Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer: Of Wood and Blood Part 1, Dusty Higgins (creator/artist) Van Jensen (writer), 131 pgs, SLG Publishing, slgcomic.com, $10.95
Disney’s Pinocchio this is not. Actually, barring a pile of dead vampires left in the wake of a certain boy puppet, it’s a lot closer to the original Carlo Collodi novel than the Disney version ever was, as he doesn’t turn to a real boy at the end. Still, one wonders how Pinocchio went from wanting to be a real boy to staking Nosferatu with his extended nose.
Thankfully, this being the third book in the series — behind Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer and Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer and the Great Puppet Theater — two barflies provide a brief recap of the story so far, so readers can jump right into the action.
Turns out, vampires have invaded Italy. Luckily, Pinocchio is the perfect puppet to defeat them with his endless supply of stakes, courtesy of his elongated schnoz. If that weren’t enough, his sneezes produce lethal nostril flames. However, things get real when Gepetto is bitten and resurrected as a vampire himself and Pinocchio is forced to slay his own father. He takes refuge with a carpenter named Mr. Cherry and The Blue Fairy, while slaying vampires by night.
He eventually falls for a Disney princess type named Carlotta and his fellow marionettes from The Great Puppet Theater show up to provide reinforcements before Carlotta is kidnapped by the vampire dark lord Vlad Dracul and stuck on a pirate ship.
Our story picks up with Pinocchio stranded on a desert island in the middle of the Mediterranean with his marionette friends nowhere to be found and only the ghost of Jiminy Cricket to keep him company. Without his endless supply of stakes and Vlad Dracul’s army barring down on him, Pinocchio must make the ultimate sacrifice and turn himself back into a puppet to save his beloved Carlotta.
This story has the feel of a sprawling epic and the art style brings to mind woodcarvings, which seems appropriate given our protagonist. The only real drawback is Pinocchio is a real boy for most of this volume, so you don’t get nearly as much vampire killing mayhem as you do in previous volumes. Still, the series is a perfect blend of humour and horror with only a little gore and a fair bit of questing adventure for good measure. (Aaron Broverman)