Enjoy! Van Jensen: Hey GHERU.
GHERU: Hello, how are you today?
Van Jensen: Doing pretty well. Working on a script. You?
GHERU: Doing ok.
Van Jensen: I have maybe 10 minutes now, if you can do the interview
GHERU: Sure - one quick note - before posting the interview on the Outhouse, I may have to fix my spelling mistakes so that I do not come off as a complete idiot if that is ok.
Van Jensen: Oh, of course
GHERU: Thank you. I guess, and this is my first solo interview, we can get started. I appreciate you taking the time to do this. The first, and most posted question, was where did this idea come from? Turning Pinocchio into a vampire hunter?
Van Jensen: Dustin [Higgins – the artist] and I were working at a newspaper together and he did a little sketch of a "bad Pinocchio" killing vampires. He later asked me to write a script around the concept.
GHERU: So, how was it that the two of you decided to use Collodi's original concept and not the better-known Disney version? I must admit, being the only person I know that ever read the original that was a major selling point for me.
Van Jensen: I grew up reading the old fairy tales and liked them more than watered down modern iterations of Disney. So it was an obvious for both of us to go to an untapped source in the original.
GHERU: I really enjoyed the 3 page summary of the original, how many versions of that did you have to go through before you thought you had enough to bring up-to-date those who had not read it?
Van Jensen: That was basically the last thing we did for the book and I just gave Dustin a loose outline for it and he knocked it out in about a day. I don't think we had to change a thing. Lots of people seem to appreciate it because the original is so unknown to most.
GHERU: I had read the original and I still needed the refresher. It set up nicely, in my opinion, the tone of the book.
GHERU: Exactly how does the lying thing work? Does Pinocchio have to know he is not telling the truth or does the nose know what is true and what is not (as in the case with the man and the mustached mother)?
Van Jensen: The way we approach it is that Pinocchio has to know it isn't true for it to be a lie. But that "knowing" is more in his subconscious than his conscious. So he can sometimes say a lie on accident. It's something we're going to explore more.
GHERU: So it's not that the curse knows independently of Pinocchio?
Van Jensen: All I can say without giving away too much is that Pinocchio is tapped into something pretty deep and the "curse" is part of that. So he does have access to more than even he realizes.
GHERU: Interesting.... According to the back of the book, you grew up wanting to write comics. I assume that means that you grew up reading them - what comics inspired you as a young person?
Van Jensen: I didn't have much access, living in western Nebraska. So I read X-Men, GI Joe, Spider-Man and a few others. More than anything, I loved to draw and to tell stories, and I recognized comics as the synthesis of those two interests.
GHERU: Are you looking to become more involved as an artist as well as a writer in future stories?
Van Jensen: I'm slowly re-teaching myself to draw. I self-publish some mini comics and I'll often do page layouts or even breakdowns for my own scripts. But I'm a long way off from illustrating a whole book.
GHERU: Is there a place that the Outhouse readers could go to look at and/or purchase any of your minis?
Van Jensen: They're online at graphicfiction.wordpress.com . I'll post some for sale after getting more printed.
GHERU: Thank you - as a writer and artist do you keep up with current comics? And if so, what is on your pull list?
Van Jensen: I finally gave up monthly comics last year. Right now I'm reading The Unwritten, Pluto and X-Factor for ongoing series. I probably read 30-50 graphic novels a year.
GHERU: Out of sheer nosiness: what would you say are your favorite graphic novels that you have read recently?
Van Jensen: 3 Story by Matt Kindt, The Surrogates Flesh & Bone, Parker the Hunter by Darwyn Cooke and Driven By Lemons by Joshua Cotter, to name a few
GHERU: I know that you said you were short on time today, and again, I appreciate you spending some of it with me. I only have three more questions - the first is, many members of the Outhouse aspire to be comic book writers and/or artists; do you have any tips to pass along?
Van Jensen: The main thing is just to write or draw. Ideas are the easy part. If you want to get into comics, just start making comics. Do enough of them, you'll start to get good enough to get published. From there it's a matter of pitching the right kind of work to the right publisher. In other words, don't send a superhero pitch to Fantagraphics.
GHERU: As you send your work to various publishers, are there any established characters that you hope to some day to write?
Van Jensen: I'd like to do work-for-hire, and I think you can tell great stories with any character. Down the road, I do have a Batman story I'd love to write. And there's a little-known Marvel character I'm dying to write about.
GHERU: Care to share who that might be (crosses fingers for Adam X)?
Van Jensen: Adam X is a good one too, but it's not him. Captain Ultra, actually.
GHERU: And, finally - you stated earlier that you and Dustin were going to explore aspects of Pinocchio further. When can we expect to see Vol. 2 in comic book shops and is there anything else you would like to promote?
Van Jensen: Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer 2 will be out probably in October. Dustin is cranking out awesome art every day. Beyond that, I have three mystery projects I'll be pitching in the next few months. Hopefully some publisher will pick them up!
GHERU: Is the plan to continue Pinocchio past volume 2?
Van Jensen: There definitely will be a third volume and the current plan is to finish the story there.
GHERU: Well, that you for taking the time to speak with me, when vol. 2 comes out I hope that you let the outhouse (that’s www.theouthousers.com) know so that we can help promote it in any way we can.
Van Jensen: Will do. Thanks! I've gotta run. Be in touch.
GHERU: thank you, have a good day
Our friends at Nix Comics are sponsoring The Outhouse this week. Show them you appreciate it by checking out their comics. One dollar from every Nix Comics sold this month will go to Kirby-4-Heroes.
Comment without an Outhouse Account using Facebook
Note: while you are welcome to speak your mind freely on any topic, we do ask that you keep discussion civil between each other. Nasty personal attacks against other commenters is strongly discouraged. Thanks!
About the Author - GHERU
RU, or as he’s known in the writers’ room: the cute one, is relatively unappreciated in his time. RU’s YouTube show, RUviews is watched by literally multiple people every month and his Outhouse articles have helped line many a bird cage. Before you send RU a message, he knows that there are misspelled words in this article, and probably in this bio he was asked to write. RU wants everyone to know that after 25+ years of collecting he still loves comic books and can’t believe how seriously fanboys take them. RU lives in Akron Ohio (unfortunately) with WIFE, ‘lilRuRu, and the @DogGodThor. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, & even Google+ (if anyone still uses that).
More articles from GHERU