DARK WEB: STEVEN HICKEY’S ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CREEPYPASTA
PART 37: AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH THE CREEPYPASTA WIKI’S MR DUPIN
Along with Creepypasta.com, Reddit and 4Chan, one of the best resources for quality Creepypasta stories is the Creepypasta Wiki. With strict quality guidelines that are rigorously enforced by a number of highly-respected admins, all of whom regularly write and contribute their own stories to the Wiki. One of the most esteemed of these is long-time contributor, MrDupin, a writer with a number of very, very good stories to his name. This week, rather than look at any one story, I thought I’d talk to a true expert in the field and, I’m so grateful that MrDupin was kind enough to talk to us.
UK HORROR SCENE: Thanks so much for agreeing to speak with me. First, can you tell my readers a little bit about yourself, the creepy pasta wiki and your role there?
MRDUPIN: I am MrDupin, I’m studying Computer Science and I love writing and reading stories (especially mystery and horror). I’m also an administrator on Creepypasta Wiki, a place where writers can contribute their own horror stories for others to read. As an admin, my main role is to make sure the stories posted on the wiki are of a certain quality. I’m also working on generally maintaining the wiki, editing stories, helping out users and stuff of that nature. All in all, my role is to make the wiki an enjoyable experience for readers and writers alike, helping people improve their writing and doing my best to get aspiring writers exposure.
UKHS: What is it that drew you to creepypastas?
MrD: I always loved writing, ever since I was very young. My problem was that there was no place where I could post stories for others to read. When I found out that people on the internet were writing and posting stories online, I wanted in. I wrote and posted a couple of stories on Creepypasta Wiki, gave some feedback to some other writers, edited some work and that’s when I decided this was a place worth spending my time on.
UKHS: Why do you think creepy pasta resonates with the fandom?
MrD: Horror in general appeals to a lot of people. For some reason, people like getting scared. Creepypasta managed to bring that horror in short, digestible bits. At first they started as really short stories you could easily share around the internet to scare your friends, but with time they evolved into a more serious form of literature. A lot of very good writers try their hand at the genre and that only elevates the material. So, people who come for the quick scare of the day stay for the quality of the stories.
UKHS: What are your personal favourites?
MrD: Oh, I have too many to list here. I’ve been reading stories for a very long time and I have compiled a whole list of my favourites. Currently the number of stories on my list sits at about 50. If anyone wants to read these stories, they can go at my profile page on Creepypasta wiki. They are some very good works that I highly recommend. (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/User:MrDupin) I will now try to give a quick overview of my absolute favourites.
Of the most well known stories, probably my favourite is Psychosis. The feeling of paranoia in the story was something very foreign to me when I first read the tale. A great writer that has contributed a lot to this wiki is Humboldt (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/User:HumboldtLycanthrope). He has written a ton of bone-chilling tales, but if I had to pick my favourite, it would be The Number of Darkness (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/The_Number_of_Darkness). That story, simply put, is hard hitting. It takes demonic possession to the next level.
Another phenomenal writer, who was also an admin on the wiki for a long while (and recently got his position back), is Empyre (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/User:EmpyrealInvective). He can write in a very wide range, from hair-raising horror to stories with melancholical undertones. Some of my favourites of his work are A Small Piece of Lead (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/A_Small_Piece_of_Lead), a very emotional piece, and It Breathes, It Bleeds, It Breeds, one of the greatest parasite stories on the internet (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/It_Breathes,_It_Bleeds,_It_Breeds).
For me though, the best writer on the wiki is WriterJosh (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/User:WriterJosh). I just can’t recommend his stories enough. His story, Shut That Damned Door (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/Shut_That_Damned_Door) is, for me, the best story on the site. It took a concept so simple and familiar, shutting a door closed, and twisted it into something purely terrifying.
UKHS: I’ve covered a lot of classic creepypasta stories for these Dark Web features. Can I ask your opinion on some of those that I have covered here before?
MrD: Before I begin, I want to say that most of these stories are stories that stain the image of the creepypasta genre. Currently we have stories that are far superior to most on the list. It is very unfortunate that the garbage came before the silk, so now we are stuck with people thinking “Jeff the Killer” is any good.
Jeff the Killer (all versions, including JtK 2015)
The original is a terrible pasta, that unfortunately became the face of the genre, with thousands of angsty teens and pre-teens flocking around it with fan-fiction and countless spinoffs. We tried to remedy that a little by running a contest for a remake, which produced the JtK 2015 story. The new version is vastly better, even though it is dragged down by the plot. Banning (the winner) did a fantastic job with the material.
I remember when I first read it, I couldn’t sleep for days. Maybe it’s because I was young, but the video was terrifying. The story, not so much, but the video was very good horror.
This one is one of the first creepypastas, and it shows clearly how the genre started out. Myths and conspiracy theories with a tint of horror. It is the realism of this pasta that made it stand out.
Mereana Mordegard Glesgorv
I never understood what the fuss was all about. The video in particular is plain boring, could never get through it.
