Kent Osborne Explains How Tony Hawk Inspired ‘Adventure Time: Banana Guard Academy’ (Sort Of) [Interview]
When Boom! filled us in that Adventure Time head writer Kent Osborne would be teaming with Regular Show: Skips artist Mad Rupert for a new series in July that’d include the show’s recently-introduced Root Beer Guy, I was intrigued. When the title of the book was revealed to be Adventure Time: Banana Guard Academy, I was ecstatic. I finally had a reason to make someone answer a question relating to the Police Academy franchise! Fortunately for ComicsAlliance, Kent is a very good sport. Read on to learn about how Kent crossed over from the world of AT animation into comics, who some of his favorite creators are, and how Tony Hawk fits into it all.
ComicsAlliance: Congratulations on the upcoming Adventure Time: Banana Guard Academy miniseries. Can you tell me a little about how the series came about?
Kent Osborne: Curtis Lelash [VP of Comedy Animation for Cartoon Network] asked if I’d be interested in writing a six-issue story for the comic and, because I’m a big fan of the Adventure Time comics (and comics in general), I said, “Yes!” And then I said, “Wait a minute, can I write about any character I want?” and he said, “Yes!” So I said, “Well, then yes!” and then I said, “Wait, I don’t know how to do this. I’m in over my head. Can I back out?” and he said, “No.” So I called my friend Dylan Haggerty, a talented writer who has some experience writing comics, and he said he’d help, so then I said, “Yes, final answer.”
CA: The star of the series Root Beer Guy is pretty new, having made his debut just a few months ago in a character-focused episode. Through the episode he’s kind of the star of his own story, which he narrates in the style of the kind of hard-boiled detectives he writes about. Will he cut the self-narration completely now that he’s made the jump from would-be novelist to active crime fighter? Or will his style merely shift?
KO: I guess it will merely shift. That episode is so awesome and I love the way he throws out his typewriter at the end. He was writing to escape his life, but then his life became exciting and who needs that escape when you have the real thing? He’s still got a few narrative tricks up his sleeve, I suppose. I don’t think he’s ever going to lose that, but I guess it won’t be so prominent, more of a minor stitch in an already rich tapestry that is Root Beer Guy. That being said, he’s not really the star of this series. I mean…he’s featured in issue one because there are some Candy Kingdom politics and he is Captain of the Banana Guard, but I wouldn’t say he’s the star. (Unless someone has re-written the story and nobody’s told me.)
CA: Though a number of people involved with the Adventure Time cartoon have contributed art to the comic in various forms, you’re the first writer from the show to pen a story. Have you been rubbing this accomplishment in anyone you work with’s face at all?
KO: Oh my gosh, what? No.
CA: The first thing that came to mind when I read the brief synopsis for this series was Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol. Of the seven Police Academy movies, the live action series and the animated series, which do you feel has the most in common with the story you and Mad Rupert have planned? “None of the above” is not an option.
KO: There was a live-action series?! Wow. Um, I guess they’re all equally inspiring. (I mean, they’re all basically the same story, right?) Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol, that’s the one with David Spade, where he’s like, riding a skateboard? If you watch the credits for that one, you can see Tony Hawk’s name. I think he was the skate double for David Spade. I think Tony Hawk really inspired this comic.
CA: The impression I have is that people in animation don’t necessarily have time to dig into all the ways their work is adapted that they aren’t directly involved with — be it in comics, video games, etc. Have you been keeping an eye on the Adventure Time comics up to this point?
KO: I’ve read a lot of the comics. I remember when the first issue came out and I thought it was awesome. As a fan I was really satisfied. I read Natasha [Allegri]’s story, of course. I really like seeing the different styles, too. It’s cool to see interpretations of Finn and Jake by artists like Jeffrey Brown, Frank and Becky, Phil McAndrew, Zac Gorman, Paul Pope…ehh… the list goes on and on… oh! Ricardio by Pen’s mom, Betty. Oh my gosh. I love all the variant covers. I have them all in mint condition because I want to give them to my grandkids one day. Oh wait, I’m not married… Well, I’ll give them to someone one day—maybe a bill collector, or some mob goons… probably mob goons.
CA: What other kind of comics do you like as a reader? Are there any creators you follow?
KO: I like Peter Bagge, Dan Clowes, Chris Ware, Seth, Jason, Chester Brown, Joe Matt, Kate Beaton, Jeffrey Brown, Seo Kim, Sam Henderson, Adrian Tomine… I really like Matt Furie’s Boy’s Club and Steve Wolfhard’s Cat Rackham. I like The Walking Dead and Peanuts. My favorite graphic novel of all time is George Sprott by Seth.
CA: Everyone I’ve talked to in comics who has worked — or currently works — in animation credits their background with the quality of work they do. How do you think your skills have informed your approach to working on Banana Guard Academy?
KO: It’s been challenging, because I’m used to storyboarding where you just write/draw, “Finn walks into the room” and you only have to do one or two poses and the animators do the rest, but with comics, it’s not moving. It’s just one picture and you have to pick the one picture that’s going to represent that action and you only get so many pictures a page and you have to be economical and put them all together like a jigsaw puzzle. Ahhh, it’s been driving me bananas. I don’t know how people do it. It’s hard.
CA: This is one of your most prominent writing credits in mainstream comics so far, but hardly your first work. You’ve got Cat Agent and Babycat on Tumblr, plus a host of other sequentials you’ve posted online and elsewhere. Are you working on any other comic projects right now?
KO: I’m always drawing little comics things that happen in real life, or conversations I overhear, but I’m not really working on anything specific right now. I have a few ideas written down for when I can’t find a job. My plan is to move to the middle of nowhere and spend a year working on something and try really hard to make it beautiful. And then deal with the mob goons.
CA: Relating back to that last question, you’ve worked on a number of cartoons that have corresponding comic book series (Sponge Bob, Regular Show, the upcoming Bee and PuppyCat series). Are you interested in writing for any of those or working on more AT comics after this?