The 'Bleedverse' is the shared universe in which all horror stories I've written take place. In this document, I'm going to explain what exactly "clowns" are in this setting. In real life, clowns are just funny (or scary) guys in makeup. While many clowns in the Bleedverse are like that, others are something else entirely.
I remain just one thing, and one thing only, and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician. - Charlie Chaplin
In the Bleedverse, Clowns are an otherworldly race of extra-dimensional beings from a realm of existence separate for our own. This dimension is simply known as "Clown World" by the very few humans who've been able to document it. The clowns themselves have no name for their own reality, simply calling it "the real world" or "home." Clown World's buildings and infrastructure resemble a mix between a giant circus, an amusement park and a children's cartoon.
Clown World is ruled over by a race of eldritch beings known as "Progenitors." They all look like the Flatwoods Monster, except with clown and circus colors, rainbow afros, and many tendrils on their backs that resemble long balloons. They have no eyes, but their big red noses glow with bright light that shines down on anything they look at.
The Progenitors are godlike beings capable of bending reality and physics to their will, a trait shared by their more powerful kithe and kin. Progenitors are not tyrants and respect their offspring, but usually seem indifferent to their livelihoods or affairs. They create new clowns by exchanging reproductive fluid via their balloon tendrils. After several days, both Progenitors lay thousands and thousands of tiny eggs from their tendrils into a nest of a cotton-candy like substance (one of many) that comes from giant flowers on their chests. The tiny eggs resemble popcorn pieces. The nesting material is not necessary for the clowns to hatch or incubate, but makes them much safer.
Eventually, the eggs hatch into brightly colored slugs, which burrow through the ground and slowly grow and develop features as their consciousness develops. Clowns can take any form during this period, but most often evolve into a humanoid form. The appearance of a clown can change over the span of their lifetime, either through subconscious influence or their own will. The Progenitors reproduce so prolifically that, for every nesting area (of which there are millions) a new clown is born every minute.
Despite how malleable and inconsistent the clown form is, in its "natural" state it always has a key trait: pearly white skin and different-colored blotches. When a clown can finally consciously control their physical form, they can choose to shed these traits entirely. Once this happens, they are no longer classified as "clowns" by their kindred, and are instead seen as a subrace known as "Toons." Toons have their own separate sub-dimension in Clown World known as "Toon Town." An impossibly large, ever-changing landscape with just about everything imaginable in it.
Clowns who choose to look exactly like humans are also considered their own separate subrace, known as "Stooges." The most famous Stooges, of course, are Larry, Curly and Moe. But by far the most influential and powerful Stooge in contemporary times was Ray Kroc, better known by his true name: Ronald McDonald. For the entire span of McDonalds existence, Ronald has disguised himself as every single human CEO of the McDonalds corporation, with the actual "humans" being paid to keep quiet about Ronald using their identities.
“Never underestimate a clown with a book.” ― Rawi Hage, Carnival
A clown reaches maturity at around 18 years old, which is when their powers and abilities start to fully manifest. It takes about ten years for their abilities to reach "average" potential, and as they grow older, they become more powerful.
Though the powers a clown has can vary, the three most common are the following:
Nigh-Invulnerability: Clowns are highly resistant to damage, much like cartoon characters. They can still be killed, but it's much harder. They become like cartoon characters, able to withstand extreme punishment. As such, clowns are excellent at slapstick comedy. Evil clowns are also often an extremely dangerous threat for this reason.
Shapeshifting: Clowns develop the ability to change their bodies at will at around age 30, though this ability is usually very weak and limited until they reach about 50 years old. This ability allows them to blend in with whatever world they're currently visiting, but is also useful for purely aesthetic purposes. Sometimes, this ability is even used in combat.
Reality-Warping: Clowns gain the ability to change and alter reality in a limited way around the age of 100. They can change the mass and density of objects around them, alter the colors of certain objects, bring drawings and shadow puppets to life, as well as an untold number of other things. One of the conditions to this ability is that the changes made have to be absurd or silly, and "mundane" changes won't work. Using this power too much in a given day will physically drain the clown.
