July 31, 2014

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Adventure Time 30 (the Mini-Comic issue)

Written by Ryan North
Illustrated by: Kat Philbin (Intro)
Missy Pena (BMO)
Becca Tobin (Peppermint)
Liz Prince (Marceline)
Yumi Sakugawa (Bubblegum)
Carey Pietsch (LSP)
Jesse Tise (Ice King)
Ian McGinty (Lady Rainicorn)
T. Zysk (Earl of Lemongrab)
David Cutler (Finn and Jake)
Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb (Afterward) 

Just when you don't think the Land of Ooo can't get any cooler, you learn that they're a big fan of mini-comics and zines. It turns out that Marceline and her Marcelzine made it to 30 issues, so she asked folks who are not nearly as cool as her to join in the fun. Watch as everyone from the Ice King to Marceline's best bud Bubblegum come together to share stories in a way that only zines/minis can, in this special issue.

Liz Prince Page
I figured I'd end the periodic posts relating to International Zine Month with this tribute by Ryan North and Boom! Studios to the mini-comics/zine movement. Gathering together creators who are best known for their work in the field of minis and zines, the issue is designed to look like a collaborative zine, and they did a great job of it while still making the comic look professional enough to not anger the fanboy collectors. I actually bought this one in paper, and I love that the stock has been changed to mimic as close as possible the feel of a photocopied zine.

There's a lot about this one that works well. It makes sense that Marceline would be the primary zinester in Ooo, because she's the coolest character. Her attitude makes sense to be a DIY-type, and she'd also be the one who would be okay with the raw nature of zines. (Bubblegum would want it to be in offset print, with set print runs.) The idea that it's "Free if I know you, $5,000,000 if I Don't" is a perfect line, and the fact that Marceline's "cover" is designed to look like it was cut and pasted together shows the gang involved here knows what they're doing.

The issue is extremely strong overall, with the creators each bringing their unique touch to the proceedings and allowing for a wide swath of styles. We have color and black and white, cutout-style mixed with watercolored work, tiny panels versus a more traditional comic-book look, and so on, because there's no one way to do a mini-comic.

Carey Pietsch page
Some of the matches are perfect. Liz Prince's acidic tone captures Marceline in a hysterical send-up of hourly comics day, filled with jokes that match the vampire perfectly ("This is what I think of you, cooking!"). I'm not sure how she got the fake crayon effect, but the wavy lines across her pencil work really makes this one pop. It was weird seeing Prince's work in color, actually, and I'm glad it was in a rough style like this, so that her distinctive pencils dominate.

The use of tiny panels for Ice King also seems to fit him somehow. Jesse Tise packs as much as possible into the small spaces, along with a background of the Ice King's realm looming behind. The linework reminded me a bit of someone like Michael DeForge, where there are single panels with no text, just to allow the strangeness of the situation to set in.

Watercoloring works well for Lumpy Space Princess, with Carey Pietsch using lots of pinks and purples and allowing them to blend together in a beach scene. Her linework gives LSP just the right amount of arrogance and self-confidence, allowing the coloring to do the rest around Ryan North's words. Similarly, I love that Princess Bubblegum's comic is mostly words, written like a science report for school on graph paper, because she's just not artistically minded.

Becca Tobin Page
Perhaps the best match is how Lady Rainicorn's contribution uses Korean, mixed with odd images (an idyllic farm, followed by a pair of skeletons, then back to happiness) and garish colors. The bizarre nature of the page really fits.

Just like how Finn and Jake's comic is done in the style of a completely out of place superhero story (with Finn turned into a Superman-like character and Jake his talking cape), the combinations here are all very well meshed, as we learn that this comic was being read by the mysterious descendant of Finn and Bubblegum (maybe) to learn how best to fight a creature. The final meta touch is par for the course for this series, and North's writing style.

One can quibble about calling this a zine tribute when it's all-comics, but the style is definitely designed to evoke the minis that relate closer to zines than those polished things you find in Artist's Alley. No matter what, it's a great one-and-done issue with talented artists on board and is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys good comics.