ADVENTURE TIME Goes KaBOOM! With Ryan North in 2012
ADVENTURE TIME Goes KaBOOM! in Comics
Since the Emmy-nominated animated series premiered on Cartoon Network in April 2010, viewers have noticed how a number of the show’s writers and artists have backgrounds in web and independent comics, including creator Pendleton Ward. Now, that experience is coming back to comics with an all-new ongoing series from BOOM! Studios’ all-ages KaBOOM! Imprint, written by webcomic giant Ryan North (Dinosaur Comics).
We grilled North for what readers can expect from this new series, why hardcore Adventure Time fans will want to pick this up, and some of the other creators who’ll be working on the book. We’re headed into the Land of Ooo turbo-time! And while Cartoon Network hasn’t released any interior images from the first issue, we have a series of special Adventure Time doodles from some of comics’ best artists and the first look at a new Mondo poster of the gender-flipped Fionna and Cake from Tiny Kitten Teeth’s Becky Dreistadt!
Newsarama: So Ryan, how'd this come about?
I've been a fan of Adventure Time since back when Finn was called "Pen" in the pilot, so it didn't really take any convincing on my part. I made time in my schedule (Adventure Time time, if you will) and jumped right in.
Nrama: Okay, there might be some non-Adventure Time fans reading this. For them: Sell them on why this is just going to be a flat-out awesome comic book, and the appeal of the show.
North: I looked to see how Wikipedia described the show, and it was all "The series focuses on the adventures undertaken by two best friends, Finn the human boy and Jake the dog with magical powers, who dwell in the Land of Ooo."
Oh, Wikipedia. We can do better than that.
Adventure Time tells stories where anything can happen, but what happens is. It stars Finn, a boy who fights evil, and Jake, a dog with stretchy powers. Both of them can talk.
Oh, and it takes place a thousand years in the future, after an atomic war, when magic is back again. And Finn may well be the last human left.
I'll say this: it's the only show on television you'll never regret watching. I'm working on making a comic that you can say the same thing about!
North: I don't want to give too much away, but a villain from the show returns and threatens not just BMO, not just Finn and Jake, but everyone in the Land of Ooo and the entire planet itself. It's - it's bad news.
Nrama: What's different about writing extended narrative stories, as opposed to T-Rex's self-contained rants in Dinosaur Comics?
North: It's actually deeply satisfying to write a story out in full. I'll often have T-Rex describe premises rather than fully realize them myself, which is a great timesaver, great for jokes, and lots of fun to write, but it turns out it's fun to actually write stories out too! Who knew?
Kurt Vonnegut wrote once about how he had his fictional character, Kilgore Trout, write things in his stories to save himself, Vonnegut, from writing the stories himself. I think there's something similar at play here.
The other difference in writing a longer narrative is that this first story arc goes over several issues, so you get to work out pacing and beats not just for each page of comics, and not just for the story as a whole, but for the issue as well.
Christmas CardNrama: Tell us about your artists, Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb. What do they bring to the book?
North: Shelli did The Muppets: Snow White for KaBOOM! and Braden is both an artist and a colourist who colours some of KaBOOM!'s all-ages books. They're currently doing the Ice Age comic for them as well.
Both of them were at San Diego Comic-Con, drawing custom Ducktales sketch covers for KaBOOM!, and everyone there was really blown away with the movement and fun they brought to even the weirdest requests, while also managing to stay really true to the look and feel of the characters. KaBOOM! really wanted to get them on something exciting where that talent could shine, and here we are!
I've actually not met them in person, but thanks to the Internet we can still talk and hang out! Their styles are really terrific. I'm a writer who can't draw and who generally works in a visual medium (yay comics!) so I'm super impressed when I see what people with talent and skill can do. It's stuff I literally cannot do myself, and it's a privilege to be able to write stuff for them.
We haven't started drawing yet [Newsarama Note: This interview was done a while back, and held for the official announcement], but we're hoping to have a collaborative process going, where Shelli and Branden can add things that are awesome as they go. The show itself is set up in this way, with storyboard artists contributing a lot, and it'd be cool to duplicate that for the comic.
North: I can say that the answer to this is... DEFINITELY YES.
Pen and me and the editors at KaBOOM! are huge fans of indie comics, so Adventure Time is going to have a huge presence from the indie scene. In addition to the on-model, issue-to-issue story that Shelli and Braden and I are working on (on-model means it'll look like the show does), there will be a 5-8 page artist-driven story (done in their own style!) in each issue that focuses on a different supporting character, along with 1-2 special artist covers per issue. It's going to be awesome! We're cramming in as much awesome per page as legally allowed.
