Monthly archives: June, 2009

Q & A: Van Jensen of Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer

Van Jensen was one of the original five posters here – then going under the name Jean Claude Van Doom. Together with Jim Doom and Fin Fang Doom, he comprised the bulk of the first few years of posts before Doom DeLuise joined our ranks. I was too busy posting twice a year, and Colonel Doom doing less than that.

Anyway, Van is releasing his debut graphic novel, Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer, and it’s been getting a lot of play in the latest issue of Previews. Slave Labor Graphics is airdropping it into stores in September, so be on the lookout. I sat down with Van, on the Internet, and discussed his upcoming book and other projects on the horizon, and what a horrible person he is …

Doominator: What was the genesis of “Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer”?

Van: I was working as a crime reporter, and one of my coworkers, Dusty Higgins, an illustrator at the paper, jotted down a doodle of Pinocchio killing vampires and showed it to me. I laughed, then forgot about it. Then a couple years later Dusty called me out of the blue and asked if I wanted to script a story out for him about this vampire-slaying Pinocchio.

Did you read the original Pinocchio story before launching in?

The concept in and of itself is essentially a one-panel joke. “Pinocchio kills a vampire with his nose, ha!” So to expand on that, I immediately went to Carlo Collodi’s original story, which is very dark and weird.

Autobots! Transform and do a funny dance for the nice people!

Apparently I’m not the only one who was bothered by the racism in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. According to the ultimate authority:

There has been a strong negative reaction to Mudflap and Skids in Revenge of the Fallen, who are alleged to embody racist stereotypes. The characters have been given ape-like appearance, speak in street-slang dialogue, and confess an inability to read; one of the characters also has a gold tooth. Manohla Dargis of the New York Times said that “the characters […] indicate that minstrelsy remains as much in fashion in Hollywood as when, well, Jar Jar Binks was set loose by George Lucas.” Critic Scott Mendelson said, “To say that these two are the most astonishingly racist caricatures that I’ve ever seen in a mainstream motion picture would be an understatement.” Harry Knowles, founder of Ain’t It Cool News, went further, asking his readers “not to support this film” because “you’ll be taking [your children] to see a film with the lowest forms of humor, stereotypes and racism around.” Director Michael Bay has defended the robots as “good clean fun” and insisted that “We’re just putting more personality in” the film.

Bay added “Listen, you’re going to have your naysayers on anything.” Gosh, remember the good old days, when white people could use caricatures of black people for their own amusement and nobody complained?

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is absolutely terrible

I cannot understate how astonishingly awful this movie was. Just off the top of my head:

• The Autobots aren’t heroic. The opening scene depicts what has become SOP for the Autobots — hunt down Decepticons, beat them up, and — when the enemy is lying defeated and helpless on the ground — deliver a killing shot to the head. Call me old fashioned, but that’s not how good guys act.

• There are two Autobot characters referred to as “the twins.” Michael Bay apparently took his inspiration from ridiculously backward pop culture representations of African Americans. These characters were such pickaninny caricatures that they might have raised eyebrows in the 1940s. They had big ears. They had big buck teeth (and gold caps). They talked like Uncle Remus using street slang. They professed an inability to read. They were prone to fighting with each other at inopportune times. It was like they had blackface Autobots. Will Eisner would be proud.

• Barack Obama, identified by name, is essentially one of the major villains in this movie. He is accused by Optimus Prime of wanting to steal Autobot weapons technology in order to wage more war. His idea of diplomacy and soft power is repeatedly mocked, caricatured about as artfully as the aforementioned black robots. For example, when the Decepticons have taken over Earth and wiped out most of the humans’ military capacity, President Obama wants to use “diplomacy” rather than just manning up and fighting. And here, “diplomacy” is identified as “handing a young man over to the Decepticons, presumably to be killed, in the hopes that the Decepticons will then just pick up and leave and stop fighting us.”

The movie played like a neocon’s wet dream. In addition to the racism and Obama bashing I’ve already mentioned, this thing was borderline creepy military porn. Soldiers don’t act like any soldiers I’ve ever known; they act more like something Andrew Klavan would dream up. For example, the president’s weasel bureaucrat keeps getting in the way of the good ol’ hard workin’ military men, so they take him up in a plane in order to airdrop him into Egypt against his will. Because, you know, they’re such studs.

• I honestly lost count of how many times “Something is humping something else!” was used as an intended source of laughs in this movie. Dogs humping dogs (at least twice). Robots humping legs. We also see an blasting erect robot penis and two massive swinging robot testicles.

My wife commented as we walked out that this didn’t seem to just be written for five-year-olds — it also seemed to be written by five-year-olds. Yet as stupid as this thing was, and how it so clearly was playing down to a small-brained audience, it contained a surprising amount of swearing.

What an awful mess.

UPDATE: Oh, and two more words: Robot Heaven.

Live at Wizard World Philly

Doominator has been tweeting updates today from Wizard World Philly. You can check out what he’s been sharing by following our twitter feed at

If you’re going to Wizard World Philly…

…please allow me to shovel you some shameless self-promotion.

Yours truly has begun moonlighting as a comic book artist for Powerpop Comics, and two books with my work in them will be for sale at the Powerpop booth this weekend at Wizard World Philly.

I am the regular artist for ongoing title “Weird Thrills,” and I co-plotted and illustrated an Edgar Allan Poe biography that runs as a backup feature in “Powerpop Comics Classics #1: The Black Cat,” an adaptation of the Poe short story with amazing art by S.M. Vidaurri. You can check out some samples from the books at the Powerpop facebook page.

If you go, support indie comics (and Jim Doom) and pick up an issue or two. And tell Powerpop that Doomkopf sent you.

Cap Lives: This Is Obviously Not A Spoiler

It wasn’t that long ago that Marvel cinched some great press from the likes of ABC and (if I recall) CNN when they killed off their star-spangled hero. While Wolverine’s popularity easily eclipses any of Marvel’s other heroes in their collection, and Spider-Man is more of a flagship than the flag-bearer himself, Captain America’s demise seemed to garner a decent bit of mainstream attention, if perhaps because of the highly politicized climate, pre-election.

On the fanboy side, while his death was met with considerable interest, it also came with an equal heaping of skepticism. After all, this couldn’t be any more than a gimmick; just a sales boost. “Of course he’s not going to stay dead. Of course they’ll bring him back to life, eventually. What kind of suckers does Marvel take us for?” And, sure enough, a couple years later, here he comes, and the fanboys are storming the shores of The United States of Marvel once again. “Oh, like we didn’t see that coming. This isn’t a surprise.”

My favorite comment went something like: “Nothing surprises me anymore, ever since they brought back Bucky.” Aw, you poor jaded thing. Or maybe naive is the better word. (more…)