Corsetto And Sterling Reunite For ‘Adventure Time Original Graphic Novel Vol. 2 Pixel Princesses’ [Interview + Preview]
The team that brought fans Adventure Time Original Graphic Novel Vol. 1 Playing With Fire is back with an all new tale that pits the royalty of Ooo against the most intense challenges of all: Video games from BMO's binary brain. This Wednesday writer Danielle Corsetto and artist Zack Sterling's Adventure Time Original Graphic Novel Vol. 2 Pixel Princesses from Boom! Studios arrives in comic shops, delivering 160 pages of black and white action as partying princesses are forced to work together if they hope to survive offending Finn and Jake's offended video game console/roommate. How did the team of Corsetto and Sterling work to put the princesses in just the right amount of peril on their second straight AT OGN team-up? ComicsAlliance got in touch with the duo to find out.
CA:The Pixel Princesses OGN is all about princesses saving princesses in a video game world they've been trapped in by a video game console who is upset about... not being a princess. It pretty much smashes the "princess in a tower" trope that's long plagued video games and other media with action and a lot of humor. Was that your goal with this story?
DC: I really didn't intend to smash the woman-being-saved-by-a-man trope! I actually hadn’t considered that angle until just now.
In fact, the original script was written for other characters, a mix of boys and girls; when I was asked to re-write it for princesses, I spent a day watching all of the Adventure Time episodes with tertiary princess characters (a perk of the job, to say the least), and picked out a mix of princesses that I thought would make an interesting, varied team of young women, both differing in silhouettes and potential personalities (many of them had only spoken a few lines throughout the show). Oh, plus the already-established Lumpy Space Princess, because I wanted to indulge as a fangirl!
What I love about Adventure Time is that gender isn’t something that’s used to separate the characters into “masculine” and “feminine” categories - traditionally, brave/smart, and meek/dependent, respectively. The show has both male and female characters that possess these traits, but they aren’t beholden to their traditional roles according to gender. Heck, BMO (the video console) doesn’t even HAVE a gender, which made it extra fun to play with the idea that he/she might aspire to be a princess.
ZS: As far as the art goes, my main goal was really trying to make things crazier and chaotic (in a good way) than the last OGN. With all of the video game references and huge cast of characters, I wanted everything to feel really dynamic and in-motion to get across the feeling of literally being dropped into the middle of an old arcade game.
CA: The debut Adventure Time OGN you worked on, Playing With Fire, was announced last January and arrived this past April. Did you have any downtime between Vol. 1 and Pixel Princesses, or did you go straight from one OGN to the next?
DC: I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I wrote Playing With Fire in two-and-a-half weeks, while continuing my day job writing and drawing my webcomic Girls with Slingshots, and teaching a college course in illustration! Okay, who am I kidding, I’m really proud to admit that. It was the first time I proved to know what the words "time management" mean.
I wrote Playing With Fire in February, and once the pitch was accepted for the second book, I wrote Pixel Princesses in three weeks sometime in August or September. So there was a lot of downtime between the two, but it’s because I seem to work better when I throw myself into a project and don’t let myself out until it’s done. (I write and draw a new comic for GWS every weekday, so I’m used to forcing myself to produce new work daily.)
ZS: I had a little bit of downtime to catch my breath while the script was being written, but after that it was firing on all cylinders again.
CA: The Adventure Time animated series is a few seasons deep now, and Boom!'s comic has been around for two years and has spawned several miniseries. How conscious of AT's increasing continuity were you as you worked on the story?
DC: While I’m not privy to any spoilers about the show’s upcoming episodes when I write the OGNs, Cartoon Network has veto power over the pitch, so I get hints of what’s coming up according to what they allow. The first pitch I sent for Pixel Princesses was called "Pixel Pups", and was going to be about Jake and Lady Rainicorn’s puppies. They requested a re-write, as they’d already written a few episodes (which have since aired) that didn’t quite jive with the script I wrote. So I knew there would be new eps with the puppies coming up, but I didn’t know what they’d be about!
ZS: As far as my AT work goes, I'm EXTREMELY conscious of the continuity! I try to capture the animation style of the show as close as I can, and I try to keep fairly caught up on the seasons so that I know I'm drawing the characters moving and emoting in ways that I feel would be done on the show. I just know how much fans love this world that's been built and I want to make the visual transition from cartoon to comics as smooth as possible for them.
CA: Do you have any favorite Adventure Time stories in any medium that informed your work on "Pixel Princesses?"
DC: I love practically every Adventure Time show I’ve ever watched, and I adore Ryan North's writing on the regular AT floppies, but for this particular book I was more inspired by Wreck-It Ralph and my own experiences playing Nintendo (the console my parents got me in first grade sits in my living room, attached to its own TV/VCR; I slay my friends at Dr. Mario on the regs).
On the other hand, I added Skeleton Princess to the team specifically because of her brief-but-hilarious appearance in "Princess Potluck," wherein her skeleton face is covered in food and Finn uneasily greets her with a vague “hey… you.” I love Skeleton Princess so much I dressed up as her for Halloween.
ZS: I was really influenced by the two AT episodes "Gotcha!" and "BMO Noir." LSP has so many great moments in Pixel Princesses, from rage, to despair, to sparkly-eyed happiness and "Gotcha!" really helped me get into her head. Same goes for "BMO Noir". It's got such a great range of BMO expressions and it really inspired the way I view that little guy.
CA: These OGNs are black and white and digest sized and provide some cross appeal to readers who come into comics through traditional Japanese manga. What do you like about working in this format? Have you had any feedback from manga readers about the way the story is presented?
DC: I haven’t heard from any manga readers (or at least, they’ve never compared the book to traditional manga), but the black-and-white format is tricky at times! I used to draw my own comic in greyscale, but since the last seven hundred strips have been in color, I’ve relied on coloring as a storytelling element for the past few years. Playing With Fire was much trickier to do in black-and-white, because I wanted to convey a sense of heat and cool with Flame Princess, but the artist and the toner did a bang-up job of making it work!
Honestly I didn’t even consider the format very much while I was writing, because I have so much faith in Zack as an artist; I knew he’d make it look great no matter how it was presented.
ZS: Oh man, I love just about everything about working in the format. I grew up with superhero comics but started reading manga/watching anime in my late-teens so I felt really comfortable with the material. I think one of the best parts about throwing a little manga into the pages is that it makes it really easy to push a particular moment or emotion to a ridiculous level, i.e. Glowing sparkles and flower petals blowing in the wind behind a bishonen Finn.
CA: Are there any plans for a third AT OGN that you can hint at yet?
DC: There are! Though I won’t be writing the next book in the series, I’ve got another script in the works for later. I haven’t written the pitch yet, so I can’t give you any hints. All I can tell you is that I’ll probably write it in three weeks. ;)
ZS: If you can get an extra large pizza delivered to my apartment in the next 10 minutes, maybe we'll talk…