “Making his feet a little realistic, which do not stick to his universe, it’s a little disturbing. We wondered about what we would see if his shoes were off. ‘Imagine, he has human feet hidden in!"‘ It made us laugh, and I instantly wanted to do a little strip where we see Kirby take off his shoes to discover that he has real feet.”
Blue posted her cartoon strip on Twitter on March 17, and before long, it had become an obsession with many members of the gaming community and industry online .
It soon got picked up by Tumblr blogs, and before Blue knew what was happening, it had become one of the freshest and biggest memes. People began to draw their own versions of the idea, with the intention seemingly to be to create a more disturbing iteration than the one before it.
Blue said while she was originally surprised by the attention the cartoon panel received, but was flattered by people wanting to create their own designs. She told Polygon that she appreciated the weirder, funnier versions of the character that she couldn’t have come up with herself.
“Kirby is quite popular and has been part of many of our childhoods,” Blue said. “Mose people know the character without ever having played games. It is always weird to find a way to change the original character. It brings a kind of revelation that breaks a little the image we have in our head of it! Some are shocked, others laugh and it's funny to see all these reactions.”
It’s the difference between those who find it disturbing and those who find it funny that Blue is particularly interested in. After sorting through some of the other pieces, she found it fascinating that artists decided to exaggerate her original idea by going in one direction or the other. Whereas Blue’s cartoon keeps the overall shape of Kirby, but simply removes the slippers to reveal feet, others have been much more adventurous in their takes.
To the people who have been sending me that Kirby feet image all day long, right back at cha. pic.twitter.com/C8haSy7ag0— Sean (@Dulgust) March 24, 2017
please have another kirby with feet to add to your collection pic.twitter.com/RP52YQh2CI— sai ★ Tekko (@radiostarkiller) March 23, 2017
After all of the attention her Kirby art has received, the next logical question was whether or not Blue was going to give arms, feet or other body parts to Nintendo’s additional cast of characters.
“Honestly, probably not,” she said. “I do not often make drawings with characters from video games, and when I do, it's more for the tribute than to be funny.”
Blue did say that if an idea came to her in the future about adding the same kind of realistic body parts to video game characters, she wouldn’t be opposed to it. For now, she’s happy with being able to make people laugh or grimace after looking at her version of Kirby.
“It made us laugh, and I’m happy that it made other people laugh,” she said. “I hope I can continue doing that for a very long time.”