Writer Joey Comeau On Bringing The ‘Bravest Warriors’ To Comics [Interview]
Launching on October 24, Bravest Warriors is perhaps one of the most anticipated all-ages monthly comic series in recent memory. A tie-in to a free, direct-to-web animated series from the mind of Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward, the new title from Boom! Studios was upgraded from a six-issue miniseries to a full ongoing based on fan and retailer demand. ComicsAlliance got in touch with series writer Joey Comeau to learn more about the yet-to-be-released cartoon, his role in shaping it in comic book, Boom!'s successful track record of tapping indie talent and how he's handling fan expectations. Hit the jump for the full interview.ComicsAlliance: Can you tell us a little bit about how you got the gig to help shape the Bravest Warriors series in comics?
Joey Comeau: Ryan North (who writes the Adventure Time comic) and I were on a road trip to see the final shuttle launch in Florida, when we first saw Pen Ward's Adventure Time TV show. I loved it. It was silly and weird, but it had a kindheartedness that I was so totally charmed by. It was a show about friendship! And, of course Ryan liked it too, for all the same reasons. In fact, Ryan went on to write the Adventure Time comics.
And when the editors at Boom asked if he knew anyone who might be good for a new comic based on Pen Ward's new show, he suggested my name. They liked my work, and my ideas for where to take the comic, and here we are! Nepotism!
CA: Frederator Studios has teased a variety of content on its official blog, but aside from the original Bravest Warriors short on Nickelodeon, fans are still waiting to see a full episode. What kind of access to the new show have you had while working on the BW comic?
JC: I've had the scripts for the first season to read, and character notes, basically a whole series bible. Breehn Burns, the show runner, has been really great about talking with me, too, giving me insight into what they're doing with the characters later on, and helping me hide little secret references in the scripts for fans of the show. I like little jokes that are funny even if you don't catch the reference, but which can make the world of the characters feel more intertwined and strong if you do pick up on the connection. That's the kind of stuff I enjoy as a fan of other things, anyway!
CA: The Bravest Warriors animated series launch is pretty ambitious given that it'll be free to watch online rather than going through a traditional network like Adventure Time, which has been very successful on Cartoon Network. Have you felt any more pressure than usual to deliver on the series given how much AT (and other) fans are anticipating Pendleton Ward's newest concept?
JC: I am excited and nervous that so many people are eager to see what the Bravest Warriors are like. I've been doing my webcomic for years, and I've written novels and short stories, but this is my first traditional format comic. I want the book to be something exciting and great. Too many comics based on Movies or TV shows are just lazy cash-ins. I want the Bravest Warriors to be something anyone can pick up and love, even if they've never heard of the show! Basically what I am saying is that I am putting lots of pressure on myself, yes. And if I fail? Seppuku.
CA: The Adventure Time animated series and comic alike has been celebrated for tapping indie talent and this same approach seems like it's being applied to Bravest Warriors. How do you think this strengthens the material and what's your experience been like applying your own diverse background to a comic with a lot of mainstream appeal?
JC: AT and BW can have these unexpectedly dark moments, while still being so good natured, and a lot of that confidence to go a bit further than other all-ages material comes from the weirdos they have behind the scenes. I am not sure about how my background is being applied, though my fondness for horror movies has certainly found an outlet in this first story arc - which finds the Bravest Warriors fighting to survive a horror movie of their own, on a planet full of clowns.
CA: Although they share a certain sensibility and tone, the differences between Adventure Time and Bravest Warriors are made plain almost immediately in BW #1, and continue throughout the rest of the issue. I was actually really pleasantly surprised by how much BW seems like its own thing compared to the original animated short. Was differentiating the series a priority for you as you wrote the script, or do you think your story is more a reflection of how the two series were created to begin with?
JC: As someone who loves Adventure Time like crazy, I use that as a benchmark in my head. I want to make something that makes other people as happy as Adventure Time makes me! But right from the get-go it was important to make sure this was something a bit different, not just Adventure Time in Space. The universe of BW is a part of that, and it's really fun to work in this futuristic world that seems based on the plastic toy futures imagined in 80s cartoons. The Bravest Warriors are basically living the dream life. No rules. Cool weapons they can take on dangerous missions with good friends.
CA: The Bravest Warriors team is made up of a sort of Aaron Sorkin-ian version of teenagers. They're realistic enough to be easily identifiable by the audience, but idealized to varying degrees for the sake of story/entertainment value (they're a lot more socially conscious and thoughtful than I remember being/other kids my age being, for one). What kind of research did you do to capture the "real" side of teen life for the book and how did you work to balance it with the more idealized component of their characterization?
JC: I watched a lot of Dawson's Creek, on the advice of the people at Frederator. And then, AGAINST their advice, I watched Freaks and Geeks and Animaniacs. And then I used the power of my imagination!
CA: Parents always say they love all of their children equally, but do you have a favorite Bravest Warrior?
JC: Plum is my favorite Bravest Warrior, even though she's only really an honorary member of the team. I think she brings a lot to the table. She's someone outside the group who maybe can see when they've gone off the rails a bit. Plus she has a whole second brain which she gets in arguments with.
CA: Just as you had to write an issue of the comic prior to the animated series' release, Mike Holmes was tasked with translating the energy, pacing and visual style of the show to each page. What's collaborating with Mike been like so far?
JC: Mike's good at making every scene exciting and fun, or scary and ominous. I just write down whatever pops into my head for a panel, and he makes it look even better than in my imagination. He also has some great visual ideas for the BW universe, like a sketch he did of them playing real-world pong with big paddles. That picture was awesome, and so I wrote a scene into the comic of them playing pong.
CA: Bravest Warriors was originally planned to run as a six-issue miniseries, but Boom! has already made it an ongoing based on advance orders for the first issue. What do you make of the book's early success?
JC: I predict that Bravest Warriors will win the Nobel prize for comics.