Part of the annual duties of any comic strip is the inevitable Christmas / Season’s Greetings / Happy Holidays series, wherein the characters get all festive and do any number
of, erm, festive-related things. Cosmos certainly adheres to this tradition; and whether through comic strips, greeting card art or other artistic scribblings, I try to put some
sort of Cosmos / Christmas mash-up together every year. This is part one of a two-part exploration of Cosmos’ first Christmas - part two comes tomorrow, as one
would expect - wherein the now fully-established main cast get up to all sorts of yuletide tomfoolery....
This is the original inked artwork for a pair of Christmas cards I did for friends and family in 1999 - both were then coloured in and photocopied the requisite number of times
so there were enough to go around..... But unfortunately, I don’t seem to have kept a colour version of the one on the right for myself, which is a common factor with many
cards I’ve done for people in the past - how many I never preserved for posterity, I have no idea.
Top: it’s my very first ever filksong! Whether I knew it or not, creating song parodies was going to become an important part of my work over time,
as I got more into parody and satire in various projects....
Bottom: a good example of a comic that works perfectly well without extraneous dialogue or further explanation - everything you need to know is in Artie’s body language,
actions and reactions to the situation at hand. If I’d added any extra ‘clues’ to the story (as one person I showed it to seemed to think it needed - the only one who didn’t
immediately burst out laughing upon reaching panel four, by the way), it would have turned into a clunky, overworked mess.
Top and bottom: two further examples of ‘dialogue-light’ strips - interestingly, I seem to have drawn up (or, at the very least, come up with the ideas for) these first four strips
in late November; judging by the dates on them. Gene is in fine form once again, displaying perhaps rather more of a greedy side to his personality than he might like to show
these days.... I’m not sure who the Type-One Cosmosian discovering Ax’s spending problem in the second strip is - perhaps Artie’s unnamed friend from earlier in the year?
TO BE CONTINUED....
My Cosmos production during October and the majority of November 1999 is, for whatever reason, pretty patchy - apart from a few isolated bits of artwork and two ‘Sunday’-style comic strips, I did not contribute much toward the growth of the Cosmos-verse during this time. Still, what I did create is certainly worthy of note:
First is an example of me thinking ahead (perhaps prematurely, based on how many - or how few - comic strips I had at that point) and considering the potential future applications of Cosmos as printable media: I crafted a title page for a putative Cosmos book, ala the collections put out by Jim Davis and Charles Schultz for Garfield and Peanuts respectively. The ‘copyright info’, unsurprisingly for me, contains several in-jokes - Polyphex and Hydrus Four are locations in the Transformers universe, as is Iacon; whereas ‘Futuron City’ is a key setting in my short-lived superhero comic-experiment Toon Squad.
A bit of one-off artwork is next, which graced the front of an envelope of comic strips I sent to some friends of mine at Freelance Animation School in Auckland, to introduce them to the world of Cosmos. The ‘Merchandising-goldmine-superweapon’ spiel on the slab Artie and Gene are carrying is a reference to a Godzilla parody I did in the same year; the star of which rampages alone at the top of the artwork. And those are some.... interesting shoulders Artie and Gene have there....
Star Trek vs. Iron Man? I posited this imaginary slugfest on a piece of birthday card art for a fan of both franchises. Could a phaser out-zap Iron Man’s
repulsor-blasts? In this case, it seems so!
Is it just me, or did Gene have a rather nasty sense of humour back in the old days? I can’t see him doing something like this to Artie (or, in fact, anyone) these days....
Let alone Artie being foolish enough to fall for it! Oh, well, he will learn.... he will learn....
I must have been busy for most of November, surely. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for A) this being the only strip I did between the 15th of October (see above)
and the 26th of November (see the next chapter), and B) it being a Halloween strip that came out nearly a month after Halloween had been and gone! Still, it works pretty darn
well (there is a definite Garfield influence, once again) in and of itself. And the fact that is virtually dialogue-less really makes the humour flow smoothly. Good work, 1999 Jon!
TO BE CONTINUED....
Hey, don’t laugh! carpet sharks are serious business! more people have fallen prey to fatal toe-nibblings than any other household-
cleaning-procrastination-induced injury! Have your carpets checked today!
At this point, I decided that ‘knowledge is power’ would be a good axiom to follow.... if I studied up on carpet sharks, I might be able to rassle
me up a solution! So, one call to ‘Insta-Library’ later....
And what profound insights did I gain from my copious research? Exactly nothing, that’s what! Bah! Book learnin’! Nothin’ but trouble, just like my
Grandpappy said! Even throwing at the carpet shark was worse than useless! But, just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse....
TO BE CONTINUED....
Cosmos is not Earth. Despite the preponderance of human-style pop culture in the strip, and the strong resemblance Cosmosian society bears to our own, the two planets
are not mirror-images of one another. Case in point: the wildlife. As shown in the last chapter, the locals don’t have pet cats, they have furry, anaconda-bodied cat-snakes -
and you’d think that the same sort of rule would apply to whatever the Cosmosian equivalent of a dog is, right? Well, it does now.... but it didn’t back in 1999, apparently:
Those are clearly terrestrial, Earth-style canines, aren’t they? Yes indeed, they are - something of a problem canonicity-wise, since (apart from one further ‘Beware of the dog’
strip in 2000) the Cosmosian ‘dog’ became a short-tempered, sea serpenty-looking thing with fins in place of its ears and legs; typified by Murph’s future arch-nemesis,
‘The Dog Next Door’. Much like Gene’s newspaper strips, they are a continuity speed-bump I can’t quite iron flat....
Gene’s calculated assault on logic and common sense continued unabated in the successive strips - he may have been a passive (and often silently baffled) participant in
the ‘Beware of the Dog’ strips, but when he’s on-form, reality generally just has to get out of his way. Artie, as ever, is the calm, unflappable eye of the storm - which is
probably why they make such a great double act. I have to say, though, Gene’s idea of coffee seems to be something you’d want to approach with a whip and chair;
or in the worst case scenario, a heavy suit of armour....
TO BE CONTINUED....
I've done a fair few illustrations for 'Island of the Bargain Basement Dinosaurs' so far.... What's that? You don't believe me? Well, here's a bunch more to prove it; all focussing on the prehistoric paradise itself!