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SpongeBob And The Ice King - One And The Same
April 15, 2014 5:27 PM   Subscribe

You may or may not be aware that voice actor Tom Kenny performs as both the Number One Employee at the Krusty Krab, SpongeBob SquarePants, and the nemesis of Finn and Jake, the Ice King. It is a strange nexus between the two shows, which otherwise come from very different imaginations and sensibilities. A 2012 article from the cartoon insider magazine Hogan's Alley spoke with many of the people involved in the creation of SpongeBob, while today The Awl featured this extended look at the creative forces behind Adventure Time, which can be read in full here.
posted by briank (49 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Isn't Jake voiced by the same actor who does Bender on Futurama?
posted by LN at 5:44 PM on April 15 [5 favorites]


And Marceline sang 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' in the school play scene at the end of Love Actually.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:55 PM on April 15 [5 favorites]


Woo Adventure Time post! I don't watch it regularly anymore but catch bursts of it every couple of months.

The Lemonhope-returning was kinda dark. :/ (tho it seems you can say that for a lot of eps...)
posted by curious nu at 5:57 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


He's all over my new favorite cartoon Rick And Morty, also.
posted by sourwookie at 5:58 PM on April 15 [4 favorites]


That Lemonhope ending. Hoo boy.
posted by painquale at 6:00 PM on April 15 [4 favorites]


Isn't Jake voiced by the same actor who does Bender on Futurama?

That's John DiMaggio who coincidentally just produced a lovely film about all your favorite voice actors, including Tom Kenny. Listen to him describe it on the Nerdist Podcast.
posted by Peccable at 6:07 PM on April 15 [7 favorites]


He'll always be Professor Ellis D. Trails to me.
posted by stargell at 6:07 PM on April 15 [7 favorites]


SpongeBob and the Satanist Televangelist - One and the Same
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 6:12 PM on April 15 [3 favorites]


I didn't realize he was also Spongebob, but I recognized him as the Mayor from Powerpuff Girls.
posted by bile and syntax at 6:35 PM on April 15


The last link is worth the read. TLDR: Adventure Time is all about preparing people for death.
posted by signal at 6:43 PM on April 15 [5 favorites]


Both are cartoons, both are on cable, both are 100% fantasy, both have fart jokes. These cartoons are more alike than they are different. However, the difference between Spongebob and Mr. Show is a vast canyon of depravity.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:44 PM on April 15


What these shows have in common is that they do not start with a script. And that’s unique to this studio. Everywhere else you go there’s a script, and the animators are animating to it. That’s not happening here. These are animators and board people, and they are doing the writing. They are people who process things visually.

Aha! That's perhaps why it feels so fluid.

Ward: I think one overall influence is Home Movies, for me. Or Dr. Katz. Because those cartoons are so relaxing to watch. It’s nice to watch conversational dialogue that feels natural and it’s not over the top and cartoony and shrill, in shrill voices or anything. It’s just nice to listen to real people talking. So that’s a big influence, I think, then, is throughout the show….

Aha!
posted by ignignokt at 6:51 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


Ward: I think one overall influence is Home Movies, for me. Or Dr. Katz. Because those cartoons are so relaxing to watch. It’s nice to watch conversational dialogue that feels natural and it’s not over the top and cartoony and shrill, in shrill voices or anything. It’s just nice to listen to real people talking. So that’s a big influence, I think, then, is throughout the show….

Yes!! This makes my day - I actually still put Dr. Katz on in the background to wind down toward bedtime most nights. It's a strangely warm and comforting show (and still really funny, actually). Both of those shows were absolutely fantastic and I still miss them intensely. Bob's Burgers is great but it's a different thing. Thanks for the fantastic post, long live Adventure Time!
posted by dialetheia at 7:02 PM on April 15 [3 favorites]


As a parent, it's really weird to me that I think of Tom Kenny as Binky the Clown from Shakes the Clown, billed as "the Citizen Kane of alcoholic clown movies." The character even had a song named after him.

