Fruitman prepares to trip up a bad guy.

FRUITMAN

Medium: Comic Books
Published by: Harvey Comics
First Appeared: 1966
Creator: Hy Eisman
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Fruitman (aka Percival Pineapple) was a "special" superhero — not quite in the sense of "special" education, but tending in that direction. Tho he wasn't what you'd call a mental giant, it was his super power, not Percy himself, that was …

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… truly stupid. Percy could transform himself into any kind of fruit. Thus, he could squirt citrus juice in criminals' eyes (with no hand at hand to slice and squeeze him), make them slip on his skin when he was in banana form (and yet, be unharmed when he switched back), and hide as a grape, blueberry, or some other small and relatively unnoticeable fruit. How he got a crime-fighting advantage out of being a watermelon or a persimmon was unclear, but he used forms like those too. His vulnerabilities included being eaten or juiced.

What was "special" about Fruitman was that he was less a superhero than a parody of superheroes, like The Inferior Five or The Fat Fury. He did end the careers of his share of dastardly villains but the stories in which he did so were, like his super power, more silly than exciting. One of his raisons d'etre was to deliver lame fruit-related puns, like getting "in a jam" or being "prepeared" for action.

In everyday life, Percy ran a fruit stand, but he was perfectly willing to chase the customers away and close in the middle of the day, if a need for Fruitman action should happen to arise. As Fruitman, he didn't wear a mask or a gaudy outfit, relying on the fact that he was a piece of fruit as all the disguise he needed. On the rare occasions he assumed human form while on a case, he wore just what he always did, the most distinctive element of which was a grocer's apron. He was pudgy and wore glasses, so he didn't look very heroic, but always got the job done. His face, glasses and all, was usually visible to readers even when he was in fruit form, as were little arms and legs if needed, but nobody in the stories ever saw them.

Fruitman inhabited the back pages of Harvey Comics' 1960s foray into teenage humor, Bunny, Queen of the In Crowd, which started December, 1966. Like Bunny, he was probably created by cartoonist Hy Eisman (Popeye, Little Iodine), but that isn't certain because Harvey wasn't very good about giving credits. Fruitman also appeared in a special of his own, dated December, 1969, where the back pages contained characters like Sooper Hippie (no relation) and Captain Flower (by Jack O'Brien, who also did G.I. Juniors). The only time Fruitman ever appeared on a cover was in that special.

Harvey hasn't published any comic books in years, but its corporate heirs still manage its valuable properties. For example, since the last Harveys came out, feature-length movies have been made of Richie Rich, Casper the Friendly Ghost and even Baby Huey, if you count straight-to-video. But future prospects for Fruitman, who hasn't been seen in a generation or more, seem a good deal bleaker than those.

— DDM

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Text ©2007 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Harvey Comics.