It is another night of bright lights in the big city when a tall dapper gentleman strides into Musso & Frank Grill, Hollywood’s legendary restaurant, frequented by stars of today and ghosts of yesteryear. This is Martin Olson: comedy writer, TV producer, bestselling author, playwright, stage director, composer and poet. Here I am, with a reservation at the Three Stooges booth, across from the Charlie Chaplin booth and the Marilyn Monroe booth. I wave Martin over to join me and Jennifer. We’re in town for a bit and honored at the chance to get together for this interview. Mr. Olson is a very busy, very talented, and very nice guy. If you see a publicity photo of him frowning (see above), that’s part of an act. He is really nice. I don’t know if I should be telling you this, but I’m putting it out there just so you know.
By the way, among the various credits that Mr. Olson can point to, he will forever enjoy a place in pop culture history as the voice of Hunson Abadeer (aka the Lord of Evil), ruler of the Nightosphere, and father of Marceline the Vampire Queen (Olson’s daughter, Olivia, is voice talent) on the legendary animated series, “Adventure Time” on Cartoon Network.
“Rocko’s Modern Life”
“Encyclopedia of Hell,” Olson’s popular and critically-acclaimed satirical book will continue in a new book in 2018. We chat about that. We discuss the Boston Comedy Scene which Olson helped form. And another fun item is a reunion of the original cast of the landmark animated series, “Rocko’s Modern Life.” Olson was part of the writing team behind a new one-hour TV special that will run in 2018.
“Encyclopedia of Hell” by Martin Olson
When the subject of writing, or any form of creativity comes up, people usually seek some insights and tips. We tackle that sort of stuff here too. So, sit back and enjoy this podcast. Given the nature of our talk, more in tune with a conversation over a meal, it is split into two sections: one before dinner and the other after dinner. Oh, dinner was great, if you were wondering.
Click the two links below to go to Part One and Part Two:
Mariko Tamaki provides a delightful script and Ian McGinty provides the charming art for ADVENTURE TIME #62, published by BOOM! Studios, about a contest to see who is the best Princess in all of Ooo.
I thought this issue was a hoot. I was glad to see that it was left on a cliffhanger. It will take more than one issue to figure out who is the best princess of them all. This issue also gives us some fun back and forth between Finn and Jake as each tries to top the other’s comments about the competition.
Mariko Tamaki wrote, and her sister Jillian Tamaki illustrated, “This One Summer,” an award-winning graphic novel published by First Second Books in 2014. For this Adventure Time comic, Tamaki’s script plays off the vast landscape that is the post-apocalyptic Adventure Time wonderland. She has gathered princesses from various kingdoms implying that there are an endless variety of princesses and kingdoms. That said, some key players stand out like Lumpy Space Princess, who isn’t officially a princess at all but who forces her way into the competition.
Mariko Tamaki and Ian McGinty / Boom Studios
Ian McGinty has worked on a number of titles for BOOM! Studios. He is the creator of the WELCOME TO SHOWSIDE comic and animated series. For this Adventure Time comic, he provides his lively distinctive style to yet another excellent piece of work. Such otherworldly characters as Finn and Jake, already quite a jittery pair, are even more animated in the hands of McGinty. He also is quite good at composing compelling scenes and keeping everything moving at a dynamic pace or implying a constant frenetic energy.
ADVENTURE TIME #62 is published by KaBOOM!, an imprint of BOOM! Studios and is available as of March 1, 2017.
Anyone who enjoys viewing Adventure Time on Cartoon Network would never have to ask if they would also enjoy reading an Adventure Time comic book, published by Boom! Studios. The answer is a resounding, YES! For those of my friends out there unfamiliar with Adventure Time, it is an animated show with a unique point of view, much like The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show was in its day. It’s cerebral goofy. A story about a boy, Finn, and his dog, Jake, and their adventures in a post-Apocalyptic world. And one of the recurring characters is the not-so-nice Ice King.
I mention the readiness of a fan of the show to read the comic because it is very true. What Boom! Studios has managed to sustain is that quirk factor. This is why cartoonists coming from an alternative comics background, or at least in tune with it in some way, are ideal for this type of work. Just consider the Tumblr sites for this book’s talent: story by Emily Partridge; script by Pranas Naujokaitis; and art by Natalie Andrewson.
