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.

So what you’re saying is, this is a novelty book, a one trick pony.

How dare you!

Whatever, moving on. Previews has been hyping the book a lot. Do you think it will live up to the hype, and if not, what will you do?

I hope so, and (if it doesn’t I’ll) move back to western Nebraska and take up whittling.

You seem to like to play with wood in many different ways.

And you seem to like ponies.

So, aren’t you going to ask me about how I became so awesome?

I’m here to tell only the facts.

Fair enough.

So anyway, what’s the basic plot, other than a puppet who wants to be a real boy stabbing monsters?

The story starts with vampires invading Pinocchio’s hometown and killing Geppetto. Pinocchio is pretty righteously pissed about that, so he then launches a campaign of revenge that puts Charles Bronson to shame.

There are some more wrinkles, but I don’t want to spoil it.

Wrinkles, or plot holes? Didn’t Pinocchio become a real boy in the end of the story? Is this an alternate reality, like in Star Trek? Time traveling vampires?

Oh, I totally forgot about the black hole. Yeah, that’s a pretty crucial element. Also, there are space pirate ninjas.

Not really.

Oh, shame. That could have made this, I dunno, interesting.

What’s your next project after this?

Aside from driving overnight to your home and beating your face in?

Unfortunately for you, I sleep with a little Kentucky justice by my side. No need for conceal and carry permits if you’re armed with a Louisville Slugger.

OK, since injuring you is off the table, I’m looking for an artist on a graphic novel I wrote before Pinocchio, which is an adventure story set in 1930s Mexico starring Santa Anna’s disembodied leg. Then I’m just finishing up scripting a short noir story that’s based on true events. And my next project I’m not sure if I’ll do as a novel or a graphic novel, but it’s a fantasy adventure starring George W. Bush.

Oh, and I’m programming Top Shelf’s books to be on the Amazon Kindle.

That way, nowhere is safe from you.

What about the series of mini-comics you’ve been working on?

I just published my first mini-comic, Nebraska #1, and now I’m working on #2. They’re a series of true stories set in my home of western Nebraska, which is a very desolate but cool setting.

Is it desolate because of the cultural dominance of North Platte? Does the North Platte mall factor in?

Lewellen is so much cooler than North Platte, which is a stinking blight that puked you into the world.

Really, because I’ve never heard of it as anything more than three blocks and no stop lights standing in between you and Lake McConaughy.

I think we can agree that both of our hometowns are pretty sad, desolate places. I used to go to the North Platte mall to buy comics, you know.

Indeed. You used to write for a medium-profile comic blog. Why did you abandon us?

Medium-profile? Look at you, puffing out your chest.

I have to scare Doom DeLuise somehow.

The truth is that Jean Claude Van Doom is my real name, and Van Jensen is a pseudonym. I’m just in hiding. Taxes, gambling debts, women with dagger tattoos on their thighs… You know how it is.

Still doesn’t explain things, but I guess you’ve never been one for loyalty.

I turned my father over to the mounties when I was six.

I guess to sum it up … what audiences do you think will most like your book?

Back to the book: If you like vampires, marionettes, violence, humor, action, awesome art, fairy tales, horror or any combination of those, you’ll enjoy the book.

It’s just a whole lot of fun, and only $10.95 for 128 pages.

It likely will be a lot of fun. Look for the book this September – that is, if you want to be one of the cool kids. Van’s also been starting on the convention circuit, so see if he’s coming to one near you.

No Vans or Doominators were harmed in the making of this interview. The adversarial nature of this was a complete ruse concocted between us beforehand. I still talk to him and occasionally say inappropriate things to him at work in the hopes that he’ll have to explain why he’s cracking up in laughter. He never once betrayed us, and we wish him the best of luck.