MILWAUKEE - The man who created Slenderman, a spooky character popularized in short stories, video games and films, and an administrator of a website that collected the works expressed their condolences Wednesday to a 12-year-old girl who was stabbed by two fans and to others affected by the tragedy.
A spokeswoman for Slenderman creator Eric Knudsen and an administrator for the site said they have been overwhelmed with calls and messages since news broke that the girls charged in the weekend stabbing told police they wanted to curry favor with Slenderman and prove he was real.
"I am deeply saddened by the tragedy in Wisconsin and my heart goes out to the families of those affected by this terrible act," Knudsen said in a statement released by spokeswoman Sue Procko.
Creepypasta administrator David Morales said the site clearly states the stories there are fiction and its rules bar use by anyone under 13.
"We are not teaching children to believe in a fictional monster, nor are we teaching them to be violent," Morales wrote in an email.
He noted that administrators have not allowed any new Slenderman stories to be posted since 2012 because they want users to come up with fresh ideas. Since Knudsen posted the first Slenderman stories and photos in an online forum in 2009, hundreds of other writers, artists and programmers have created horror stories featuring the tall, thin, faceless man in a black suit.
"Overall, the community has deep condolences to the family of the victim and all those who were involved," Morales wrote.
Slenderman fans defended the stories and the community that's gathered around them.
"It fosters a lot of good conversations and friendships online, as well as creativity between fellow creators," Ryan Lelache, a Slenderman fan from New Jersey, wrote in an email.
Lisa Morton, vice president of the Horror Writers Association, said the genre "helps us to explore and understand our own fears."
"The horror characters that rise to the top and become the best known are speaking to contemporary cultural anxieties," added Rhonda Brock-Servais, an English professor at Longwood University.