Jack Pumpkinhead with his "brother," the Sawhorse.
The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904)
Reilly & Britton
L. Frank Baum
Jack first appeared in The Marvelous Land of Oz. Jack's tall figure is made from tree limbs and jointed with wooden pegs. He has a jack-o'-lantern for a head which is where he gets his name (unlike most jack-o'-lanterns, the seeds and other pumpkin guts were not removed).
Jack was made by a little boy named Tip to scare his guardian, an old witch named Mombi. From Mombi's chest he took some old clothes for Jack; purple trousers, a red shirt, a pink vest with white polka dots, and stockings, to which he added a pair of his shoes. When Mombi saw Jack, she almost smashed him to pieces. Instead, she decided to test her new Powder of Life on him. The powder worked and Jack came to life.
Jack is not known for his intelligence which seems to depend on the quality and number of the seeds in his pumpkin-head at that time. However, he manages to come up with random bits of wisdom and common sense often. For example, after bringing Jack to life, Mombi has the following exchange with him:
Even Mombi was not without a curious interest in the man her magic had brought to life; for, after staring at him intently, she presently asked: "What do you know?" to which Jack replied, "Well, that is hard to tell," replied Jack. "For although I feel that I know a tremendous lot, I am not yet aware how much there is in the world to find out about. It will take me a little time to discover whether I am very wise or very foolish."
Although Jack Pumpkinhead would not get tired from walking, his joints would still wear out. To remedy this, Tip created the Saw-Horse to serve as Jack's mode of transportation (effectively making them "brothers" as they were both created from the same father... whom, as Ozma, is now their "mother").
In The Road to Oz, Jack has settled in a large pumpkin-shaped house near the Tin Woodman's castle in Winkie Country. Jack spends much of his time growing pumpkins to replace his old heads, which eventually spoil and need to be replaced. Apparently, Princess Ozma carves new heads for Jack when necessary. The old heads are buried in a graveyard on his property. It should also be noted that Jack calls Ozma his mother. In The Emerald City of Oz, it is revealed that Jack designed a five storey, jewel-encrusted, corn-shaped mansion for the Scarecrow.
Once, Princess Ozma sent Jack with the Sawhorse to rescue a pair of lost children from the woods at the west of Oz. His pumpkin head was smashed as a result of a run-in with the Squirrel King, but the Wizard of Oz came to his rescue.
Public Domain Appearances
- The Marvelous Land of Oz
- The Road to Oz
- The Emerald City of Oz
- Little Wizard Stories of Oz
- The Magic of Oz
- The Patchwork Girl of Oz
- The Scarecrow of Oz
- The Fairylogue and Radio-Plays.
- The Woggle-Bug
- While the original character who appeared in Oz books published before 1923 is in public domain, the versions of the character used by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Disney, Vertigo Comics, Marvel Comics or post-1923 Oz books are NOT in the public domain.