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Scary-ass clowns have been showing up in the woods lately, allegedly trying to lure away children. Finally Maine's Bangor Daily News got in touch with Stephen King to see what he thinks. The man who has owned scary clown culture since Pennywise menaced the 1986 novel It is, indeed, freaked out. He emailed the BDN:

“[Actor] Lon Chaney said (or is reputed to have said), ‘There’s nothing funny about a clown in the moonlight.’ Meaning, I suppose, a clown seen outside of its normal milieu, in the circus or at the fair. If I saw a clown lurking under a lonely bridge (or peering up at me from a sewer grate, with or without balloons), I’d be scared, too.”

Speaking about his choice to make Derry, Maine's ancient, shape-shifting evil often take the form of a clown, King said the circus staples' "white faces and red lips are so different and so grotesque compared to ‘normal’ people." In a 2013 Reddit AMA, he responded to clamor for an It sequel by saying, "I don't think I could bear to deal with Pennywise again. Too scary, even for me."

Law enforcement has reported that at least one clown sighting was a ruse. The New Jersey State Police on Thursday preemptively warned citizens against nefarious forest clowns.

King likens the clown sightings to the "low-level hysteria" caused by things like Slender Man or the Bunny Man. “The clown furor will pass, as these things do," he writes, "but it will come back, because under the right circumstances, clowns really can be terrifying.”

Clown fever of a safer kind will return when Andrés Muschietti's It remake lands next September. We've already gotten a couple glimpses at the new Pennywise.

Listen to Fuse's Back of the Class podcast talk about Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series and the film adaptation starring Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba: