Monday, June 1, 2009

Jack Lantern-head: a D&D mini concept drawing by a 5 y.o.

So my son is pretty enamored with D&D minis. Yeah you could say he kinda digs 'em. Hmmn....I wonder why. Well yesterday I overheard him from the other room describing with great enthusiasm to my wife the drawing he was working on at that moment. The part that really made me go "huh?" was when he said:

"Look Mama, doesn't it look like a mini? Look! I'm gonna go show Daddy. Wait 'til he see this guy!"
"Wow! That's great!" she said. "Daddy, you should see Bobby's drawing. He's been really concentrated working on it in here."

So he comes rushing into the den and flips the paper around, flashing this fiendish fellow right in my face:

"Woah!" I exclaimed. "Who in the world is *that*?!?!?"
"He's... uhm... Pumpkinhead." he replied. "No, wait!... He's the headless pumpkin!"
"Wow, that's awesome!" I told him. "But I'm not sure a pumpkin *can* be headless, can it?"
(Actually, it's a pretty interesting notion - a headless pumpkin. I should have let him run with it...ah well.)
"Oh yeah. Well what's those things? Ya'know, when we carve the pumpkins?" he asked.
"You mean 'jack-o'-lanterns'?" I inquired.
"Yeah! That's it! He's Jack Lantern-head!" he declared. "Or the Headless Pumpkin!"
(There we go. He got to come back around to the idea of headless pumpkin. Cool.)

As soon as I saw his picture, I couldn't help but think back to a few posts by some veteran bloggers Jeff Rients and James Maliszewski and a phenomenal artist Steve Zieser. You know them from their blogs Jeff's Gameblog, Grognardia, and Curmudgeons & Dragons, respectively.

Anyway, I did a quick search through their sites and found the posts I was thinking of. Here's a post Jeff made which features some pics of a similar looking dude...actually two similar looking dudes. First there's the Knight of Autumn Gate mini from Dreamblade:

Now if you took away this guy's sword and set his head was on fire he'd be a shoe-in for Marvel's Jack O'Lantern. But then... his head would be... well... on fire:

And then there's this pic of an OD&D bugbear, of which Jeff comments in his post as who/what the Dreamblade mini reminds him:

Pretty sweet, eh? Nice stuff there Jeff.

That last OD&D image there is reborn in a work posted at Curmudgeons & Dragons by that blog's own Steve Zieser, an amazing fantasy artist who has that sweet old-school flavor. Steve's work has been featured in such great retro-clone gaming works as the Basic Fantasy Roleplaying Game, the very cool Fight On! magazine, and some of the B/X combo-remake Labyrinth Lord's supplements, etc.

Here's Steve's cool pic from Halloween '08:

The last post is this one at Grognardia which James claims this illo by Erol Otus to be "hands down, one of the best depictions of any undead creature in any edition of Dungeons & Dragons.":

One of my faves there too, James. At least the face of this spectre has that carved jack-o'-lantern look to it. That along with the whole clawing-tree-branch, Michael-Jackson-Thriller-video-undead-dance-move-thing, is exactly why it reminded me of my son's creation.

Hey I think she may have been at my '80s themed 40th b-day party this past November...hmmn.

Anyway, three great posts there by three great gaming bloggers. /salute

Now I understand that one could look at my son's drawing and think yeah but what's that have to do with a D&D mini? Well look at the base. He specifically added that black base to the picture, just like the D&D minis that we play with have. Most of the time I try to steer him clear of the old lead figures, painted or not, just to be safe...sorta. Even though I played with them as a kid and I turned out ok...right?...RIGHT!?!?!? Anyway, when he and I play minis we use the plastic ones, mostly from WotC, which all have the black circular base. And so here it is in a full length shot:

Thus as of today, thanks to Bobby's awesome artwork, Jack Lantern-head the headless pumpkin guy is standing guard in my office at work, and I must say he's doing a fine job. In fact folks have been runnin' scared from my cube all day. What a bunch of wussies!



Christian said...

Kids' illustrations can be such an awesome source of inspiration for gaming. I used a few to inspire GURPS critters for a weird/modern game. I love the pumpkin head!

Timothy S. Brannan said...


My two boys have been the BEST source of D&D ideas for the last two-three years.

My oldest solidified the idea that goblins in my games are not evil, but certainly up to no good, with the introduction of the three goblin brothers (that might have a little kobold in them somewhere) Horky, Dorky and Snorky.

And minis. Well I have to go to there rooms every so often to find the minis that have some how gone missing from my game room. ;)

You stat up Jack-o-lantern head and I'll drop him into a game!


Tom said...

Heya, great blog. What's your opinion on the constant evolution of the monster design?. I see you posted a few versions of the Bugbear. The early version looks like an ape with a pumpkin head. It's a dang Samsquatch!. Do you think redesigning the monsters over and over again is kinda removing the game further from the original concept? A lot of the monster manuals monsters don't even look like they orginally were "Look at the Orcs!".

yoyorobbo said...


Yes, the kiddies seem to come up with some very cool ideas. They often just "don't care" if something they think of isn't "right" (or expected/typical) long as it's cool to them, it's cool.

And ya'know what? They're usually right!

Thanks for the compliment on Bobby's creation. I'll let him know that someone on "my computer" digs it...hehe.

yoyorobbo said...

@Tim Brannan:

Horky, Dorky, and Snorky? Awesome!

I'm not very good at stat'n up monsters, so I may not come thru there. But if I do, I will post it for sure. I'd love to hear that ol' Jack Lanternhead here gets some action in a game.

Heck, I should hunt down that Dreamscape mini that Jeff Rients posted about in the referenced blog post, and bust it out sometime in a game of minis with my son. He'd FREAK!

yoyorobbo said...


Yeah, I actually don't like the redesigning of many of our old favorite monsters. Then again my old faves may not be your old faves, etc.

For instance, that pumpkin-headed "bugbear" pic has some real history to it, according to the post I saw it in (Jeff's Gameblog). Something along the lines of the artist taking the idea description of "a head like a pumpkin" (meaning big and round) a little too literal...ha! Read Jeff's post (I linked to it in the post here) and you'll see what I mean.

A couple specifics of monsters I wish were never changed cosmetically:

(1) Orcs - yeah I prefer my orcs pig-faced

(2) Trolls - they're not way off from the old B/X D&D and AD&D days, with the current 4e style, but still I'll just take a plain old green troll, kinda skinny, with a long pointy nose, warts, and no weapons! They are supposed to beat ya to a pulp with their bare hands (IMO)

(3) Ogres - man, they have messed with them thru the years. Old 1st ed MM is to my liking there again.

There are tons of them, though. I prefer the old school art, even though many of the current product/version artists are amazing in their own right. The older style is so much more fun!