I never liked this one. I am not particularly fond of “Lost Episode” stories and the like, so this didn’t get to me. It is basically Squidward’s Suicide in a different skin. I guess people like seeing the dark side of innocent cartoon artists.
This was a good enough story. The problem I had with it is that it dragged on for way too long. For some reason, the author is still adding to it. This is a prime example of a work the creator shot dead by overdoing it.
Humans have long loved cryptozoology. That’s why myths like the Loch Ness monster, Bigfoot, Unicorns etc. exist. “The Rake”, in an age of technology, managed to capture the imagination of the crowds not because of the plot itself, which is nothing special, but because of all the images that surfaced around it and spread like wildfire. This pasta is an internet mythos through and through.
The Holders Series
The most interesting thing about the series is the way the stories are written. They all have a certain tone that holds for all the parts (at least those I’ve read). As they are all pretty much the same though, it was no wonder their popularity fizzled out.
This is the definition of a story using the uncanny to its advantage. As a plot it’s nothing special, and it is the image that carries the whole story. I would go as far as to say the plot severely drags the image down. A more experienced writer could have written a short story that, coupled with the image, would have been a masterpiece for the ages. Instead we get this, which is good enough, I guess.
Jane the Killer (both versions)
Have not read it, didn’t even know there were two versions. I understand it’s a Jeff spinoff. If I were to take a guess, I would say it is garbage.
Have not read it, but I’ve heard it’s very, very good.
The Smiling Man
This is a very good story. It balances right down the line of weird and realistic, and that’s what makes it so scary and unsettling.
Bedtime (and sequels)
The first Bedtime is a very good pasta. I remember when I first read it I had trouble sleeping. Even though I was pretty young at the time, I still believe it is a very good read. The rest of the entries were unnecessary in my opinion. To me, it felt like the writer was simply riding on its success and wanted more. They are not badly written, but they are a massive letdown. Sequels very rarely work, not in movies, not in books and not in creepypasta. Especially for a story that has been told.
UKHS: Now I’d like to talk to you about some sub-genres and trends in the Creepypasta community. One of the largest and most popular Creepypasta trends has been Slenderman tie-ins. What are your thoughts on the whole Slendermania thing?
MrD: Slenderman itself is creepy, especially the first images of him that originated from the SomethingAwful forums. The Slenderman myth grew in popularity as the years passed, and that growth unfortunately and inevitably gathered a fanbase that derailed the myth with fanfiction, sexy drawings and their absurd addiction with anything Slenderman. Among these pieces there are bound to be some gems, but overall said work is below average, to say the least. So, even though Slenderman is creepy, the stuff that came with its popularity is garbage and stains this icon of creepypasta.
UKHS: We’ve briefly touched on Lost Episode pastas. What are your thoughts on these? Are there any that you feel are successful?
MrD: The main issue I have with said pastas is that they are focused too much on the cartoon/show itself. Usually what they do is take a cartoon, add a crazy/disgruntled artist, add gore/macabre/grotesque art by said artist and that’s it. That’s the formula for pretty much any Lost Episode pasta out there. Personally, I don’t find this format enjoyable. It is boring and stale, so I can’t say I have seen any that creeped me out or entertained me in any way.
What I would like to see in the genre is a new take, where the focus isn’t on the cartoon, with the gore and stuff, but on something else. An idea I had for a story in the genre is this: Somehow someone finds a taping of an episode that didn’t air. Watching the episode, the viewer finds something out of place. Maybe a message, or even spots something happening on the background. The viewer, who has their curiosity piqued, starts investigating and the spotlight shifts away from the episode and onto the investigation. This direction hasn’t been explored much in the genre and that’s a shame, since I believe it holds a lot of potential.
UKHS: The bane of most serious pasta fans is the still ongoing trend for videogame-pastas. Once again, can I ask for your thoughts on these? And are there any that you feel tell a compelling story?
MrD: Videogame-pastas are very similar to Lost Episodes. It’s just the medium that changes. One story that I enjoyed was the ever-so-popular BEN Drowned. I don’t know if it’s because I was younger, but the video and music were really creepy.
UKHS: It seems that (on DeviantArt) in particular, lots of creators are keen on producing a cool, iconic character. Some have become very popular among fans (Laughing Jack, Eyeless Jack, Jason the Toymaker, The Puppetmaster, BloodyPainter etc). What are your thoughts on this trend?
MrD: The lack of creativity in that area of the internet is astounding. Everything is a carbon copy of Jeff the Killer with only a few tweaks here and there. The creators of this kind of stories are usually very young and they want to express their angsty self on paper, but they can’t find a better way than coming up with an ultra-violent character. I don’t have much more to say on this. It’s a shame that the image of creepypasta has been spoiled by works like these.
UKHS: It seems to me that the latest recognisable trend is that of rituals or games, such as the Midnight Man, 11 Miles and Three Kings. It’s arguable that these could well have seen their genesis in the Holders series. Can I ask your opinion on that, plus the current resurgence in ritual/game pastas? Are there any that you enjoy?
