After receiving numerous Eisner Award nominations for their monthly Adventure Time comics based on the Cartoon Network animated series, Boom! Studios releases its first original graphic novel based on the series later this month: Adventure Time: Playing with Fire, drawn by Zack Sterling with a story by Danielle Corsetto, creator of the wonderful Girls with Slingshots webcomic.
Playing with Fire turns the traditional status quo of the Cartoon Network series upside down with a story that sees Finn kidnapped by a dragon and trapped within a hollowed-out mountain, leaving his girlfriend Flame Princess to save the day and rescue him — as long as she can solve the puzzles standing in her way.
Even though Finn spends Playing with Fire as the captive of a dragon, Corsetto said that the character is a large part of why she enjoys Adventure Time so much. “I love Finn because he’s capable of being adventurous and brave, taking risks and being assertive, while still being human and showing his insecurities,” she explained. “Every time he coos at something he finds cute, or nurses his own emotional wounds (often from romantic frustrations), my heart swells up and I wanna jump into cartoon form and hang out with him.”
That emotional vulnerability is rare for a show aimed at children, never mind an animated series, says Corsetto. “I think it’s so important to show a male character — and a popular, admirable one, at that! — breaking gender expectations, and befriending and respecting his female peers while still being entirely relatable to boys. It’s unreasonable to cause your entire audience — especially a young audience — to think that the only acceptable personality traits for boys to show are aggression or pride, or to make boys think that their emotions and fears aren’t worth recognizing and exploring. Most cartoon boys only show the ‘masculine’ side of themselves in front of the camera; Finn seems to have no interest in showing just one stereotypically ‘boyish’ side of himself.”
Playing with Fire won’t be Corsetto’s only visit to the land Ooo; she’s already working on a secondAdventure Time graphic novel, as well as another graphic novel for Oni Press that’s “much more in line with Girls with Slingshots and my usual character-driven sex-and-booze stories.”