The Adventure Time panel held this past Sunday was moderated by New York Times culture writer Dave Itzkoff featuring creator and head animator Pendleton Ward (Lump Space Princess), John MiMaggio (Jake), Jeremy Shada (Finn), Rebecca Sugar (writer, storyboard artist, ukulele player) and Kent Osborne (head of story).
When asked what he was like as a child, Pen responded by saying he was an idiot that ate a lot of pizza and played Diablo. “As a small chubby nerd, that was my life. Geek life”, Pen added. Although he never imagined he’d be responsible for such a hit, he always knew he wanted to be an animator as a kid. He used to make flip books with post-it notes. Even Jake and Finn started off as doodles in his sketch book. He would just plug-in the personalities of his friends for the characters. When it came time to actually pitch Adventure Time he picked Jake and Finn from his doodles and used the personalities of his two weirdest friends.
During the panel it became clear that D&D plays a major role in Pen’s creativity and the show itself. The cast often plays D&D and uses elements from D&D to help write. When writing for the different characters, Pen compared it to playing D&D. They become the characters, much like D&D, which makes the stories flow naturally. He even cited D&D as the reason for Adventure Time’s continuity. Something not always found in animated shows.
Pen wanted to create a show that he would be inspired by. He used Leonardo as an example of what he didn’t want. In TMNT “Leonardo was such a bummer,” always worried about something. He didn’t want Finn to be a “winey baby” he wanted him to be more like the other turtles.
Part of the magic of Adventure Time is its ability to appeal to fans from the age of 8 to 80. When asked whether they write for a specific demographic, Pen answered that they just write to make themselves laugh, they don’t have a specific demo in mind. John DiMaggio, the voice of Jake, said, “I haven’t’ encountered a show with a more diverse audience.” It was easily the most mathematical panel I attended during the con.
[Photos courtesy of Cartoon Network]