Winshluss - Pinocchio (4 stars)

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Winshluss - Pinocchio

Knockaboout Comics

Winshluss, the multitalented French cartoonist, filmmaker and musician whose real name is Vincent Parronnaud, is best known for the Oscar-nominated animated feature film he made with Iranian author and illustrator Marjane Satrapi based on her memoir, Persepolis. In advance of their second collaboration on an animated feature (an adaptation of Satrapi’s Chicken With Plums the pair are currently at work on in Paris), UK publisher Knockabout Comics has released the English-language translation of Winshluss’ 2009 graphic novel, which won the Fauve d’Or at the Festival International de la Bande Dessinée in Angoulême, the equivalent of the Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or (which Persepolis almost scooped).

It’s a radical and irreverent reworking of Carlo Collodi’s novel about a puppet boy (recast as a robot) who’s brought to life by his creator. Collodi’s original story is much darker than Walt Disney’s animated version, but Winshluss has darkened the fable further still, introducing politics and environmental concerns along with elements drawn from hard-boiled crime writing. This is not a graphic novel for kids.

In fact, Winshluss dislikes the term ‘graphic novel’, as he does speech bubbles, and here he almost completely dispenses with the latter to give us a wordless comic just shy of 200 pages. But when you’ve visual storytelling is this good, you don’t need words. The panels are laid out with draftsman-like skill, and the artwork, rendered in pen and ink, watercolour and paint, references numerous styles, from French film pioneer Georges Mélies to classic Disney animations to American underground comix. And Knockabout’s lavishly designed large format hardback does Parronnaud’s work proud.

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