Then you have the deceptively simple premise for the comic book: “Ice King and his cool wizard pals make it to Marble’s lair and a battle ensues.” You let your talent follow their muse. Next thing you know, the content has organically made the transition from one medium (fabulous animated show) to a whole other medium (fabulous comic book).
In this issue, we are immediately swept up by some dramatic action from the previous issue. Looks like Fionna (the gender-swapped version of Finn) has met her match with The Dark Magister Templi Marble. That’s one page, hinting already that this comic goes deeper than one might think! And then we follow Ice King as he’s repeatedly duped into being a human land mine detector. Ouch! Ice King allows this to happen to him because he has zero self-confidence and he’s so desperately lonely. But if he wants friends, wouldn’t he need self-respect to begin with? Well, we can see that but not Ice King.
The zany humor is often just two characters arguing at the top of their lungs. But it follows a logic, part of the bigger story being told, of course. The loopy-fresh drawing is right in sync with the back and forth surreal dialogue. And the hand-drawn lettering is as kinetic as the drawing and writing. One one level, it all refers back to the work of what we might think (for those of us who think in these terms) of the traditional self-published independent cartoonist.
On another level, it is a matter of just being savvy to the zeitgeist. Think of, say, Eleanor Davis, Julia Gfrörer, or Meghan Turbitt. What matters most is that the creative team here taps into that indie ethos. Anyway, I always get a kick when I read an Adventure Time comic. I’m sure they are a lot of fun to write and draw too. Nice to check in on Finn and Jake and company from time to time.
ADVENTURE TIME: ICE KING #5 (of 6) is available as of May 18th, published by KaBoom!, the all-ages imprint of Boom! Studios.
“Over the Garden Wall,” is a new comics series from Boom! Studios imprint, KaBOOM! But it already has established a history over at Cartoon Network as a crazy popular show. It has the distinction of being Cartoon Network’s first-ever original animated miniseries. That said, this issue assumes some prior knowledge of the goings-on but it’s also totally newbie-friendly. The gist of it is that this is all set in a fantasy-type world. The characters are always on the lookout for the Beast and the land of the Unknown is not a good place to be. Alright, that’s plenty to work with already!
Well, let’s just to be clear and give credit where credit is due. The whole shebang originates with “Tome of the Unknown” a fantastic animated short by Pat McHale ((Adventure Time, The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack). That’s what led to the ongoing animated series on Cartoon Network. Things just rolled from there. For instance, check out Pat’s limited series comic.
Okay, getting back to this new ongoing series, what grabbed me right away was the zippy quality to the panel-to-panel reading experience. There is an uncanny timing to things like when you have a frog belch, “Rorop!” That’s because the original team from the new ongoing animated series is working on this comic. Jim Campbell returns to join forces with fellow show writer Amalia Levari. Along with that talent, there is also writer Danielle Burgos; and, art-wise, you have Jim Campbell and Cara McGee. Well, it all adds up to some magical storytelling. No prior knowledge, indeed! All you need to do is observe, with a certain amount of glee, little boy Greg as he returns to Dreamland traipsing about, all Little Nemo-style.
Midway through, we make an abrupt switch in setting after Greg has had his adventure. We go back in the backstory to the land of the Unknown and follow the struggles of young Anna, the daughter of the Woodsman, as she must learn to survive in the woods on her own. Greg’s story, followed by Anna’s story, all makes for a nice mix of light and dark. This is a very engaging comic that will be worthwhile for any age.
Also included is a preview of a new Adventure Time title simply going by the name, “Adventure Time Comics.” This is a special opportunity to spread one’s wings and mix things up with brand-new “off-model” stories, as they say in the comics biz. That accounts for the story here involving the Pastry Princess and the Queen of Breakfast. These are most definitely not your regular characters from Adventure Time. I guess whenever I see some such character, like say, The Hamburger Prince, I should yell out, “Off-model!” Either that or I should make my way to my nearest fast food drive thru. Well, getting back to the story at hand, it is very cute and funny. Turns out that pastries are indeed a part of breakfast. Wonderful art and story by Katie Cook! You can expect to find the first issue of “Adventure Time Comics” to arrive this July.