Note: I did not RTFA yet, so maybe this was mentioned, but this is my favorite thing about Tom Kenny, so I was excited to share.
posted by Ruki at 7:07 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


Tonight, the part of Tom Kenny will be played by...
Kedzie Matthews! Winner of the San Diego Red Owl Rye Laff-Quest and College Comic of the Year, Southwest Region, 1992.
posted by Atom Eyes at 7:52 PM on April 15 [11 favorites]


I'm also feeling vindicated by Pen Ward namechecking Dr. Katz and Home Movies as influences on Adventure Time. I too always found those shows very relaxing to watch, and find Adventure Time an unforced, relaxing delight to watch now. Though I have to admit, unlike what I recall of Dr. Katz and Home Movies, Adventure Time has a fair number of moments that are straight up bizarre and dark, and that have definitely jolted me out of my watching-a-kid-cartoon comfort zone. I think the first one that had me recoiling in complete horror and making D: faces IRL was this one.

I also like that the article includes one of my favorite Adventure Time quotes: "This cosmic dance of bursting decadence and withheld permissions twists all our arms collectively. But, if sweetness can win—and it can—then I’ll still be here tomorrow, to high five you, yesterday, my friend. Peace.
posted by yasaman at 8:16 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


Oh, and even the New Yorker is hopping on the Adventure Time train: Emily Nussbaum says it's "one of the most philosophically risky and, often, emotionally affecting shows on TV. It’s beautiful and funny and stupid and smart, in about equal parts, as well as willing to explore uneasy existential questions, like what it means to go on when the story you’re in has ended."
posted by yasaman at 8:47 PM on April 15 [4 favorites]


This is a great article. A fascinating glimpse inside the Cartoon Network behemoth. I'm a huge fan of Adventure Time and Regular Show. The newer shows like Uncle Grandpa don't really do anything for me.
posted by ob1quixote at 8:53 PM on April 15


I quite liked that New Yorker article! I love that she mentions "Bad Timing", which is an insanely great episode -- though I think she missed one of the most important parts, that LSP's beau isn't dissolved but actually kicked OUTSIDE the circle/spacetime.

Also, it was weird that she kept calling LSP "Lumpy". I kept reading that and going "wait, I've seen every ep, who's 'Lumpy'?!" (Of course -- that is probably the clearest short version of her name in text written to convince someone of the show. 'Lumpy' is a bit more identifiable. 'LSP' sounds kind of inorganic if you're not familiar with the show.)
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 9:01 PM on April 15


ob1quixote: Have you checked in with Steven Universe yet? It's by Rebecca Sugar of AT, and it is PHENOMENAL.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 9:02 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


I strongly recommend the "I Know That Voice" documentary; it has maybe a little too much John DiMaggio, but, hey, it's HIS show.

Many voice actors have shown surprising versatility, like:

Mel Blanc doing almost all the great characters in Looney Tunes (for more recent versions, they had the roles farmed out to several actors).

June Foray, who did most of the Looney Tunes' female characters (Granny, Witch Hazel) before doing Rocky, Natasha and Nell on the Bullwinkle Show, and in her 90s is still doing voice work (now being typecast as Granny, but in the documentary she shows she can still do the Flying Squirrel).

The late, great Paul Frees (previously MeFied, with my addendum)

Jim Cummings, who took over doing Winnie the Pooh's voice when Sterling Holloway died, then took over Tigger when Paul Winchell died, but did a lot else for Disney, including Darkwing Duck himself and Pete in the various Mickey Mouse and Goofy revivals, as well as Looney Tunes' Tazmanian Devil and a frequent Generic Narrator, from Animaniacs to Legend of Korra.

Billy West, whose first big break was as Stimpy on Ren & Stimpy, then when Nickelodeon fired John Kricfalusi took over as Ren, and most recently populated Futurama as Fry, Zoidberg AND Prof. Farnsworth. (Having conversations with yourself is one of the most valuable cartoon voice skills)

I can name many others, yet I was pleasantly surprised that "I Know That Voice" had over 60 voice actors, after the more recent takeover of much voicework by 'regular' actors - and especially 'stars', as I documented almost 10 years ago...
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:40 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


A few years ago I got the chance to meet Mr. Kenny at the Annie Awards. Nice guy, very high strung. It was a little surreal to spend time around him since doing so basically meant reliving moments from all my favorite cartoons any time he spoke. He struck me as somewhat nervous by nature, though.
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:15 PM on April 15


Uncle Grandpa is charmingly surreal and pretty entertaining in its own way. Granted, it isn't ever going to be as profound or sublime as Adventure Time, but it's deeper than you might think at first impression.

