Adventure Time. Vol. 1 written by Ryan North. Illustrated by Shelli Paroline, Braden Lamb and Mike Holmes. Kaboom!, 2013.
This is the first book of a graphic novel series based on the Cartoon Network show by the same name, which I have not seen. I saw it recommended on one of the graphic novel blogs I read, No Flying, No Tights, and brought it home for my son. He gobbled it up and loved it so much that I had to read it for myself to find out why. In the main storyline, a Lich King has come to the land of Ooo with a magical Bag of Holding, into which he intends to stuff everything. Yes, everything. Naturally, our heroes Jake the Dog and Finn the human must save the day. But before they find out about this, they attempt to help the Bubblegum Princess’s BMO, a small computer-like device, feel better about his non-existent fighting skill by letting it teach them how to deliver proper battle insults. Marcelline the Vampire Queen, the old Ice King in search of a bride, and the Desert Princess all play a role in this exciting story. It’s very clever, with lots of fun jokes and little panels showing a side story running at the bottom of the pages under the main story. The art stays very cohesive despite having a different illustrator for each chapter, in a fun, simplistic and flat but colorful style that looks like it’s pulled straight from the TV show.
My biggest beef is the lack of diversity: while the highly fantasy characters come in brown and purple, the many human characters range in color from dead white to bubblegum pink, the closest the story comes to a single character of color. The leads, too, are male, with the girls limited to supporting roles. There’s really no excuse for that kind of storytelling these days, and I have to believe that a story this well-written would be popular no matter the color or gender of the main characters. That being said, my suggestion would be to read it with your kid along with stories with more diverse characters and use it as an opportunity for a discussion about diversity and gender roles.