As a quirky, off-beat children-but-not-entirely-for-children’s cartoon, Pendleton Ward‘s Adventure Time has been an unprecedentedly successful show. Catering to the inner-child in all of us, the majority of the show’s fame stems from its approachable and unique nature as it tells the tales of Finn the adventurer and his trusty shapeshifting dog, Jake. Unfortunately, the most underappreciated aspect of the series is exactly what Adventure Time: The Original Title Cards art book attempts to make up for.

Title cards may not be at the front of everyone’s mind when they think of cartoon art, but there is a lengthy process that goes into brainstorming, creating, and the finalizing of a final piece for a less than 3-second blurb on the screen. They set the tone and the mood for the episode, and are just as interesting and important as the episode itself.

Titan Books‘ latest release of Adventure Time: The Original Title Cards sets out to give those intricate pieces their more than 3-second moment in the sun. With an affliction for film, comic, and other assorted favorites from pop-culture, this collection of more than 40 hand-painted title cards from the first two seasons is an intriguing look into the creative team’s most overlooked process.

The Art

Although the art carries a typical Adventure Time style, each of the show’s major artists meticulously creates a representative piece for each episode. After the initial brainstorming process with the team, the design commences. With each card hand-painted by a different Adventure Time artist, the cards grant the ability for each of the show’s art team to shine individually — even though that spotlight only lasts for a few seconds onscreen.

Drawing inspiration from pulp, B-movies, comics, ’80s video games, and romance novels, each piece is an exhaustively imaginative and talented operation. From original sketches to the final product, this book is an immensely interesting glimpse into the process. Not only is it insanely time-consuming, but the art is exactly what you’ve come to expect from an episode of Adventure Time: weird, hilarious, detailed, and gorgeous.

As a fan of old ’40s pulp books and film posters, who had a strange childhood fascination with romance novel covers that peppered grocery store aisles as a kid, this book is everything I could hope for. Perfectly recreated in ‘Slow Love’, memories flutter back of sitting in the shopping cart staring down the latest lonely housewife novel of a sensuous, nearly shirtless Fabio; feeling feelings I never knew I could feel. But enough of my pre-adolescent fixations.

With exceptional attention to detail beautifully showcased on every page, it’s a shame that these cumbersome title cards never receive the amount of time onscreen that they deserve. Fortunately, this book fully accomplishes what it intended to do: highlighting these miniature works of art, finally giving them their moment to shine. Stunning and immensely intricate, each piece is as charming and quirky as has come to be expected from the show.

The Extras

Intriguing insight and retrospective into the planning process from the show’s artists give a proper look into the creative process for these highly detailed little works of art. Throughout the creative team’s look back on the processes, tidbits about how big they wanted to go but knew it would be too frightening for their target audience or where they drew inspiration from add to the already fascinating art.

Going behind the scenes, so to say, gives the reader a greater feeling of appreciation for the arduous process that goes into the entire project. Drawing inspiration from films such as Murder on the Orient Express, Time Machine, Conan the Barbarian, Indiana Jones, Repo Man, and even the likes of Pong, Miami Vice, and Dungeons & Dragons shows how varying the artists’ backgrounds are and how much the creative team tries to pay homage to their artistic influences.

The team delves into the difficulties of ensuring they didn’t make it “too scary,” or properly represented what the entire team felt the card should present. In the case of ‘Memories of Boom Boom Mountain’, artist Phil Rynda states that, “This was one of the rare occasions where we had a miscomunication. I did the layout for the duck one … Pen wasn’t crazy about it. He suggested the idea for the ‘Boom Boom’ leaf moment … somehow it wasn’t the one that got moved forward. I was pretty surprised to see the duck version painted, but I really dug it and I guess so did Pen.”

Despite only giving about a paragraph’s worth of insight per image, the book brilliantly offers enough perspective into the process to really give the reader a new sense of appreciation for the art team’s hard work.


Although an art book of title cards might not be what comes to mind for an Adventure Time art book, it’s a far better alternative to the obvious. In fact, it’s ultimately the best choice they could have made. After reading the book, it feel more disappointing that the title cards don’t receive more exposure, but understanding their difficulties in creating enough to sate fans while keeping within the time restrictions set, it’s justifiable. In saying that, an art book dedicated to such an overlooked aspect of the show’s creation is the perfect solution.

As a whole, this book is phenomenal! Not only is it an excellent read for a passive fan, but a must-buy for any devoted Adventure Time viewer. Although it’s geared more towards their older audience than their targeted one, it would certainly be a fun addition to any viewer’s shelf.

5 out of 5 stars

5 out of 5 stars

Cover image via


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Categories: Book Reviews


Founder, Editor-in-Chief at Another Castle | Twitter: @ComradeJen

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