Friday, February 12, 2010

Exfanding Review: Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer

Pinocchio: Vampire SlayerThey say that the best ideas are the ones that make you go, "Man, why the heck didn't I think of that?" Who, exactly, says that, you ask? Well, I'm not sure. Let's just stick with "they."

What I am sure of is that I don't agree with the statement. Not even a little bit.

Why? Because of books like Slave Labor Graphics' original graphic novel, Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer, which features an idea so...absurd...that even my own, sick and twisted brain could never have thought to go there.

Back in September, when I attended the Baltimore Comic Con, I noticed a booth with the banner image that you see atop this post. I stopped by the booth, and while the book itself wasn't yet out, there was a display of the original artwork by creator and artist Dusty Higgins.

The pages were beautiful--stark, moody black and white art with long shadows and great facial expressions. There were also some cards at the booth, giving a brief background on the project and the premise of the work, which is written by Van Jensen.

Everything about Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer sounded like it would be right up my alley, so I made a mental note to order the book from Diamond first chance I got.

Of course, I completely forgot to pre-order the book once I got back home from the con, and my shop didn't get any copies. So when I saw a copy wedged tightly in between the Marvel section and the Vertigo section of the graphic novel display at a local Borders this past weekend, I grabbed it immediately.

The premise of PVS is a simple one, and it's a little bit funny and kinda scary at the same time. You need to know the very basic premise of the original story of Pinocchio (you know, the one written by the Italian guy, and not the one with the singing, dancing, top hat-wearing cricket), which is as follows: talking block of wood is given to wood carver Geppetto, who creates a wooden puppet that comes to life.

The original is quite funny (and dark), and it's definitely worth finding if your only exposure to the story thus far has been the Disney version. But that's for another post altogether. So, back to Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer. Basically, after the story of Pinocchio ends, a great evil descends upon the wooden puppet's Italian village of Nasolungo.

The boy's father, Geppetto, has been killed by dark forces, and these creatures hunt the town, killing innocents on a nightly basis. Out to avenge his father's death, and realizing that his regenerating wooden nose can be used as the ultimate weapon against these creatures of the night, Pinocchio makes it his life's work to defend the town.

Of course, no one in town actually believes that there are vampires stalking the streets at night, and Pinocchio has to deal with a great many things other than just the vampires before the book comes to a close. Along the way, we meet some familiar faces, and we get to see a very human depiction of the wooden boy.

PVS is surprisingly emotional and even frightening at times. There's humor peppered in to keep things entertaining, and the characters speak in a very modern, hip dialogue to move the plot along at a brisk pace. In fact, this was a one sitting read for me, and it was very enjoyable.

The black and white art by Dusty Higgins is perfectly suited to contrast the cartoony nature of the characters with the grim events of the narrative. As far as vampire stories go, this is a good one, with just the right amount of emotional umph added to the mix.

Clocking in at 128 pages and with a much smaller-than-normal trim size of about 8 x 5.5, PVS carries a $10.95 price tag, but it's cheaper on Amazon. You can check out a preview of the book, along with a slew of extras, at the official PVS Web site. Give it a look and see if it's your kind of thing.

And if it is, order a copy today and support our indy creators!

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