You might be thinking to yourself, Why is Mason reviewing an Adventure Time book? He always makes fun of it, as you hug on your Marceline plush toy.
Well, I’ve since changed my ways. I watched quite a few episodes of Adventure Time with Finn and Jake in preparation for Abrams Books’ latest, Adventure Time: The Art of Ooo. And somewhere in between the Candy Kingdom slumber party gone horribly wrong and the glory of Billy’s loincloth, I fell in love with the show.
But even if I weren’t a newly converted Adventure Time acolyte, The Art of Ooo is more than enough to get anyone, even the skeptics, excited about the show, a show Guillermo Del Toro himself dubbed “a miracle”. It’s more than an “art book”. It’s an in-depth encyclopedia on what makes the show so magical and appealing.
We’re talking over 340 pages of all things Adventure Time. Of course there’s beautiful artwork to look at, but the real value of the book lies in all the behind-the-scenes information that you can read about and see. It’s evident that the makers of the book appreciate their dedicated fans and also want to expose newcomers to all the effort that goes into making such a deceptively simple show.
Below is a list of some of the book’s features that I found particularly interesting (not meant to be comprehensive):
Introduction by Guillermo Del Toro
Series Pitch Bible – a rare glimpse of the Adventure Time “manual”, meant to be shown to Cartoon Network execs to generate interest in the show
How to Draw Adventure Time! – a style/reference guide laying down the “rules” on maintaining a consistent visual style for characters
Pen-Style Cartooning – a look into the artistic mind of show creator Pendleton Ward
Interviews – Jeremy Shada (Finn the Human), John DiMaggio (Jake), Olivia Olson (Merceline), Tom Kenny (The Ice King), and more
A very thorough analysis of Fionna and Cake
Interviews with Adventure Time writers
Tons of annotated storyboards
Extensive environment/background painting gallery
Fan/crew art gallery
So whether you love Adventure Time for the art, the humor, the characters, the weirdness, the music, or whatever, The Art of Ooo has something to say about it. No facet of the show’s production is left out (although the most hard-core fans might be disappointed to find a lack of coverage of the show’s more obscure characters). As an animation student, I’m extremely thrilled to have such a comprehensive volume on this show’s production. And while the book definitely provided lots stuff to read about at the expense of full-page illustrations, the amount of valuable information on such a fascinating show certainly makes up for it. This could be the best art book ever made for a contemporary animated series, and I wish that all my favorite cartoon series could get the same love and appreciation displayed in Adventure Time: The Art of Ooo.
Mason is a rigger/animator at Triseum Games. He's also a grad student at Texas A&M working on his Master's thesis. He loves talking about animation, watching old Godzilla flicks, listening to 80s music, and drawing cartoons.