Forming Volumes 1 and 2 – The biblical creation story told as space opera
Forming Volume 2 by Jesse Moynihan
2014, 128 pages, 9.2 x 12.1 x 0.7 inches
$17 Buy one on Amazon
Forming Volume 1 by Jesse Moynihan
2011, 112 pages, 9 x 12 x 0.5 inches
$18 Buy one on Amazon
Lots of myths have been used as fodder for science fiction and fantasy, and some of the more interesting ones turn the gods into cosmic entities, or extensions of our own humanity. Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light, for example, imagines a group of posthuman astronauts who take on the personas of the Hindu pantheon. Then there are comics, such as Jack Kirby’s work in Thor, where Asgard is a techno-mystical dimension, and magic and technology are indistinguishable (to butcher Arthur C. Clark’s famous dictum). One story that has not garnered much favor by writers and artists is the biblical creation story. But they are missing out on a vastly strange and cosmic tale, and when combined with Kabbalistic ideas of how the world was created, you have one of the most far-out psychedelic-inflected tales that, if used right, could do wonders for a science fiction/fantasy story.
The problem is, it would take a pretty weird imagination to know what to do with it. The solution is Jesse Moynihan. Moynihan’s day job is as a writer and storyboard artist for Adventure Time, one of the greatest cartoons ever produced (sorry for the hyperbole, but it’s true). In Adventure Time, mythology and pop culture – including some brilliant shout outs to Dungeons & Dragons – are combined into something that is both whimsical and profound. After a few episodes, however, you can begin to see the self-imposed limitations. It is a kid’s show after all. In Moynihans’s own work as a comic writer and artist, his vision is let loose.
Forming, published by Nobrow in the UK, is currently in two volumes, with a third on its way. The comic is essentially the biblical creation story, with any number of other creation mythologies thrown in, told as space opera. It’s then filtered through contemporary colloquialisms, slang, and an imagination so thoroughly steeped in pop culture and psychedelic lunacy, it’s a thing both sublime and profane. On the one hand, Moynihan is trying to get at something essential here, asking real questions about consciousness, the idea of the soul, mysticism, and even colonialism and subjugation of native peoples. On the other, he fires on all cylinders with puerile humor and comic-book violence. The result is a deeply affecting, funny, and human story.
All of this is built on the groundwork of delightful, hyperactive, explosive artwork. Simple, but expressive human (and alien) figures give way to psychedelia, with panel after panel dotted with some form of symbolism. Along the way, Moynihan is able to figure in some of the most esoteric ideas alongside things like Garbage Pail Kids. But these asides never distract from what feels like something very personal. This is not a comic that merely grabs from multiple sources to be clever. There appears to be something at stake here, and sometimes it feels as if we are reading Moynihan’s own spiritual hopes and confusions.
– Peter Bebergal
This comic is good in itself but it gets better once you learn that each panel of this comic was done by a different artist going off of whatever the person before them drew for fun. The artists who worked on this? (Not in order) Pendleton Ward (Creator of Adventure Time), Andy Ristaino (Adventure Time storyboard artist), Jesse Moynihan (Adventure Time storyboard artist), and Tom Herpich (Adventure Time storyboard artist). This show is in good hands.
Adventure Time storyboard artist and writer Jesse Moynihan along with his brother musician and Adventure Time composer Justin Moynihan have created Manly in which they have described as “Silver Surfer meets Star Trek Next Generation, with the violence of Fist of the North Star and the tenderness of the Little Prince”.
Now stop reading the description and check it out for yourself!
Jesse Moynihan and Ako Castuera’s new episode, “Betty,” premieres tonight. Keep an ear out for Lena Dunham. Says Jesse:
New episode of Adventure Time on Monday featuring some highly anticipated subject matter, according to the message boards I check. This is a scene that was cut from the episode. Wish it could have been 30 seconds longer!
I guess I’m sort of nervous about how people will react to it, but oh well maybe I feel nervous every time an episode I work on airs. This is my second to last episode working with Ako Castuera.
Also, if you are a fan of the show Girls, you’ll be excited to know that Lena Dunham voices one of the main characters in this episode. So look forward to that. Word.
Official CartoonHangover Release Schedule: Bravest Warriorst The Parasox Pub - May 22nd Season of the Worm - June 5th Season of the Mitch - June 12th
Shorts: Dead End - June 26th Chainsaw Richard - July 17th Manly - July 31st
“Dead End” The Internet is haunted at Morningwood Road! Barney, Norma, and Pugsley must appease the ghost before she makes a meme of them all. Brought to you by Hamish Steele.
