Time for Some Adventure with Pendleton Ward
Ghostshrimp is sort of the world creator. Not a special title, but he's the lead designer on the backgrounds. When the storyboards get to him, the backgrounds are really simple. Just boxes for rooms. He really flushes those out and makes them really unique. Then in the backgrounds he puts in all these wild elements that tell stories in and of themselves. You could watch a show and pause it on a background and you could see a skeleton buried half deep behind the characters and he'd been reading a book. It's just cool to assume what happened to that dude when he was reading that book and how he got buried half way and died. That's the kind of stuff I liked to plug each episode with. Background elements that kids who are inclined to obsess over things will like.
RD: The show has a unique feel. What were some of the direct influences on the show thematically and style-wise?
PW: Anyone who went to CalArts. I would always pick up on styles around me. When I went to work on Flapjack, I just started picking up the styles of the guys working around me. Really, I'm sure you can see a lot of different stuff in there, but for me, I just copy my friends and they copy off me and we play off each other. Ghostshrimp has a really unique style. I don’t know what he is pulling from, but I think it's really unique to him and that's a big part of the look of the show is his backgrounds.
Tom Herpich has another unique style and he's one of the character designers. They base their drawings off of mine a little bit, but really all the character designers put their own character and personality into the drawings. Also all the board artists. There are eight board artists with all their own unique way of drawing the characters. I'm a fan of cartoons where the character can change. I like the personality of the artist coming through in the drawings. And you'll see that. You'll see Finn change from episode to episode and different artists have their own take on not only the key characters, but also the style of the show.
RD: There seems to be a subversive quality to the show. Can you comment on that?
Pat McHale and I (Pat's my creative director), we both like nice things a lot. I'm a big fan of Miyazaki's Totoro. It's really beautiful and it makes me feel really good inside to watch it and I want to recreate that feeling. I'm just inspired by that feeling. I often times try to make things like that. We try to have moments like that.
But I really think there is humor for adults and kids. And I think the stuff for adults just goes over the kids' heads just like Pee-Wee did or like The Simpsons did. And that was another goal I had in mind was to make something that everyone can watch.