I am a big fan of the Adventure Time cartoon and I’d consider it one of the greatest animated series of all time. With its combination of surrealism, fantasy and humor, the series makes a fantastic all-ages package. It means a lot when I say that the comic adaptations are as good, if not better, than the comic.
So far KaBoom, Boom Studios’s all ages reader line, has released three different Adventure Time series with top of the line comic creators involved. Adventure Time, Marceline and The Scream Queens and Adventure Time with Fiona and Cake are all fantastic comics.
The main title, Adventure Time, written by Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics (with a mix of artists including Mike Holmes, Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb ), feels the most distant from the cartoon, telling long episodic stories, but it does a great job capturing the all-ages spirit of the show while building onto the world. The second volume recently came out and it is pretty high on my list of favorite comics from 2012, partially because it puts a combined doppleganger of Finn and Jake, time travel, and robot clones together into a fantastic arc showcasing the strengths of the characters in the series. Not to mention, the added benefits from telling the story in a comic format (if not only for Ryan North’s commentary at the bottom of most pages). All together, it’s a delight for all ages, and if you have no issues with your kids watching the show, the comic is appropriate for them.
The first spin-off of the series, Marceline and The Scream Queens, written and illustrated by Octopus Pie’s Meredith Gran, tells a very different story focusing on the friendship between Princess Bubblegum and Marceline and Marceline’s band of monsters. The story has a much more mature feel to it since the focus is on relationships as opposed to fighting robot armies and going on adventures. So it might not be right for all ages, but readers 10 and up who enjoy more character depth and who are mature enough to sit through a slower story, are in for a treat. And for parents who end up reading these, Gran and the various cover artists have snuck in dozens of cover art references throughout the run.
The most recent spinoff, Adventure Time With Fiona and Cake is a mélange of the focus of the two other series. It focuses on the less developed gender swapped universe of Fiona the Human and Cake the Cat. The original creator of Fiona and Cake, Natasha Allegeri, takes over the writing and art duties admirably, though the story so far has been much slower paced than the other two series. However, it feels the most like the show as far as the storytelling goes.
Bookending each issue of the comic are additional ministories by guest artists ranging from Becky and Frank of Tiny Kitten Teeth, to Afrodisiac’s Jim Rugg. They all add very different takes on the characters and expose readers to a variety of indie artists and styles which is pretty fantastic. Combined with the variety of alternate covers, the Adventure Time series has done a wonderful job bringing exposure to new or formerly web only creators.
Adventure Time Vol 1 and 2 are currently in stores. Marceline and the Scream Queens TPB will be released May 29th, and Fiona and Cake are currently being released as single issues. All comics are also available digitally.