The bildungsroman is a novel of moral, occupational and sometimes spiritual formation. Jane Eyre and To Kill a Mockingbird are representative examples. Autobiographies like The Education of Henry Adams (grand and great grandson of John Quincy Adams and John Adams, respectively) are also included in this genre.
I think of Moises Keymolen’s comics as the beginning of a bildungsroman in which he explores the artist’s relationship with paid work. His comic “Mindwich,” completed as a final project for the Independent Publishing Resource Center’s Comics Certificate Program in 2012 and featured on the Chainsaw Comics website, follows a young man who looks not dissimilar to Keymolen and is experiencing the unreality of life as a working stiff…
who finds respite only in sleep…
but not really…
which the reader sees when they accompany him into his dreams.
Moises is debuting a new piece at tonight’s Gridlords and I couldn’t be more excited to see it.
The colors are reminiscent of the Caboodles cosmetics cases I envied during my ‘90s childhood,
which was a time when having a commercial job that complemented one’s artistic work seemed plausible and attainable.
Full House’s Uncle Joey (an underemployed comedian) and Uncle Jesse (an underemployed musician) produce radio jingles to earn money.
Moises Keymolen will be reading at Gridlords 25 tonight, Sunday August 31st at the Hollywood Theatre at 9:30.
and check out the new Gridlords store at gridlords.storenvy.com
Who/What influences your comics?
Daily life— I’m generally uncomfortable around daily life. Comics/animation provide a kind of filter for what I find upsetting. My absurdity is an answer to the absurdity around me. When I am illustrating something, I try to remove it from reality as far as I can without losing the essence of the gestures that make it recognizable and relatable.
In order to read/interact with your work I felt I needed to accept that it was playing out in a bizarre world and the comic/animation was a lens allowing me to see and observe this world. Do you feel like your comics are happening in our world? Is it commentary on our world/your own experiences? Is it a place you dreamed up?
It comes from my imagination but I’m convinced that it’s just a kind of filter for everyday life. Things that I experience and have experienced mirror themselves in my work but I haven’t had the time to dig through them all. It might be an absurdist call and response.
Are there reoccurring characters in your pieces?
Sort of? I try to make up new characters with every new drawing but I feel like there’s a style of character that I keep coming back to. There are a lot of smiling people and masked people.
It’s been my fantasy to have enough patience to develop a reoccurring character. I have a lot of reoccurring ‘essence.’ For instance: there’s a reoccurring faint-smiling person putting on a mask wearing a highly patterned suit.
I enjoy coming up with names for characters. I’m working on a character right now whose name is ‘Ex-Dan.’ Sometimes will make a list of nonsensical names but they never really get assigned to anything— because I rarely use text in what I’m doing.
Why don’t you use text in your pieces?
I just haven’t gotten around to it. It’s something that I fantasize about— like I do with I’m creating a character. I write certain phrases down in my notebook that I am inspired by but I feel like I would need to practice what my text looks like before I tackle lettering. I used to occasionally write a phrase on the border of a drawing but I think most of my effort goes into the title. I’m fussy about titles.
When I look at your work, images are arranged in sequence but often seem to be associated only by aesthetic. Is there a narrative or sequence you’re trying to describe?
There’s a narrative to most of them but the narrative is sort of a mirror to the drawing itself. I’m attracted to mundane narratives that are removed from my day-to-day. I am content making a drawing of a person walking out of a house. A lot of my comics have to do with houses so a panel could represent an interior or exterior but it remains in that assigned 6-panel realm.
What can you tell me about the use of pattern in your work?
I’m attracted to textiles and manufactured patterns. I think I’ve always wanted to go into textiles but I ‘m just a bad artisan. I’m sure my lack of confidence compounds my undesirability.
It’s mostly just an aesthetic choice. When I make a more narrative-style drawing I don’t space out the panels. They tend to be more pattern-dense.
Many of your characters appear decayed, aged, hairy or wrinkled. What is happening to these characters?
I think that might tie into my interest in drawing patterns, etc. I just enjoy variance in color and texture. I’m forgetting now the type of people I draw. It’s hard for me to draw a smooth boy and I am also afraid of most adults.
I am intrigued by your beautiful cut paper technique and the shadow plays it creates with some of your work. This compounds the aforementioned uneasy feeling. The pieces look 2-dimensional but refuse to stay/act 2-dimensional. Are they meant to be stationary?
That’s something I enjoy about shooting from above. The shadows can’t help but be there and add a different dimension. What usually ends up happening is that, if I like the way a scene looks after I am done shooting it, I will glue all of the pieces down— or just use a huge amount of tape in the center of the cut-out so it stands out from the rest and creates a shadow. Some people think it looks lazy but I personally like it so that doesn’t matter.
The play of clashing patterns, light/shadows, focused/unfocused imagery creates an unsettling/nightmare-like quality in your pieces. Are these horror comics?
I never considered them to be horror or comics really. I feel like they could be horror in a whimsical, childish way. It’s funny. Right after I finish something I’ll shelve it and move on to the next thing and try to forget what I just made. I rarely have everything out at once. Recently, when I was setting up for a show, I saw them all on a wall together and I realized how some people could find them frightening. I don’t consider them to be violent —at least, that isn’t what I’m trying to do. Someone said they illustrated ‘implied violence’ but I don’t have a main focus when I am working. It’s usually automatic.
