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The Mignola Brothers Talk ‘Pinocchio’ Obsession And Illustrated Sequel [Interview + Art]

It shouldn’t have come as such a surprise to me that Mike Mignola is a Pinocchio fan, but I confess the pervasive, wholesome influence of the marvelous Disney animated feature has clouded my awareness of the dark, supernatural weirdness of the original story, the kind of spooky stuff that has inspired the celebrated Hellboy creator since he was a little boy. It was indeed at a young age that Mignola and his brother Scott discovered  the twisted parable about a puppet who wishes to be real, and although both brothers have described their fondness for Pinocchio as an obsession, it’s only now that they’ve channeled it into a brand new work directly inspired by Carlo Collodi‘s original story. Written by Scott Mignola with a cover and plate illustrations by Mike, Pinocchio’s Forgotten Land is a new novel billed as a sequel to the original 1883 classic that finds the real boy a real grown-up man, confronting themes like greed and guilt as he seeks his fortune while looking out for his aging father Geppetto. But as the Mignola brothers told ComicsAlliance, the book retains the outrageous fairy tale spirit of the original.

“Mike and I had always had an obsession with Pinocchio. It started at an early age with the Disney movie, but it was the discovery of the original Collodi book, which is much darker and just hilariously perverse, that really clinched it for us,” Scott Mignola told CA. “I read the book again a few years ago and wondered—for the first time, surprisingly—what Pinocchio’s life as a real boy would have been like. He had turned himself around at the end of Collodi’s story, but up to that point he had been a very reckless and compulsive marionette. All these questions started nagging at me, so I decided to write a sequel, and found ways to address some of the inconsistencies in the original, and the story came together pretty quickly.

“I had Mike in mind to illustrate it, or at least do cover and title plate art, from the beginning. Before I even started writing it, I called him up and told him the story, and when I got to this moment with Pinocchio climbing down a mountain of black coffins I heard this little gasp on the other end of the line and I knew I had him. ‘You know who should illustrate this?’ he said. ‘[the famous Alice's Adventures in Wonderland illustrator] Barry Moser. And if Barry Moser can’t do it, I want to do it.’”

Obviously, Mike Mignola ended up doing it. And that’s cool because now we get to see Pinocchio as he might appear in the world of Hellboy (where he and Roger the homunculus might have had a lot to talk about — but we digress). Mignola actually created two covers, one for his brother Scott’s new Pinocchio novel and one for the Collodi original, both of which are available as e-books from Dog Boy Productions, an electronic boutique Scott Mignola devised to “sniff out enduring, literate works: things old and new, forgotten and undiscovered, little gems of the bizarre, obsessive poems about footwear—essentially, anything that tickles our fancy.”

“The original Pinocchio book made a huge impression on all of the Mignola brothers,” Mike Mignola told CA. “I think it’s influenced the way we think about everything — certainly it’s influenced my work and I actually deal with it directly in the upcoming Hellboy graphic novel The Midnight Circus that Duncan Fegredo is finishing up right now. I’ve toyed with doing an adaptation of the book a few times over the years but I never would have dared to attempt a sequel. But Scott has and (and this isn’t just a brother talking) he’s done a great one. He’s captured all the stuff we loved in the original: the absurdity, the humanity, the weird nightmarishness and the fairy tale logic. I think it’s an amazing book.”

The Dog Boy Productions/Mike Mignola edition of Carlo Collodi’s The Adventures of Pinocchio and Scott Mignola’s new sequel, Pinocchio’s Forgotten Land, are both on sale now.

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