Written by Jen Wang ("In Real Life") with art by previous "Fionna & Cake" miniseries artist Britt Wilson, "Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake: Card Wars" focuses on the beloved gender-swapped characters created by Natasha Allegri before she moved on to make the Cartoon Hangover series "Bee and Puppycat." This time around, Fionna tags along as Cake, a master "Card Wars" player, runs into some close-minded slugs while in search of new challengers.
The six-issue miniseries from BOOM! Studios' all-ages imprint KaBOOM! kicks off on July 15. The in-show collectible card game "Card Wars" first appeared on "Adventure Time" in the fourth season episode of the same name. Since then, it has been turned into an actual game by Cryptozoic Entertainment, the same people who make games based on "Ghostbusters," DC Comics and the like.
CBR News talked to Jen Wang about her first-time experience writing a script for another artist, the huge appeal of Fionna and Cake and the unfortunate discrimination that exists in parts of the gaming and comics communities.
CBR News: Fionna and Cake are wildly popular characters who aren't even exactly regulars. Why do you think they hold so much appeal to readers and creators?
Jen Wang: I feel a lot of it has to do with Fionna and Cake being female. It's fun for female fans of "Adventure Time" to see two girl protagonists having big adventures and taking on the role usually reserved for boys. They pass the Bechdel test (whether two female characters in a work of fiction talk to each other about something other than men), and unfortunately that's pretty unusual -- even within the regular "Adventure Time" universe. Plus, gender-bending is just really fun!
Speaking of those gender-swapped characters, did you get to create some new additions in "Card Wars?"
I included some of the popular gender swapped characters in the Fionna and Cake universe, like Lumpy Space Prince and Marshall Lee, but I didn't add any of my own. There's enough you can do with the characters we already love, so I didn't feel the need to expand on that!
You previously wrote and drew stories in the "Scream Queens" series, but this is your first long-form "Adventure Time" story. What made you want to return to this world and these characters?
The "Adventure Time" universe is really expansive! It's very open to interpretation and there's a lot of characters to play with and explore. You can pretty much make up anything, and aside from some background mythology, there aren't a lot of thematic or structural limitations in place.
In this story, Cake is awesome at "Card Wars," but a group of gamer slugs don't know who she is and don't want to play with her. Is this a reflection on the unwillingness of certain parties to be inclusive when it comes to gaming and comics?
I didn't aim to make a specific statement about gaming or comics per se, but in general when you have a group that forms a strong identity of exclusivity around something, it's really hard to be an outsider. It's something I definitely see in gaming and comics because those are the communities I'm familiar with, but that's also true for tech, or business, or any other community that's traditionally made up of one type of person. The great thing about Cake is she's confident in her abilities, and she's not going to sit around and let herself be the odd woman out!
How does the conflict with these unresponsive opponents spin into the rest of the six issues series?
Well, Cake has to prove herself worthy of competing in the tournament, but she also has to figure out how to do these things on her own. Fionna is a supportive friend, but she's not a gamer. Other than that, you're just gonna have to read to find out!
Have you run into some of those unwelcoming people while pursuing a career in comics?
Personally my experience with comics has always been super supportive. I came up in the indie comics scene which is made up of a lot of female, queer and minority creators, so I always felt very welcome. I can only imagine it's a lot harder breaking into the mainstream comics industry, which serves a predominantly male audience, but so far I've been lucky to exist in this nice bubble.
You've drawn your own comics before, but this time you're passing your script off to artist Britt Wilson. How has it been to go from a writer/artist to writer?
This is actually my first time writing for another artist to draw. I can't speak for Britt, but it's been a great experience for me! Just two years ago I wouldn't have felt ready, but I've spent a lot of time streamlining my writing process and I'm now confident in my ability to turn in work I'm happy with on a regular schedule. Writing for yourself or for fun is one thing, but doing it as a professional involves a whole other set of skills. I definitely feel like working on "Fionna and Cake" has leveled me up in the writing department.
You mentioned streamlining and changing your writing style. Can you mention a few specific ways you altered that while working with Britt?
Britt's such a fantastic artist I really didn't want to dictate too much for her. I left the panel-breakdowns open so she could lay out the pages herself, and she has complete freedom with the design. Basically if I could get away with letting Britt make all the artistic decisions I would let her! She's great!
"Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake: Card Wars" #1 from Jen Wang, Britt Wilson and KaBOOM! hits stands on July 15.