Adventure Time: Fionna & Cake
Natasha Allegri (w, a, c), Patrick Seery (c) Britt Wilson (l), Noelle Stevenson, Lucy Knisley (back-ups), Shannon Watters (e)
Here’s a six-issue miniseries from Kaboom, who have spent the past few years making work-for-hire franchise comics feel like creator-owned independent comics. Adventure Time: Fionna & Cake is a spin-off from a particular handful of episodes of the TV series, in which the regular cast of the show were all gender-swapped for an experiment. This miniseries, taking that idea and extending it out into a longer story, is written and drawn by the woman who first created the characters on the show, Natasha Allegri. The basic premise is that, well, the characters are gender swapped. That’s basically it! The rest is just Natasha Allegri going absolutely bonkers for twenty or so pages a month. And it’s glorious.
There’s a much different sensibility in Fionna & Cake than there is in the regular Adventure Time comic. Rather than the characters being exactly the same except girls, Allegri’s sense of humour plays out in a much different manner than you might expect. They’re far dirtier than Finn and Jake, for one thing – they’re more scatalogical, and more willing to play dirty and mess things up. They’re actually far more nihilistic than you might expect, as well, going on rampages and rants with little provocation. They feel like more dangerous, unpredictable characters, and the miniseries feels delightfully unhinged as a result.
Their friendship comes across strongly, and creates a centre which holds all the crazy silly moments in orbit. Whilst this story gets VERY silly at times (always a compliment, by the way), the friendship between the two main characters offers readers a reason to continue reading. It’s not just a book where weird things happen – it’s a book where weird things happen to characters you like.
Oh, and the art!
Allegri lays waste to each page, refusing to be generic or ordinary at every turn. Her panels frequently burst and shatter across the page, the lettering flies into every corner and flips fonts at random. The artwork takes the idea of the established style for these characters and setting and goes wild, exaggerating and enhancing the body language to an incredible degree. Allegri created these characters for the show, but experiments with them frequently, apparently delighted with the way she can structure a page or switch perspective.
Britt Wilson’s lettering is incredibly showy, and really entertaining for it. Whilst the artwork can sometimes get out of focus and hard to put together, Wilson’s letters stand out above everything and push even more energy into proceedings. The story itself is simple and manic, more interested in creating exciting images than in telling any kind of complex plot. Which, I suppose, is what you expect from Adventure Time.
This’ll make for a really good trade. There are a massive number of variant covers from all sorts of people – from Lea Hernandez to Faith Erin Hicks to Colleen Coover – and a handful of back-up stories from Noelle Stevenson and Lucy Knisley. Both create short stories which play to the show whilst being, in turn, very much stories by Noelle Stevenson and Lucy Knisley. They establish their own artistic styles and humour over the characters and world of the show, so it remains recognisable whilst telling very different tales to the main story. It remains coherent, just, and Knisley’s story (seen in the above page) has a superb, first-class pun about sinuses in it.
Stevenson’s story, in the first issue, is also excellent fun:
With this miniseries now concluded, I would absolutely love to see some more work from Natasha Allegri at some point in future. High-paced, manic – and above all distinctly her own creation – Fionna & Cake is the first Adventure Time-related thing I’ve ever properly enjoyed. If you find the main show distracting rather than fun (like me) then don’t let that put you off this trade – it’s bonkers, and wonderful