Thursday 18 August 2011

Review: Pinocchio Vampire Slayer and the Great Puppet Theater by Dusty Higgins & Van Jensen

Pinocchio is back, continuing his quest to rid the world of vampires. Still haunted by Geppetto’s death and in an uneasy alliance with an undead friend, Pinocchio is in danger of letting his anger consume him.

Fortunately, the actors of the Great Puppet Theater arrive on the scene to aid their brother-in-wood. Soon, they’re journeying across Italy to the sea in a high-stakes pursuit of the source of the vampire scourge.

Back at the start of the year I started a Tumblr blog, with a view to it running alongside The Book Zone, with one post each day for a year highlighting some of the cool books in my collection. I managed to get to the end of January, by which point I realised that I was never going to keep it going as I was only just managing to keep on top of this blog. One of the first books I mini-reviewed on that Tumblr effort was Pinocchio Vampire Slayer, a small graphic novel that was something of an impulse buy based purely on its title. In that post I wrote the following about the book:

Story-wise I have read far better in graphic novels, but I am not sure Jensen and Higgins set out to create a richly plotted tale; this book should be enjoyed for what it is: an irreverent and crazy horror story based on the characters created by Carlo Collodi. Sure, the hero of this book is no Buffy Summers, but how many times did we see her have to hunt around for an improvised weapon? This vampire slayer simply has to lie to make his nose grow and voila - instant slayer stake! As for the illustrations I guess you may love or hate them, depending on your tastes. I grew up adoring the black and white images in 2000AD, and can still appreciate the power of monochromatic artwork, but lovers of rich colour and detail may find the style in this book a little brutal for their tastes. Definitely a remedy for the Disney-fied version of the story, and far more in keeping with the dark content of Collodi’s original, and many of the other classic fairytales that have been sanitised by Disney Corp.

In fact, I liked it so much that as I wrote that review I had just put in my order for the sequel, Pinocchio Vampire Slayer and the Great Puppet Theater. Be warned, reader, that the following may contain spoilers for the first book!

Whilst the first book was something of a lone wolf adventure, with Pinocchio on a one-puppet mission to avenge the death of his father Geppetto (albeit with carpenter Master Cherry and The Blue Fairy as support), the second book is much more of a team affair, with the eponymous hero joined by the equally wooden actors of the Great Puppet Theater. They have been hunting for Pinocchio for some time, keen to join up with him and together rid their world of the vampire menace. Their appearance on the scene brings even more dark humour to the sequel, especially in the banter that goes on between the various puppets, with Van Jansen really getting his teeth into writing the sarcasm-rich dialogue that goes on between them. It also means that this second volume is a good fifty pages longer than the first, and this can only be a good thing.

It is a good job that these puppets can really kick butt as there are none of your wimpy Edward Cullen-type vampires in this book, they are all mean, nasty, bloodsucking mankillers, and even if you are feeling a little jaded by all the vampire stories that have been flying around in recent years you will probably find this to be a fresh and engaging take on the vampire myth. I think that these books would go down a storm with 11+ boys, and I hope to get copies for the school library next term. I am definitely looking forward to reading the final book in this trilogy, due out next year and titled Pinocchio Vampire Slayer, Of Wood and Blood, although a I am a little sad that it will be the final PVS book. A Pixar adapation would be fantastic, though given the body count perhaps a little unlikely, so perhaps Higgins and Jensen could turn their immense talents to re-writing another classic fairy tale in the future?

The books are published by SLG Publishing and you can find out more about Pinocchio Vampire Slayer at

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