Even though Brandt is a genius, he didn’t come up with the tale of the ill-fated Stingy Jack all his own because the history of this man dates back to the early days of Halloween itself. Being Halloween is a mere two weeks away, we thought we would rediscover the history of Stingy Jack, and sit down with Brandt Peters on why this character is dear to him.
As the story goes, several centuries ago amongst the myriad of towns and villages in Ireland, there lived a drunkard known as “Stingy Jack”. Jack was known throughout the land as a deceiver, manipulator and otherwise dreg of society. On a fateful night, the devil overheard the tale of Jack’s evil deeds and silver tongue. Unconvinced (and envious) of the rumors, the devil went to find out for himself whether or not Jack lived up to his vile reputation.
Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.
Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then, simply “Jack O’Lantern.”
Now that we know the history of Stingy Jack, we wanted to see what drew in Brandt to bring this story to life in his art. Brandt was kind enough to take time out of his very busy day so we could pick his brain on this amazing character.
CP: What drew you in to the lore of Stingy Jack?
Brandt Peters: I have always been a story teller… I just happen to use toys, paintings and media of all types to tell my tales. I have a fascination with myth and folk tales from around the globe. An ongoing idea that I continually explore is to re-tell or even concoct “new” American myth.
Stingy Jack is one of the folk tales that I am in the process of retelling and re-developing internally at Circus Posterus and it fit perfectly into my world of antique heroes and old-world scoundrels.
I am not sure how much you know of the tale… The Devil and Stingy Jack are locked in a perpetual battle of who is the most evil. The very idea of their relationship was so fantastic and absurd. The humor alone in this notion seems historic to me. As a huge fan of the tale, I felt compelled to fill in the blanks, the ongoing adventure of the two most envious and vile characters in the universe trying to outwit each other infinitely.
I love the simple basis behind the lore of Stingy Jack and his curse, and personally felt it was always incomplete. I wanted more!
Click MORE for the rest of our interview with Brandt Peters on his love of Stingy Jack.
Brandt: The first task was to visualize Stingy Jack and come up with his look. I looked towards Western Vintage Halloween, my love of side-shows, circus and ‘old’ Las Vegas ephemera and of course my addiction to “over-the-top” Tex Avery cartoons as the core ingredients to redevelop this “thing” into my own.
I then took those genres and inspirations to world-build Stingy Jack’s cursed universe. If you can imagine the layers of characters in Greek myth — I have a similar type of structure with my pantheon of characters. Stingy Jack slipped right into place and is a reluctant, awkward, accidental hero. His personality is1/3 “The Man with No Name” from Spaghetti Westerns, 1/3 Tony Clifton and 1/3 George Bailey from “It’s a Wonderful Life”.
This recipe filled Stingy Jack with a modern complexity that really brought the character to life and made him really appealing and relatable. I also added the spin that in competing with the Devil ——— no matter how evil Jack thinks he is, and how maniacal and manipulative he may think he is… his evil acts accidentally acts on the side of ‘good’ in some capacity and balances out.
I guess Stingy is an anti-hero of sorts – it is sort of his curse… which is a fun spin on the idea of what a “curse” actually is…
Combining this take on Jack along with the “classic” Devil, seemed liked the perfect recipe for an ongoing tale that would never end, and gags and jokes that could almost tell themselves. Besides this concept, I opened up the doors to bring in more main and sub characters based on classic Halloween monsters, ghosts and creatures to surround Jack and provide for great drama and storytelling. Stingy Jack is just one character in the project, and to date over a dozen supporting characters have been developed… some yet to even be revealed!
CP: Are there any other characters from tales and myths you would like to bring to life in the future?
Brandt: I have too many…The Wizard of Oz, The Headless Horseman (Would be fantastic to combine “The Headless Horseman” with “Paul Revere’s Ride”), Davy Crockett and the Wild Frontier (with Wild Frontier as a whole other dimension), as well as redeveloping a Little Nemo in Slumberland type story. Those are all dream projects…
Anyway – there are so many projects and I don’t want to give away too much… as much is being developed at the studio. I also have ideas for completely concocting folk tales that were never told…
CP: Anything else you wish to expound on related to Ol’ Stingy?
Brandt: Get ready! Stingy’s world is about to be unveiled through top secret projects to drop next year — also, there are many other Stingy Jack toys in development based on main and sub-characters… not to mention the bad guys. Mwahahahaha!!!!!!!
We would like to thank Brandt Peters for the interview, and we hope you enjoyed a little history of Stingy Jack. If you would like to purchase one of Brandt’s Stingy Jacks for Halloween or any other time, they are available here.