MrD: I believe ritual pastas has been around since the beginning of the genre. It can even be traced back to the ‘share-this-message-100-times-or-Bloody-Mary-will-visit-you’ messages. Someone took this silly idea and turned it into a proper ritual guideline. Somehow they caught on. Probably because they are easy to read, with bulletpoints and instructions and stuff. The Holders series certainly played a part in shaping this genre. Especially the ritual pastas that are location centric. The problem with all the Holders-inspired stories though is that the series has a distinct “voice”. Most of them have a unique narration style which is what made them so popular. Other ritual pastas have tried to replicate that success, but it’s next to impossible to do without an identity. I can’t remember any ritual pasta that I enjoyed.
UKHS: What do you feel makes a good creepypasta?
MrD: It isn’t easy to define what makes a story good. What is undisputable, is that a creepypasta needs to scare/unsettle/creep out the reader. In some occasions, a creepypasta can be sad, but it has to have some unsettling element for it to be good as a creepypasta. The way for a story to be creepy differs from story to story. There is the horror of the unknown, the horror of the uncanny, suspense, mystery, madness and the list goes on.
Any route the writer goes, one way to enhance the horror is the characters in the story. Fleshing out the characters is very important and oftentimes a flat character can bring down a horrifying plot. The location is key too. Sometimes the setting alone can carry an otherwise mediocre story. All in all, reading about interesting characters and locations/scenery is a very important support to horror. Language and vocabulary is also extremely important. The right word at the right place can work wonders for a story, while a story with bland use of the language oftentimes falls flat. There are a ton of things that factor in the excellence of a creepypasta. It is the job of the writer to build his idea into a proper story that will hopefully be good.
UKHS: Which writers, horror or otherwise, do you consider yourself a fan of?
MrD: From horror, I love Edgar Allan Poe, HP Lovecraft and Ambrose Bierce. One of my favourite writers is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The Sherlock Holmes tales have to be my absolute favourites. Recently I have taken a liking to Maurice Leblanc too, who wrote a series of short stories about an ingenious thief, who basically is Sherlock Holmes on the other side of the law.
When I was younger I loved the works of Valerio Massimo Manfredi, who has written some amazingly suspenseful work. From the wiki, I love the works of Humboldt (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/User:HumboldtLycanthrope), Banning (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/User:Banningk1979), Empyre (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/User:EmpyrealInvective) and WriterJosh (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/User:WriterJosh), to name a few. Outside of literature, I love the work of Michael Sipser in Computer Science and Gaston Bachelard in Science Philosophy.
UKHS: You’re very active at the Creepypasta Wikia. What is it like being a part of that community? What advice would you offer to other people who want to get involved over there?
MrD: The community of the Creepypasta Wiki is very dear to me. I love hanging around and having a laugh with the guys and gals. Also, because we are mainly a literature community, the advice and opinion sharing on horror and all things literature is a nice change in a world that doesn’t seem to stop anymore for the writing arts. If you want to get involved, just hop over and have fun. Engage in discussions, joke around and be yourself. You’d be surprised by how open we are to newcomers. People can slot right in, our common interest and love for horror making for a smooth entrance to the community. Also, as the place is a wikia where a lot relies on community help via volunteer work, you are more than welcome to help around by fixing mistakes in stories and stuff like that.
UKHS: You’ve also written some fantastic stories over at the wiki. Which stories of your own are you most proud of? What advice would you offer to other writers?
MrD: I love reading and writing micropastas, so basically I’m proud of any (barring a couple very bad stories) work of mine that is shorter than 500 words, even the ones I haven’t posted on the wiki. If I had to pick a single one, it would have to be Twitching and Convulsing (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/Twitching_and_Convulsing). For some reason I am very creeped out by people twitching and twisting their bodies in weird angles, and this story plays on exactly that fear. Granted, the whole story is one single scene, but I think for what it is it works very well.
The main advice I would give to new writers is be patient, read stories and practise. If you love reading and writing and you are willing to put in the work, you will improve in no time. We even have a Writer’s Workshop (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/Board:Writer%27s_Workshop) where you can post your work to receive feedback and we also have some blogs on Writing Advice (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/Creepypasta_Wiki:Writing_Advice). Basically if you want to become good, read and write as much as you can and eventually you’ll get there.
UKHS: Finally, with the likes of Channel Zero and the recent proposed Machinima Clive Barker’s Creepypasta show, it seems that Creepypasta is really becoming mainstream. What do you think the future holds for Creepypasta?
MrD: I believe the quality of the stories in the genre will continue improving and it will eventually become a proper part of mainstream literature, commanding more respect than it does now. More than anything, creepypasta is storytelling for and from the common folk and coupled with the increase in quality, creepypastas will be reaching more and more people as time goes on. I’m very thrilled for the future of this novel art form.
Come back next time when I’ll be speaking to another respected creator from another breeding ground for Creepypastas — DeviantArt.