“Over the Garden Wall #1” is available as of April 27th. For more details, visit Boom! Studios right here.
Olivia Olson has much to celebrate and share with fans. She is in the unique position of getting to do a lot of cool and creative stuff with her dad, comedy writer Martin Olson. For starters, both are voice talent on the animated series “Adventure Time” on Cartoon Network. This is one of the most creative, quirky, and strangest shows on television. If you know the show, all I need to say is: Marceline the Vampire Queen and, her dad, the Lord of Evil, Hunson Abadeer! It was Adventure Time’s very own creator, Pendleton Ward, who recruited Olivia Olson, and later on Martin Olson, to become part of the show and the rest is history.
Marceline Vampire Queen and, her dad, Hunson Abadeer stealing her french fries
As Olivia describes in this interview, it was just a natural progression that led her to follow in her father’s footsteps into show business. Sure, it can be a harsh business but, with the right guidance, special things can result.
In the case of this father and daughter, it has led to not only performing together but also writing together. The first Adventure Time book was “The Adventure Time Encyclopedia,” written by Martin Olson. And that sparked an interest in Olivia to join in.
Olivia Olson and Marceline the Vampire Queen
Now comes a new book that goes even further, “Adventure Time: The Enchiridion & Marcy’s Super Secret Scrapbook!!!” You can read my review here. This one is a collaboration between the two. Martin Olson focuses on the Enchiridion. And Olivia Olson focuses on Marcy’s Super Secret Scrapbook. But there’s more to it than that and we cover it in the interview.
One thing that Olivia wanted to point out is that this book is not only two books in one. When you think about it, it’s actually four books in one! You see, the Enchiridion covers two separate books: one for Heroes; and one for Wizards. And Marcy’s Scrapbook is actually two books: a journal by Simon Petrikov, aka The Ice King, the man who raised Marceline; and a journal by Marceline.
The full interview with Olivia Olson follows and includes the podcast at the end.
Henry Chamberlain: I read that the idea for this book began on a subway ride in New York City with you, your dad, and editor Eric Klopfer. Would you tell us about that, what you were anticipating doing on the book?
Olivia Olson: It’s a funny story since originally I wasn’t going to be part of the writing process. I helped a little bit for our first book, the encyclopedia for Adventure Time. That was mostly my dad writing it and I had so many notes to give him because, at the time, he didn’t know too much about the show. He said, “How about if I keep the wrong information and you keep correcting me throughout the book.” That was my first little snippet of writing. We were at New York Comic Con, with the first book being so well received, and we just thought we needed to do another book. The first book had been successful. And we knew how much my dad wanted to tackle writing the Enchiridion.
At the time, we didn’t know how we were going to fuse the Enchiridion with Marcy’s Scrapbook. That came about way later. We sort of tricked our publisher, Abrams, into having me be a co-author on the book. I wrote my segments and submitted them and then, after they provided feedback, we revealed that the writing was mine.
HC: There’s such a literary quality to Adventure Time stemming from the original creators, your dad. And now you, part of the next generation. Would you describe to us growing up in that world, being exposed to all that creativity, getting to write with your dad.
OO: It’s so funny because, when I was a little girl, I always wanted to act and sing, all that kind of stuff. My dad, being in the business, did not want me to have anything to do with it since, you know, it’s hard on children being part of that. So, he frowned upon it. But here I was growing up among all these comedians and writers and actors so it was kind of impossible for him not to expose me to the world.
Not in a million years would I have thought that I’d be performing and writing right alongside him. It is such a funny coincidence as I grew up in animation. I grew up with all these people who worked in cartoons. But I never really thought that was to be my path. I always thought it would be more like Beyonce or Mariah Carey. It’s just so weird. People like Tom Kenny and his wife used to babysit me and my brother. Now I get to play a character with Tom Kenny. And I get to write with my dad.
HC: From what I observe, it looks like it’s all coming together naturally. For instance, your dad never considered himself an actor, even though he has that performing background.
OO: We joke about it. We’ve been doing this all our lives and now we have a job where we’re getting paid for it. Adventure Time has provided all these amazing outlets. I started off as an actor. My dad started off as a writer. Now, five years later, he’s an actor on the show and I’m a writer. It’s really amazing that Pen Ward, the creator of Adventure Time, gave us these opportunities to not only work as father and daughter but explore the range of our talents.
