It’s a strange and disappointing comment on the English language graphic novel market that the only work of Jean-Pierre Gibrat translated to date has been this whimsical erotic variation of a classic moralistic children’s story. From the coming of age comedy of the Goudard series to the current historical fiction of Matteo, Gibrat’s beautiful expressive naturalism has delighted European readers since the 1980s. Sadly, even this commands very high prices now, but can easily be located online.

As is the case with Milo Manara’s similarly themed Gullivera, those who object to erotica in comic form will have to place prejudice aside to appreciate the art, as by any values of political correctness Pinocchia is indefensible. It’s exploitative, and presents a woman as nothing but a sex object. Yet as European sex comics go, it’s relatively tame (no genitalia), and has a story well beyond the sex scenes.

Francis Leroi’s plot begins with lonely old carpenter Galipetto tempted by his inner voice to carve a sex doll. After its first use this miraculously comes to life and calls him “Papa”, as she does all men, but this results in Galipetto’s arrest. As in Pinocchio, the plot is completely loopy, with the innocent Pinocchia taken advantage of again and again, roughly following the downward path taken by Pinocchio, her breasts growing larger whenever she lies. Leroi constructs modern day equivalents of the circus and the whale, and eventually innocence prevails.

It’s complete nonsense, and for anyone beyond their first hormonal rush Gibrat’s sumptuous pages are the sole reason to search this out. He’s a very expressive artist with an emotional subtlety to his people, for whom he always provides lushly illustrated backgrounds. He’s also a very good writer, and his other works, particularly his World War II dramas Le Sursis and Le Vol du Corbeau, are thoroughly recommended to anyone able to speak a European language.