19 April 2010

Review of Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer

I know it's hard to believe but...

Yes, there is a real book called Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer. Yes, it's about Carlo Collodi's Pinocchio who wanted to be a real boy, and it's not the Disneyfied version. Yes, he slays vampires in the book.

http://lh6.ggpht.com/_jtvOCEq74z4/S8FHd4yFauI/AAAAAAAAADM/t2Awdb7MLUc/s512/pinocchio1a.jpg

The premise

The premise is just what you probably guessed: Carlo Collodi's Pinocchio is a vampire slayer. He slays vampires with his wooden nose, repeatedly breaking it off to make new stakes.

The familiar characters are there: the Blue Fairy, Master Cherry, the Fox and Cat, the ghost of the cricket. Gepetto however has been killed by vampires before the story begins. (Poor Gepetto; first the shark, now this)

Authors

It's written by Van Jensen. Dusty Higgins both drew it and created the idea. As sole artist, Higgins would ordinarily be "penciller/inker/colorist", but that doesn't seem applicable to the black and white ink style he uses.

What you get

It's 128 black and white pages and essentially no filler. No 8 pages at the end of character drawings, though there is a 1 page bio at the end that covers both Jensen and Higgins.

It begins with a 1-page bow to Collodi's Pinocchio and an irreverent 3-page recap of it, for those who hadn't read the book. I had read it years ago, but the recap was still welcome.

Then it gets to the meat of the book: a noir-style-drawn vampire tale featuring the Real Boy himself.

Impressions

This is a book that doesn't take itself too seriously. That was brought home to me when Master Cherry presents Pinocchio with his newest engine of vampire destruction, The Monsterminator. In a previous draft of this review I quoted the scene, but then I realized the words alone don't do justice to Pinocchio's reaction. It's not overtly silly, it's just something no serious book would have done.

This could easily have been a very dumb book. The noir vampire tale could easily have been played straight, which would have made for a dull, predictable tale. At times it seems about to fall into that trap, but it never quite does. Humor suffuses its pages. Not punchline humor - there are no jokes or gags - just a sense of fun about the kind of book it is.

The art is deliberately somewhat grotesque. The faces are blocky, and typically a quarter of the page area is ink-black. But Dusty Higgins' sense of form is strong. It raises the art from "blah" to "looks nice".

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