Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Review: 'Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer' by Dusty Higgins and Van Jensen

Sometimes are just so perfect that all you can do is sit back and wonder why it never happened before.  It's thrown right over the plate and can't help but be a home run.  That's what happened with Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer by Dusty Higgins and Van Jensen.  A wooden boy whose nose grows into a perfect vampire-killing stake is just too good.  What results is a comic that's funny, clever, action-packed, and surprisingly heartfelt.

If you know nothing of Pinocchio, you at least know that he's a walking, talking puppet whose nose extends when he tells a lie.  This is the main instigator of action behind Vampire Slayer.  Pinocchio confronts a group of vampires, has a witty one-liner lie ("I'm not going to enjoy this.") and proceeds to make short work of the monsters.  Characters from the original Pinocchio round out the cast, especially beginning in volume 2, so while knowledge of the original stories aren't necessary, it may make seeing the supporting cast reimagined that much more enjoyable.

The book isn't all action and quips, though.  There's a good deal of character work done as well, using the same method of Pinocchio's lies.  For example, at one point he claims he's going to kill all of the vampires and his nose grows, so he amends his statement to just "maiming some of them."  He's a character incapable of lying even to himself, which makes for wonderful development both solely with Pinocchio and in terms of his relationships with the other characters.  The fact that this single plot device can be used for humor, action, and character-driven moments, and is used effectively for all, says a lot about the creative team.

Speaking of Higgins and Jensen, they have to be commended on bringing this world to life.  Higgins' art fits perfectly for the tone of the book.  It's stylized, sure, but shadows and blacks and greys are used to provide a sense of foreboding even in the more lighthearted scenes.  The writing is top notch, too; Jensen gives a unique voice to each character, the dialogue is great, and the pacing works very well.

If you're looking for a unique read that gives some depth to its concept, give Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer a try.  There are already a few volumes out, digitally and in print, and you can check out a preview herePinocchio: Vampire Slayer is one of the best creator-owned comics in recent years and Higgins and Jensen definitely deserve to see the concept through to its end.

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