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I’m Mervyn Pumpkinhead, and I approve this message – Sandman #46

October 31, 2010

It wouldn’t be Halloween without a Halloween-themed blog post, so let me join in the fun with a few brief words about the best minor character in the sprawling Sandman mythos, Mervyn Pumpkinhead. If you don’t know him, he’s the gruff handyman around Morpheus’ dream realm, doing all the proletarian duties that keep the wheels greased in that wonderfully strange fairyland. Oh, and his head is a carved jack o’lantern (there’s your Halloween connection) with facial expressions that shift and change quite comically. And he wears overalls. And he smokes. And he was a bus driver for a while.

I love this guy.

His full introduction came during the “Brief Lives” arc, which is the storyline that I connect with most strongly from this series. Perhaps that’s the reason that I like the guy so much. I don’t know. The family dynamics between the Endless reached their touching and tragic turning point in those nine issues, and it always struck me as some of the finest work that Neil Gaiman ever flung out to be enjoyed by the public. I also thought that the art was amongst the best in the entire run. Penciller Jill Thompson has remarked that Vince Locke’s loose inks changed her pencils in ways that she hadn’t expected and wasn’t necessarily fond of, but I always liked the melding of their styles. The result was, for the lack of a better word, dreamy.

Perhaps most importantly, it was perfect for our pal Mervyn.

He appeared in two pages in this particular issue, when Morpheus returned to his realm after a brief sojourn on Earth with his sister Delerium. It’s an amusing little sequence, and it nicely encapsulates this character. Here it is:

 

The way Thompson and Locke drew his arms and fingers has a pumpkin-y feel to it, sort of like the vines and stems in a real live pumpkin patch. It adds a lot. And Mervyn hanging some wallpaper to add a new wing to Lucien’s library (a library of books that were never written, mind you) is something straight out of a classic cartoon. It’s things like that that made this series so utterly fantastic.

I should disclose that I have a “Brief Lives” poster framed and hung up here in the Blog into Mystery home office. The main reason I bought it was that it had Mr. Pumpkinhead featured prominently — I couldn’t resist. Merv later starred in his own spinoff where he was A #%*$ING SECRET AGENT IN A TUXEDO LIKE JAMES BOND. I really need to track that thing down.

Happy Halloween to one and all.

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