Twenty five issues of "Adventure Time?" That's mathematical! "Dinosaur Comics" mastermind Ryan North has penned the series since its launch from BOOM! Studios last year along with artists Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb. Since then, this trio has chronicled the comic-based adventures of Finn, Jake, Princess Bubblegum, Marceline and other stars from the Cartoon Network animated series.
Created by Pendelton Ward, "Adventure Time" debuted on Cartoon Network in 2010 and has been going strong ever since. The series focuses on Finn the human and Jake the dog, a pair of pals who live in a treehouse in a fantastic world called Ooo filled with talking candy, other-dimensional demons and a variety of princesses.
To celebrate the comic's silver anniversary, North, Paroline and Lamb will tell a tale revolving around a gem of great importance to one or more characters in the Land of Ooo. The issue also features five covers by Jeffrey Brown, Mike Holmes, Luke Pearson, Michael Dialynas and Kris Anka.
While North didn't get into many specifics about who the precious stone belongs to and what role it played in the history of this world, he did give a few details about the story, his working relationship with his artists and how his opinions on some of these characters have changed since this journey began.
CBR News: Ryan, hitting the 25-issue mark with any comic is a pretty big feat these days. Did you come up with this story to celebrate that anniversary?
Ryan North: I have! Well, I mean, I haven't written it yet, but I've outlined it. I have an idea. I am a comics professional who does not leave things to the last minute. It is about a gem that's intersected with the history of Ooo in several places!
What else can you tell us about this mysterious gem?
I don't want to give too much of it away, but it's something that's been around for a while, perhaps since before Princess Bubblegum was Princess Bubblegum. It's been around!
You mentioned Princess Bubblegum, who sports a gem in her crown. Will she be taking center stage in the issue?
I want to tap my nose enigmatically to answer this question, and then disappear in a cloud of smoke. Can we tell people that's what happened?
You obviously don't want to give too much away, but might this story include younger versions of some characters we're familiar with?
Perhaps. Perhaps yes.
When dealing with a story that might go deeper into the history of Ooo do you it closely with the people working on the show?
We've had conversations in the past but not on this particular issue! It won't be a surprise since I've run the outline past them though.
Do you have an item like this gem in your life? Possibly a collectible or gift from someone?
A while back I was curious about how much of my body was "original." Like, your cells are constantly replacing themselves, so is there any part of "me" that was "me" from 10 years ago? And that's roughly analogous to the joke about a man who has a shovel that's lasted 30 years, which seems amazing till you find out he's replaced the blade, the stick, the handle -- each several times. Anyway this is a bit of an aside to mention that, if I'm remembering correctly, the enamel on my teeth was a part that was closest to being original, and I suppose they're the item in my life that's had that sort of history. It's a grosser history though, being as it is mostly drenched in saliva the entire time.
Much like you and your teeth, Finn and Jake have a longstanding relationship. Are there nuances to their characters that you've learned the longer you've written the book?
Oh, for sure. They're so much fun to write because they're such good friends, and they're usually really honest with each other. Two bros straight-up talking about feelings. That's fun. I've also gotten really into Princess Bubblegum and Marceline. Early on it was harder to write the two of them hanging out because I wasn't sure I got it, but now it's really easy and fun and natural. Issue 23 coming up features mainly the two of them, and that issue went way faster than they normally take me! I love those two ladies.
It's been a process of getting closer to the characters and figuring out what they want and how they express themselves, and everyone in Ooo is so fun to work with that it hasn't at all felt like work. It has basically been a dream job!
How have your relationships with some of the other characters in the universe changed since you started writing them? Have you come across any surprising favorites?
Of all the characters, I still don't have a handle on Tree Trunks. Like, I get that she's big into apple pies, but I just can't get her voice, and that's why there's been very few Tree Trunks appearances! I'll try to change that. BMO has become my favorite and I know that little computer is the favorite of a bunch of other people too, but I can't say that's surprising, on account of how BMO is adorable.
It sounds like you're in the early stages of this story with an outline. What's the next step in your process after that?
I typically go straight from outline to writing pages. I know how long the issue will be and I know the points I want to hit, so usually it's pretty easy to make sure everything fits. There's been one or two times where I've gone back to my editor and asked for an extra page, but she's always been really good about that. One time I gave her a script that had two page sevens in it -- counting: hard for me -- and I got an extra page that time without even having to ask for it! That's a good scam you can run.
Once the script's written I like to let it sit a while and then go back to it, so I can see all the places that don't work. The last thing I do is add those alts to the pages -- the little text you can barely read at the bottom of most pages -- and then it's off to Braden and Shelli!
Speaking of Braden and Shelli, how has your relationship with them evolved between working on "Adventure Time" and "The Midas Flesh" together?
Oh it's been great. We started out at these near-strangers and when you're meeting someone new you're on your best behavior, you know? But now we've got a great working relationship where we know and trust each other, and I can put stuff in my scripts knowing that they'll be able to pull it off. It gives me the confidence to write the craziest stuff, and consistently -- consistently! -- they come back with pages that are better than I imagined. Shelli and Braden also will sometimes split up my panels into two or merge them together, which is great, because it helps the storytelling.
Once they've got the pencils done, we all take a look and provide any feedback we've got, and then it gets lettered. At that point I give the issue a once-over, usually tweaking dialogue and changing things to better match up with the art, if I can. It's a back-and-forth process that works because we all want to make the best comic we can!
The book is known for having rad alternate covers and this issue is no exception with five covers by Jeffrey Brown, Mike Holmes, Luke Pearson, Michael Dialynas and Kris Anka. Do you have an input into who gets asked to do covers?
I've sent Shannon some names before, sure! Also sometimes the artists contact me to get the inside scoop on what's inside the issues, which is nice. I like it when the cover matches up with the story inside.
"Adventure Time" #25 from Ryan North, Braden Lamb and Shelli Paroline hits stands this February.