Comic-Con 2015: The Cast and Co-Executive Producer of Adventure Time
One major reason why Comic-Con is perceived to be all about the big corporate blockbuster movie panels these days is because those are the events to which major mainstream media outlets grab all the access, and therefore that is their narrative. The nerd blogs that have been covering Comic-Con since day one, not so much – we only get access to Hall H if we somehow persuade a crazy person to wait in line overnight just for the thrilling privilege of seeing themselves on Vimeo.
Which is why I give crazy props to Cartoon Network, who invited multiple nerd bloggers to all of their press events. The following transcription is of a group roundtable interview, with questions asked by me and others. The featured guests were Adam Muto, Jeremy Shada, Olivia Olson, John DiMaggio and Tom Kenny.
Olivia Olson: Hi! Are you guys ready? So hi, my name is Olivia Olson, and I play Marceline the Vampire Queen.
Tom Kenny: I’m Tom Kenny. I play the Ice King on the Adventure Time animated television series. [laughter]
John DiMaggio: John DiMaggio – Jake the dog.
Jeremy Shada: Jeremy Shada – Finn the human.
Adam Muto: Adam Muto, co-executive producer for Adventure Time.
TK: I think you’re a person first, and a producer second.
TK: And you’re a good person, damn it!
JS: Yeah. I don’t care what they all say.
JDM: People like you, dude.
TK: You don’t have to try so hard. [laughter]
Q: I feel like the consensus around my friends is that Adventure Time is not for kids, between the jokes and the setting. Who do you guys think Adventure Time is for? What demographic?
JDM: Everyone. There’s something for everyone. That’s the thing about this show. You come to a convention here and a whole family will walk up to you, and they’re all dressed in different costumes and cosplay from the show. Mom is PB, dad is the Ice King, and the daughter has made a Beemo outfit, and then they’ve got an infant dressed as Lumpy Space Princess. You’ve never seen anything cuter than an infant dressed as Lumpy Space Princess.
JS: Or like little baby Gunthers are cute.
JDM: Yeah, that’s cute.
TK: So basically, mentally ill family groups are our demo.
JDM: Yes, it is.
TK: That’s our key demographic.
JDM: No, it’s everybody. It’s for everybody.
TK: I would say – I want to meet this consensus of friends. Could you call them? [laughter]Get them on the phone. No – I would say that probably Adventure Time traffics in themes that might not have a whole lot of resonance with real little kids – loneliness and loss and stuff like that.
TK: But I think there’s also just stuff that kids do understand: friendship, and high adventure, and fighting monsters, and all that kind of stuff.
JDM: Yeah, yeah, yeah – and a sense of make believe.
JS: And, of course, fart jokes.
TK: And a lot of fart jokes.
JDM: Everybody loves fart jokes.
TK: If you’re 7 or 107, fart jokes are the bomb.
JDM: George Carlin said it: “Farts are funny because they’re ‘blank’ without the mess.”?
JS: That’s right.
Q: Have you guys started working on the movie yet? Will it be in continuity with the show, or its own thing?
JDM: We don’t know anything about the movie. We know nothing.
TK: Adam might.
OO: Adam might.
TK: Adam probably knows more than anybody probably.
AM: It’s in the really early development stages, so I can’t really talk about it. I think the idea is to tie it into the show so that it’s satisfying for people who have watched the show for a long time, but obviously it has to play to people who have never seen the show, too.
JS: Accessible still.
AM: Yeah. It’s still a ways off, so.
TK: Well, that’s the thing about doing a show like this, or any show that sticks around for a long time and is on every week. There’s always somebody watching it for the first time.?
TK: There’s always somebody just boarding the train, and so they either catch up or they go, “OK, I get it,” and they just continue on the ride.
JS: Roll with it, yeah.
TK: But the movie I guess would have to serve as a jumping-on place for new fans without being redundant for long-time fans. So those Lego dudes have their work cut out for them.[laughter]
AM: Pen is working on premises that are really interesting, and it’s stuff that we haven’t done on the show yet.
AM: Still – it’s in the future, so we can’t really talk about it.
Q: Have you guys met any crazy fans? Any stalker-ish things happen to you?[laughter from panel]
JDM: Stalker-ish things?
JS: Why do you all look at me?
OO: I’ve gotten death threats from pre-teen girls.
JS: Well, we posted – this was like two years ago, something like that. We posted a picture. We were out at dinner after Comic-Con one night or something, and we were just clinking glasses at the restaurant or whatever, and basically everybody took it that we were dating, and so she got a lot of death threats.
OO: It’s weird.
JDM: You didn’t get any death threats?
OO: No – he’s their boyfriend. He can do no wrong!
TK: Male fans are like “Yeah, Jeremy!”?[doing a whiny teenage girl voice]“He should be mine. He belongs with me.”
TK: “There’s only one solution: I’ve got to kill her.” [laughter]
OO: They can’t kill vampires.
