The disturbing cover image evokes Frankenstein and sets the tone for writer-artist Ausonia’s perverse, line-crossing take on The Monster’s fairy tale cousin, Pinocchio.
This graphic novel turns the classic 1880 Carlo Collodi story upside down and inside out: The wooden puppet butcher Gepetto sows together a meat-bag Pinocchio whose nose grows when he tells the truth. Adrift, despised, the rotting creature is rejected, exploited and subjected to mental, physical and sexual abuse.
The grim, horrific, Pinocchio: The Story of a Child was published by Pavesio in Italy and France to critical consternation. Some have interpreted the story as a warped ode to freedom, others wonder what all the gore and nihilism amount to. G.Colié on BDGest calls it “Daring and cruel to the point of perversion… mutilating a fairy tale from our childhood by forcing adult darkness onto it”. He adds that the underlying message is so relentlessly pessimistic that it is “not to be read if you are depressed”.
Perhaps the best approach to the book is to get over the shock imagery and the distracting inverse-Pinocchio conceit, and read it as a cautionary tale set in an insane, war-torn world where human beings are treated like worthless meat puppets.
Script contentions aside, Ausonia’s art is fabulous. The stunning Pinocchio cover image combines sculpture and painting. The book’s website (in Italian) carries extensive illustrations, including sketches, character development, storyboards and several pages from the graphic novel.
The artist keeps a blog where more artwork is displayed. Click through, scroll down a bit, and see video of Ausonia working on a portrait of the meat-monster.