« »

jack in the box (haiku)

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

I have had jack-in-the-box’s on the brain lately. Whenever something dances around my mind like that it usually finds it way into a comic. It’s funny but often I will just do a bit of research on a topic, even if I know exactly what the comic is going to be, and when I do I find something dark beneath the surface. Perhaps, there’s a name for that, or there should be. Darkdar? Wow, say that out loud and you will sound developmentally disabled. Maybe, I should stick to comicking.

Anyway, I googled jack-in-the-box and had to rummage through a load of links related to the fast food chain, but lo and behold if there isn’t a weird little story behind the origins of the popular children’s toy. Back in the late 1200’s, there was a rector of a UK parish by the name of John Schorne. He was considered to be a very pious holy man and credited for curing illnesses in the county. For some reason, he was believed to have cast the devil into a boot. I’m not sure how well a boot would seal in anything, let alone something as slippery as the devil, but whatever. Somehow, the idea of this evil entity trapped in a boot led to the jack-in-the-box toy’s creation. Is this true? I have no idea. There really wasn’t much info on the origins and that’s the only story I found so I’m going to say, ‘Ok. Why the hell not?” Hehe.

Time for adventure! I told you there was carnies involved. Well, sorta, but it was mostly a ‘hook’. (Just like the carnival folk use!). A few years ago I had heard of a small town in the Tampa Bay area (FL) called Gibsonton that was home to retired carnival workers (yes, including ‘freaks’, but I’m not so fond of applying that word to people unless they are cool with it). It also is where carnies and circus performers will spend off-season time.

Al the 8′ 4 1/2″ Giant and his wife Jeanie the 2′ 6″ Half Girl built a restaurant and camp in Gibsonton back in the 1940’s. As I understand it, at the camp there was a grave monument business where they created custom monuments in various colors. Some oddball memorabilia was also scattered around the camp like the Giant’s boot and a collection boasting dirt from around the world. Cool, huh? The town housed many carnvial legends like Lobster boy and the Human Blockhead and has the only post office with a counter for midgets. You can see why the idea of exploring there was irresistible.

So, yes we did find the town but it’s not what it was. The Giant’s restaurant is abandoned and quite dilapidated. The camp, well, I’m not entirely sure. I only encountered one woman who didn’t seem to like us being there so we politely moved along. We walked down one old dirt road (clearly marked ” KEEP OUT ” ) which was just the remains of houses, most of which seemed to have burned down. I’m not sure what the story is there. Jim and I like old things, interesting textures, etc. so we had a field day taking random shots. Still, it felt sad because at some point, years ago, this was someone’s life.

Afterwards, we headed back down 41 in search of, well anything interesting. We ended up finding the Showtown Bar and Restaurant which has some amazing murals and Trompe l’oeil style work. I’m really disgusted with myself for not having the exact name of the artist because he’s quite incredible. All his work there is circus and carnival themed, some powerful, some humorous, all really well executed. I believe his name is Rowning or Browning but I’ll be damned if I can find anything on him online which is a shame. If anyone knows, please let me know.

At the Showtown, we met a “carnie” who was just a super nice guy who worked as a ride technician since he was around 16 years old. He explained the money is great, the work and life is hard, but he wouldn’t change a thing. He told us a little more about the town and where some of the smaller side streets are where we could see the front yards with old circus rides and such on the lawns. This is something I had read about and hoped to come across, but alas we were losing light and the television over the bar warned of several tornadoes moving into the area. We photographed some murals, including one in the girl’s bathroom of a guy peeing and then headed for safety in 1700’s style. I’ll get into that next week. I’m sick of blahhhging. Let’s look at pictures!

What’s Left of the Giant’s Restaurant and Camp:

the Giant's Restaurant and Camp

Burnt Offerings – In the ruins of an house, I came across this haunting female face. My favorite image of the whole trip!

Burnt Offerings

I liked the contrast of wreckage, human abandonment and the unstoppable force and beauty of nature.


Showtown Bar, Gibsonton FL


Here’s me choking the man in the ladies room at the Showtown Bar

Calan Chokes a Mural

A better idea of the mural and me peeing, hoo!

Ladies Restroom at Showtown Bar, Gibsonton FL

Ringmaster with trippy double eyes – part of a mural inside Showtown Bar

Circus Mural inside Showtown Bar, Gibsonton

Awesome trompe l’oeil mural inside Showtown
Sleeping on the job - trompe l'oiel mural Showtown

This is such a small sample of the photos we took. There had to be like 40 murals there, but this gives you an idea. Check out Faith Arella’s Weblog for more images and some great entries on her more in-depth visit to Gibsonton.