Cartoon Network programming has been pretty good recently at becoming something more than just children's entertainment. Genndy Tartakovsky's Sym-Bionic Titan had some of that transcendence in it, and so did Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, of all things. The characters in those shows were just so well-defined and so human and so much more than you might expect from cartoons. (It's too bad about what happened to them, their schedules were screwed over by the network like Green Lantern: The Animated Series and didn't get nearly the audience they deserved.) Steven Universe has that depth, too, and can get pretty existential at times. I'm also enjoying the most recent new show, Clarence. There's nothing supernatural in there at all, but that means it can capture details of reality really effectively. It's only aired two episodes + a pilot so far, but I have high hopes for it. And Tom Kenny's in it!
posted by Small Dollar at 11:33 PM on April 15


Slightly off topic, but I've always been an unapologetic adult devotee of Spongebob. So much so that when the movie came out in 2004, I went to see it by myself. I must have been the only unchaperoned person in the theater above the age of twelve. At some point I made eye contact with a woman to my left who gave me a look that said, "Hey freak, stay away from my kid or I'll gut you like a sturgeon."

That was the day the last of my innocence died.
posted by echocollate at 5:54 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]


man, what is *up* with this season of Adventure Time. Not only has it run for twice as many episodes as previous seasons, but it ends (next week maybe) and then the next season picks up like RIGHT AWAY. What's up with that??
posted by rebent at 6:29 AM on April 16


When Sorcher returned to Cartoon Network under former president Stuart Snyder in 2007, their original business plan had been to move the network away from animated shows and toward live action

Man, I am glad that failed.

The world would make so much more sense to me if cable networks did the shows that their name says they do.
posted by history_denier at 7:19 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Adventure time needs a lot more Marceline singing.
posted by heathkit at 8:35 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Man, I am glad that failed.

The world would make so much more sense to me if cable networks did the shows that their name says they do.


Cute Wild Fox Once Again Eludes Hunting Pack: Possible Link To Benghazi?
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:15 AM on April 16


Adventure time needs a lot more Marceline singing.

I was blown away by the song by Princess Bubblegum for Lemonhope, actually. Had to go back and listen to it several times and still it echoes in my brain.
posted by Atreides at 9:20 AM on April 16


I just want to say that I probably watch the "Simon & Marcy" episode of AT at least two or three times per month.

And the Ice King voice is the only cartoon character that I can successfully mimic.
posted by kuanes at 9:28 AM on April 16



man, what is *up* with this season of Adventure Time. Not only has it run for twice as many episodes as previous seasons, but it ends (next week maybe) and then the next season picks up like RIGHT AWAY. What's up with that??


There was supposed to be a "movie" in there, but it fell through and got absorbed into the episodes from this past season.

Adventure Time has kicked off a desire in me to try to guess who is doing a character's voice before I end up looking it up on imdb.
posted by drezdn at 9:34 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Not only has it run for twice as many episodes as previous seasons, but it ends (next week maybe) and then the next season picks up like RIGHT AWAY. What's up with that??

It ended a couple of weeks ago. Billy's Bucket List was the finale.

It's become the norm for shows to break a season in half with a long break in between. Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Venture Brothers, and Doctor Who all did this. What you end up with is a single season in name only --- you're really getting two mini-seasons, and it feels stingy. Adventure Time bucked the trend by doing the opposite, taking two regular seasons and stapling them together into one.

Plus, with hardly any break between this season and the next, there's pretty much no such thing as an Adventure Time season... there's just constant Adventure Time.
posted by painquale at 10:35 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]


Oh also if you're interested in voice actors and have some time to kill, try the Star Wars Trilogy Radio Play.
From the description: It's the Star Wars Trilogy like you've never heard it before! Join voice actors Billy West, Tara Strong, Maurice LaMarche, John DiMaggio, Kevin Conroy, Jess Harnell and Rob Paulsen as they re-create the magic of the Star Wars films, albeit in their own special way! You never know what you'll hear when this cast gets together.
posted by Peccable at 10:38 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Oh man, that sounds amazing. OK, without listening, here's my guess for the casting:

