Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Q&A With Cartoon Network's Adventure Time Creator Pendleton Ward

For fans of Adventure Time ... enjoy reading!

Press Release:

What is Adventure Time? Where did the concept originate from?

I drew Finn and Jake for the first time in an old sketch book.  When I was thinking about ideas to pitch as a pilot, I would flip through my sketchbooks and find characters that I liked and then create stories around them.

For those of us that haven’t yet seen the show, what can you tell us about Jake and Finn?

Finn is a little spitfire who's full of righteous energy.  Finn has a strong moral code and he's eager to protect good and kick evil in the buns.  Jake is a laaazy dog with the power to stretch and grow into almost any size and shape.  Jake has all the wisdom of a 28 year old couch-potato.  Finn and Jake like playing video games and going on adventures across the land of Ooo.
Why do you think Adventure Time resonates so well with viewers?

We try to make the show funny, weird and charming.  They are goofball cartoon characters in a fantasy world but we try to keep a sense of realism in how the characters feel and react to their world.  I think that leaves the audience open to enjoy all the silly characters while also feeling empathy for the characters when they get emotional.

How does an episode of Adventure Time come about? Where does your inspiration come from?

Sometimes we play writing games where we fold a paper so that is has 4 creases and in the first crease we sketch a stupid drawing, the paper gets passed around in a circle so that on each pass someone writes the 1st, 2nd or 3rd act of the story.  We do a lot of these and come up with a lot of quick goofball ideas.

Tell us more about the visual style of Adventure Time.

One of our background designers, Ghostshrimp, really set the drawing style for the world of Adventure Time.  His illustrations always feel full of history and radical-power.  Nick Jennings, Art Director for Adventure Time, sets the mood for every show with his awesome and breath-taking color schemes.  Every board artist draws Finn and Jake differently and I like the feeling that has on the show, it makes for looser drawings and animation, which I enjoy.

Quirky humor plays a big part in the show. How do you come up with the many scenarios and characters that Jake and Finn encounter?

Dungeons and Dragons is a big inspiration for what sorts of monsters and pitfalls exist in Ooo.  We try to keep the monsters native to the terrain they exist in.

Will we see Jake and Finn evolve over the course of the series?

Yeah, every episode develops the characters a little more.  Every board artist puts their own personality into the characters and once a personality tic or piece of slang catches on then everyone expands on it.  Princess Bubblegum has ended up being the character that’s been pulled the most in every direction.  She might be de-evolving back into a gum-wad.

The environments play almost a big a role as the characters. What can you tell us about the importance and inspiration behind Candy Kingdom, the Land of Ooo, the Ice Kingdom and Lumpy Space?

Well…like I mentioned above,  in the backgrounds there is usually a sense of history…they feel overgrown or treaded upon or there are elements in the backgrounds like a skeleton holding a book – and there's a story there that you have to makeup.

Who is your favourite character in the series and why?

I like Marceline.  She's a thousand year old vampire babe.  I like that she's still mysterious.  I don't know everything about her so it'll be fun to figure out some of her history as the series keeps creeping on.

What are the best ways for kids to generate ideas for cartoons and storylines to get their creative juices flowing?

Just carry a pocket-sized sketchbook with you and doodle everything that comes to mind.  Or doodle people and how they interact with each other.  I was always super analytical as a kid. I'd take notes on what people (girls) liked and didn't like and what made them laugh. I was also a super nerd/geek/turbo-dork.  Maybe just spend your time trying to draw dogs and their crazy faces.  Dogs have the craziest faces, man.  I guess I'm just thinking about Pugs.  Man…pugs…man.

What can we expect to see down the track for Finn and Jake?

Finn and Jake exploring deeper into the land of Ooo; discovering more strange and magical places; more interactions between Marceline and Bubblegum – the show is in a really good place.  I think it's just going to keep getting better.  

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