It’s a milestone for any comic to hit 50 issues, but kaBOOM! has a reason to celebrate: the acclaimed Adventure Time series has just hit its highest number. Currently helmed by Christopher Hastings (Dr. McNinja), who has been working on Adventure Time since issue #36, issue #50 will mark the debut of acclaimed artist Ian McGinty (Welcome To Showside) to the series.
EW spoke to Hastings and McGinty about this milestone, and got a few teases about what’s coming next.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Christopher, now that you’ve settled into the groove of working on this series for a bit, how have you found that experience, and have you found that your work changed since you started on Adventure Time?
CHRISTOPHER HASTINGS: The relationship between the comic and the show has always been interesting. When I started out, I worried a lot about matching the tone of the show the best I could, without actually repeating things the show is done. Since then, I’ve come to notice that the show allows for a certain amount of individual authorship. I recognize that different writers/storyboarders on Adventure Time approach the show in their own unique ways. So I’ve gotten more comfortable allowing myself to just be another voice in that chorus, without necessarily trying to achieve some sort of perfect similarity.
Ian, from an artist’s perspective, what excited you about working on Adventure Time?
IAN MCGINTY: My very first major project with BOOM! Studios was a mini-series focusing on Peppermint Butler and Cinnamon Bun, two very well-liked candy characters, called Adventure Time: Candy Capers and the first thing I did was accidentally draw the wrong number of stripes on the peppermint man, which caused what I imagine was a worldwide shunning of my artwork. Since then, I’ve been fighting and fighting to get myself back into the game, to get one more shot at that sweet, sugary goodness that is Adventure Time and guess what? I’m back, baby.
I love the world of Adventure Time, I still watch the show, and after my stint on Bravest Warriors (another Pendleton Ward creation), I was lucky enough to be asked to take over as main series artist on the comic. Adventure Time inhabits this sandbox ideal, that I can create basically anything I want and play with the characters in an almost infinite number of ways. There aren’t too many licensed comics I’ve worked on that say, “Okay, we need a hipster ghost who is also basically an evil Colonel Sanders mixed with Rooster Cogburn, do your thing,” and that’s a great position to be in as a comic artist. Also a really weird question in general. The style of Adventure Time alone begs to be torn apart and put back together and made as fun and fantastic as possible, and I think that’s something Chris and I have been getting prettttttty good at.
How has it been to work together, and do you find yourself being influenced by each other’s work? What excites you about the collaborative relationship you’ve formed?
HASTINGS: Well, Ian draws really well! That’s a nice start. His pictures are objectively attractive. I like that I can write something like “Jake enters a city of ghosts” and he’ll make that ghost city something very imaginative and specific. Beyond that, I really appreciate that Ian gets the comedy. He knows how to sell a joke visually. That’s a tricky skill that not all comic artists have.
MCGINTY: Chris doesn’t ask me to draw horses or cars and that’s all I’ve ever really wanted in a writing partner. They are really hard to draw. It also helps that he’s coming up with some hilarious gags and dialogue, something that seems easy but really isn’t, without sticking too close to a formula that dictates every single panel has to have something funny or amazing happen. Chris understands the humor in those moments of silence or pauses before the big drum roll and that’s something I admire quite a lot.
What do you think it is about Adventure Time that has become beloved as a series and that has made it such a long running comic?
HASTINGS: I love that it’s a setting that allows for pretty much any genre thing you want, particularly fantasy. Want to do a detective noir story about a foul princess made of purple lumps? Why not? How about a James Bond-type spy thriller, but it involves the political maneuverings of magic bears? Yep! It all fits. You can throw anything against Adventure Time, and there is a good chance it will work. Just treat it a little bit seriously, a little bit humorously. I think what allows it to continue to do so well is that the characters, their relationships, and motivations are fundamentally real. A giant space monster has the same emotions a human might. The boy and his stretchy dog have a friendship that actually matures and changes as time goes on, just like any real friendship might.
MCGINTY: Well, from a purely visual standpoint there wasn’t anything even close to resembling Adventure Time in the art style out until its premiere. It’s both simple in its presentation, yet also complex once you really start breaking everything down and seeing these fantastical worlds and creatures interacting with each other in positive or negative ways. Plus, the ultra-bendy arms and legs are just the best and I love them and I wish I had them. That said, while the art is great at worst and amazing at best, I think it’s Adventure Time‘s ability to portray complex emotions through “cute” or “uncute” characters that really strikes a chord with viewers and readers. Ask almost any fan their opinion of Marceline the Vampire Queen and Princess Bubblegum’s relationship, or Finn and the Flame Princess, (or even Ice King and anyone!) and proceed to tape the windows ‘cause you’re about to find yourself in the middle of a hurricane of emotions. People just love these kids and monsters and lumpy space people and giant spiders and penguins, and I don’t blame ‘em. Heck, I’m one of ‘em. It’s a series, comic and animated, that just sucks you in and let’s you float away with the world.
Christopher, what has been your favorite story you’ve written for this series? Ian, what’s one of your favorite characters or panels that you’ve had the chance to work on?
HASTINGS: I’m really proud of the interactive issues I wrote, numbers #40 and #45. Issue #40 involves a magic trick that plays out for the reader along with the story, and issue #45 has panels that mirror and interact with each other in different ways, kind of messing with the fact that on the comics page, space = time. The story is affected by the order you read them in, letting you jump around, turn the comic upside down, go forwards and backwards. It’s fun!
MCGINTY: Rest assured, it is NOT any panel that focuses on the number of stripes Peppermint Butler has, but I’m a huge fan of the living video game BMO and that surly lumpy space princess, Lumpy Space Princess. I also love Lemongrab because he is CONSTANTLY SCREAMING, and I also like Peppermint Butler because he is friends with Death. Do you see what’s happening here? I can’t actually pick a favorite character! There are too many good ones! But I have to say, in regards to the comic, my favorite panel sequence has to actually be in next month’s issue #51, where Jake the Dog turns into a multi-legged lamp-like creature to traverse a grimy tunnel. Pretty cool.
Finally – we hit 50 issues! Tease anything you can about the upcoming issues that we’ll be excited about…a character, a plot, whatever excites you!
HASTINGS: Issue #50 is all about exploring Finn’s past lives, and how they might thread into a bigger cosmic picture. I love that aspect of the character, and it was really fun getting a few pages of exploration into his reincarnations; Shoko, the butterfly, some others… The arc after that is about Jake going on a journey all by himself, completely powerless into one of the deadworlds to acquire a magical object to save Finn from an early death from old age. Seems pretty dire, but Ian told me HE thought it was funny. So we’ll see!
MCGINTY: I mentioned it earlier but there’s this hipster ghost with a real boss haircut…
See below for exclusive preview pages. Adventure Time #50 is in comic stores now.