“Manly” Manly is sent on a mission to save her brother and gain the approval of her father, who happens to be the emperor god of the universe (and kind of a jerk). Created by Jesse and Justin Moynihan.
“Blackford Manor” Josette is a sweet and curious young maid at gloomy Blackford Manor, whose master has a very disturbing secret. Starring Martin Rayner, Ashly Burch, and Billy West. Created by Jiwook Kim.
“Chainsaw Richard” Do YOU want to see a burly man with chainsaws? Well, so do Tiny Ghost and Ramses. Brought to you by the creator of Feel Afraid, Christopher Reineman.
“SpaceBear” SpaceBear and the Astro-Magus, Perplexulo, face off… in SPACE! At a Gas-Teroid. Created by Andy Helms. Animated by Dave Ferguson.
“Bee and PuppyCat” The series follows Bee, an out-of-work twenty-something, and PuppyCat (“A cat?… or maybe a dog?”) between space and time, as they take on intergalactic temp jobs to make ends meet. Created by Natasha Allegri.
“Bravest Warriors” Bravest Warriors follows four teenaged heroes-for-hire as they warp through the universe to save adorable aliens and their worlds using the power of their emotions. Created by Pendleton Ward, the mind behind Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time.
Cartoon Hangover is the home for cartoons that are too weird, wild, and crazy for television. Cartoon Hangover is able to bring great characters, hilarious cartoons, and some of the highest quality animation to the Internet.
Continuing on after my Thomas Wellmann interview, here’s an interview I did with the super-awesome Jesse Moynihan, a storyboard artist responsible for some of Adventure Time’s best (and philosophically dense) episodes!Everyone, give Jmoyns a big round of applause! And without further ado…
GunterFan: Is there an episode that you didn’t work on that you would have loved to have storyboarded? Why? Jesse Moynihan: I remember seeing the pitch for Tom and Steve’s “Escape From the Citadel” and having to pick my jaw off the floor. I remember having tears in my eyes from how powerful and well crafted it was. So yeah I think that’s one that you could say, “I wish I had boarded” although I don’t really, since I’m glad they did it and produced a thing that was unique to their team. I also was really stunned by Tom’s sequence in “Ocarina” where Jake explains how laws were created. That scene spoke to me on a super gut level. I remember there was some debate about whether the scene was essential to the story and I chimed in something like: “That’s the most important scene in the episode”. It really felt like something only Tom could write. The way he uses language and observation to say something very potent and poetic, while also having a certain amount of humor in the language.
GunterFan: Is there a character that you would have loved to work with but never really got the chance? Was there a character you worked with that you didn’t really like or understand? JM: I do wish I could’ve had the opportunity to write some Cosmic Owl sequences. Also Flame Princes. I’ve basically written one or two lines of dialog for Flame Princess in my time boarding for AT. I almost did a Flame Princess episode with Ako once, but we opted for a Magic Man episode instead. I think maybe that was “Sons of Mars”? I forget. I think every character I’ve worked with, I’ve found a way to relate to them and understand their motivation. Marceline used to be difficult for me, but I eventually found a way to empathize with her. One part of being a writer is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, I think. It’s an empathy exercise. It’s also is good for you because it can broaden your point of view, and force you to see the flexibility of “truth”. I don’t think any real artist should believe in an absolute truth or a “correct” point of view.
GunterFan: Without being too spoiler-y, is there anything that you can say about season 7 that’ll whet the appetite of the fans? JM: I think the Marceline miniseries [i.e. “Stakes”] works as a coherent whole, and could be released as a stand alone TV movie. We’re starting to see the workprints come back for it, and it’s looking very good. I think it’ll be really well received.
[Silly GunterFan Commentary: I’m super super super super super pumped about this!]
GunterFan: So you’re going to devote the future to finishing Forming. Any other artistic plans in the immediate future? JM: I’m gonna finish Forming within a year I hope. I’m about 30 pages into writing it, and I think it’s some of my best work. I also want to continue developing a Tarot deck. I’m currently pitching show ideas around to the various networks. I also have plans to write, board and cut an animatic of an animated feature with my brother Justin: a story that will be tonally, visually, structurally and philosophically uncompromised.
GunterFan: Is there an artist out there that you would have loved to have storyboarded an episode with? JM: It’s hard to say because I admire many artists but I don’t know how we would work as a team, or how well they understand storyboarding. I will say that right now my two favorite comic writers are Sammy Harkham and Noah Van Sciver.
Jesse may be working on his and Justin’s “Manly” for Cartoon Hangover, but that doesn’t mean he’s given up his day job as storyboarder on Adventure Time. His and Ako Castuera’s “The Pit,” picking up where we left off in “Play Date,” premieres tonight on Cartoon Network.