By Marty Mulrooney
Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer and the Great Puppet Theatre is the much anticipated sequel to the critically acclaimed graphic novel Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer. Presented as a horror-themed follow-up to the original story by Carlo Collodi, this series presents Pinocchio as a vampire-slaying badass who uses his nose as a stake to kill the blood-sucking undead.
Following on directly from the first graphic novel, Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer and the Great Puppet Theatre begins with a quick recap of the story so far. Much in the same way that Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer used a simple art style to quickly retell Collodi’s original story, the sequel uses a puppet show re-enactment of the first book to refresh returning readers and quickly bring newcomers up to speed.
Once the story begins proper, it immediately becomes clear that the black-and-white artwork has increased in both detail and shading. This lends an added dimension to the individual panels and greatly improves upon the already impressive artwork of the previous instalment. The level of detail is immense and this significantly adds to the overall reading experience: it is a joy to pour over the artwork and take in the world.
I mentioned in my review for Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer that “If Higgins and Jensen can marry their gorgeous art-style with an equally effective narrative in the future, they will be on to a real winner.” I am therefore glad to note that the narrative has most definitely kicked up a gear. There are many expended plot points and wonderful character dynamics, such as Pinocchio’s distrust of the undead Master Cherry and the introduction of the Great Puppet Theatre members – central plot points that should be kept under wraps in this review. The vampires still feature prominently, put they are far less of a crutch.
The action is much more intricate this time around and what’s more, it now has a fully rounded story to back it up. Most people will know Pinocchio in the Disney sense: desperate to become a real boy. This desire is reversed in Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer and the Great Puppet Theatre: as a real boy, Pinocchio looses his infinite supply of stakes and becomes far more vulnerable to his vampire foes. It is certainly an interesting development and one that promises to feature prominently in the third and final part of the trilogy, Of Wood and Blood.
Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer and the Great Puppet Theatre is a superb graphic novel that successfully builds upon the lofty promises of its predecessor. Throughout the course of its 177 pages – compared to the previous book’s rather slender 126 pages – it manages to evoke laughter, sadness and genuine excitement. Dusty Higgins and Van Jensen have taken a basic premise and fleshed it out into something stunningly original yet surprisingly faithful to the source material. Who knew that little old Pinocchio could become such a moody, violent and iconic graphic novel protagonist? I honestly can’t wait to read the final instalment – due for release in summer 2012 – and see how it all ends!
9 OUT OF 10