Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Contest & Interview: PINOCCHIO: VAMPIRE SLAYER Author Van Jensen
Graphic novelist Van Jensen will be a member of the Vampire Film Series and Festival's literary panel Sunday, October 25, 2009, at the Zeitgeist in New Orleans. Van's graphic novel PINOCCHIO: VAMPIRE SLAYER, illustrated by Dustin Higgins, will be available from Slave Labor Graphics at the end of October, and he's filled us in on his hilarious take on the vampire genre. For a chance to win a copy of PINOCCHIO: VAMPIRE SLAYER, please read the contest rules at the end of the interview.
The synopsis for PINOCCHIO: VAMPIRE SLAYER states, "As the vampires plot the enslavement of mankind, only a one-puppet army stands in their way. But will a wooden boy and his endless supply of stakes--courtesy of plenty of lies and his elongating nose--be enough to save the day?"
Catherine Karp: So often these days, vampires are portrayed as brooding, misunderstood romantic heroes. What are the vampires in your novel like? And would Pinocchio slay the brooding, romantic types?
Van Jensen: Pinocchio in our story will kill pretty much any vampire that comes along. Sorry, heartthrobs! But the vampires in our book are very unlike what’s typically seen today. They hew more closely to the origin of the vampire folk tales of half-rotted corpses risen from the grave. Their human personality is still there in part, but mostly they’re controlled by a mysterious dark magic that pushes them into nefarious tasks.
CK: You've stated in past interviews that your Pinocchio is based more on the Carlo Collodi fairy tale than the Disney movie. What will most surprise readers about this more authentic version of the character (other than the fact that he slays vampires, of course)?
VJ: It’s disappointing that Disney’s version is viewed as the definitive Pinocchio to most people, as Collodi’s original fairy tale (which is the only inspiration for our story) is dark, subversive and very, very funny. One great example of a change Disney made is that, in the original, when the talking cricket tries to give advice to Pinocchio, Pinocchio kills the cricket with a hammer! And there’s a sequence in which Pinocchio is attacked and hanged quite brutally. His character also is much less innocent. Collodi’s Pinocchio is a troublemaker who never listens to advice and always is primarily concerned with himself.
CK: Did I read in the synopsis that Pinocchio's quest for revenge starts when *gulp* Geppetto dies at the hands of vampires? Does the book start immediately after the original PINOCCHIO ended?
VJ: We set it so that at the end of Collodi’s story, Pinocchio doesn’t become a boy. Then, shortly afterward, vampires invade their town and, yep, they kill poor old Geppetto. In a lot of ways, our book is a revenge story mixed with a coming of age tale about a young puppet with daddy issues.
CK: How did the collaboration process between you and Dustin Higgins work?
VJ: We used to work together at a newspaper and were friends already when we started on it, so it was really natural for us to collaborate very closely. I wrote the script, then Dusty offered a lot of great feedback. And as he was working on the art, we both constantly looked for places to adjust things to make the best book possible. Up until press time, we were making little tweaks.
CK: Were you a fan of the vampire genre before this project? Any favorite films or books? Or is this your first major foray into the world of the undead?
VJ: This might be courting controversy, but the only vampire book I’ve enjoyed is DRACULA (I should note I haven’t read any of my co-panelists’ books, and I’m sure they’re excellent). I like the movie SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE. I never imagined I would write a vampire book, but once I started, it was a fun challenge to find a new wrinkle when there is such a wealth of vampire material out there.
CK: You've stated you've been a fan of comics since you were a child. Describe your past experiences with comics and what it's like to be making your debut as a graphic novelist?
VJ: I started reading comics at about 4 or 5. I grew up in a village in western Nebraska, so we only got a few comics a month at our store, and I read what I could, mostly superhero fare. I actually wanted to be a comic book artist (my mom is a painter), but eventually gave that up to pursue journalism. In college, some friends loaned me more mature comics like WATCHMEN and MAUS and my interest rekindled. From that time, I’ve been reading every graphic novel I can get my hands on, studying the medium. To go from fan to creator is a wonderful, exhilarating, humbling experience. I now have a full appreciation of how challenging it is to be an author, but also how rewarding it is.
CK: Please tell us a little about your future projects, including any Pinocchio sequels.
VJ: The response to PINOCCHIO has been beyond expectations, and we have been approved to do a sequel. Dustin and I are planning two more books in the series, which will explain where Pinocchio comes from and the source of the vampires, and how the two are related. I’m scripting the second one now. I’ve written two other graphic novels, the crime noir TWO DEAD and an adventure set in 1930s Mexico about the disembodied leg of President Santa Anna called THE LEG. Both of those are early on in production. I’ll probably take a break from comics next spring to work on a novel about George W. Bush.
CK: Where can we learn more about you and PINOCCHIO: VAMPIRE SLAYER?
VJ: There’s a preview of the book at the Web site of our publisher, Slave Labor Graphics, and I have a Web site with ramblings about comics and life (http://graphicfiction.wordpress.com).
CK: Thanks so much for joining us, Van. We look forward to hearing more from you in New Orleans. The Vampire Film Series and Festival literary panel will be held 2:00 PM, Sunday, October 25, at the Zeitgeist in New Orleans. Tickets are now available to purchase at VampireFilmFestival.com.
PINOCCHIO: VAMPIRE SLAYER CONTEST: Enter to win one of THREE autographed copies of Van Jensen's soon-to-be-released graphic novel!
1. Winners must be from the U.S. and Canada only due to shipping costs.
2. To enter, in the comments section below, answer the following question: If you were casting a movie version of PINOCCHIO: VAMPIRE SLAYER, which actor/actress would you choose for the voice of Van Jensen's stake-wielding, vampire-slaying version of Pinocchio?
The deadline: Tuesday, October 13, 8:00 AM Pacific Time.
I'll pull three names, raffle-style, and forward the winners' addresses to the author, who will mail autographed copies after the book becomes available later in October. For another chance to win a signed copy, please visit the PINOCCHIO: VAMPIRE SLAYER Facebook page and click on "What Lie Would You Tell?"
Posted by Suburban Vampire at 10:31 AM
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