- Craig Graziano
Adventure Time is a comic book adaptation of the popular Cartoon Network series. In the past four years, the show has found a sizable and devoted audience. The brainchild of Pendleton Ward, the cartoon appeals to both children and adults through goofy humor, surreal visuals, and rather sophisticated storylines involving its main characters Jake the Dog and Finn the Human.
Our heroes use their bravery and punching skills to defeat evil throughout the Land of Ooo. Their most common adventuring involves saving princesses from the crazed, delusional Ice King.
Though the writers use that simplistic Super Mario Brothers-inspired plot, Adventure Time often critiques the ridiculousness of such gender-based storylines. There are strong female characters such as the science-fixated Princess Bubblegum as well as the powerful Marceline the Vampire Queen.
Another influence to the show is animation from the 1930's. Artists like Walt Disney and Max Fleischer were creating worlds in which anything and everything could come to life. Trees and flowers might dance as the main character walks by. The Land of Ooo definitely has those same vibrant qualities. One example of this is Jake the Dog's shapeshifting abilities.
There are currently three volumes of the Adventure Time Comic in print. Tales held within these pages involve fighting an unstoppable evil known as the Lich, time travel gone wrong, a choose-your-own adventure mission, and entering a 16-bit video game.
It is rarely the case when an adaptation actually equals the orginal in terms of quality. Thanks to the work of Ryan North, Adventure Time has found a way to not only fit in an entirely different medium, but also to embrace that art form's aesthetics, advantages, and limitations. For example, the books' margins are chock-full of great sight gags, commentary, and secret codes for the reader to enjoy.
In terms of age appropriateness, I'd place Adventure Time on a range from upper-elementary to adult. It contains humor that some sensitive types may find slightly rude. Thankfully there is nothing mean-spirited, and many of the moments are of the laugh-out-loud variety. Younger types who are interested in the series might enjoy Zita the Spacegirl. That book is just as visually pleasing with a tamer sense of humor.
Fans who can't get enough of the Land of Ooo should check out the comprehensive Adventure Time Encyclopaedia. Written from the perspective of Marceline the Vampire Queen's eternally evil father, it contains character guides, maps, and very funny notes from Finn, Jake, and Marceline.
Adventure Time Comics might win over otherwise reluctant readers, getting them excited about characters that they may already be invested in. Any time can be Adventure Time!