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Pennywise: 4 Unlikely King Novels that Reference the Clown

By September 9, 2017Adaptations, Authors

Fans of Stephen King’s work will know how interconnected many of his novels are. The author has created an entire world through his novels and each novel is a part of this Kingverse. With IT back in the cinema this weekend, we’re going to take a look at Pennywise and the other King novels that have nodded to the character.

Pennywise is described as a shapeshifting monster that preys on Derry’s children and humans every three decades, feeding off human fear. Pennywise usually assumes the form of a middle aged man dressed in clown costume, and if you haven’t had enough of King’s scariest clown then here are some of the other novels that connect up.

IT was released in 1986 and it wouldn’t take long before King would reference Pennywise again. In 1987 he released The Tommyknockers, and in this novel a character called Tommy Jacklin makes a supply run through Derry,the town featured in IT. During this time he thinks he sees “a clown with shiny silver dollars for eyes” peering at him from an open sewer drain. This is Pennywise’s first appearance outside IT and his only true cameo to date.

It would take until 2001 before we would hear a word about Pennywise again. In King’s 2001 novel, The Dreamcatcher Mr Gray takes a detour into Derry, the town made famous in IT, he ends up at the water storage standpipe. As readers will know, the tower was demolished at the climax of IT, in its place a plaque to the town’s victims. Spraypainted across the memorial is the graffiti ‘Pennywise Lives’. Is this King’s way of telling us he hasn’t finished with the demonic clown?

Ten years later in 2011, King would release 11/22/63, one of his most popular novels to date. Part of the novel is set in the fictional town of Derry when protagonist George Amberson meets some of the characters from IT, Beverly Marsh and Richard Tozier. The year is 1958 and as the trio play together Amberson asks about a violent crime in the town when he overhears the girl say to her friend “That wasn’t the clown.” But has no idea what she means.

King’s most recent nod to Pennywise came in 2014 with the release of Mr Mercedes. Fans of this book will know that the murderer in this cat and mouse thriller wears a clown mask “Creepy as hell. You ever see that TV movie about the clown in the sewer?” someone asks Det. Bill Hodges, in a nod to Pennywise. It’s well accepted that Pennywise pretty much started the scary clown trend, and so this is a bit of an inception moment for the author.

Will Pennywise return? It’s likely, every three decades is promised, but whether King will ever write a sequel remains to be seen.

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One Comment

  • Nick says:

    I hate to be that guy, but it’s really gonna bug me. Pennywise is not the name of the creature itself, and it’s also not It, it’s Robert Grey and also the Spider. Pennywise is literally just the clown. He turns into other things too. I’m sure most of the explanations aren’t in the movies because book adaptations tend to cut out information that’s interesting but not crucial to the plot. Or stuff that’s crucial to the plot. They cut everything.

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