Billy West: Luke, Yoda
Tara Strong: Leia
Maurice LaMarche: Darth Vader, The Emperor
John Dimaggio: Jabba, Chewie, Lando
Kevin Conroy: Han Solo
Jess Harnell: Obi-Wan
Rob Paulsen: C3PO, R2D2
posted by painquale at 10:46 AM on April 16


Ha, boy, did I ever get that wrong!
posted by painquale at 10:48 AM on April 16


*that* was the finale? Seriously!?
posted by rebent at 11:00 AM on April 16


B.B.L. was a really good episode. And ended on a cliff hanger. What more do you want for a finale?
posted by signal at 11:29 AM on April 16


*that* was the finale? Seriously!?

It did have a motorcycle.
posted by Atreides at 2:47 PM on April 16


Plus, with hardly any break between this season and the next, there's pretty much no such thing as an Adventure Time season... there's just constant Adventure Time.

I'd take it rather than leave it, but we noticed the consequence of the extended season seems to be that there was hardly any Jake or BMO in the last dozen episodes or so. I guess they ran out of voice acting availability or budget.
posted by ignignokt at 4:00 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


After reading the article, I am currently weirded out that one of the main writers for Adventure Time is one of my old coffee shop regulars who was NOT a joy to deal with.
posted by Kitteh at 1:06 PM on April 17


Oh, man, I hope it's a guy who wrote episodes that I like less, but then again, I pretty much like all of them a lot.
posted by ignignokt at 5:29 AM on April 19


The sixth season premiere of Adventure Time just ended and boy, was it a doozy. Crazy cosmic stuff all over the place.
posted by Small Dollar at 3:33 PM on April 21


Holy crap was the premiere great. Some of the import of it would be lost on a new viewer, but at the same time it was a marvelous demonstration of all the things this show does so well all packed in together.

The AV Club's review happened to include this preview clip for an upcoming episode that's written, story-boarded and directed by Masaaki Yuasa (a name I don't recognize but perhaps some of you will). He was given complete freedom and the episode is apparently not going to be considered canon. Just what's in that 3 minute clip is completely insane. I can't wait to see the full thing.
posted by sparkletone at 7:16 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


That episode. Damn. They'd been hinting about it for a long time but...
posted by drezdn at 5:41 AM on April 22


That flower growing in that last episode is such an amazingly deft denial of expectations. Which is yet another thing the show does really well.

Oh man, I saw Maaaaagic Maaaaan in that Masaaki Yuasa clip. That character reliably fills me with this weird amused outrage. I get very complex feelings from that show.
posted by ignignokt at 5:57 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


Man, we need to convince the Mods to add Adventure Time to the fanfare beta.

That flower growing in that last episode is such an amazingly deft denial of expectations. Which is yet another thing the show does really well.

The fate of Finn's arm and that flower haunts my waking hours.
posted by Atreides at 9:15 AM on April 23 [2 favorites]


I'm really curious whether the flower means the grass sword is still part of Finn.
posted by drezdn at 10:35 AM on April 23


I thought that was such a weird, interesting detail. They needed to show visually that the guardian blood or whatever wasn't going to heal his arm like it had Martin's leg and... that's what they used? I vacillate between it being chosen because it's a surreal touch and it being meant to imply that having the grass sword on that arm meant that the guardian blood wouldn't work.

Hopefully we'll find out sooner rather than later.
posted by sparkletone at 11:45 AM on April 23


Those are both thoughts that ran through my mind. We know that the sword had become a part of him (and stopped trying to kill him when he accepted that), so my thought was that it had essentially become the lower part of his arm - hence the elbow amputation so to speak.

BUT, what if the flower will be something completely different than the grass sword? Flower sword? Or does it represent a foundational change in Finn's personality/soul, an understanding that violence can't solve everything? OR...who knows. Dang it.

Was his dad just a dead beat dad? Had he always scorned his son/children? Is there a reason behind it? He's considered one of the worse criminals in the cosmos, but why? He's not overtly evil like all the other prisoners (or the Lich), except he has no attachment to Finn.
posted by Atreides at 2:02 PM on April 23 [2 favorites]


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