The Cosmosian comics onslaught continues, with another tasty assortment of strips!
Top: I’m not sure whether Gene is vain, exactly, but he certainly seems to have a high opinion of himself; perhaps as he is (one of) the protoypes for the
Type Three Cosmosian. Good thing Artie and his dry wit are there to give him a much-needed bit of perspective....
Bottom: Wow, Gene really not showing himself in a good light in these strips, is he? Especially in these early days, he could be rather.... what’s the word
I’m looking for here?.... childish. Clearly, Artie and Ax are making an effort to broaden his horizons about Star Trek here, but nope, Gene ain’t budging....
Above: Another good example of a strip that would only be ruined with the addition of ‘helpful explanation’ - it’s far funnier not knowing what precisely is going on until
you hit the last panel, when Artie’s amazed exclamation abruptly makes the preceding bizzarre goings-on make sense (at which point, everyone who I showed this trip
to laughed their heads off, a good sign). Gene’s silent and furious glare at Artie (perhaps being deliberately naive?) in that final panel also sells the joke.
Top: Gene just doesn’t know when to stop. Being able to break the fourth wall, and as a result knowing he is a cartoon character, gives Mr. Ellis a bit of an ego when
it comes to dictating what goes on in Cosmos. Up to and including, apparently, smack-talking the ‘artist’ - i.e, me. Dangerous ground there, my son....
Bottom: perhaps foreshadowing Pixar’s ‘Monsters Inc.’ , this strip posits the question ‘What if your daughter said there was a monster in her closet.... and she
wasn’t imagining things?’ The fact that both Dad and the Monster look equally baffled in the third panel adds another level to the joke, I think.
Above: These strips were supposed to be the first part of a much longer sequence in which Artie, Gene and co. would attempt (and hilariously fail) to create their own
Japanese monster movie; riffing on everything from bad dubbing to plastic tanks and shonky cardboard-box buildings. Unfortunately, either because I couldn’t think of
where to go next, or I just got busy with other things (I was at Uni by this stage), it never got any further - but never fear! In 2001, I delivered a full-length Tohoscope
spectacular in the form of ‘Genezilla: King of the Cosmonsters!’
TO BE CONTINUED....
Early in the year 2000, I seem to have come to a radical conclusion: given their rough-around-the-edges state, nobody was ever going to want to read any of my very first comics from 1999. Back then, of course, I had no idea I would one day be presenting this blog, nor that Cosmos would still be going umpteen dozen years later; so it is perhaps understandable that I thought that those early efforts were nigh on unprintable. Certainly, much of the dialogue was cramped, messy and often unreadable (I have, in fact, retyped the dialogue in many of my 1999 strips using a typeface based on my own handwriting for this blog; it was that bad), and the art was admittedly pretty scruffy. Not being aware of Photoshop and Indesign at that point, however, I decided on a typical Jon doing-it-the-hard-way-is-easier-than-doing-it-the-easy-way plan: I would recreate the best of the 1999 proto-strips with my new artistic ability (as shown below), thereby ensuring the jokes contained therein would not go to waste:
I’m not sure how far I intended to go with this - I vaguely remember wanting to add the ‘Cos-Tastic Four’ strip to this roster, and considering revamping Cosmos Trek with the ‘lost scenes’ incorporated into the story - but only five strips actually got the Special Edition treatment; the four above during 2000 and the last (the ‘What are you in here for?’ space prison one) during 2004. Continuity nightmare though they are (did Dr. Nitro really diagnose the same guy with an acute case of Neo-Cubism two times in a row?), the revamps do clearly show just how much my artwork and layout skills had improved in the space of just one year, when they and the originals are shown side-by-side!
TO BE CONTINUED....
I enjoy making cartoons about Murph - while he does act like a typical feline (egotistical, self-centred, vain and borderline sociopathic), his anthropomorphic nature
allows me to blend a whole range of both human-like and cat-like behaviours into his personality; which in turn makes him a very interesting and fun character to write.
Being more cunning and creative than a normal (i.e, non-cartoon) animal, his interactions with Gene can be oftentimes rather dramatic:
Above: clearly, like any sane cat, Murph abhors the concept of baths; especially when he is the one who has to take them. Gene’s preparations in the
first strip may seem over the top, but an angry Murph is rather unpredictable.....
Above: Murph’s first Sunday strip! Looking at it now, I’ve noticed some rather baffling set continuity issues - Panel one: spotted table cloth, Panel two:
checkerboard tablecloth; Panel three: spotted tablecloth; Panels four thru seven: checkerboard tablecloth / Panel two: checkerboard neckerchief; Panel four:
plain neckerchief; Panel five thru seven: no neckerchief at all! 2000 Jon, what the hey?!
Top: Ah, vanity colliding with ill-concieved decision-making.... the building blocks of comedy. Note the cameo appearance of Dr. Nitro in the final panel;
he seems to be the default medical professional in Pago Grande.
Bottom: a one-shot sequel to my earlier (1999) ‘Beware of the dog’ strips; and the first Cosmos cartoon I actually had published anywhere (the Auckland University
student magazine ‘Craccum’). I seem to have - partly - learned my lesson from the first series: the dog is at least somewhat alien in appearance, with his little
antenna-ears and tail. It is still, however, nothing like the Cosmosian ‘dog’ ended up being later on. Oh well....
Above: more golfing humour, and another appearance by Dr. Nitro; moonlighting as a psychiatric specialist! That fellow either has a wide range of skills, or
Pago Grande is particularly short of qualified doctors....
TO BE CONTINUED....
Sneezing. Of all the subjects for a set of comics, why did I hit upon this one? Oh well, any material is grist for the mill of the good cartoonist, and if you can wring
something funny out of it for long enough for it to be successful (as these were, I presume) then you’d be foolish not to see where it can take you.
And the answer here is somewhere very strange indeed....
Above: this was based on the old urban legend of ‘If you try to hold in a sneeze / sneeze with your eyes open, it will make your eyeballs pop out / blow out
your ear drums’.... I simply took it to its logical conclusion, as is my want.
Top and bottom: more developments on the same theme - the second, in particular, takes the same idea as one of my ‘beware of the dog’ strips from 1999;
that of having dialogue (or sound effects) be suseptible to the same rotational principles as the characters they are attached to. Again, logical conclusions....
Top and bottom: The first two strips in what I envisaged as a series where the efforts of the protagonist to rectify the last stupid thing that happened to him instead makes
the situation worse, and twists his body even further out of shape in the process; leading to another attempt, another failure.... