The bright blue leather of the book’s cover has faded over time, and the silver metalwork has tarnished, but the ink inside is still crisp and clear.
A (condensed, if I’m being honest) version of Lucretia’s journal from Cycle Eight.
first time, we spend the night of our arrival still airborne.
Lup is eager
to explore the land below us, a world covered in vast glowing forests of fungi.
Even now, when the single sun is on the far side of the planet, it glows as though
it were daytime (At least, if daytime were characterized by an ever-shifting
pattern of neon hues). The air is filled with clouds of spores which diffuse
the light, concealing the edges of individual mushrooms so the entire world
looks like a great ocean of light.
head for one of the dark spots we can make out on the horizon in search of a
clear landing ground. Captain Davenport has ordered that no one is to leave the
ship until we can verify that the environment is inhabitable. Thus far, we have
had the good fortune to only visit worlds on which we can walk and breathe, but
there is no guarantee that every set of Planes will be so hospitable.
offered to go down to the surface by himself. “It’s the quickest way to see if
we can survive!” he said.
scoffed. “Oh, right, check it out by dying,
that’s a brilliant idea. Idiot.”
Maggie,” said Lup. “You only just got back! Is the company really that bad?”
push the matter, but offered to man the helm for part of the night so Captain
Davenport could get some sleep.
set himself up in the town center, telling all who will listen about the word
of Pan. To our surprise, ‘all who will listen’ seems to be most of the town. It
may just be the novelty that makes them stop and ask him questions about his
faith, but it may be something deeper. He prayed and sang the scorch teams on
their way again tonight, and this time there were more than a few hesitant
voices that joined in.
them really don’t believe that we can just breathe the air where we come from,”
he told us after dinner.
at him askance. “We came here without masks on. What do they think we were
Merle shrugged. “I mean, they know we were on the ship. It’s not that weird we
could breathe there. It’s the thought
that there’s whole worlds without poison death spores in the air that throws
‘em. And where nobody needs to wear masks! You know how weird they think it is
that we’ve all seen each other’s faces?” He paused and waggled his eyebrows. “Probably
assume there’s some really kinky—”
threw her spoon at his head.
which.” Magnus glared at him. “I know you’ve got your whole weird plant thing
but please for the sake of everyone’s
sanity and eyeballs, no flirting with the death mushrooms.”
Merle. “Here I am, trying to give these poor people the first taste of hope
they’ve ever felt in their lives and all you can focus on is whether or not I wanna
fuck the death mushrooms.”
To no one’s
surprise, the conversation ended quite abruptly after that.
With Adventure Time Season
8 wrapping up tomorrow night with the broadcast of “Three Buckets,” fans of the
series are faced with a scary prospect: one more season before the end. The
inevitability of the series eventually coming end doesn’t make things any less
sad, but if the forthcoming season follows the progression of those leading up
to it, it will be very special indeed. On the air for over seven years, the
show is very nearly an institution at this point, and recent highlights like
the Elements miniseries make it hard
to remember that it wasn’t always so. Poised as we are at the beginning of the
end, I decided to take this opportunity to rewatch the show in its entirety,
tracing its development from lolz random!!!1 pilot to the work of art it is
today. First, a bit of context is in order.
There was never a show quite like Adventure Time. The years leading up to it had seen the Western
animation industry in a state of flux: after the long, depressing dark ages of
low-budget, low-effort Saturday morning garbage that followed the collapse of
theatrical shorts distribution in the early 60s, the animation industry began
to show signs of revival in the 90s when a new wave of animators began to
produce more challenging material. The
Simpsons paved the way for this development, demonstrating that cartoons
could capture a prime-time audience by appealing to kids and adults alike – but
while The Simpsons was, essentially,
an animated sitcom, these new shows looked back further still. Channeling the
anarchic humor of 40s shorts by the likes of Tex Avery and Bob Clampett, shows
such as Ren & Stimpy, Beavis and Butthead or even South Park presented darkly satirical takes
on life, the universe and everything, reveling in a no-holds-barred,
anything-goes approach that shocked and offended the prevailing sensibilities
of the day. While other networks mostly treated these success stories as
one-offs, Nickelodeon – previously a failing children’s channel – accelerated into
prominence by following up with a number of lesser-tier but commercially
successful shows, now only remembered nostalgically by people roughly my age: Hey Arnold!, CatDog, AAAHH!!! Real
Monsters and the like. Nickelodeon scored an occasional hit with titles
like SpongeBob SquarePants or The Fairly OddParents, but these broadly
followed the same pattern: goofy, ultra-cartoony cartoons, mostly without pretensions
to continuity or character development and often reliant on frankly dumb humor.