HC: You have a very distinctive voice and style for Marceline the Vampire Queen. And you bring her to life so well in this book. This is quite a unique two-books-in-one. Could you describe your take on your writing process–and how your songwriting background comes into play. I can think of some lyrics that you include in the book.
OO: There’s definitely a lot of poetry and lyrics spread throughout the Scrapbook part. It’s funny that we pitch it as a two part book because, if you really delve into it, you see that it’s a four part book. The Enchiridion side has two parts, one for Heroes and one for Wizards. And the Scrapbook has a journal by Simon Petrikov followed by a journal by Marceline.
The Scrapbook was originally going to be something completely different. I wrote summaries for every episode I’d ever done. I was following along with each episode and wrote a diary entry for what Marceline might write on that particular day. That’s what we originally submitted and then we end up scrapping all of that. We wanted to dive deeper into the backstory since Marceline is such a mysterious character. We really wanted to cover the Mushroom War and how tragic her story really is.
It was when I added the poetry that it kicked in. I had never written a work like this before. It was something new. I definitely started off by writing a lot of poetry for it. And that made me feel more connected to my character.
Marceline in “Stakes” from Adventure Time on Cartoon Network
HC: What do you hope readers will get out of the Scrapbook? I am thinking that, for young readers, they will get a fuller appreciation of how a character is depicted in a different medium. You see Marceline one way in an animated format and you see her in a different way in a literary format. Can you speak to how the character can do different things in different media?
OO: I think all the work outside of the actual series, and that includes the video games, comics, anything like that, is technically not canon to the show. We worked extremely hard with everyone involved to have our contributions match as closely to what is happening on the show. And that was a huge help in having us align with “Stakes,” the new mini-series that’s just come out. It gave us a platform to jumpstart where Marceline was going next and learn more about her.
I was so excited about this since Adventure Time fans really get down and dirty with everything. That’s what is so great about the show. It sparks the imagination. Fans have all these theories about what’s going on in the show. We went through so many drafts to stay true and do justice to the show. I was really impressed with what we ended up with, being able to go deeper into the characters, taking a different approach from the random humor the show is known for. When the show began to dig deeper into the characters, we wanted to do the same.
The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
HC: What are you reading now or what sort of books do you like?
OO: Right now, I’m reading a zombie apocalypse book. It’s called, “The Girl with All the Gifts.” It’s 20 years after a zombie outbreak. You start with all these children at a playground. You don’t know why they’re being treated so poorly. They’re half-human and half-zombie. They’re hybrids. I was drawn to it since Marceline is a demon hybrid.
I like all kinds of books. I’m definitely not someone who judges a book by its cover. I’ll be at the airport and give anything a try.
HC: What sort of music are you currently listening to?
OO: Well, I like how Apple iTunes organizes your music and makes suggestions. It has me now listening to Justin Bieber. My boyfriend wasn’t a fan but now he is. I’m also enjoying the oldies, like The Doors.
HC: Any new writing projects brewing?
OO: I don’t want to jinx it but we’re in talks with my publisher, Abrams, about a new book. And I’m working on new music. I’d say, right now, I’m not reaching a quarter-life crisis but more of a quarter-life reprocessing of what path I want to take. I’ve been so fortunate to be so successful at such a young age. So, if there are any young listeners out there, don’t worry about having to know what you’re doing since I don’t always feel that I do.
HC: I think you’re on a great path. I foresee more of the same with new discoveries along the way.
OO: Yeah, I’ve been extremely fortunate. I’m a lucky girl but I always want to top myself and find what’s new.
HC: Well, great. Thanks so much, Olivia.
OO: Thank you, Henry. This has been a great chat. Really great questions.
The podcast is below:
“Adventure Time: The Enchiridion & Marcy’s Super Secret Scrapbook!!!” is published by Abrams. Visit them right here. And be sure to catch Marceline the Vampire Queen on Cartoon Network right here.
I love good stuff that is for all ages because you can easily share it with family and friends and it’s hitting universal chords. That brings me to a book you will want to get for yourself and anyone you know looking for something odd and compelling: “Adventure Time: The Enchiridion & Marcy’s Super Secret Scrapbook!!!” Yes, that’s a mouthful but for very good reason. I am guessing that you’re familiar with the celebrated animated series, Adventure Time, on Cartoon Network. Am I right? If not, think of it as offbeat humor of a rare kind like such classics as Rocky and Bullwinkle and Bugs Bunny.
