A review a day: <i>Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer</i>

I'm sure you can't resist a title like that!

Yes, it's the second day in a row for a comic from SLG. This time it's Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer by Van Jensen and Dusty Higgins. It will cost you $10.95.

Doesn't Pinocchio look cute on that cover, with his broken-off noses dripping blood like that?

As a high concept, this is pretty fun, mainly because of the fact that Pinocchio uses his own wooden noses to kill the vampires. The problem with such a keen idea is, of course, whether the creators can flesh it out and make a story that the consumer would want to read. While Jensen's story is fairly predictable, it is very entertaining, and Higgins' art is excellent.

Jensen begins by recapping the original story, which is quite different from the Disneyfied version (Pinocchio kills the cricket shortly after meeting it, for instance). He then "continues" the story with a strange creature stalking the town in which Pinocchio lives and coming across our little wooden hero. Pinocchio, of course, must lie in order to make his nose grow, so he does so, breaks said nose off, and stabs the vampires. We follow him home - but he's not living with Geppetto, but Cherry, the carpenter who found the piece of wood that became Pinocchio. We soon learn that Geppetto was killed in the first vampire attack when Pinocchio wouldn't believe that they existed. Now, of course, Pinocchio is preaching to the townspeople about the vampires, but they don't believe him! There are two burgomeisters who scoff at Pinocchio and Cherry, but of course they're more sinister than they appear. And behind it all is a grand master of the vampires, against whom Pinocchio must fight a final battle to rescue the blue fairy from the original story! Oh, and the ghost of the cricket guides him. It's just that kind of comic!

While there aren't a ton of surprises in the book, Jensen does a good job wringing some emotion from it, especially as Pinocchio gets closer to his goal and must rescue the blue fairy.

He also adds some nice touches of humor, mainly dealing with Pinocchio lying, even though he occasionally forgets that his nose will grow if he does so. Jensen is aided well by Higgins, who has sort of a Skottie Young vibe going on with his art. His scenery is beautifully "eastern European," with dark corners and alleys and creepy forests and horrific-looking door knockers, and his characters are wonderfully realized. Everyone has their own personality, from Pinocchio's boyish snarkiness to Cherry's paternal patience to the burgomeisters' smarminess. The action scenes are well done, too, and a few images - I won't give them away, because they're part of the endgame - are gorgeous and tragic. The flashback scene when Geppetto is killed is drawn differently, like olde-style woodcuts, and it's very well done. Higgins takes a solid but predictable script and makes it dazzle a bit more, and the book is better for it. While we can see what's coming early on, the art keeps us interested and gives more depth to the story than it might otherwise warrant.

Jensen and Higgins are apparently working on a sequel, which might push the concept a bit too far to the absurd (we'll have to see, won't we?). In this book, however, they do a nice job balancing the goofiness of the concept with the darkness of the story they want to tell, and what comes out is an entertaining comic with a lot of nice moments. Despite its predictability, Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer is a nice comic that looks great and keeps you turning the pages. What more could you ask for?

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