Friday, 15 January 2016



My last feature, in which I offered a readers a brief introduction to the online phenomenon that is Creepypasta (short horror stories or unsettling images/ videos copied and pasted throughout the internet via social media and message boards), mentioned arguably the most enduring and popular new mythos to emerge from the genre, The Slender Man.
As massive as The Slender Man has become, this week’s subject actually pre-dates the first appearance of Slender Man on the Something Awful boards in 2009.
I’m talking about arguably Creepypasta’s silver medal icon — Jeff The Killer.
The lore of Jeff the Killer sprang up with an image posted to Newgrounds by user killerjeff back on the 14th August 2008, depicting a terrifying photoshopped face, minus a nose, with lank dark hair, round staring eyes and with an unnaturally wide slit for a mouth. It’s a genuinely creepy image, taking elements of several horror images (especially Billy the Puppet from the Saw series) so it’s no surprise that the image gained some traction.
Pretty soon a number of ‘backstories’ for the image sprang up, one of the very first of which took the form of a video uploaded to YouTube by user Sesseur on 3rd October 2008. It’s 
pretty basic, consisting of a series of still images with accompanying text set to The Posie’s track, I Guess You’re Right
It’s also a pretty threadbare and unlikely story (Jeff slips on a bar of soap and falls into a bath of acid while cleaning his bathroom, which leaves him traumatised and with a penchant for gutting people. Seriously?) but it is the first to introduce Jeff’s brother Liu, a staple in the JtK mythos from this point onwards.
Variations and embellishments of the story have since found their way onto numerous Creepypasta sites (including this version) and the tale has evolved through time. They have plenty of subtle differences, but for the most part the story of Jeff describes him as a teenager (often with brother Liu) who falls afoul of bullies and ends up terribly burned in the process. It left him irreparably psychologically damaged and caused him to mutilate his face even further, removing the eyelids and carving a permanent smile onto his face.
This was said to be his final act before embarking on a terrible killing spree in which he a) slaughtered his own family; b) murdered the bullies who disfigured him; or c) did both.
In nearly every single version of the story, Jeff was said to whisper: ‘Shhhh, go to sleep’ to one or more of his victims before dispatching them. As such, this has become the character’s catchphrase.
This same phrase is used in a significantly shorter (and less popular) story for Jeff, which can be found over on the 4chan /x/board.

So, why has the story of Jeff proved so enduring? It certainly isn’t the best written or original example of Creepypasta, but it has inspired hundreds of pieces of fan fiction, fan art and even a video game. However, much as outdated phones or computers seem a bit dodgy now, at the time (eight years ago now) it was cutting edge. Jeff the Killer paved the way for more sophisticated internet horror stories and, considering its cultural reach, is a significant milestone in the development of what has come to be known as Creepypasta. The Jeff the Killer story itself works by preying on the fear of what happens when oppressed misfits fight back. Bullying victims who take violent revenge are a recurring horror in the news, especially in the United States. Research has shown that the majority of school shooting atrocities are carried out by bullying victims and Jeff’s story just gives a terrifyingly fabricated face to the phenomenon. That he subverts an innocent phrase commonly associated with childhood AND is said to strike at victims in the supposedly safe refuge of their own beds in the dead of night just adds to Jeff’s nightmare-fuel potential.

Yet, while nobody has been able to give a definitive origin for the Jeff image, some 4chan users over on the /x/ board have revealed that the truth might well be based in a horrifying real-life tale of bullying.
While researching the original JtK image /x/ board and Reddit user ninetofivehero linked the image to the alleged true story of a girl named Katy (or Katie) Robinson. Katy was said to be the subject of a post made on 4chan’s /b/ board on 21st April 2008 by somebody claiming to be her sister. The post says that after posting her image on the board, other users taunted Katy about her weight and ‘shopped the image over and over. As a result of this hounding, Katy was driven to suicide.

Some may wonder what this may have to do with the Jeff the Killer story? Well, ninetofivehero points to the similarity between Katy’s image and the rougher less polished JtK that appears during Sesseur’s YouTube video — notably a mole at the corner of the mouth and the hair that both share. 

Could the internet’s most famous bullying victim have descended from an image of a victim of online bullying who tragically took her own life?
The timeline certainly fits this theory, however, tellingly there are no links to the story of Robinson anywhere on the web OUTSIDE of those tying her to Jeff. Further attempts to get to the bottom of the pic have yielded no results, while my own efforts to contact both Sesseur and killerjeff have yet to receive any responses. 
Whatever the truth behind the Jeff the Killer picture, it is a testament to its enduring appeal that people are still discussing and circulating the picture some eight years after its first appearance. So where next for Jeff? Considering its popularity, it’s no surprise to hear that late last year filmmaker Vitaly Podolyak and his production company Purity Films announced plans to bring the character to the silver screen. 

Currently in pre-production, Podolyak’s Jeff has released a couple of nice concept images, plus a very creepy teaser trailer to attract investors. 

This is a project that shouldn't struggle to find an audience and, when it does, expect the legend of the internet’s most famous psychopath to grow and grow. 


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Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay. 

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