The world of Adventure Time invovles some very funny misadventures along with a very colorful cast of characters. Lots of magic. Lots of weird humor. And a heck of a lot of style and whipsmart goings-on. Set in a post-apolalyptic world, there is nary a zombie to be found here but loads of other curious creatures. The authors of this two-books-in-one are, among other things, voice talent on the show. Olivia Olson is Marceline the Vampire Queen and Martin Olson is her father, Hunson Abadeer.
Okay, this is what happened. The creator of Adventure Time, Pendleton Ward, was so impressed with the work of Martin Olson that he brought him on board to write about Adventure Time. Now, fast forward to this year, Martin Olson is taking things further and has enlisted his daughter, Olivia Olson, to help make this latest Adventure Time book a reality. And, yes, you read correctly, this is literally two books in one! You get the fabled Enchiridion, the infamous book found in the animated series. Plus, you get an in depth look into the inner world of Marceline The Vampire Queen, one of the most intriguing characters on the show.
From Marcy’s Super Secret Scrapbook!!! by Olivia Olson
Allow me one digression: there actually is another Enchiridion! It is a book filled with advice for gentleman originally published in 125 AD. It was written by Arrian, a 2nd-century disciple of the Greek philosopher Epictetus. And it offers bits of wisdom that you can boil down to one main theme: recognize what you’re in control of and you’ll lead a happy life. Ah, there is beauty in the spinning of universal truth. It sounds like something that Jake, the philosopher/party animal magical dog on the show would say. Some things never change.
The universal truth of the matter is that both Martin Olson and Olivia Olson offer you quite a special treat with this book. It is remarkable how well it all lives up to its ambition. It is the equivalent of handing to a fan of the show something snatched right off the screen that actually lives and breathes. Martin Olson turns in a virtuoso work of humor. And Olivia Olson proves to be an insightful and heartfelt author as well.
“Adventure Time: The Enchiridion & Marcy’s Super Secret Scrapbook!!!” is a 224-page hardcover in full color, published by Abrams, with illustrations by some of the leading cartoonists working today.
Not too long ago, I reviewed a John Allison comic under the same title. This first issue of “Giant Days” is different material and published by Boom! Studios. It is very cool to see this comic getting a higher profile. This one is by John Allison and Lissa Treiman. It is the same trio of college friends from the webcomic. But, just so you know, Allison only writes it. And it is Treiman who does the art. Now, I know Allison has a strong following that know his work as the result of his writing and drawing. For those fans, how do you feel taking his characters in a new direction as it were? It does not completely sit well with me. But should that really be the case? Probably not.
Having another artist draw one’s comic creates a whole new dynamic to say the least. The original Allison characters are delightful: very deadpan, droll, with an overall cool demeanor. This new version warms up Daisy, Esther, and Susan in a way that is subtle but still there. This got me to thinking. It seems like you can get away with that with Adventure Time characters being drawn by various artists. That’s because they’re such broad and elastic characters drenched in irony. But you could never truly get away with the Peanuts gang being drawn by someone else. That’s because they’re such personal creations. I submit to you the newer Peanuts animated TV specials for your review. The oldest ones, you know the ones, may not have been drawn by Charles M. Schulz but they sure had the look and feel of the characters spot on.
There’s definitely a shift in tone here. So, I thought some more. It’s like once you’ve seen Ricky Gervais in “The Office,” you’re kind of spoiled and won’t ever fully accept Steve Carell, even though he’s a comic genius. Hmm, that said, it has to be an honor for Allison to see his characters transcend his own depiction of them. That part is nice. And Treiman does a fine job. And, well, if you didn’t know this already, it is Allison who requested that Treiman pursue this latest run that revisits the girls getting used to university life.
But you see my point, right? Comics are a very tricky thing. They involve body language, style, and a whole way of looking at the world. Hmm, for me, the change in the art alone made this comic feel less British. It is, mind you, still set in Britain and the dialogue alone attests to that from time to time. Maybe some small adjustments have been made in the bargain so it’s just not quite as British. But, to heck with it, I do enjoy the American version of “The Office!” If you’re not easily won over, this different Giant Days may throw you threw a loop but, at the end of the day, it’s very funny. I dare say, what with all the changes, it has a nice charm about it.
