Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer (SLG Publishing)

pvs-header.jpgVan Jensen and Dustin Higgins use Carlo Collodi’s original story (and not the later Disney-fied version) as a springboard to a fun, silly, yet wonderful new graphic novel.

 

 

128 pgs. B&W; $10.95

(W: Dustin Higgins and Van Jensen; A: Dustin Higgins)

 

Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer is a book of good ideas, pushed to unexpected extremes, then pulled back.

The book is the first effort (of this size) for Dustin Higgins and Van Jensen, two newspapermen who are clearly comics fans. I say clearly because PVS is a love letter to the idea of comics…and not just comics, but comics made for fun. Comics made out of silly ideas. Silly ideas taken too far, then scaled back. But scaling back helps sometimes.

Click for a larger image.For example, Higgins and Jensen could’ve been snobs. They’ve made a sequel to Carlo Collodi’s original story. The story that a lot of people aren’t familiar with. The story that’s been overshadowed by a cartoon musical with a singing cricket. The authors push the original story and original characters to extremes. Pinocchio sees vampires kill Geppetto. He realizes his nose (constantly growing, being broken off and used as a weapon, and regenerating) kills the vampires. He teams up with Master Cherry and the Blue Fairy to hunt vampires. The cricket ghost, cat and fox, and rabbits also make appearances. Not a lot of this makes sense in PVS if it’s taken as a sequel to the popular movie. Instead of being snobs and letting readers figure out what Disney changed, Higgins and Jensen include a primer on the original story.

The authors could have serialized the story (maybe they tried) and spread it out over several smaller issues. Instead, they scaled back and made it self-contained in one shot. Sure it sets up a sequel, but the story comes all at once and doesn’t wear thin. There’s very little filler, and the suspense remains.

The authors could have made the art bloodier and more realistic, but it’s a cartoon. The authors could have cranked up the wisecracks or played to the obvious laughs, but they kept PVS from becoming a complete comedy. The idea is funny enough for them, and for us. They could’ve gone the other way and made it a drama or cranked up the action, but Higgins and Jensen don’t take themselves too seriously. In writing and in art, PVS owes a large debt to The Goon, but Higgins and Jensen treat Eric Powell’s concepts the way they treat Collodi’s story: it’s an inspiration, and PVS is a tribute as much as it is a standalone work. And as a standalone work, it’s a wonderful first effort. | Gabe Bullard

 

Click here for a 10-page preview of Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer, courtesy of writer Van Jensen.

 

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