Monday, December 02, 2013


Tonight's episode has aired (except in the Pacific Time Zone, but I don't think there are any spoilers here), so I thought someone might stumble across this "blog" while struggling to answer the vexing question, "Who is this jerk and how did he get to do a voice on ADVENTURE TIME?" I am that jerk and I will tell you. I started writing for the show way back in October of 2012. My old friend Kent Osborne, who is the "Head of Story" for ADVENTURE TIME, called out of the blue and asked if I wanted to give it a try. My first instinct was to say no! I didn't know how to write for cartoons. I knew Kent worked for the show, and I had watched and enjoyed a few episodes with my nephews, because it was their favorite show, but I didn't feel qualified. Kent said not to worry, it was just a two-week freelance job. So I said okay. I have hardly ever turned down a quick freelance job! I didn't know that those two weeks were secretly a kind of audition to see how I got along in the writers' room. I got along fine because everyone was nice as pie. And so the assignment turned into steady employment, for which I am grateful. It's the best job ever! I live in Mississippi. Three times a week I meet with my friends in Burbank by video. We just make up stories and talk about feelings and that's about it. Well, there is also a good deal of typing. One of the coolest parts of the experience for me was when my dad helped out with the "We Fixed a Truck" episode. For some reason I recall with special fondness and clarity a chat that Adam Muto and I had about Klarion the Witchboy and his mystical cat Teekl, two characters from Jack Kirby's comic book THE DEMON, not that it yielded anything for use in the show, nor was it meant to. But as often as not the germs of episodes are contained in such random digressions. Very occasionally I will travel to Los Angeles and go to the office in person. (And once Pen and Kent came to Mississippi.) I flew out to read my "Root Beer Guy" lines for tonight's episode. ADVENTURE TIME is recorded mostly like an old-time radio play, with a bunch of people standing in a booth together, stationed at separate microphones. But how did I get the part? Kent suggested I do it, that's all. I didn't think it would really happen. The name "Stephen King" was bounced around as another possibility, but he was never approached. I think Adam asked me during a conference, "Do you think you could do it?" And I answered with joking bravado, "I AM ROOT BEER GUY," paraphrasing Flaubert on the subject of Madame Bovary, ha ha ha, oh boy, what fun we're having now. I should emphasize that the idea for the Root Beer Guy story was all Pen's - that's Pendleton Ward, creator of the show - and brilliantly fleshed-out and brought to life by storyboard artist/writer Graham Falk. Incidentally, I met Owen King, one of the writer sons of Stephen King, at City Grocery Bar during the annual book conference we have in my town. You should come! Kent came to the book conference once! I almost said to Owen King, "I beat out your dad for a role!" But instead I didn't say anything. ("Click" here for another example of something I didn't say.) In the first place it wasn't strictly true, and in the second place it is usually best to keep your fat mouth shut. The only reason I even thought of it was because of how much Mr. King's voice resembled his father's. Now, how did Anne Heche end up playing "Cherry Cream Soda"? After we finished the outline I blurted (fairly inaccurately) that Cherry Cream Soda's part was something like Anne Heche's in DONNIE BRASCO. And Kent cried out, "Let's get Anne Heche!" Because he's kind of obsessed with her, I guess you'd say, though it is a harsh word with which to describe Kent's gentle fascination. And then they got her! And she did it. She was amazing! The genuine emotion with which she imbued her lines gave me no choice but to actually try. So I tried. And now you know as much as I do about life. How sad.