Brian’s Top 5 Jack-O’-Lanterns

Carving jack-o-lanterns has always been a key part of my Halloween celebration. But particularly in the last ten years or so, I’ve gotten into it in a big way, to the point that it just might be my single favorite part of the season. In fact, it’s gotten to the point where just one a year is no longer enough (truth be told, I’ve already carved three in the past month). I’d like to think I’m getting kinda good at it…but that’s for you to judge. Whatever the case, I get a little better with each additional year of practice. What follows are five selections I consider to be my very best work.

Note: Some are from patterns designed by other artists than myself.

#5. Anachronistica (September 2015)
Clocking in at #5 is a design I just carved for this year’s Count Gauntly Halloween episode, depicting a character from the series. This one marks a lot of firsts; It was my first time carving an artificial “pumpkin substitute,” and also my first attempt at transferring an image directly from a photograph. Overall, I think it worked out fairly well. A few notes on carving fake pumpkins:
– On the positive side, they don’t rot, and are generally sturdier than their organic counterparts. This means you can theoretically carve finer designs and not need to worry as much about flimsy pieces collapsing in on themselves.
-On the negative side, cutting into them produces a gross, highly artificial, vaguely-sawdusty powder. While the “goop” of a standard pumpkin is admittedly gross in its own way, at least it isn’t unnatural and potentially carcinogenic. Also, I managed to get a sizable flake of pumpkin foam stuck in my eye. So if you’re hellbent on going fake this year, WEAR GOGGLES.


#4. “CHOP” Axe Cop campaign poster (Halloween 2010)
I designed this pattern based on a Shepard Fairey-inspired campaign poster featured in “Axe Cop,” an over-the-top webcomic which is one of my all-time favorites. As I wrote in an earlier blog post on the subject, Axe Cop is the result of a 29-year old comic book artist vividly illustrating the superhero stories told by his 5-year old half-brother. It’s awesome, even if the series is currently on indefinite hiatus. Even more awesome is the fact that my pumpkin was actually featured on the Axe Cop website, in a post about the fan community celebrating the season. My one regret with this one was that I couldn’t quite get the teeth right. I ended up needing to incorporate a piece of paper to jerry-rig a solution. I ain’t proud to admit it. But the official shoutout from the comics’ creators cancels out any shame I might feel.


#3. Thelonius (September 2014)
I don’t know what it is about this one. It just seems to capture a lot of emotion. Of the various character pumpkins I’ve carved for Count Gauntly Halloween specials (seven thus far), this one is by far my favorite. It’s also probably the best pattern I’ve personally designed thus far.


#2. Bigfoot (Halloween 2014)
This one seemed to go over well. The picture I posted of it on Facebook got 32 likes, so take that as you will. I concede that I didn’t design the pattern itself, but the image (a footprint outline with a Sasquatch in profile striding through it) spoke to me so viscerally that I couldn’t pass it up.


#1. Edgar Allan Poe (Halloween 2012)
Okay, okay. I didn’t design this one either. But it just looks so freakin’ cool. And besides, carving it wasn’t exactly a cake-walk. I AM pleased with how it came out, though. So pleased, in fact, that it’s served as the background on my phone for the last three years.


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