Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer


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Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer


  • Words: Van Jensen
  • Art: Dusty Higgins
  • Publisher: Slave Labor Graphics
  • Price: $10.95
  • Release Date: Sep 29, 2009

Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer is not a Disney comic. Those who have read interviews with writer Van Jensen and artist Dusty Higgins will know that it is instead based on the original 1883 tale by Italian author Carlo Collodi.

The tale became so popular the world over that Disney eventually adapted it, and produced the version that many people know today. But in the process, a lot of the original themes and tone of the story were lost. This story restores them, as well as adding some modern touches.

Collodi’s tale was broadly satirical with plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor, and Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer stays on that path, while also providing the kind of visual gags that can only be pulled off in the comics medium. The original story also had its dark and frightening moments, and this story does too, although by necessity of the plot developments, it has a somewhat bleaker tone. The primary focus of the original was to show Pinocchio learning lessons about the way of the world through his adventures, so that he gradually became a better person. Here, the worst has already happened; he’s lost his father, and his focus is on gaining vengeance and ridding his town of the threat of vampires.

This works well from a dramatic standpoint; if everything is pretty much hunky-dory as it was at the end of the original, there is nothing to move the action forward. Dusty Higgins also skillfully reflects this change in tone with his artwork. The art for the main part of the tale is very moody and gothic, while the recap of the original tale and flashbacks take a cartoonier form reflecting the days before this tragedy came into Pinocchio’s life.

Comparisons could be made to the Fables series which also has a somewhat revisionist take on Pinocchio, but the similarities are only on the surface. This story take a much more focused view of the Pinocchio mythos, and goes in a direction which might best be described as gothic fantasy, while Fables is much more of an exercise in world-building, of which Pinocchio is only one part. There are some subtle and pretty funny Star Wars references, however.

The book also leaves plenty of room for a follow-up, as Van Jensen has indicated he and Dusty intend. There are several mysteries left unsolved at the conclusion, including where the vampires came from, and why exactly Pinocchio’s nose hurts them. Even so, the story works as a complete tale on its own, giving a dramatic and satisfying conclusion. I look forward to seeing what Van and Dusty come up with next.

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