Webcomic Wednesday: Forming by Jesse Moynihan
Normally, this would be the part where I’d try to sell you on reading one of my favorite webcomics by, you know, telling you what it’s about. In the case of Forming, cartoonist Jesse Moynihan’s rollicking psychedelic saga of mortal combat between demigods, that’s pretty much impossible. I’m not sure what it’s about.
Sure, I can give you the descriptive clause that appeared between the commas in the previous sentence. I can tell you that it’s a stab at creating a syncretic creation myth, fusing elements of Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman mythology, adding aliens and Atlantis, then filtering it through the slugfests of professional wrestling. I can tell you it wrings a lot of its power from juxtaposition — taking the gods and angels and demons of our collective unconscious, drawing them to look a little bit weird and silly (Moynihan, like previous WW subject Michael DeForge, works on Adventure Time, and the sensibility shows), coloring it like a Jack Kirby ambien hallucination, creating action sequences that would put anything on the screen to shame, and having everyone from the gods on down be pottymouthed average joes motivated by quotidian concerns like not wanting to piss off your boss or getting horny or whatever.
But the fact of the matter is I’m backfilling a hole that my brain just plain skips over when contemplating this comic or why I enjoy it so much. The mythology Moynihan has created for this thing, tongue in cheek though it may be, is dense enough to be all but impenetrable (there’s four summary/guide/family tree things and counting so far), and because his imaginative pantheon is so sprawling I’m never quite sure who’s fighting who and why. The thing about Forming is that this is not a criticism. The best argument in favor of Forming is simply looking at it. The emotions and dialogue are recognizable, but they’ve been alchemically transmuted into something magical and perception-altering. Having each new page come through my RSS reader is like receiving a transmission from a plane of existence that vibrates at a slightly higher level. Isn’t that what SFF is supposed to feel like?