One of my favorite John R. Neill creations is Davy Jones, a wooden whale who is a seagoing vessel unto himself. I already wrote a little about him here, but…well, I’d say I barely scratched the surface, but that’s not a good idea when it comes to a living creature made of wood. Besides, I don’t know that there’s THAT much more to say about Davy, who only features in one book (in the Famous Forty, anyway), but I still think I can work up an entry about him. He first shows up in Lucky Bucky in Oz as the ship for the Pie Rats, pirates who steal pies. They had control of the whale for two years, keeping him laughing the whole time, and stocking as many pies as they possibly could. He manages to maroon them on a floating volcano, however, and then teams up with Bucky on a voyage to the Emerald City. His lower jaw serves as a deck, and is surrounded by a brass rail. A door on one side of Davy’s head allows entrance to his insides, which consist of a cabin with bunks and closets. The bunks are equipped with alarm clocks, which will tilt to drop a sleeper at the appropriate time. When Bucky first enters, he finds the closets full of baked goods, and a chest that the Pie Rats left behind that contains some enchanted doorknobs and a coat with a map of the area embroidered inside.
Davy is a very friendly sort, but has a tendency to get offended when anyone reminds him of pirates. He feels his best when he has chances to cry, and often accompanies his tears with sad sea chanteys. He sleeps quite a bit, which is somewhat unusual for a magically animated being in Oz, but not totally unheard of. It appears that being in disrepair tires him out, as seen when he sinks into Lake Quad after undergoing a great deal of damage.
While he is obviously at his best in the water, he has some very limited ability to maneuver on land. At one point, electric charges from a gang of animated funny bones help the whale to cross a barren part of the Land of Ev.
Throughout the adventure, he is very determined, constantly struggling along to reach the Emerald City no matter what happens. At the end of the book, he decides to remain in Lake Quad and transport baked goods to the city.
Since Davy is still under copyright, it’s not too surprising that he hasn’t appeared much in other books. He does make a brief appearance in Chris Dulabone’s Deadly Desert, transporting Dorothy and Psychlapp the Dust Devil back to the mainland from Thirgy Island. He tells them he was summoned there by Dorothy’s wish on Jacob the Nut, and presumably returns to Oz after this. I’m sure he didn’t mind the opportunity to visit his old swimming grounds. He also plays a more major role in March Laumer’s Frogman, which directly contradicts Lucky Bucky by stating that Davy was too big for Lake Quad and hence had to return to the Nonestic Ocean. I have to say he’s a character I’d like to work with, and his statements that he’s very old suggest that there could be some interesting tales in his past. We never do find out who built him and why, after all.