InTrans / Jul 29, 2016

Claymation transportation: An interview with Jack Skellington

Go! Magazine

Claymationposted on July 29, 2016

For so long, Halloween was all Jack Skellington, beloved Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, knew to be true. After an impromptu trip across the land, Jack found himself in Christmas Town. I sat down with Jack and asked him about his culture shock, his unique experience in Christmas Town, and what he’s taken away from the journey.

Jack is the star of the show in Tim Burton’s 1993 animated classic The Nightmare Before Christmas. The film follows Jack’s “misadventures” as he discovers a series of portals leading to the alternate worlds of other holidays. Jack develops a love-affair with Christmas Town, a place he can’t fully understand due to his deep roots as Halloween Town’s Pumpkin King.

So Jack, what encouraged you to become a traveler?

It was a dark time, Halloween usually is though. After that particular Halloween, I started questioning what my life was all about. That’s when I decided to travel. I found myself in an entirely new place—Christmas Town! As Pumpkin King, I don’t get out much. After all, just look at me—I SCREAM “Halloween.” Christmas Town was so different from what I was used to, it seemed unreal. That’s the beauty of traveling, it really challenged my perspective and everything I thought I knew.

Heading out
Heading out.
Screenshot from The Nightmare Before Christmas, Walt Disney Pictures.

You say it was “unreal,” can you describe that? What stood out?

To begin with, I traveled through a magic portal behind a great, wooden door shaped like a Christmas tree. That’s where I found Christmas Town. It was an all-around magical place…the little toy trains…people skiing on the frozen ice, though the people there were terribly small. Christmas Town is someplace I can see myself settling down someday, if that ever happens. The people there seem happy. Maybe that’s because there weren’t any ghouls, but it was more than that—there was a warm feeling in the frozen air. To top it off, the public transportation systems were fantastic.

Public transportation? Like what?

For example, during my visit, I saw a—what do you call it—toboggan filled with Christmas carolers being propelled by a small penguin walking inside a giant wheel. How innovative! Then, I saw a great, bear-shaped contraption transporting three small-sized people on its’ back. This piece of advanced technology was self-propelled, with a small, easy-to-start, wind-up crank! There were hundreds of great places to zip-line: on strings of Christmas lights and down strings of garland. And of course, I could snowboard up and down the snowy hills to get around.

A candid shot of me trying to figure out public transportation. Usually a real nightmare!
A candid shot of me trying to figure out public transportation. Usually a real nightmare! Screenshot from The Nightmare Before Christmas, Walt Disney Pictures

How did transportation in Christmas Town compare to back home?

In Halloween Town, transportation is much more horrible and spooky. The Mayor rides around in a black, jeep-like vehicle equipped with dark, red-colored drapes and a large, spiral-striped megaphone. Actually, it is like a circus van. And other awful residents ride around on flying broomsticks, unicycles, or anything scary and dangerous! Those henchmen have a ride of their own though: an enchanted, footed bathtub that sneaks around here and there.

Henchmen in the traveling bathtub
Henchmen in the traveling bathtub Screenshot from The Nightmare Before Christmas, Walt Disney Pictures.

After my visit to Christmas Town, I wanted to bring aspects of Christmas culture to Halloween Town. I even made a Santa Claus-inspired sleigh—with my own skeleton reindeer—to travel and deliver presents in. I’ll spare you the details, but to sum up the experience, it wasn’t what I hoped. I wasn’t being myself. So, I’ve retired the sleigh for now, and my obsession with Christmas Town has died down a little since my trip, but I still have a lot of respect for their culture.

The transportation we have in Halloween Town is not unlike like what you have in your world. You’d recognize a couple of things—like the unicycles, for example. They’re just a bit spookier, because they have big, horrible monsters riding them, and I don’t think they get as much use where you’re from. They’re pretty great inventions, though!

How would your transportation fit into our world?

I can imagine our enchanted bathtub would find great purpose in your world. This bathtub, you see, has a mind of its own.

They are similar to your—what you do call them? Ah, smart cars. They would be the next “Uber.” Your world could be much more energy efficient if your people would just sit in the back of a giant, walking bathtub, like we do.

Or maybe your world could use the giant, wind-up polar bear from Christmas Town. Do you guys have anything like that? Something that you charge-up before you use it and runs without using gas? What a brilliant idea that would be.

Related links

My movie:

Some footage from my trip:

*This interview is completely fictional and all character rights are reserved by Walt Disney Pictures.

By Hannah Postlethwait, Go! Staff Writer

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