No one ever accused these shows of being sophisticated.
Cartoon Network entered the scene in 1992, broadcasting
titles from the Turner back catalog, producing their first original animated
series in 1994: Space Ghost Coast to
Coast. Reusing recycled cells from old Hanna-Barbera cartoons, the show
wasn’t exactly an artistic achievement, but its postmodern deconstruction of
talk radio brought with it a sense of hipster irony that came to be reflected
in much of Cartoon Network’s catalog. After a few early successes, which shared
Space Ghost’s pop art sensibilities (Dexter’s Lab, and Powerpuff Girls, both created by animation luminary Genndy Tartakovsky)
and a later string of not particularly challenging work (Cow and Chicken, I Am Weasel, Courage the Cowardly Dog,)
Nickelodeon launched Tartakovsky’s Samurai
Jack in 2001. From the time it debuted, this show was clearly something
else. Previous animated TV mostly looked to back to the 1930s-50s Golden Age of
Animation for inspiration, with a side of 1960s-80s alternative comix; Samurai Jack, in comparison, was at its
soul a bushido revenge story, following the adventures of a wandering ronin
cast adrift in a fantasy world. It was wildly imaginative, gorgeously animated,
and (crucially for our purposes) marked by narrative continuity and featuring
developing, maturing characters, even if the picaresque story structure allowed
plenty of time to explore the show’s bizarre world.
Seriously, this show was just the coolest.
Following Samurai Jack,
a change gradually crept over the TV animation industry. Nickelodeon, though
continuing to produce more of the same sort of fundamentally unimaginative work
that had marked its catalog from the mid-90s onward (Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, ChalkZone,
etc.) also debuted 2005’s Avatar: The
Last Airbender, an epic animesque Bildungsroman,
while Cartoon Network experimented with style (Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends) and narrative continuity
(Tartakovsky’s Star Wars: Clone Wars,
which succeeded at the titanic task of making the Star Wars prequel universe compelling.) Cartoon Network’s late-night
[adult swim] block, which continued in the vein of Space Ghost by specializing in hipsterish shows for teens and young
adults, scored a string of cult (almost-)hits such as Aqua Teen Hunger Force, The Boondocks, Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law and
The Venture Brothers.
At this point an improbably-named animator, Pendleton Ward,
entered the scene. Having attended CalArts along with J.G. Quintel and Alex
Hirsch (creators of Regular Show and Gravity Falls, respectively,) Ward
attracted the attention of a Frederator Studios exec directly out of school,
who encouraged him to produce a short for Frederator’s Random! Cartoons anthology series. The result was the Adventure Time pilot, a whacky exercise
in randomness that, while falling far below the standards of worldbuilding and
narrative that characterized the later show, nonetheless captured something of
the Internet-meets-pop-culture Zeitgeist
of the late 2000s. This approach payed dividends when the short leaked online,
going viral in short order. Building on his success, Ward pitched the show to
Nickelodeon, who rejected it twice, before approaching Cartoon Network. After Ward
storyboarded an episode (Season 1’s “The Enchiridion!”) to demonstrate that the
short’s success could be built off, Cartoon Network approved the show, which
entered into production in September 2008.
The rest, as they say, is history. Eight seasons of Adventure Time have been produced to
date, following Jake the Dog and Finn the Human’s adventures – beautiful,
silly, scary, heartbreaking – through the world of Ooo. The show grew into
Cartoon Network’s flagship property, paving the way for the latter-day TV animation
renaissance we currently find ourselves in, launching careers and enabling the
production of beautiful, even profound series like Gravity Falls, Steven Universe, and Rick and Morty.
Over the next few months, I’ll be tracing the show’s development,
episode by episode. So c’mon, grab your friends…
We’re going to very
With Jake the Dog and Finn the Human,
The fun will never end,