Stories and life are pulsating all around you. Adventure can even be found in your own backyard if you open your eyes and look. Just sayin’ πŸ˜‰

Til next week…

<3 calan

20 Responses to “jack in the box (haiku)”

  1. Shade Says:

    Greetings. Just found GingerDead site. I fell in love immediately. Looking forward to next release.


  2. Adam Says:

    A stone in your shoe
    Maybe it’s just a pebble
    or maybe it’s the Devil.

  3. Heinrich Says:

    not patient enough
    to read the whole novel –
    just read ’bout boxes

    even if there’s some
    untruth to a story, it
    can be worth reading.

  4. Seraphine Says:

    I love the pic of you peeing.
    I’m sure Mr. Schorne used a
    crusty sock to plug the boot.

    The jack jumped over
    the jack jumped over the moon
    the jack jumped the spoon

  5. Gabe Lippmann Says:

    beguiling notion
    of unparalleled delight
    if you break the seal…

  6. J Says:

    missing syllable
    only four in your first line
    shame calan shame πŸ˜€

    i dont suppose there’s a higher res version of that second pic, i cant seem to recognize any haunting female face.

  7. calan Says:

    the lips are in the lower portion of the large white section.

    yeah, i’m breaking rules this week. weird perspectives and not the standard syllable count. it’s the kinda girl i am sometimes. to hell with rules. πŸ˜‰

  8. justme Says:

    The face looks a bit Lenoir-ish to me. Well, Lenoir with a Bride-of-Frankenstein wig.

    I wonder if the rector’s “boot” was a piece of luggage rather than footwear. In the UK the part of the car where you put your groceries is called the “boot” rather than the “trunk” so maybe the words are (or at one time were) more or less synonymous in … English. Anyway it’s an easier visual leap from the devil in a steamer trunk to a Jack-in-the-box than it is from a rain boot…

    open carefully
    you can never be quite sure
    what you will unleash

  9. J Says:

    chaos anarchy!
    rules maintain society
    would you have it fall?

  10. J Says:

    also, now that you mention it, i do kind of see a face. loooks alittle like the one from the lactophobic nightmare haiku (which didn’t contribute to the breakdown of the social order, btw)

  11. R.T. Says:

    Allright, maybe I’m showing my true colors as a stupid artfuck, or does this particular comic have a distinct woodcut feel?

    I was buzzin throught the archives and kind of got the inclination GD is looking more polished, somehow, of late… Your work has always been finished, but somehow you manged to make it moreso… Great job.

    It also proves how your comic can stand on it’s own merit… If I was writing this post, I would of gone the classless route and compltely monopolized on the pics of you pissing, see if I could get a piece of that urophagy fetishist crowd.

  12. Seraphine Says:

    Heyyy… who are you calling a Euro fetishist, R.T.?

  13. R.T. Says:

    Sera- Usually I dump that mantle on your narrow, pale shoulders.

  14. calan Says:

    Shade – thanks! glad you found the site. i wonder if it was through the Seattle Stranger. Forgot to mention I’m in this week’s issue. First official printed comic evah for me. πŸ™‚

    RT – cheers, i’ve kinda raised the bar i think the last few months. honestly, like most comickers i look at the early comics and want to delete them, destroy them, redo them, something. Instead I just cringe.

    J – i shall continue to destroy order through inept haikuing so help me lord!

    just me – yah it does have an Lenoirish look to me too, maybe it’s the overlarge skull..sorta alien like. love the black lipstick and eye make up on her. i see faces in everything, but that one really jumped out at me and is a def. fave. πŸ™‚

    extra big hugs to everyone whose left a haiku <3

  15. coolioness Says:

    Gah! A day late!

    Pandora and her
    Box can heat their hearts out, for
    nothing stops this box.

    OoooOOOOooh! John in the Boot! xD

  16. Rose Says:

    love the haikus,man
    read them all again tonight
    hope you never stop

  17. Chris Says:

    :0 A new character!!!

  18. calan Says:

    welcome and thanks to rose and shade

    chris, ya never know…actually i never know either. anything’s possible πŸ˜›

  19. Rodro Says:

    Bad Jack-in-the-box
    Springs from his captivity
    Rampages the land

    great comic! keep it up

  20. gingerdead.com » Archive » terrifying and awesome Says:

    […] FearFactory Channel on YouTube. Some of my favorites are Jack (which might remind you of this haiku comic) and There’s No Such Thing From the dread filled atmospheres, to the fabulous creatures to […]

Leave a Reply