While The Sandman focuses heavily on Dream‘s character development and the different events that led to his overall growth, there were also a few characters that were also involved in the storyline of the series, regardless of how big or small their roles may be. One such character is Mervyn “Merv” Pumpkinhead, who was one of the people working for Dream in the Dreaming. So, who is Merv Pumpkinhead in The Sandman?
Mervyn “Merv” Pumpkinhead is an anthropomorphic being with a pumpkin for a head. He actually works as a janitor that’s in charge of fixing and maintaining the structures in the Dreaming. However, in the series, there was a point where he recognized Lucienne as the true boss of the Dreaming instead of Dream.
In the comics, Merv was one of the comic reliefs in the storyline because he was portrayed to be a smart mouth that liked to wise-crack his way through his job in the Dreaming. Nevertheless, while he may be a questionable character, he was actually one of the loyal creatures that stood by Dream in the comics. Now, let’s get to know more about Merv Pumpkinhead in The Sandman.
Who Is Mervyn “Merv’ Pumpkinhead In The Sandman?
The Sandman is a series that heavily focuses on Dream’s journey as the dream lord ends up having to go through a series of personal journeys through the first season of this storyline. Of course, the early part of The Sandman involved Dream’s quest to recover his tools and his power so that he could restore the Dreaming to its former glory after he spent a century imprisoned and away from his realm.
However, the second part of the series involved more of Dream as an entity looking to grow more as a person to the point that he seemed more human than he ever was. In Death‘s words, Dream was never alone in his job as the King of Dreams and felt lonely in his role as the one overlooking the Dreaming and monitoring the dreams of people. And while Dream did indeed feel lonely, the truth was that there were plenty of people around him to help him in his responsibilities.
While Lucienne and Matthew the Raven were obviously willing enough to shoulder some of the responsibilities on Dream’s shoulders, there were also some other entities that were also willing enough to do their jobs, regardless of how big or small their responsibilities may be. One such character that caught the attention of fans was Mervyn “Merv” Pumpkinhead. But who is Merv in The Sandman?
As his name suggests, Mervyn “Merv” Pumpkinhead literally has a pumpkin for a head. He is portrayed as an anthropomorphic scarecrow-looking creature that is tall and slender and has human qualities. Nevertheless, his head is a pumpkin, which gives him a somewhat creepy and grumpy vibe.
From the moment that Merv was introduced, it was clear that this character wasn’t exactly the jolliest of fellows as he had a somewhat grumpy vibe. Nevertheless, this vibe was never too negative because Merv came off more as a smart mouth than an actual bad person. And it seems like being a wise-cracking smart mouth was part of his entire personality from the very beginning.
Merv was introduced during a scene wherein Dream, Lucienne, and Matthew were discussing what they were going to do with Rose Walker, who was a Human Vortex that could possibly endanger the Dreaming and even the entire universe. At first, Merv didn’t like the idea of Matthew being the one monitoring Rose because the raven was still a new guy in the Dreaming.
But then again, Merv wasn’t exactly in the best position to monitor Rose as well because he was basically a walking scarecrow. Merv also didn’t have any idea regarding what he needed to look out for in relation to Rose Walker, and that was one of the funny parts of his character because he seemed like a know-it-all but actually didn’t know anything at all.
During the second half of the series, Merv the Pumpkinhead was also one of the characters that doubted Dream’s capacity to run things in the Dreaming. Merv told Matthew to report any of his findings to Lucienne first before reporting to Dream because he believed everyone knew that Lucienne was the one who was actually running the show in the Dreaming. Of course, the notion that Lucienne became the new boss was brought about by Dream’s absence for a hundred years and by the fact that she was the one who was handling much of the affairs in the Dreaming even after Dream returned.
Mervyn is actually in charge of construction, maintenance, and demolition work in the Dreaming, but he is often seen as a glorified janitor. In many ways, he believes that his job is quite pointless because Dream can easily construct, maintain, and demolish anything in the Dreaming with a snap of a finger. Merv, in the comics, even believes that his job is superfluous.
At one point in the series, Merv was the one who made Dream see that everyone in the Dreaming recognized Lucienne as the true boss. That was because when Rose caused an earthquake that damaged some parts of the Dreaming, Merv was looking for Lucienne instead of Dream. And this was one of the reasons why Dream forced Lucienne back into her role as a librarian, as he seemingly got offended by the fact that even his creations in the Dreaming recognized her more as their boss.
Nevertheless, Dream eventually becomes more human and more willing to trust the people around him in the end when he realizes he is not alone. That was when he gave Lucienne the responsibility of overseeing the Dreaming when he was too busy. Of course, that means that Merv would have to report to Lucienne officially whenever there were matters that she could actually take care of.
What Happened To Merv The Pumpkinhead In The Comics?
In the comics, Merv the Pumpkinhead’s personality is similar to his live-action portrayal in the sense that he was a wise-cracking smart mouth. However, while he does love complaining about his job, he remains loyal to Dream and the Dreaming.
According to the comics, he started out as a turniphead instead of as a pumpkinhead because pumpkins weren’t known in Europe in the past. Nevertheless, as time changed in the waking world, Merv eventually changed his head into a pumpkin.
Before he became a custodian in the Dreaming, Merv actually worked as a bus driver in dreams during the time when Dream was absent. There was a point when Dream said, “I travel briefly by bus…I sit at the front and talk to the driver.” And the driver he was referring to was a cigar-smoking figure with a pumpkin for a head.
Mervyn’s loyalty was seen in the latter portion of the comics when he was one of the figures that took up arms to fight the Furies or the Fates for the sake of the Dreaming. He was destroyed in that battle but was resurrected by the new Dream later in the storyline.
Who Plays Merv The Pumpkinhead In The Sandman?
For those who may find his voice familiar, Merv the Pumpkinhead is actually voiced by the great Mark Hamill, who himself is a fan of The Sandman comics. Neil Gaiman said that they were able to get Hamill to play Merv due to his love for The Sandman.
“We got Mark Hamill in the same way that we got an awful lot of people, which is that there are Sandman fans out there,” Neil Gaiman said. “You know, Patton Oswalt, who voices Matthew the Raven, I first encountered back in 1992 when he stood in line for three hours to get his copy of Sandman: Season of Mists signed, so we got to sort of punch above our weight. Mark Hamill loved the comics. I remember talking with Allan about what Merv’s voice should sound like, I don’t remember which one of us suggested Mark Hamill, but we never really thought we’d get him.”
Of course, Hamill is also known as the voice of many different iconic characters, which include the Joker in the earlier versions of the animated series of the Batman storyline. That means that Hamill is not a stranger when it comes to voicing iconic DC characters. However, Mark Hamill is still best known for his role as the legendary Luke Skywalker of the Star Wars universe.