In February 1940, Disney released their second feature-length film, Pinocchio. Shortly before that, the Snellenburgs Department Store in Philadelphia PA released a promotional comic for their Christmas “Toytown” event featuring the Pinocchio characters. And it is weird.
I don’t normally plan on posting full comics for legal reasons, but seeing how old, obscure, and most likely unofficial this is, I think I can post the full thing. It deserves to be seen.
It needs to be seen.
Despite the image of Pinocchio sitting dismally in a cage, the blurb promises everything is bright and jolly!
Apparently, the story takes place after the movie when Pinocchio has turned into a real boy, although all the figures of Pinocchio featured in the pictures are of him still as a puppet. In fact, I don’t recall seeing any merch of Pinocchio as a real boy. Go figure.
Pinocchio is in a bratty mood and is complaining that he won’t get any presents for Christmas, never mind the fact that Gepetto is a doting father and that he lives in a toy shop.
Gepetto shuts Pinocchio up with a gift that can’t be opened until Christmas, and Pinocchio is then ominously warned by the Blue Fairy that if he does open it beforehand, whatever is inside will vanish and something “very, very dreadful will happen!”
Now, anyone who knows the tiniest bit about folklore knows that you never mess with fairies. They mean business. But Pinocchio apparently does not know this little detail, because…
Pandora-nocchio can only think about what might be in the box. All that matters is the box.
As punishment for going against the Blue Fairy, Pinocchio is branded with a Scarlet A in the form of a long nose. I thought that only happened when he lied as a puppet. Even as a real boy he has to deal with the nose shtick? That’s rough. I figured he’d be exempt from it by this point.
Pinocchio has waited all his life to see a toy shop, despite living in one. Maybe he’s just not content with Gepetto’s handmade stuff. No, he needs whatever Snellenburgs’ Toytown has and he needs it now. Too bad Jiminy Cricket uncharacteristically makes fun of his enormous schnoz. Maybe Pinocchio should take a note from the original version of the story where the cricket gets smashed with a hammer.
Stromboli, like in the book, is portrayed as not only a puppetmaster, but a fire-eater as well. Also, despite imprisoning Pinocchio in a cage, he’s at least going to actually pay him this time. I guess that’s…slightly better?
That night, Pinocchio escapes with five pennies, instead of the four that Stromboli promised him. Maybe it’s a holiday bonus. He runs into Foulfellow and Gideon who scam him out of his coins, much like in the original book where they promise he can grow a money tree and then dig up his earnings instead when he isn’t looking.
Pinocchio then runs into Lampwick (he’s human again!) and the “jolly coachman” who enjoys turning kids into donkeys. They’ve stolen a “fine coach” (what, did the coachman lose his?) and are having a great time. Pinocchio appears to secretly plan to stab them both in the back for the greater good.
They reach the ferry, which is an enormous whale. It’s quite friendly, unlike the ferocious Monstro. It doesn’t stop them from being accidentally swallowed, though. Pinocchio must be having some major deja vu at this point.
Somehow, everyone is reunited in the hiccuping whale’s belly.
And Pinocchio saves everyone by basically doing exactly what he did in the movie the first time!
Everyone gets go to the TOY SHOP now! Even the Coachman, who is on totally good terms with Pinocchio at this point!
Ah, so this is Pinocchio’s Christmas Party that we were promised. I do have to admit, I dig the vintage Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck toys they have there.
So everyone gets a Merry Christmas, even the whale who didn’t try to vengefully kill Pinocchio, unlike Monstro.
So that about wraps up Pinocchio’s Christmas Party. It was strange, in a charmingly off-putting sort of way. Obviously, since the movie hadn’t come out yet, the people writing this had to make a few educated guesses based on the original book and the film’s press material. Overall, it makes for some fun, obscure, and wonderfully weird blog fodder.