Return to Salad Fingers (essay)

Salad Fingers is a series of comedy/horror animations by David Firth, dating from 2004-2011.

Salad Fingers lives in a tiny house (which might be larger on the inside) with the number 22 on it in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, sometime during/after "The Great War". He likes rusty spoons, which make him feel "almost orgasmic", loves to see "the red water" come out of his fingers, and a devotee to the pleasures of nettles. He cross-dresses, when he feels like it, lactates when he's playing with said nettles, and is convinced he can bear children. Strange humanoids come by to visit now and then, one of which, a little girl, actually spoke a few words (thus convulsing him with fear, although she speaks the same dialect he does in his thoughts). He often dreams of rusty taps, and wishes he could 'marry all of them'. He is often hungry, and talks a great deal about traditional British foods, though he also is a connoisseur of "floor-sugar". His favorite friends are three finger puppets named Jeremy Fisher, Hubert Cumberdale, and Marjory Stewart-Baxter although he has a (toy) horse, Horace Horsecollar, a 'little sister' Bourdoise (a woodlouse he killed with a Big Stroke), and a daughter Yvonne (a mass of newspapers dipped in tar around a loaf of bread). He has a safety cupboard, where he once found a beautiful hair, and a stove in his bedroom, which he taps in Morse Code to summon help. He speaks very quietly in a lilting North of England accent, and most of the time, is a very innocent and charming personality, despite living among filth and charnel horrors, he cheerily sings nursery rhymes and folk chants. Did I mention he's schizophrenic?

Fans of the series are divided as to what, exactly, is real and what is imagined in this series. Is he living in a normal environment, and the dreary wasteland is just a projection of his imagination? Or is he schizophrenic because he's one of the the last men on earth? There's a hint that the various non-human characters are reflections of his dead family, and that he lived a fairly regular life before the war. Many people just don't get it, and are repulsed by the imagery. The franchise has spawned parodies, fan fiction, and numerous works on DeviantArt.

I personally find it fascinating, but can't really see much backstory in it. (After all, I've a bit of an imagination myself.) The artwork is primitive-looking which works well in context, and at times, attains a somber poignance. Every new thing that happens is as intriguing as it is wince-inducing: as with the best psychological horror, it's the little enigmas, the unexpected turn of phrase, the momentary images, that chill, much more than any giblets or drama. (Oddly enough, the series reminds me of Adventure Time, and Courage, the Cowardly Dog in its surrealism and possibly? post-apocalyptic setting, but otherwise, they have almost nothing in common.) The theme music is "Beware the Friendly Stranger" (!) by Boards of Canada, and some episodes have Aphex Twin and Brian Eno as well to add just the right amount of atmosphere.

I'd say check it out.

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