I can't tell you everything, but I have official clearance to say that so far we've got Jeffery Brown, Emily Carroll, Scott C., Lucy Knisley and Aaron Renier lined up for covers or back-up stories or both! And there's more to be announced down the line too. Each of these artists is a huge talent, and I'm actually really excited that I'll be there in the same book as them.
Nrama: For that matter, a number of writers and artists on the show have worked in comics -- will any of them contribute to the book down the line?
North: The TV team has a great collection of super talented writers and artists, and we'd love them to contribute what they can! KaBOOM!'s been discussing this with a few of them, and it'll come down to their schedule. Adventure Time is a lot of work! You'll have to wait and see...
Nrama: Okay, getting into hardcore fandom here. How deeply is this intertwined with the show's mythology? Will we find out more about the pre-apocalyptic Land of Ooo, or just why Marceline's dad ate her fries? Or tales of the Mushroom War, Billy the Hero, or the Ancient Psychic Tandem War Elephant?
North: It's funny: since this was announced I've had tons of people emailing me, some offering actual cash money to write scenes with their favourite characters. And then I said on Twitter something along the lines of "Man, Adventure Time fans are offering me actual cash money to write shippy scenes for various characters!" and that just got the offers doubled. [Newsarama Note: Well, who isn’t curious about Marceline and the Ice King going on a date?]
The show and the comic take place in the same universe, but I like that the show leaves a lot to the imagination and I don't want to take too much of that away!
SketchNrama: What's fun about writing Finn and Jake?
North: Their relationship is just stellar: here are two guys, total bros, saving the world routinely but also taking time out to make videos for their friends. And they're both so great at talking, so great at taking language and making it awesome, that it's really fun to write. When you're writing you can almost just put these two guys in a situation and watch what they do.
Nrama: Which characters, major or minor, are your favorites, and of everyone on the show, who do you relate to the most?
North: I love BMO: he/she/it's so cute, so fun, so insanely powerful. I am the #1 fan of BMO over here. I also love Peppermint Butler: he's so mysterious and he pals around with Death. I would share an apartment with these two any day.
And of course Finn and Jake, but I don't see how anyone could watch the show and not have Finn and Jake be their favorite characters.
I think I relate to Finn the most: he's always down for anything and has amazing friends. If I died and my epitaph read "Here Lies Ryan: He Was Down For Anything And Had Amazing Friends", I think I might have the best epitaph in the entire graveyard.
North: Maybe? POSSIBLY?? The book's editors are excited about the possibility, so this is me winking, throwing down a capsule onto the ground, and disappearing in a puff of smoke.
Nrama: What's it been like dealing with Pen Ward and with Cartoon Network for this?
North: It's been great. I sent Pen an couple early draft of the stories and he called me up with a videophone because it is THE FUTURE and we talked through the stories, changing and tweaking things.
While we talked he actually sketched out scenes on his computer, which was amazing. It was like watching Adventure Time come to life in real time. Unfortunately, I swore I would take the images he sketched... to my grave.
Nrama: And what would you say is your all-time favorite Adventure Time episode and why?
North: It's super hard to say, and I think it changes all the time, but as I'm writing this I'd have to say "Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake". The gender-swapping was fun, of course, but what I love and keep thinking about was how the whole thing was Ice King fan fiction.
Ice King is this guy who sat down and wrote a story about his enemies, Finn and Jake, and - switched everyone's genders? For no reason? It's like this staggering view into the guy's head. Then he has Fionna declare that she'd love to date Ice King and the episode ends and it's just perfect.
North: For me personally, there's Adventure Time (yay!), plus I've got a new Dinosaur Comics book out, a new Machine of Death book coming out in 2012, and another yet-unannounced surprise long-form comic that'll be starting in 2012 too. All of these will be super neat, I promise.
Nrama: Anything else you'd like to talk about that we haven't discussed yet?
North: I'm guess I just want to say how excited I am to see Adventure Time transformed into comic book form. The show is so creative and freewheeling and it translates really well into the comics medium, where you can go anywhere and do anything as long as you can imagine it.
I'm really aiming to keep the surreal vibe the show has, and also the surprising elements that make the show so great: the calamity always lurking at the edges of the stories, the sadness you can sometimes detect. It's really exciting.
I think the comic will be great for kids and adults, especially with the backup stories in the book. As a kid I loved the idea of alternate possibilities, roads not taken, that sort of thing - and I think seeing the Adventure Time universe rendered by the artists in those stories will scratch that same itch really well.
What time is it? It’s Adventure Time from KaBOOM! in February! Sketches from Zack Smith's personal Adventure Time Sketch Book.