Sunday, April 21, 2013

Marceline and the Scream Queens

I read the entire Marceline and the Scream Queens series this week and I found it especially interesting when looking at it through the context of fandom. The comic is a spin off of the very popular Adventure Time comics, which are based off of the even more popular cartoon show on Cartoon Network. Adventure Time is a series about two best friends, a boy and his dog, who go on strange, fantastic adventures. The show's mix of humor, action, and at times poignant drama has lead to an enormous fan base that includes just as many older viewers as young children. The internet fan community for Adventure Time is very expansive and there are hundreds and hundreds of fan works based on the show online. 

The show's popularity lead to an expansion of the story by the means of a comic book series. This is a very common practice in the world of comics, especially with series that have a very prolific "cult" fan bases who are more inclined  to read comic books.  For example even though it finished it's run on television in 2003, Joss Whedon has continued the story of Buffy the Vampire Slayer  well into it's 8th and 9th seasons through monthly comics published by Dark Horse. Comic book publishers are more likely to publish series based on television and movie franchises because of their pre-established fan bases. Not only is Adventure Time a popular comic series, but the creators also take in a lot of input from fans to see which characters and stories would be the most popular. 

Marceline and the Scream Queens is a 6 part series that spawned from the large popularity of two main characters from Adventure Time: Marceline the Vampire Queen and Princess Bubblegum. The story of the comics follows Marceline and her band as they go on their first tour across the Land of Ooo. Marceline is the artistic voice of the band while Bubblegum is the band's manager, booking shows and making sure everyone in the band is getting along. The two girls are very different and constantly bud heads over which direction the band should go in, but over the course of the series they learn to understand each other and become good friends. The stories are fun and simple and the art has the same bright and expressive style of the cartoon. It's fun to see these characters be the star of their own story lines. The Adventure Time T.V. show mainly follows the adventures of Finn and Jake with other characters getting one off episodes here or there so it's nice to read a story focusing on these two girls. These more specific stories are perfect for the world of comics because they are faster to produce than the television show and they are able to give fans exactly what they want. The comics were written and illustrated by Meredith Gran who is most well known for her web comic "Octopus Pie".  The artist both stays true to the style of Adventure Time while also adding in her own artistic charm which makes for a very appealing story.

The fandom influence of the comics can be found in the subtext sprinkled in throughout the series. There is a very large group of fans online who “ship” the characters Marcline and Bubblegum together. The couple has been addressed by the creators of Adventure Time and one of the show’s character designers, Natasha Allegri, has even posted her own fan art of the pair. The subtext is a fun little wink to fans who want to make it into something more while being subtle enough where it isn’t a distraction. This is just one of many examples of fandom influencing comic books and I’m sure it’s something that will continue to happen more and more with the internet bringing fans and content creators in easy contact.  There are even more Adventure Time Comic spin offs in the works, proving the success of a short series like Marceline and the Scream Queens. 

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