TK: Yeah, that’s right! Little do they know…
TK: Don’t even try to kill a vampire. It won’t work. You know, I would say most of the fan interactions we have are pleasant.
OO: Yeah, it’s true.
TK: Most people like what you do, so it’s like – they’re nice people who are really into this, so…
JDM: Unless it’s on a Sunday at the end of a Con – then it can be a little – you know. But other than that – Sunday’s always bad.
JDM: Yeah. Fragrant. Pungent.
Q: What’s your favorite behind-the scenes moment?
JDM: The Lou Ferrigno…
JS: Lou Ferrigno was my favorite.
TK: I was waiting for that one.
JDM: The Lou Ferrigno moment. He was given a direction that he couldn’t physically do. He kept getting the direction over and over. “No, no, no, just do it like this.” And it was just really…
JDM: It was very awkward.
OO: Train wreck.
JDM: It was a train wreck. It was fantastic, and a week later, I was like, “What are you doing?” He went, “Oh my god.” Basically, it’s like…
JS: Our voice director didn’t realize that he is fully deaf.
JS: He thought he could hear a little. You’d think that sometimes, because Lou is really good at lip reading. You have conversations with him. But he was like “Oh, no, I just need you to sing the line like this: ‘Billy, BILLY!!”
JDM: He was just screaming it at him. It’s like, “Oh no!” But yeah – and we were sitting there like “Doesn’t he realize it’s like telling a blind guy ‘No, you know ‘red,’ right?'”
TK: My favorite was that George Takei came in to do Ricardio.
JDM: “Oh my!”
TK: “Yes, yes. George is wonderful.” He’s one of those guys – he’s really funny, but sometimes he doesn’t realize that you’re being sarcastic.
TK: Straight, deadpan. So he said [in Takei voice]“Whoa, this show is crazy! I mean, oh my goodness! Design’s all over the place!” And I said “Yeah, this show has a cult following.” Adventure Time was just starting to take off. I said “It’s really catching on. It’s got this really intense cult following. I don’t know if you’ve ever done a show that has a cult following before.” [laughter]He looked at me like – [in GT cadence]“Yes, i think I know what it’s like.”?[laughter]Like I was the biggest dumbass in the world. “I’m making a joke, George!” [in GT cadence]“I’m sorry. I never know.”
JDM: That’s funny.
TK: [in GT cadence]“Yes, I think I know a little bit about that. Does this guy not know I was on Star Trek?” [laughter]
OO: Me and Jeremy were talking about that yesterday, that it’s really hard to pan out when sarcasm is appropriate.
JS: Especially with fans, because some people don’t understand that you’re – they’re like “Will this every happen?” And you’re like, [deadpan]“No.” And they’re like, “Aww.” You’re like, “No, no, no, I’m totally joking.”
OO: They just don’t know.
TK: The way that some people are color blind and they can’t tell a black sock from a green sock – that’s how some people are with sarcasm.
JDM: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
TK: They just don’t have the sensory apparatus ?to pick up on it. So yeah – that can be – especially when you’re sarcastic pricks like we are all the time.
JDM: [mic slap]Not with the coffee in the mouth!
TK: Sorry! Spit take.
Q: Speaking of pop-culture cult followings, I went to an Adventure Time themed burlesque show last night. I was wondering how that makes you feel, as characters that have grown in that level of popularity?
JDM: Dirty. It makes me feel very dirty.
OO: Yeah. What is this level of popularity?
TK: Where did you go? Where was this?
JS: And why didn’t you call us?
Q: It was by the Suicide Girls at the House of Blues last night.
TK: Oh, the Suicide Girls! I know a couple of those dames. [laughs]
Q: It’s probably not official.
JDM: Officially sanctioned – yeah.
OO: Well, anything Adventure Time themed is nice. I wasn’t at the show. I can only imagine it was wonderful.
Q: It was Lumpy Space Princess and Marceline…
TK: You want to see Lumpy Space Princess put clothes on. “Put it on!”
Q: No, it was Princess Bubblegum.
Q: I see that the next thing you guys have slated is an eight part mini-series. Are we seeing a massive format change, or a subtle format change in how story lines and episodes are being constructed?
AM: The eight-parter – that was more the success of Over the Garden Wall. They really got interested in that format, and they kind of – that was kind of off-hand. It was like, “Hey, would you like to do more of an event?” And he was like, “OK.” It wasn’t to shift the structure of the entire show. It was just sort of something that was going to happen within the flow of season seven.
JS: And it’s pretty epic, so.
OO: It’s really just an ongoing story line of ?- instead of Adventure Time can be pretty random with two back-to-back eleven-minute episodes that have nothing to do with each other. So it’s just sort of this whole saga.?
TK: It’s kind of picaresque, right? They sort of wander around. It’s an episodic eight episodes. Don Quixote – Cervantes meets Pendelton Ward. [laughter]