Cheerio all – today I have a little graphic gem that also happens to be a reimagining of the well-known story of Pinocchio, he of the honesty-related nose tumours. Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer by Van Jensen and Dusty Higgins, in the complete edition presented here, is a hefty, action-packed, beautifully drawn retelling of the original tale, with added monsters. If you’re a fan of graphic novels that take more than fifteen minutes to flick through, this may well be the one for you.
When Pinocchio’s town is invaded by mysterious, deadly vampires, he makes the serendipitous discovery that a nose that grows when you lie can also be harnessed to produce pointy stakes on demand – stakes that can then be used to have at those nasty undead monsters! Armed with nothing but the truth and a stake-producing schnoz, Pinocchio and his friends Master Cherry and Fairy Carpenella vow to travel together until the vampire menace is eradicated. Along the way they’ll face tragdy, friends-turned-foe, a puppet army of reinforcements, a potential romantic relationship and a little bit of magic. He may not be a real boy, but Pinocchio could well turn out to be a hero.
* you’ve ever serendipitously come across a hitherto undiscovered function for an under-utilised body part
* you associate fluffy bunnies with a sense of impending doom
* you are of the opinion that being a magical, sentient, vampire-slaying puppet outweighs being a real boy any day of the week
* you can’t resist a familiar tale that has been spruced up by the addition of a famous beast of myth
Let me start by saying that while this tale didn’t pan out quite as I expected it to, based on the cover and blurb, I really enjoyed it and found myself engrossed in the toils of Pinocchio and friends. As has happened quite often over the course of my “Fairy Tale Makeovers Review Series”, I became aware of the fact that I have a very sketchy memory of the original tale, so I can’t comment on how the addition of vampires enhanced or ruined the story. I will say however, that the book provides a very comprehensive (and enlightening) foreword explaining how this particular incarnation of the story is faithful to the original tale. The first few pages also display a basic retelling of the original story to bring readers up to speed on how vampires have come to inhabit an originally vampire-free fairy tale.
The story was originally released as a trilogy which has been collected here in this complete edition. I was only able to access half to two-thirds of the book through Netgalley due to the file size, but I found it a very satisfying reading (and viewing) experience. The artwork is of the traditional comic/cartoon style and the frames are really well formatted and designed – one gripe I have with graphic novels, especially in digital form, is the fact that sometimes there’s too much text in certain frames or the text is too small or something of the sort, requiring a great deal of concentration to follow. I’m happy to report that I experienced no such drama here and I was able to immerse myself in the art and narrative as quickly as my download speed would allow. (Which incidentally wasn’t very fast…I’d suggest getting this – or any other graphic novel – in print). Here’s an example for you…
As far as the story goes, there was a great mix of humour, action, intrigue and vampire-slaying. There was also a tiny bit of potential romance, which rounded the story out nicely and gave a bit of realism to Pinocchio’s desire to become human. The puppet army was a really interesting development to the story and ratcheted the action and humour up at an opportune time, but the stars of the tale for me were the Rabbits of Ill-Portent – a quartet of furry doom-sayers that turned up unexpectedly an injected a bit of a giggle swathed in impending destruction. Here they are in action:
Overall, I found this to be a surprisingly engaging read. I should point out that the surprising part relates to my surprise at how engrossing I found the story, given that it was in graphic novel format – not because I thought it wasn’t going to be any good. I recommend you have a look if you’re a fan of retellings that feature a bit of monster-mayhem but also hold their own in the “good narrative” stakes.
Until next time,