I’m not interested in creating a ‘horror’ comic, or anything. If someone asks me what I do I may say that I draw comics because it’s easier and then I won’t have to go on a boring tangent. Whenever I tell someone that I draw ‘panels’ there’s always more explaining involved. Saying comics is more like an easy way out — for both of us. I feel like it’s misleading because someone who likes comics may not consider what I do comics but I’m fine with whatever, though, really.
You made the music and sound effects for your animated short, Worst Existence. Do you want to pursue a musical/noise aspect in addition to your visual art?
I self-released music for about 5 years or so but I got burnt out on that last year. The sound from Worst Existence is from a long tape I made back in 2011. As pretentious as this sounds, I think I ran out of things to say musically but I still fantasize about making music. I still stand in front of my mirror with my guitar.
Did you self-release music under your own name? Did you have a label?
I released 5 or 6 things under the name ‘ehouie’ and one thing under the name ‘maid visions.’ I didn’t have a label.
What comics do you admire?
I’ve been really enjoying the short zines CF has been putting out recently. I also like Anya Davidson, Leif Goldberg, Michael McMillan, Heather Benjamin, Carlos Gonzalez.
Who is your favorite non-comic artist?
I don’t really have a favorite but some artists I like are: John D Graham, Stewart Mackinnon, Suzan Pitt, Barbara Loden, Keiichi Tanaami, Martha Colburn, Karl Wirsum, Earl Harvey Lyall, Toshio Matsumoto, Amy Lockhart.
Come out to Gridlords #25 Sunday AUG 31st (tomorrow!) to see Dylan’s newest animated short along with some other animated shorts for the 1st time on the big 50-ft screen!!!
Also keep your eyes out for Gridlords’ upcoming comics anthology featuring Dylan Jones!
till then check out Gridlords’ new web shop for all our publications online.
Anonymous said: what time does the next GRIDLORDS start?
Lillie Craw: Forming is so pretty — in particular, I love all the pinks. It’s a comic that’s pretty gnar at times, so why so much pink?
Jesse Moynihan: Pink is a color that doesn’t come up so much in casual experience. When you see something with heavy pink saturation, it feels like it really pops. Whenever I see bright pinks I usually stop to notice it. So to me, when choosing colors, I use pink when I want to viewer to really pause and get a feel for the power of what I’m trying to convey. To me, pink equals vitality and a power that is higher than the mundane.
LC: There’s been a lot of interest in pink lately — the Boston Museum of Fine Arts just closed an exhibit on pink attire (which included a reproduction of the Ralph Lauren suit worn by Robert Redford as Jay Gatsby), and GQ just ran an article about pink attire featuring a picture of Drake in a pink dress shirt. Where does Forming fit into the public’s love affair with pink?
JM: Lots of times these things move in waves. Maybe we’re all tapping into the same inspiration. I feel like that’s a likely answer. Pink is like a laser beam to your eyes. It’s a weapon you should use to slay your audience.
LC: Talk a little about the (anti)hero Nommo.
JM: Nommo is based on a lot of self-doubting, lazy artists I know, and have empathy for.
LC: Nommo gets pinker as Forming progresses. Is this in a “real men wear pink” way or a Victoria’s Secret “Think PINK” way?
JM: Nommo gets pinker because I started using a different brand of paint at some point. The original pink I was using re-activated if I got water on it. That was bad for archiving my pages. So I switched to this other paint and I couldn’t quite match the original. I figured nobody would care, but look, I was wrong!
I don’t know if real men wear pink, but I wear a pink fanny pack every day and sometimes I get shit for it. “Why are you wearing a pink bag?” Uh, because pink is cool. Get with it losers.
LC: It’s not just Nommo or other characters like members of the Operation Heavenly Sword away team that are pink — the landscape itself is pink at times. There’s pink lightning and a pink sea toward the end of your most recent installments of Forming. Is this like Homer’s wine-dark sea (http://www.laphamsquarterly.org/essays/a-winelike-sea.php?page=all)? Is pink in the worlds of Forming some other color in our world?
JC: When I was about to paint that lightning, I reached for blue paint, but I thought to myself, “How boring! Everyone uses blue to paint lightning. If I use blue, the lightning will have no meaning. No one will remember this moment if the lighting is stupid blue and white in the center. If I make that shit pink, people will remember this page.” I will always go for non-representational colors if I feel like it will have more impact, or enhance the meaning.
I’m trying to slowly strip away literal representations of color. When you paint grass, you immediately think, “Grass is green. Break out the green,” and I still do that a lot. But I’m trying to get away from that. I’m trying to give my colors more power to help the story.
LC: Ein Sof is kabbalistic Judaism’s infinite God. Do you think Forming’s Ain Soph would prefer pink string bracelets to red ones?
JC:I don’t think Ain Soph has any preferences. It exists outside of the characteristic of making choices. That’s my understanding anyway.
TONIGHT at Gridlords #24, Jesse Moynihan will present a special musical powerpoint performance that will take guests into the world of FORMING.
9:30 at the Hollywood Theatre!