Brought to North America by San Francisco-based Last Gasp publishing following the English translation and release by Knockabout Books in London, Pinocchio was originally published in Winshluss' native French and won the highly sought after Grand Prize at the 2009 Angouleme Comics Festival. Winshluss is the pen name of Vincent Paronnaud, perhaps better known to American audiences from his work with Marjane Satrapi on the animated version of Persepolis.
Influenced thematically by the 1880s Italian serial fiction by Carlo Collodi known as The Adventures of Pinocchio, Winshluss' version upholds the darker and more sinister elements of the original story. Unlike the Disney-fication of many folk and fairy tales, where the primary story is essentially neutered of horrific elements in favor of more child-friendly fare, Winshluss' adaptation incorporates many of Collodi's traditional plot elements while embracing an innovative and at times disturbing reinvention of the tale itself. For example, Collodi's first vision of a tragic ending for Pinocchio where the puppet is hanged--something that Collodi altered in later editions--finds ample exploration in this updated version, as do aspects of the harlequinade that colored the original. Where Pinocchio differs from the popular perception of the wooden-boy turned human is numerous.
First, borrowing a page from Steven Speilberg's Artificial Intelligence, Winshluss transforms the main character into a robot. Gone as well are the lies and associated growing nose, replaced instead by a cold, steel appendage that finds new, degenerate uses from Geppetto's sex-starved wife. Pinocchio is not crafted for companionship or the amusement of children, but rather brazen capitalism and greed to satiate the puppeteer's own avarice. Although Jiminy is a cockroach and not a cricket, he remains a voice in Pinocchio's head due to the fact that he actually lives inside the little robot's skull. Along with an irradiated, mutant fish, lustful rapist dwarves who descend upon Snow White, and a host of other literary freedoms in the name of modernization of the classic story, Pinocchio is likely to inspire fits of laughter and titillate as many as it potentially offends and rouses in anger.
What may shock American readers more than the content of Pinocchio, however, is the fact that the majority of the story is merely visual. While text appears in the interlude segments involving Jiminy Cockroach, the remainder of the narrative is wordless, sequential art or a form and act of mime or pantomime achieved on the printed page. The style of lineart Winshluss employs mirrors early R. Crumb, particularly in his ability to capture and present the grotesque caricature of human life and emotions developed in the story. Along with the more restricted color palette of Cizo, Winshluss' pencils and inks give every panel and page significance. It takes a talented artist to move a story forward, but Winshluss defies expectations, as his art is the entire story. The result is at times terrifying, but the beauty inherent within his work is undeniable.
This is a fascinating book. Winshluss alters the original story further, but hopefully, readers will pick this book up and discover those additional gems on their own. While the book might be a difficult narrative to teach, its classroom and educational value are important not so much for the adaptation and literary license, but more for the style and structure of the pages, the pacing, and the development of the visual beats that drive the prose-less story.
Reviewed by Nathan Wilson on July 12, 2012
- Publication Date: April 1, 2011
- Genres: Graphic Novel
- Hardcover: 192 pages
- Publisher: Last Gasp
- ISBN-10: 086719751X
- ISBN-13: 9780867197518