‘Adventure Time Comics’ #1 Comic Review
Not all cartoons are meant for children. It’s common belief that cartoons are kids’ stuff, animation is meant solely for a younger audience. However, there are many adults who enjoy animation and many creators have crafted cartoons with this in mind. Many modern cartoons like Ren & Stimpy and SpongeBob SquarePants nestle adult themes into the narrative of their shows. These shows feature bubbly, primary-colored worlds but covertly deal with themes of sexuality, science, and philosophy. Parents watching these shows will pick up on the nuances and layered jokes while their children are amused by the colorful characters and comical sound effects. This experience creates a duality of enjoyment in which a show can be simultaneously appreciated by two different demographics.
A few years ago I discovered Adventure Time on Cartoon Network and I instantly recognized that the series was something special. The creators had clearly crafted a show that touched on themes I could relate to. The Land of Ooo, the fictional world inhabited by the colorful characters featured in Adventure Time, is a mishmash of different fantastical landscapes. Elements of Lord of the Rings, the works of Jim Henson, and Alice in Wonderland all play into the concept of Adventure Time. It was obvious to me that the creators of the series were honing in on the fact that their show would not only be consumed by children, but also by adults. Adventure Time Comics #1 is an attempt by Kaboom! Studios to bring this adored franchise to comics.
Adventure Time Comics #1 is written as a compilation. The first issue has four different stories featuring writers who provide the illustrations for each section. Each story is self-contained, there’s no narrative that connects the individual tales. As is the case with most collaborative stories, the success of the first issue is a bit of a mixed bag. Some of the stories accurately capture the fun and whimsy of the Adventure Time cartoon. I especially enjoyed “Stand Next to Me” by Katie Cook and “Goliad Gets a Break” by Tony Millionaire. I could easily see these stories expanded into full episodes of the cartoon. Tony Millionaire and a few of the other contributors of this issue have worked directly on the show before, so they understand the source material.
The other short stories aren’t as successful in capturing the essence of the popular cartoon. “Toothpaste Fairy” by Art Baltazar feels more like a commercial for the series rather than an actual story. It also felt very juvenile, and doesn’t posses the mature nuances commonly featured in the series. If Kaboom! plans on using this format for future issues expect the stories to vary in their level of quality. A single narrative written by one artist and writer would benefit the series greatly. I would prefer reading one story than the fragmented presentation of multiple adventures.
Adventure Time Comics #1 is a solid introduction to the world of Ooo. The series is clearly intended for fans of the cartoon, serving as a companion piece to the popular show. Readers who are foreign to the world of Adventure Time should probably steer clear of this comic and start with the cartoon. Nothing is explained in this issue and no context is given for the characters. You definitely need to have an understanding of the property before jumping in. Fans who are familiar with the cartoon will find the comic a refreshing addition to the series but don’t expect any new ground to be broken.