Be careful what you bring home from the woods -- it might just try to destroy your tree house.
That's the main lesson to be found in "Adventure Time: Graybles Schmaybles," a new graphic novel written by Danielle Corsetto with artwork by Bridget Underwood.
The fifth "Adventure Time" OGN from BOOM! Studios' all-ages KaBOOM! imprint is the third penned by Corsetto, who kicked off the line with "Pixel Princesses" and "Playing with Fire." In the writer's new 160-page story, Finn and Jake find a cube after helping Party God, and take it back to their place. Though it appears to be a harmless knick-knack, this tiny item ends up causing a no end of trouble for the pals.
Corsetto, who recently wrapped up her long-running webcomic "Girls With Slingshots", tells CBR News about the somewhat unusual way in which "Graybles" came together, the appeal of "Adventure Time" on a fan and professional level, and how she and plans to incorporate some of the things she's learned writing graphic novels like "Graybles Schmaybles" into her future projects.
CBR News: This is your third "Adventure Time" OGN. What is it about this world and these characters that continues to inspire new stories from you?
Danielle Corsetto: The weird, beautiful design of the characters was initially what drew me to "Adventure Time," but I think it's the humanity and vulnerability of the characters that caused me to become such a big fan. I have never watched a TV show with as much enthusiasm or regularity as I have "Adventure Time." It's the only show I've ever purchased a subscription to, let alone watched consistently in the last decade or so.
I also love that the B-characters -- the ones we only see once in a while, or who have never had a speaking role -- are so interesting they could have their own shows. It's what made Pixel Princesses such a blast to write. (Especially Skeleton Princess!) For "Schmaybles," I dumped the "Adventure Time" toy box upside-down and shook it out all over the floor. I just went nuts and threw in every character I've ever wanted to play with.
I'll tell you outright that I'm a big Party God fan (who isn't!), and I'll hint that there was one princess I desperately wanted to write about in Pixel Princesses, but ultimately didn't make the cut. But I devoted plenty of time to her/them in this book!
This story revolves around a cube that Finn and Jake find and bring home. Without giving too much away, what kind of trouble does it wind up causing?
If you come across a cube with a face, give it lots of room -- and find its pause button.
When you work on a book like this, that is aimed at kids, do you try to work a message into the story that they might learn from?
I used to believe that every children's book should have a moral or a warning, or some obvious educational value. But one of the greatest things about "Adventure Time" is that its most positive messages aren't in the overall stories; they're in the characters' smallest actions.
In "Schmaybles," Finn and Jake share an insatiable urge to help a stranger crying for help, and they spend the whole book doting on those who are in need along the way. If you wrote the plot of the whole book in one sentence, it would sound like someone recalling their most absurd and meaningless dream. It's Finn and Jake's ingrained desire to help people, no matter the challenge, that's so addicting and inspiring.
Were you working on this book as you were wrapping up "Girls With Slingshots?" Was it difficult going back and forth between projects or helpful?
I actually wrote "Shmaybles" last June, in one hectic week, just before I left for a 42-day signing tour across the country for "GWS." I was crazy for saying yes to writing a book at that time, but "Adventure Time" is so zany, sometimes I think it helps to rush through the writing that fast. It keeps you from going back and editing it to be more "normal."
So I wrote it in a week, in between writing and drawing my daily strip, wrapping up a Kickstarter campaign and preparing for an enormous road trip. It was tough, but it was like being in college again, crunching for three project deadlines at once.
What was it like working with Bridget Underwood on "Graybles?"
I actually didn't realize Bridget was my artist -- or that it would be in color! -- until I received the proof! But apparently it didn't matter, because she brought to life all of my words exactly the way I imagined them, only better. I was blown away by her storytelling and artistic skills. The colorist really nailed it, too!
Are there challenges writing a long-form script like this without know who the artist will be?
Yes, and no. Yes, in that if I have time to worry, I'll worry that I don't know how strong of a storyteller the artist will be --strong visual storytelling skills are a hundred times more important than drawing ability, in my opinion! And then, no, because BOOM! apparently has an arsenal of talented artists, so I don't really need to worry! In this case, any worries I had were laid to rest as soon as I opened the proof and saw Bridget's phenomenal work.
You mentioned in a recent interview that writing the "Adventure Time" books helped you fall in love with longer form, graphic novel-type storytelling. Do you have any plans to expand into that arena in the near future?
Definitely. Before my first "AT" book, I'd never written a story that had an ending. I wasn't even sure I knew how!
I loved the format of the long-form graphic novel immediately. My writing style lends itself to lots of little, tiny punchlines, rather than choreographing all of the characters' dialogue for one big punchline. It felt great to let the characters breathe in between the larger plot points, and let them be themselves. It's like leaving in all of the outtakes.
After ten years of writing "Girls With Slingshots" -- and 26 years of writing comic strips all of the time, especially when I was supposed to be taking a math test -- I feel like writing traditional format comic strips has been like wearing trainers. I'm excited to take them off for a while and see what happens when I'm not limited to four panels.
"Adventure Time: Graybles Schmaybles from Danielle Corsetto, Bridget Underwood and KaBOOM!, is available now.