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Slenderman: How the Phenomenon Began
Nick Redfern October 27, 2021
Having just written an article on the possibility that the Slenderman may have become nothing less than a Tulpa (or thought-form), I thought why not share with the readers the way in which the Slenderman came to existence so to speak. With that said, here it goes: The Slenderman has curious origins. He began “life” purely as an Internet creation, specifically the work of a man named Eric Knudsen. In June 2009, Knudsen, via the pseudonym of “Victor Surge,” uploaded a couple of doctored photos of the Slenderman to the forum of the Something Awful website. In no time at all, others began writing – and posting online – their very own tales of the Slenderman. Short stories, blogs, novels, online games, chat-rooms, a movie, and more soon followed. Then, something menacing and sinister happened: people, all across the world, began to see the Slenderman. Not just on the Internet, not in novels or in the pages of comic-books, but in their homes. In their bedrooms. In mysterious woods. In dreams that rapidly escalated into full-blown nightmares. It had come to some form of life. In the minds of many, at least.
Robin Swope’s book on the Slenderman (see the link above)
Knudsen molded, nurtured and duly unveiled what is just about the creepiest and most hostile creature that the Internet has ever seen: the Slenderman. By his own admission, Knudsen had more than a few inspirations for his personal creature of choice – some were from the world of horror-fiction. Others, however, came from the all too real, and all too dangerous, domain of the supernatural. They included the notorious Men in Black of UFO lore, Mothman, the collective works of H.P. Lovecraft, sinister Shadow People, Zack Parsons’ That Insidious Beast, the works of Stephen King, and an eerie character known as the Mad Gasser of Mattoon.
Eric Knudsen set out to do his best. He achieved precisely that – and much more, too. Knudsen secured a pair of black-and-white-photos – B&W so very often provokes an atmospheric and unsettling vibe – and digitally altered them. In other words, he inserted into the pictures a grim, tall, thin monster in a suit. In a black suit. Knudsen then uploaded his pair of carefully and skillfully manipulated images to the forum section of Something Awful, which is known for running competitions that revolve around photo-shopped imagery. They were the very first images of what became known as the Slenderman. As for the two photos, they were both very similar; in the sense, at least, that both images showed the tall, thin, black-suited and faceless Slenderman in the midst of groups of children. The creature also sported a number of octopus-like tentacles, which waved in the air and beckoned menacingly.
There is no doubt that June 10, 2009 is the most important date in the entire history of the Slenderman – that, of course, was the date upon which Eric Knudsen’s creation was brought to fruition. November 6, 2009, however, is almost as important. On the night of the 6th, on an episode of the hugely popular paranormally-themed talk-show Coast to Coast AM, the host, George Noory, took a number of calls from people who claimed to have personally encountered the Slenderman. They all described the Slenderman as looking like Eric Knudsen’s monster. In some case, the witnesses claimed, the Slenderman invaded their dreams. Others said they saw the Slenderman in the real world. It was the Coast to Coast AM show which really demonstrated that what was going on was the beginning of a radical and sinister shift in the Slenderman phenomenon: what was first fiction was now rapidly becoming something else entirely. There were more Coast to Coast AM shows on the Slenderman, too.
Some might suggest that the people who phoned in to Coast to Coast AM were hoaxers. Maybe some of them there were; maybe they weren’t. But, in certain terms, it doesn’t really matter: if enough of the Coast to Coast AM audience believed what they were hearing, then that collective and combined belief would have gone a significant way towards ensuring that the Tulpa version of the Slenderman would soon be up and running. And, guess what? He was. The Tulpa/thought-form version of the Internet creation was, to quote the mighty Ramones, all revved up and ready to go.