Release date: October 6, 2015
Created by: Martin & Olivia Olson
I’ve explored about half of Adventure Time’s expanded universe when it comes to literature. I’ve checked out a good chunk of the comics, Playing with Fire, Marceline Gone Adrift, Islands, The Art of Ooo, Adventure Time Encyclopaedia, The Official Adventure Time Cookbook, and so on. Many of these range in quality, with some really cool entries like The Art of Ooo and Islands, and some pretty lame additions like Encyclopaedia. There’s also the other graphic novels, which I haven’t check out yet, and then there’s also the Epic Tales From Adventure Time novel, which… well, has anyone actually read those? I’m really curious what their deal is.
But of all the AT literature I’ve checked out, nothing is as potent or lore heavy as The Enchiridion & Marcy’s Super Secret Scrapbook!!!, created by Martin Olson and Olivia Olson, the voice of Hunson Abadeer and Marceline respectively. Filled with actual excerpts from the show’s version of the Enchiridion, this book is practically a dream come true for most Adventure Time fans, including myself. And it’s the one piece of Adventure Time merch (aside from Art of Ooo) that feels like it’s specifically aimed at the teen/adult demographic, rather than children. To which I commend Martin Olson for his decision not to pander in the slightest.
The first part of the book is focused specifically on the Enchiridion side of things, with chapters like “Hero vs. Wizard: Which is Which?”, “Meet Your Sword”, and “How to Defeat Witches”. Most of these chapters are both elaborate and fun, touching on mythology with university level English skills, while also trying to be as silly and entertaining as possible. The book also manages to be as convoluted as possible. One thing I don’t really like about this portion of the book is that I think it ends up being a little too fanservice-y, as in there’s little nods to stuff going on within the show currently that really could have been left out all together (like the poster for Billy’s crack, or the inhabitants within Ooo). The book somewhat justifies itself by not really making any sense; it includes elements from the past, present, and future, and as a whole feels like one big paradoxical journey with no clear identifiers as to what time period it is actually deriving from, which adds to the fun, really. It truly feels like the book is real on its own, and the Olsons did their damndest to make it feel like a true hero’s handbook.
The art all looks awesome, with fantasy renditions of wizards, heroes, Abraham Lincoln, fairies, swords, and so on. This book actually had twelve different illustrators: Tony Millionaire, Renee French, Mahendra Singh, Lily Nunenmacher, Emily Olson, Leah Tiscone, Anthony Vukojevish, Ricky Blanco, Celeste Moreno, Aisleen Romano, Dan Povenmire, and Sean Terjaratchi. I always feel somewhat mixed about different artists incorporating AT’s different style into their own style, but here it really works. The drawings are very reminiscent of renaissance artwork, and it looks really cool and overall fits the tone of the book.
There’s also commentary from the main cast throughout, which is… fine. It’s perfectly serviceable, I just feel as though I was always so engulfed by what was going on within the actual book that the commentary never struck me as being nearly as interesting and the content itself. But whatevs, it’s cute and has some decent back-and-forths between Finn, Jake, and the Ice King.
Surprisingly enough, while the Enchiridion stuff is great on its own, the scrapbook portion might be even better. I’m serious guys, this shit is some powerful stuff. I picked up this book expecting the scrapbook portion to be nothing but silly, lighthearted material to weigh out the Enchiridion portion, but by GOD is it dark. It’s a nearly complete history of Marceline’s time with Simon and her transition as a vampire after the Great Mushroom War, and while I think it gives us a little more than I needed to know about Marcy’s past history, it’s not canon, so you can kind of take everything with a grain of salt if you’d like. But some of the material is so unbelievably good that I wouldn’t mind adopting any of it into my belief system. The first half of the scrapbook is written by Simon, which is by far some of the most heartwrenching material in the entire universe of Adventure Time. We view Simon’s literal deterioration as the book goes on, as his handwriting and constructive thinking goes from professional and intelligent to messy and haywire in a short amount of time. It’s some of the most effective writing for Simon’s character I’ve ever seen, and while it touches on the Alzheimer’s allegories a bit, the way they characterize the crown in this book is closer to addiction than anything. The novel goes into great detail about how much Simon doesn’t want to put on the crown anymore, but he can’t resist the power and the energy it gives him to survive amongst the disasters occurring around him.
Not only that, but Simon’s fears of losing Marcy are touched on in great detail. The book notes that Simon fears losing Marcy because she is all he has left after Betty departed, and Simon’s paranoia is shown in clear detail. I honestly think it’s pretty terrific how much of Simon and Marceline’s thoughts we get in this book. We get to see how some of their daily adventures play out, but it’s mostly a platform to show just how Simon and Marceline are feeling each day. It’s admittedly pretty emotional, and significantly less goofy than the Enchiridion portion, but justifiably so. It’s also filled with an equal amount of lore that still leaves me questioning its contents and analyzing how it fits into the world. For instance, Simon mentions “God” twice. I remember the first time I read the words “God help me” in this book; my mind was blown! What this implies about the world of AT as a whole could imply so many things; is there actually a God? Is he related to Glob? Was the concept of God generally lost in translation following the apocalypse? It really raises so many questions and I love how it’s never really touched on outside of a few mentionings.
The second half of the book is basically how Marceline learns to cope after Simon departs and how she transitions into a vampire hunter. It’s slightly less interesting than the Simon parts, but still pretty great. It touches on Marceline’s emotional vulnerability after Simon leaves, and just how alone in the world she truly feels. Again, I feel as though I would have no problem accepting any of this as canon, despite the fact that some bits contradict the actual show. For instance, Marceline details herself meeting Schwabl in her endeavors, and that Schwabl was originally a rust color. During Marceline’s transition into vampirism, she sucks the red from Schwabl’s fur and is deeply ashamed of herself for doing so. Yet, in the Stakes miniseries, Schwabl is white the entire time. I think I’m more disappointed because the idea of Marceline sucking the color from Schwabl’s fur is a pretty neat concept, especially because it touches on Marceline’s struggle as a vampire and how it affects the people around her. But regardless, it doesn’t put a damper on the intentions at all, the and the Marceline portions are still tremendously well done.
The artwork in Marcy’s Scrapbook ranges from cute to aesthetically pleasing doodles. It’s really cool how they touched on Marceline’s drawing and art skills developing more and more throughout her teen years.
So overall, this is a terrific read. It’s so rewarding for fans who really into the show that this book doesn’t talk down or pander to the audience. Martin and Olivia Olsen clearly understand what an impact Adventure Time has had on older audiences, and it’s nice that they created something almost entirely for that demographic. If you haven’t checked it out, yet please do. It’s a must read for any diehard AT fan out there.
See you all this upcoming week for the first of the Summer of Season Six reviews!