Monday, July 28, 2014

Graphic Novel Review: Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer

Title: Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer (Complete Edition)
Author(s): Dustin Higgins, Van Jensen
Illustrators: Dustin Higgins, Van Jensen
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
Pages: Paperback; 528 
Recommended Age Group: 16+
Release Date: June 24, 2014
Source: NetGalley / Publisher
This puppet may not be a real boy... but he just might be a real hero! When bloodthirsty monsters invade Pinocchio's hometown and kill his father, Geppetto, Pinocchio discovers a new benefit to his magical nose: telling lies produces a never-ending supply of wooden stakes to combat the vampire hordes! Will Pinocchio be able to defeat these horrors, avenge his father, and save his friends? Now, for the first time, the complete trilogy is collected together in a single deluxe softcover edition. Jensen (Green Lantern Corps) and Higgins (Knights of the Living Dead) present a captivating blend of comedy, horror, romance, and adventure, rooted in the original Italian novel, but brought - as if by magic - to new life.
**Note: This book was billed as the complete series, but NetGalley only uploaded the first half. The review below is for Volume 1, since it was the only part I read in its entirety**

I dare you to look me in the eye and tell me you wouldn't pick this up if you stumbled upon it. Come on, Pinocchio as a vampire slayer? You know you'd be intrigued! Well, whether you agree with me or not, the fact remains that I was definitely drawn in by the idea. I'm a sucker for a good retelling, especially in graphic novel format. Did it deliver? In some ways yes, in others no. Read on my friends, I'll lay it all out for you.

As with any good graphic novel review, I'll start with the illustrations. In this first volume, Pinocchio's story is told in very exaggerated and stylized panels. The characters border on cartoonish, which I honestly didn't like at first. However, as I read on, they slowly grew on me. I came to love Pinocchio's jaunty little hair style paired with his dark facial expressions. As witty one-liners came flying out of his wooden mouth, I fell more and more in love with the way he was drawn. It actually fits the character quite well. Which brings me to where I'm on the fence regarding this graphic novel, and that's the story line. While there's a lot to love between these pages, I still feel like something was missing.

Starting with the good, this is definitely an original story. It takes Pinocchio's story and blends it into something decidedly dark and funny at the same time. I can't deny I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that Pinocchio's stakes came from his ever-growing nose. One lie, and you have a stake! How cool is that? Of course, this allows for a ton of hilarious dialogue between characters too. I couldn't help but crack up laughing when Pinocchio stabbed a vampire in the heart with his stake while wise-cracking "Looks like you have a bloody nose!" at the same time. Be still, my wit loving heart!

So what was it that didn't click with me? First off, the story itself is a little sparse. The witty dialogue could only save this so much. I wanted more substance, and more understanding of how Pinocchio actually came to be. It's possible that there's more in the next volumes, but I honestly felt a little lost. I saw some of the characters from the original story, but everything was buried under vampire hunting. My other issue was that, because there isn't a lot of substance, I didn't really feel invested in these characters. There were moments while reading where I felt like I should be sad, or angry, but I just wasn't feeling it. Other than laughing, I didn't feel much else.

I think this series has definite potential. I've heard from other readers that it progresses rather well through the next volumes, and that the illustrations actually change too. That makes me curious to check out more. So, while this wasn't my favorite read this month, I think I'll stick with it and give the next volume a shot! After all, I can't deny I want to see where things go. Pick this up if you're looking for a funny and interesting graphic novel. Pinocchio and his vampire killing ways just might steal your heart.


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