By Shawn Perry
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting the artists behind Adventure Time, Braden Lamb and Shelli Paroline at Hartford Comic Con. In addition to teaching me how to draw Finn and Jake during their panel, Lamb also hung out with me a their booth and answered a few of my questions.
One of my favorite programs is Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time. While I may be in my mid-to-late twenties I feel no shame in admitting this because, first of all the show is just rad and secondly there is precedent for animated programming being an all-ages medium that was set long before I stopped sleeping with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles blanket… whereas now I just use it sometimes. I digress.
For those of you not in the know Adventure Time first appeared as a stand-alone short created by Pendleton Ward in 2007 after which it went viral and was commissioned by Cartoon Network in 2010. The series follows the story of Finn the dog and Jake the human as they explore the dystopian-yet-whimsical Land of Oob. The show’s popularity lead to a comic book adaptation written by Ryan Miller and drawn by the duo of Braden Lamb and Shelli Paroline which began back in 2012. As a fan of both series I always felt the two series compliment each other in a way that transcends each medium.
Animation has always been one of my favorite mediums because, similar to comics, there are no limits to what creators can do within the realm. The difference between an animated show taking place in an office building versus the land of Oob have more to do with the vision of the creators than the reality of production costs. But there is a distinct advantage to working in the comic book medium in that creators do not have to wait the months it takes for the animation process to be completed.
Being a comic book artist means relying on your own creative vision to tell a story that will inspire readers to bring your work to life. While that task poses its own unique challenges, as Braden Lamb explains, the benefits of crafting new stories every month and being one of just a few hands in the creative process makes working in the comic book land of Oob well-worth it:
It’s very gratifying to have that much creative control over it. Shelli (Paroline) and I are an art team we share all the art duties. To know that everything that I’m doing is for this project and that if it looks good its because of me and Shelli.
Something I have often wondered about comic book adaptations of popular television programs, such as Bongo’s The Simpsons and Futurama, is whether the two teams have much interaction. According to Lamb, there is less than you might expect:
We don’t have a lot of connection with them. Kind of more with the creator [Pendleton Ward] the creator signs off on each issue and they’ve basically never said no…there was one time when Cartoon Network said well I don’t know about this and Pendleton had our backs and said ‘no its funny’ so I give credit.
Lamb went on to explain why he believes Adventure Time, both the cartoon and the comic, has become such a big hit with diverse audiences:
I think it’s a really good example of all ages content – both the show and the comic. As [Writer Ryan Miller] puts it ‘as long as nobody swears and nobody takes off their clothes’ its all ages. I like that it’s kind of emotionally mature and also weird and scary and funny and that’s what drew me to the show and why I was so happy to be able to work on the comic.
For the full interview check out the video below.
Adventure Time is published monthly by BOOM! Studios and I find it to be in the spirit of the show. Like the show it has its own unique voice and the art really takes the land of Oob in exciting directions that are unique to the medium. I highly recommend it to fans of the show as well as anyone who wants to take their first journey into the magical world of Adventure Time.
Shawn Perry is a comic book, television and film enthusiast striving to be here now. He currently resides in East Hartford, Connecticut. Tweet him @thesperry, follow his blog at http://shawnsthoughtsonstuff.blogspot.com/ and email him at Shawn.Perry88@gmail.com whenever you’d like.