The Magic of Comedy
“The child's laughter is pure until he first laughs at a clown.” ― Angela Carter, Nights at the Circus
Comedy is to a clown's powers as electricity is to a light bulb. There's a scene in the film "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" where Rogen can't escape from a set of handcuffs until it's set up as a joke. Roger explains that cartoons can do anything, but only if it's "funny." Clowns in this universe work in a similar fashion. Though a situation doesn't necessarily have to be funny for a clown's power to work, there must be an element of absurdity to it, some kind of silliness. When something silly happens outside of the Clown World, it creates a conduit of energy that allows clowns to travel to the new dimension if they so choose.
Clowns have visited the human realm many times because of humanity's tendency to devolve into absurdity. Clowns have heavily influenced the world of man, and are responsible for the creations of things like circuses, carnivals, amusement parks, cartoons and people wearing clown makeup. From Court Jesters to Mimes to modern-day bozos, Clowns have greatly altered the course of human history. By the same measure, humans have had a massive influence on clowns as well. Early clowns were shapeless, inconsistent beings that resembled bizarre aliens and mutants, but observing the human race made clowns admire their form and aesthetics. This is why the majority of clowns now resemble humanoids.
For thousands of years, there have been clowns who, in secret, have bred with humans, though this is strictly forbidden. It is believed that over half the human population has clown DNA in them, but it is dormant. However, dressing and acting like a clown will slowly cause the dormant traits to become stronger and eventually take hold, until the individuals become full-blooded clowns. Of course, many humans who dress and act like clowns are just people in funny costumes, "fake clowns" if you would. Any human can become a "true" clown if they ingest the blood of a clown.
It is said that clowns have also visited and even colonized other worlds within our solar system. An example of these interstellar interactions was shown in the documentary "Killer Klowns from Outer Space." Though the title is quite cryptic, the accuracy of the film is remarkable.
Clown Society, The Clown Code and Bad Clowns
“Just because everyone is behaving like a clown, it doesn’t mean you have to join the circus.” ― Matshona Dhliwayo
Though the Progenitors are the dominant caste of Clown World, they exert no political or moral control of the lesser beings of their dimension. Instead, the duties of policing and civics falls upon a higher order known as "The Clown Council" or "Clouwncil." They are the governing body of the more civilized parts of their dimension and enforce a strict set of laws they call "The Clown Code." The Clown Code dictates that all clowns must behave ethically, morally and spread laughter and joy wherever they go. Even more neutral clowns who have mundane visions to build popular fast food franchises follow these laws carefully, as to not suffer the wrath of the Clouwncil.
However, renegade clowns pay no heed to these rules. "Bad Clowns" discard the sacred Clown Code and commit acts of debauchery and sadism wherever their squeaky shoes take them. These evil clowns harness the energy of pitch-black, cruel comedy. If something is both tragic and absurd, it can be fuel. One noteworthy example is Sharptooth the Clown, who came to earth and unleashed a horrific reign of terror when an incident in the town of Clover Grove, Nebraska served as a dark conduit for him to enter earth. The town had recently suffered massive devastation from the destruction of a local dam and the town's politicians found themselves locked in a heated argument over what color the new dam should be for an hour on national television before any mention of relief efforts. The horrified, displaced survivors of the tragedy watched in aw as the people in charge of saving them were locked in a petty squabble with no self-awareness.
If you hear of multiple sightings of "evil" or "scary" clowns where you live, there's a good chance that the local population has engaged in serious foolishness, and a sinister force is greatly amused by its tragic consequences.
A day without laughter is a day wasted. - Charlie Chaplin
Clowns are just like everyone else. They have homes, jobs, families, rules and dreams. There are good ones, and there are bad ones, but one thing is true of every single one: they're all very, very silly. If you take clowns too seriously, you just might be one.