Book Review: Adventure Time: The Art of Ooo

Image Credit: Abrams Books

Over the past couple of weeks my family and I had the pleasure of previewing Adventure Time: The Art of Ooo by Meathaus’s Chris McDonnell, to be released on October 14th. In case you hadn’t noticed here, here, and here, I am in an Adventure Time fandom household. My sons look forward to each new episode, and I have loved seeing my sons’ imaginative play and storytelling that have evolved thanks to this show. These stories demonstrate, time and time again, the power of friendship, even in the darkest times. This gorgeous full-color hardcover book will grace coffee tables with elegance.

Yes, you heard right, with elegance.

Even though you might know Adventure Time as a bit dark with its post-apocalyptic themes, my family and I can’t get over how lovely the artwork is. Perhaps you are a fan of the Cartoon Network series and wondered what the writers and artists were thinking with some of the whimsical story arcs and creative artistic rendering…

The Art of Ooo will put everything in perspective for you. The book presents a behind-the-scenes look at the art and storyboards, the writers’ thoughts behind the characters, and interviews with those who voice the characters on the TV show. From concept art to the more sophisticated story lines, you will enjoy over 350 pages and 500 color images.

After an introduction by Mexican fantasy filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, the book starts with a biography of the show’s creator and principal animator, Pendleton Ward. You learn that his cartoonist influences came from a variety of seemingly-basic artwork: The Simpsons, Beavis & Butthead, and Doug. You also learn about one of his earliest pieces: Bueno the Bear, whose ears strike quite the resemblance to Finn’s hat.

You then get to learn about the process of pitching the cartoon to Nickelodeon (who had aired one of the earliest episodes on their Random! Cartoons series in 2008), and then to Cartoon Network. You are shown the complete “pitch bible,” and then the 11-minute storyboard of the pilot episode, “The Enchiridion!”

My youngest son pages through this book every evening while it sits at the center of my coffee table. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

From here, readers will learn about the development of the main title sequence, and then delve into details about each of the characters, starting with Finn and Jake and then taking readers into the backstories of BMO, the Ice King, Princess Bubblegum, and Earl of Lemongrab. You will learn about the details behind the development of Ooo, in terms of settings and colors. This volume will go into such specific settings as the Treehouse and the dungeons.

You will then see concept art, storyboards, and backstories with many of our favorite episodes: “Card Wars” (about which an iOS and Android game exists), “Bad Timing,” “Food Chain,” and “Lady & Peebles” to name a few.

The final chapter, “Beyond Ooo,” is a tribute to Adventure Time‘s fans. Page after page of fan art gets space in this book, with accounts of fans’ tattoos, graffiti, and fan fiction. I made a point to show this chapter to my youngest son, who has quite a bit of Adventure Time fan fiction floating around the house.

Adventure Time: The Art of Ooo, is published by Abrams and will make a fantastic gift for any Adventure Time fan in your life. The book retails for $35, but is priced at about $25 at Amazon.

GeekMom received this product for review purposes.

Patricia Vollmer is a geeky meteorologist mother of two emerging geek sons, ages 11 & 14. Patricia blogs about her family's nomadic military life at Ground Control to Major Mom. Home is always where the Air Force sends her family, which for now is in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Hobbies include running, despite no one chasing her, and exploring the world with her boys. Ask her why the sky is blue at your own risk.