Shepherdstown’s Danielle Corsetto breaks ground with graphic novel
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Danielle Corsetto has just got back from the future.
It’s where she met Finn, the 14-year-old human, his adopted brother Jake, the magic dog, and, well — Princess Bubblegum and the Ice King, all residents of the Land of Ooo in the popular Cartoon Network animated television series, Adventure Time.
Actually, “popular” doesn’t do justice to the show, which tells the story of the denizens of a post-apocalytic world 1,000 after the Great Mushroom War. Adventure Time has become a mass movement that has set TV ratings records — 2 to 3 million viewers each episode — and has been nominated since 2010 for Emmys, Annies, a Sundance, an Annecy International Animated Film Festival award and A Golden Reel, which it won this year. There is Adventure Time clothing, action figures, video games and comic books.
Corsetto, who lives in Shepherdstown, has recently completed the script to the first-ever original graphic novel for the series. The book is to be released May 15 by California-based Boom Studios, which is also the publisher of the monthly comic book series.
Boom assistant editor Whitney Leopard said the 160-page, pocket-sized, black and white illustrated graphic novel will be drawn by cartoonist Zack Sterling and will tell the story of the Flame Princess’s very first adventure outside the Flame Kingdom. For real.
“It’s been great working with both Danielle and Zack on the original graphic novel,” Leopard said. “They make a dream team and we know the fans will love this book!”
Corsetto,32, said she is a big fan of the show.
“I never thought I’d use my iPad for anything but work until I downloaded all the Adventure Time seasons onto it,” she said.
She confesses she is sweet on Finn.
“My weakness is a male character with a big heart, and that’s Finn,” she said. “We often show female characters being nurturing, sweet and thoughtful, but most of the boy-targeted cartoon series I see depict the lead male as aggressive, tough and immune to emotions. Finn is tough and heroic, but he seamlessly weaves his heroic character with the real, feeling boy that he is. He openly displays how much he cares for others, contemplates his insecurities and gets charmingly flustered about romance. And then he does the occasional “AAWWWW” about something cute. My inner child has such a crush on him.”
Corsetto said part of the appeal of the show is its uniqueness and its honesty.
“I feel like we’re peering into someone’s shameless, unfiltered, kindhearted thoughts,” she said. “There are some episodes that feel so much like dreams that I imagine its creator Pendleton Ward, or perhaps his writers, have the same kinds of vivid dreams I’ve had all my life.”
Corsetto, a graduate of Urbana High School in Frederick County, Md., has been setting her own vivid thoughts to paper each week since October 2004 in her web-based comic strip, “Girls with Slingshots,” which tells the slice-of-life story of the travails of two roommates, Jamie and Hazel, and their circle of friends, and a talking cactus. The strip grew out of her experiences in high school but gradually took on a life of its own.
The strip is an Internet hit with more than 2.5 million unique views each month and 27,000 followers on Twitter and more than seven collections have been published to date, with an eighth on the way.
“I enjoy sharing it,” she said. “It’s fun that people are paying attention to it; it makes it worthwhile.”
In 2006, Corsetto began drawing the adventures of Bat Boy for the Weekly World News, following in the footsteps on indie artist, Peter Bagge. The gig lasted for two years.
For Corsetto, her interest in cartooning started early. She remembers her grandfather reading the Sunday funnies to her when she was a youngster. She soon fell in love with strips like “Garfield,” “Calvin & Hobbes” and “Liberty Meadows.” Still, she had no idea people actually made money drawing cartoons, that such things as “cartoonists” walked the earth.
Corsetto said she’ll keep drawing “Girls with Slingshots” for the foreseeable future. But in the meantime, she’s looking forward to working on some upcoming projects — a followup Adventure Time graphic novel and a project for comics publisher Oni Press about a girl desperate to lose her virginity.
“I want to see what will happen in the future,” she said. “It’s healthier to not have a five-year plan.”