“Giant Days #1” is available now. For more details, visit our friends at Boom! Studios right here.
Van is just a journeyman wizard. And Pendle is a sorceress. The two of them have paired up and their prospects seem favorable, once they solve a most disturbing case of missing animals. It’s easy to get immersed into the world of fantasy conjured up by Amit Tishler, the creator of “Tales of Lyla.” With co-writer S. Frivolus, he has brought to life a mashup of Adventure Time, Dungeons and Dragons, and the Brothers Grimm. The artwork by Luke Ellison, with colors by Kristen Roberston, is lively and whimsical. It’s a winning combination of fanciful and grotesque.
What about those missing animals? To best understand this curious crisis, our story splits its time between the present and the events of one year prior. By going back one year, we get answers to some questions. And we also get questions that may have answers back in the present. Through this back and forth, we get a richer story with plenty of intrigue. We learn that Pendle is not so innocent as she is in too deep regarding the cause to all the animal disturbance. And we learn that Van is not quite as wimpy as he might seem.
With two issues in, Tales of Lyla shows itself to be a fun read with a keen sense of humor. This kind of work, with characters exchanging pithy remarks and various wondrous elements at play, is very appealing. It’s the bedrock of good comics. I love the quirky opening scenes with Van and Pendle stumbling into a village inn with only plans of falling asleep after a long day’s journey. That’s when they get their first bits of information about the animal caper.
Turns out somebody has been making off with sheep and geese at the inn. Right before Van and Pendle’s eyes, the innkeeper becomes aware that his own tenants are the one’s missing animals. Well, who ever said his tenants could keep animals in their rooms?! So, feathers fly, if there were any to fly. For the moment, Van and Pendle only care about sleep. With a room suddenly made vacant, they can do that, but not for long. Missing animals are not exactly new to them. This goes back a year when animals did not just disappear. They came back reassembled in a hodge-podge of their former selves!
Tales of Lyla comes to you from the animation studio 10 Forward Productions. You can purchase digital issues of Tales of Lyla through Amazon right here.
Marceline is having a really tough time in her latest series, “Adventure Time: Marceline Gone Adrift.” In the first issue, she just can’t seem to write songs worth a hoot when she used to know greatness. And, to make things worse, she’s really harsh on Jake. Hey, the guy was turned into a human (human/dog?) target for frustration as Marceline vents, disparaging nachos and everything Jake, and Finn, hold dear. It’s really time for Marceline to go off somewhere and chill out. But this is Marceline The Vampire Queen so it’s not going to be easy. Written by Meredith Gran (Octopus Pie) and drawn by indie talent Carey Pietsch, this is quite an epic story we see unfold.
It turns out that Marceline is so out of control angry that she’s stirred up some serious bad mojo. She’s got the whole kingdom of Ooo upset and that puts Princess Bubblegum in quite an awkward position. Marce and Bubblegum are pals, right? Marceline’s belligerence forces the princess to respond but she overdoes it by casting Marceline into deep space. And now our story really takes off as Princess Bubblegum must rescue Marceline. The art and writing are fun and zippy. Compositions are nicely balanced. It’s really fun to follow to the last page.
“Adventure Time: Marceline Gone Adrift #1” is available as of January 14, 2015. For more details, visit our friends at BOOM! Studios right here.
What a cool way to celebrate Big Issue 25, with this extra-special (well, they’re all special, but still) story by Ryan North, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, Jess Fink, Jeffrey Brown, Jim Rugg, Shelli Pavoline, and Braden Lamb. If this can count as extra-special maybe it’s because of all those dinosaurs. North gets to play with one of his favorite things and just runs with it. He made his name in comics with his webcomic about dinosaurs, “Dinosaur Party,” or something like that, maybe, “Dinosaur Newshour,”, no…”Dinosaur Comics.” That’s it! Cool and simple. You can read it here. Anyhow, what better way to mark that special twenty-fifth issue landmark than with dinosaurs, time-honored, and easily ridiculed creatures that they are.