Monday, October 28, 2013

Pumpkin People Putting a Candle In It

Pumpkin People run the gamut from silly and happy to scary and badass.
Some examples:
This would be one of those scarecrow types seen above, I suppose.  Given the human body with glowing jack o' lantern head it doesn't have to be.  Nice suit, no socks.  It's like the Sonny Crockett of the pumpkin patch.  Bloody scythe is always good, which is part of the harvest imagery we've discussed before.  I love this painting.

The Pumpkin Slice monster from Dragon Fable is seen above.  Now here is the classic scarecrow married to the viney pumpkin man style.  Note the vine body and old clothes and of course, the scythe.  I think the add-on metal jaw gives this guy a Frankenstein's monster like appearance of unnatural evil.  As suggested in the image they hang out in pumpkin patches and farms.  Warning, they will kick a small pumpkin at you like a soccer ball.

I feel like this fellow (above) is sort of the ultimate symbol of the Halloween-Christmas-conflation-syndrome.  He's built along the traditional lines of a snowman (3 globes of decreasing circumference as you ascend, stick arms, a sweeping accessory) but is clearly a rustic fellow.  Is this a poke in the eye to the Christmas season saying, "Two can play at that game, observe my ironic vegetable man mocking your snowman form!" or just a giving in to the inevitable?  After all, K-Mart has had lay-away for Christmas commercials on the air since end of August featuring a giant, living gingerbread man (like that's not horrific).  Either way he's a pumpkin man to me and I like the style and look.

Here we have two masks I did not mention during my discussion of costumes.  I think these are both fine masks.  On the left we have a stocking mask (you can see the model's eyes and mouth through it) and as such it fits tight to the head.  There is a wicked sort of Joker quality to it with the wide mouth grin.  Most evil.  The shiny option on the right is a metallic pumpkin mask that is part of a series that includes a skull (in two colors, red and silver) and a few others.  I like this for the webbed cloth that blocks out the wearer's features while allowing flow of air and vision and for the general coolness of it.  Why not a shiny metallic pumpkin head?  Could we not have a cyber-pumpkin man in the future?  Robopumpkin!  I'm down for that action.

So he's a pumpkin jester?  The face is somewhere between rotten pumpkin and scarecrow and the costume is very much in the vein of a court jester.  Not much to say other than that.  He's either drunk or dancing.

Ah, Frank Frazetta, a master of fantasy and sci-fi art.  So many excellent covers for horror comics and magazines, did Frank do in his career.  Sadly Frank is no longer with us in the earthly realm but his legendary talents and his creations of Death Dealer and hundreds of big booty naked barbarian women will always be with us.  Here is Frank's take on the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow, a fine example of the genre.  Now while the old Headless Hessian is not, strictly speaking a pumpkin man (or in any way a pumpkin man, come to think of it...he's a ghost) since the publication of the original short story artists have been inspired to paint the horseman (most likely Brom Bones if we've read the tale) holding a pumpkin in place of his head.  Thus I am including him as a spiritual brother for artistic purposes only.
Also I just really like the story and that image.

And that brings to a close my exploration of pumpkin people.  I was going to discuss the Marvel Comics villain Jack O Lantern, but really that's just an ersatz Green Goblin wearing a pumpkin helmet.  Seriously even his weapons are Green Goblin weapons re-purposed (per his origin story) and while I love imagery, I just don't feel he belongs, after all, in this study.

Pumpkin People, the native inhabitants of Halloween, living embodiment of the season itself, stretching back to the late 19th century in America as logically symbolic of harvest and the Autumnal season.  Also completely hijacked by me and shoehorned into a made up Celtic legend!

Halloween is just around the corner, friends.  Keep your pumpkins lit.

1 comment:

  1. Really enjoyed your exploration of the history of pumpkin people. Im a bit obsessed with them myself, and have done a bit of research you might find interesting.

    Jack Skellington from Tim Burtons Nightmare Before Christmas seems to be inspired by Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz. Skellington even wears the same colored clothing and pumpkin on his head as an homage.

    The Oz Pumpkinhead seems to be inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne's 'Feathertop' (1852). feathertop was a scarecrow with a pumpkin head that was given life by a witch as well.

    Of interesting note is that the original illustrator of the Wizard of Oz story (W.W. Denslow) created a Pumpkinhead character of his own, the same year as the Oz version was released (1904). The lesser known 'The Pearl and the Pumpkin' was his Halloween/nautical themed Wizard of Oz knockoff that featured a more veggie person looking Pumpkinhead.

    As far as veggie people, the oldest examples I can find of these outside of the greetings cards you discussed were created by a French artist Amedee Varin in the 1840s Vegetable Empire works.

    A recent Cartoon Network animated series called 'Over the Garden Wall' featured veggie people and even explained the origins of Pumpkin people. Maybe the Pumpkinheads are making a comeback?