BOOK REVIEW: Adventure Time: The Original Cartoon Title Cards Seasons 3 & 4

Adventure Time has been growing in popularity since it originally aired in 2010, capturing the hearts and minds of viewers both young and old. It would be easy to think that books containing the title cards from each episodes would be a means to cash in on it’s popularity, but after having read the book, it’s a brilliant companion piece to the show. For a start, the actual book itself is just lovely; with an embossed hardback cover with a matt finish and beautifully glossy pages, it really is stunning to look through. After a short introduction to the show itself, we are given a brief blurb about each of the artists featured; Pendleton Ward, Nick Jennings, Natasha Allegri, Tom Herpich, Rebecca Sugar, Andy Ristaino and Michelle Xin. I am insanely jealous of every single one of these people, because they are all crazy-talented!

By far the best thing about the book is its layout; each title card is given a full page for you to really appreciate it, as well as annotations from the artists involved, sketches to show the evolution of the card from the initial ideas to the end products, and a quote from the episode in question. I really enjoyed not only being able to study the caAT1rds in more depth (they appear so briefly during the episodes that there were tons of delightful little things I’d missed) but also finding out more about the ideas, processes and inspirations behind each piece. The comments from the artists are like a sneak peak into the creative processes behind Adventure Time, and if I were to have one negative thing to say about this book, it would be that I personally would’ve liked more of this. Adventure Time can be dark, emotional and powerful at times, as well as colourful, silly and fun, and studying the drafts of the title cards revealed a little about the balance of working on a show with such a broad range of viewers, characters and themes. I would love to read more about how each creator approaches the creation of a card, and the evolution of that process.

Some of my favourite episodes are from S3 & S4, and so to have the chance to look behind the scenes at some of them is a real treat. ‘BMO Noire’ was particularly interesting to read about; due to the brief nature of the card when AT2watching the show, I’d not actually noticed how some of the people depicted bore resemblance to the characters involved in the mystery of Finn’s missing sock during the episode. The lady with the chicken-esque nose (representing Lorraine the chicken) and the rat-like chap in front (representing chief suspect, Ronnie) are very subtle but extremely clever choices. The card looks very much like a noir movie poster and suits the episode down to a T. There are many beautiful cards featured, including ‘Too Young’ (the introduction of fan-favourite lunatic character the Earl of Lemongrab foreshadowed by the lemon trees surrounding Finn and Princess Bubblegum in the title card) and ‘I Remember You’ (the hauntingly sad episode in which we discover more about the Ice King’s tragic past, again captured beautifully in an emotionally charged image of the Ice King looking at a reflection of his old self), as well as some creepier cards and downright brilliantly bonkers cards like ‘Five Short Graybles’ (Cuber’s crystalline spaceship is a sight to behold) and Wizard Battle (containing more wizards than you can shake a magic wand at!) A theme I found particularly fascinating was that of the cards being used to deliberately mislead the viewer; an idea that is used to great effect in some episodes.

I would spend a lot more time talking about this book and the stunning imagery within, because I’m basically in love with it (I stopped writing this review to read the whole thing again!) but I wouldn’t want to spoil the iAT3nsights and extras that make this book great. The cards alone are worth the money, but the annotations really ramp up the value. Whilst there’s not much here to appeal to younger fans (and to them I would say go read the Adventure Time comics, because they are wonderful!), older fans will find a lot to enjoy here. It’s a book I felt was over far too quickly (in fact, I would welcome even more insight into the processes of creating these images) but would proudly keep handy on my coffee table (if I had one, that is). If you’re a fan of the show, it’s well worth your time and hard-earned money.

PUBLISHER: Titan Books

Rating: 4.5/5

Reviewer: Stacey Taylor (@StacebobT)

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