23 February 2010

Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer

Spoilers Ahead

At last--I finally have a copy of Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer in my hot little hands! It's taken so long partly because of general busyness, and partly because I was hoping the publisher might send a review copy my way (hey, it's not like I get paid for this). But once it was apparent I'd have to procure my own copy, I got right on it. And here we are.

In case you didn't read my original post on Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer, I'll give you a recap: Devastated after Gepetto is killed by vampires, Pinocchio embarks on a mission of vengeance. He's the ultimate vampire hunter: impermeable to fangs (he is made out of wood, after all) and with a ready supply of stakes, which he gets by lying and then breaking off his elongated nose. If this isn't genius, I don't know what is.

I'd might as well get the criticisms out of the way, especially since they're fairly minor. The book is small, only about 5 1/2" by 8 1/2"--around the size of a smallish trade paperback--whereas the average comic book is closer to 6 1/2" by 10". So what difference does it make? Cramped artwork and less detail than there could or should be. I suspect the choice of size was a matter of finances, but if a future edition is in the works, I highly recommend a larger format. The other problem with the book is the colour--or lack thereof. Again, I suspect it was a money issue, but the stark black and white on every page doesn't really work. I wouldn't go full-colour, though; the judicious use of red and grey would be enough to make all the difference. Again, maybe for a future edition.

That being said, the rest of Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer is high on the scale of awesome. Luckily they start off with a "brisk stroll" through Carlo Collodi's original tale, of which this book is a sequel. I say 'luckily' because, despite believing otherwise, I'd apparently never heard or read the original story, as it is far more twisted and bizarre than I ever realized. I'm going to have to get me a copy of it. Suddenly the idea of introducing vampires and making Pinocchio a hunter seems like a natural extension of the story. Also, their retelling of Collodi's Pinocchio made me laugh out loud--always a good thing (well, almost always).

The beginning of Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer will be familiar to anyone who watched the preview (see my original post). From there it just gets better. Despite the issues with size and colour, the artwork is fantastic. Stark, creepy, whimsical, evocative--particularly the vampires. Pinocchio has a manga-like quality to him, from his hair to his facial expressions. Nice, nice, nice. Even if you're not a vampire fan, if you're into graphic novels or art in general, you should pick up a copy of this book.

The story is good, chock full of conspiracies, prophesies, talking animals, fairies (okay, one fairy), monsters, and humour. The writing is a little odd at times for my taste, though--the dialogue is too modern for what is essentially a Victorian tale, although there is a "wench" thrown in. I think if the writing had kept the tone of the opening segment, it would have been perfect, although the humour would most likely have been lacking. Maybe I'm over-analyzing again. In any case, it didn't make me roll my eyes--and that's definitely always a good thing. Better still, it's set up for possible future books featuring our favourite vampire-killing puppet. Maybe I can get review copies of those ;)

Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer is the well-executed product of a brilliant idea. I already can't remember what Pinocchio did before he hunted vampires. Can't wait to see more...

Fang Files

Appearance: Undead human, with ragged claws and pointed teeth. Black cloaks are favoured attire.

Strengths: Subterfuge, blood lust, magics.

Weaknesses: Stakes (they burst into flames when staked, then turn to dust). Pinocchio (his wooden parts cause them intense burning pain). Sunlight.

Mythology: Vampires are cursed beings; they need blood to remain immortal. One drop of cursed blood will turn a mortal into a vampire.

Text Bites

Vampire: Night has fallen like death upon Nasolungo. No soul stirs these streets save mine...But urgent matters call me into the dark...This eve I hunt. And somewhere in this breathless town...my prey awaits.

Pinocchio: I'm Pinocchio. I kill monsters.

Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer; drawn by Dusty Higgins and written by Van Jensen. From SLG Publishing.

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