Marcy & Simon No. 1 review: An Adventure Time adventure


Adventure Time’s Marcy & Simon No. 1 centers on Simon Petrikov, the former Ice King and Marceline’s foster father, embarking on an “Apology Tour.”

Adventure Time Marcy & Simon. Covery by Brittney Williams (Courtesy Cartoon Network, published by Boom Entertainment)

My first exposure to the Adventure Time cartoon was through the KaBoom comics series written by Ryan North (creator of the much beloved Dinosaur Comics and current writer of Marvel’s Squirrel Girl). I initially picked up the books for my wife, who loved the cartoon, but found myself won over by how tightly-written and jolly they were. Eventually, I became a regular viewer of the show. North won an Eisner and much acclaim for his ability to create meaningful stories that truly stood on their own. His was a tough act to follow, but KaBoom must have made plenty of money if the smorgasbord of OGNs, B-titles, and miniseries is any indication.

A lot of those secondary publications were hit-or-miss. A couple standouts, in my opinion, were Marceline Gone Adrift, an introspective story about making art and artistic motivation, and Banana Guard Academy, a silly romp that surprised by giving real pathos to a handful of minor background characters from the show. Some writers understand the “voice” of Adventure Time, and some don’t. It’s one comic where being a fan is probably a real benefit to capturing the tone of the show.

Which brings me to Marcy & Simon, KaBoom’s second spinoff since the cartoon came to an end. The Season 11 comic has been OK so far, thanks to a comfortable writer and a very dynamic art team. Marcy & Simon, though, looks like it’ll be a cakewalk as far as knowledgeable writing goes. It’s being scripted by Olivia Olson, who voiced Marceline the Vampire Queen for the cartoon. I’m often thrown when people heap praise on actors for the quality of storytelling in a movie or on a TV show, after all, behind them are a team of writers and producers the doing equally difficult task of putting words to page and into the mouths of the actors. I’m happy to say that, based on this first issue, Olson has really gotten to know her character and the world she inhabits over the past decade.

There isn’t a lot that happens in issue one of Marcy & Simon, but the story shines in how natural all the characters sound. The action centers around Simon Petrikov (the former Ice King and Marceline’s foster father), embarking on an “Apology Tour” to make amends for all the rude and questionable things he did over the past 5000 years. Marcy is his guide and protector from those who’re holding a grudge. Lots of past characters pop up for cute cameos, even Party Wolf and Island Lady decide to grant Simon forgiveness.

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Part of capturing the voice of the characters is letting the silent moments speak. Slimm Fabert’s illustration is a great partner for Olson’s story. Fabert’s style is firmly in the pencil and paper side of comics illustration (even if he is working digitally), as opposed to the more streamlined style I associate with animation. He uses lots of color, shading, shadow, and interior line to build his drawings. For Adventure Time, though, he’s deftly reduced the number of interior lines, holding each figure together with thick black outlines that define every shape. None of that stops the characters from emoting. It is a bit reminiscent of a daily comic strip style, where less is more, and still very much in keeping with its source material from Cartoon Network.

Adventure Time Marcy & Simon. Art by Slimm Fabert and SJ Miller (Courtesy Cartoon Network, published by Boom Entertainment)

S.J. Miller’s colors are unshaded and compliment the linework. They tone their pallet to fit each scene’s setting. When the cast is in the Candy Kingdom for a party with the Banana Guards, the page is dominated by yellows, and in a brief scene at the Earldom of Lemongrab, everything is dusted with a sooty grey.  It’s worth contrasting the art in this series and the recently launched Adventure Time Season 11. The two books couldn’t look more different from each other, but both also work perfectly. Where Fabert and Miller are minimal, in Season 11 Julia and Casey stretch the design palette to create a much busier Adventure Time world.

Adventure Time Season 11 heads to the future!. dark. Next

Toward the end of Simon’s tour, he suddenly starts losing memories from the centuries he was Ice King. It’s a problem oddly similar to Sonny Liew and Ted Anderson’s Adventure Time Season 11, which just wrapped up its initial story in which Marceline loses her memory. I’m left wondering if KaBoom intended this mirroring, or if they just didn’t think about it enough–to a casual shopper, it could be confusing. I’m not concerned about it, though. It’s how the tale is told that’ll make it unique and interesting, and at the end of this chapter, I’m looking forward to where Olson and Fabert take me next.