Art and words of Josh Burns.

Spring Heeled Jack

In the Mid 1800’s Great Britain’s population was exploding. Villages turned into towns, and towns to cities. The demand for resources was great. As the Cities grew the spirits of the forest stopped talking to man. Seeing only his greed and shortsightedness. Most of the fairy folk, content with their thousands of years of dominion over the forests and the fields, chose to step away into nothing. The world was changing, the new magic was called science. Most of the creatures of nature understood it was now the time of man. The goblins would no longer make deals with drunkards. The fairies would no longer light the way home, for those lost in the woods. The queen witches would no longer gather any covens of young women and teach their secrets. Some Fairy Folk, before fading away into the earth, entered the cities and towns, curious of these strangers inheriting the earth. They peered in windows and watched from the shadows. Reports of ghosts walking the streets of London were common in the 1800’s. One such ghost was not a ghost at all. He was a Faun, still young, only three hundred or so. The faun had watched man take and take from the earth, without giving any back. His forest bordered London and he had seen the city spread like spilled lamp oil, spoiling the soil it sat upon. As his kin left this plane and entered back to the womb of the earth, he wanted to stay a bit longer before he going. The faun told them he longed to see the good in man before he took his leave. His brethren believed the lie, and left him to it. In 1837 the faun entered London by cover of night. the first of many victims were the destitute on the fringe of the city. Soon greed drove him to venture deeper into London. The Faun found a sinister joy in the extinguishing of human life. Soon reports of a strange man who could leap as high as a house began to come in. The man was described as a devilish figure with black clawed fingers and eyes that glowed like lit pipe tobacco.

A popular publication dubbed this ghoul “Spring Heeled Jack”. He terrorized the citizens of London and surrounding area from 1837 – 1904. In early 1904 Jack was stalking a group of soldiers just outside the city. As he waited he started to hear a voice from behind him. Jack was taken aback by the voice. It was speaking his native language, words he had not heard or spoken in over 50 years. He turned to see a robin sitting on a branch. As the robin continued to speak, jack squinted to hear, straining to make out the words. He was certain he knew the words but he could no longer understand. The robin stopped briefly as though surprised by Jack’s confusion. Angered by the bird’s taunting Jack grabbed for the small bird. Like a kick in the chest he fell back, astonished by the sight of his own hand. A soft pink five-fingered hand. Jack lived out the rest of his days as a human, in an insane asylum in London.

It would appear, as Jack discovered, that not all magic had left the world.

Spring Heeled Jack is an actual Folklore Character. For more information click here.

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6 responses

  1. Super cool. This is the first time I’ve seen you do a furry character. His left eye seems a little off to me, but I think the lighting is fantastic!

    January 24, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    • Thanks for the feedback. When I was drawing the eyes I wanted them to be a bit crazed. Perhaps that wasn’t conveyed as I intended.

      January 26, 2012 at 12:48 am

  2. zac

    nice take on a forgotten mythos. very cool. not so big on the pic, not”dark”enough for the context of a murderous faun. I had a friend request a werewolf pic from me a year ago, I tend to shy away from furry creature rendering, but told him I’d have a go. after many, many prelims, I was quite happy with the result, and have now added were-creatures to my conceptual menagerie. try again? more deltoro’esque would suit the tones.
    ie crouched in a filthy dark lamp-lit london alley.
    clutching a blade that’s not of this realm, runes carved into self, filthy bandages, crazy pupiless eyes….. take it our leave it. gold star

    January 25, 2012 at 9:15 am

    • I agree that the story is considerably darker than the imagery. I usually do the picture first and come up with the skeleton of the write-up as I draw. But when I sat down to write this one it went a bit darker than I originally intended. The image portrays a Jack that is a lot closer to the actual legend. Perhaps this image is from his first attack? The version you describe sounds a lot like the Jack from the end, 50 plus years of terrorizing London.

      January 26, 2012 at 1:02 am

      • zac

        have you read “fairie tale-raymond e.feist” ? you’d like it. keep up the good work, that poll monsters evil incarnate. lol

        January 30, 2012 at 12:59 pm

      • I haven’t read it. I’ll have to check it out.

        February 3, 2012 at 9:30 pm

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