Ink & Pixel: Adventure Time

Ink & Pixel is a source of pride and joy for me as a writer and as such, I’m always striving to take this column further for those who read and enjoy it. If you yourself, or anyone you know, helped to make any of the amazing feature animated films found within this column, I would love to talk to you to further my knowledge. Please contact me at [email protected] so we can discuss it further.

Everyone knows that animation isn't limited to just the spectacle of the silver screen. In fact, it's been since the year 1950 - when the first animated series produced specifically for television, a show by the name of CRUSADER RABBIT (created by Alexander Anderson and Jay Ward) - changed the entertainment industry forever. Animation was now in the homes of anyone fortunate enough to be able to afford a television. As a result, the spectrum of what would entertain and who could be entertained broadened exponentially. More than anything, it invited parents to get involved with their children's favorite animations; while watching creative and hilarious programs with one another, they were not only were bonding, they were at long last being equally entertained. As of late, there has not been a finer example of this evolution in animation entertainment than Cartoon Network's ADVENTURE TIME.

ADVENTURE TIME, which made its debut in April of 2010, is a mostly hand-drawn animated show that features the outrageous adventures of a 14-year-old boy named Finn the Human (Jeremy Shada) and his best friend, Jake (John DiMaggio), a dog with the magical abilities to stretch, grow, and shrink himself into any shape at will. Each morning, Finn and Jake set out for adventure as part of a sworn adventurer's oath to protect the post-apocalyptic Land of Ooo from evil and other not so awesome junk.

Ruled by the very analytical Princess Bubblegum (Hynden Walch), The Land of Ooo functions as a world where all the laws of reason can (and often will) become muddled, resulting in any number of impossible scenarios for our heroes Finn and Jake to overcome. It's a show about impossibilities becoming possible through the power of friendship and a swift flying dragon kick to the face … *ahem* all in the name of adventure, of course.

ADVENTURE TIME first got its start after the internet was stormed by an animated short, featured on a Nicktoons Network program entitled Random! Cartoons (a spin-off of a Nickelodeon based animation showcase entitled Aw Yeah! Cartoons). Shortly thereafter, ADVENTURE TIME's creator, Pendelton Ward, was approached by Federator Studios (an American-based independent production house) about bringing the characters of Finn and Jake into the big time by giving them their own television show. The idea was tossed around by Federator, and shot down twice by the Nicktoons Network, before the Cartoon Network decided to give ADVENTURE TIME its chance.

Pendelton jumped at the opportunity to bring ADVENTURE TIME to the popular network and decided that the show would work best if presented in 11-minute bursts (2 episodes per half hour show). Those who have seen the popular cartoon know that it pulls its inspiration heavily from the world of Dungeons & Dragons, as well as a plethora of video games from every generation. As a for instance, like in many RPG video games, you could slay an enemy neighbor inside of The Land of Ooo, but then find that they'll respawn the very next day to do battle once again. Each episode can take anywhere up to 9 months to produce, and each are plotted in the time honored tradition of using story boards to plan and map every adventure within the series.

The writing process for ADVENTURE TIME works by having the writing staff bring all of their ideas to the table, where a finite amount of these ideas are seized by a particular writer or team and then outlined in a short story format. Each short story, when presented, must contain all the relevant “beats” or “plot points” that include all the major components. These ideas are then scripted in a thumbnail storyboard format where key ideas are fleshed out and expanded upon. Ward, along with his team of creative directors, then make whatever revisions are deemed necessary, and the drawing and animating process begins.

ADVENTURE TIME is unique in the way that the episodes are prepared because it does not follow the typical procedure of “here's the script, here's the lesson to be learned” that most other cartoon shows present. The team that writes, draws, animates, and produces ADVENTURE TIME is given many more creative liberties by the Cartoon Network because the channel claims that this freedom is what works best for the show. I personally find it rather refreshing to know that a company as large as the Cartoon Network is willing to take this sort of leap with what is now one of their most lucrative properties to date.

Perhaps one of the reasons ADVENTURE TIME has become so popular within today's entertainment culture is the fact that the show has so many more layers than your standard cartoon show. Take The Land of Ooo for example. When the show was conceived, it was planned that the Ooo would simply be a magical place. However, as the show began to grow both in popularity, as well as in concept, it began to take on the shape of something much more complex. Ward has said that the continent that makes up The Land of Ooo was born as the result of “The Great Mushroom War”, a war that after the bombs had fallen, brought magic back into the world. For both the writers, as well as fans of the show, this changed everything.

After having been given this little nugget of information, fans flocked to the internet. They began creating chat rooms, blogs, and videos explaining their theories about the mysterious origin of the fictitious Land of Ooo. It all started with an episode entitled “Business Time”. It featured vampire-like businessmen characters trapped inside of floating glaciers who arrived in the Land of Ooo and began causing mischief. This arrival implied that the world containing The Land of Ooo resides had a history prior to the events featured in the current continuity of the ADVENTURE TIME show. This small detail became a mental playground, both for fans as well as the show's staff of writers.

It's because of this bold approach to the show's production that ADVENTURE TIME has become conventionally known in its few years of being on the air as being a very esoteric but inviting show for children and adults alike. Rather than being branded as “too out there” or “cryptic and preachy” the writers and artists of the show have been encouraged to include their weirdness and even their subtle approaches to spirituality. This individuality is what sets ADVENTURE TIME apart from other cartoon programs and has allowed the show to reach a wider and more diverse audience. While other shows are strange solely for sake of it, ADVENTURE TIME promotes the teaching of valuable life lessons while still under the guise of bizarre children's cartoon.

ADVENTURE TIME, in its not so very long history of being on the air, has amassed a fan base of epic proportions; appealing to not just young children but adults as well. At any given department store or mall you'll find the characters adorning clothing, beach towels, adult-sized onesies, and a multitude of other products, including bedding and sweet action figures. In addition, ADVENTURE TIME has several on-going comic book series (Adventure Time, Marceline and the Scream Queens, Fiona and Cake) that feature even more adventures of The Land of Ooo and its bizarre inhabitants. Each series features a growing number of writers and artists, all dedicated to making ADVENTURE TIME a spectacular read for comic book fans of all ages.

Currently, ADVENTURE TIME is airing its 5th season on the Cartoon Network with no signs of ending the adventure. The show isn't just about friendship. It's about mystery, the power of music, funky fresh dance moves, time travel, stubborn horses, and doing whatever it takes to be a hero each and every day. If you've never traveled to The Land of Ooo before, be aware that there are plenty of DVD boxsets available for your viewing pleasure. I assure you that you'll be noodle arm dancing to one of the show's many catchy tunes in no time. Schmowzow!

Extra Tidbit: The show caught a bit of attention when an episode entitled "What Was Missing" hinted at an ongoing lesbian relationship between the characters Princess Bubblegum and Marceline the Vampire Queen.
Source: JoBlo.com



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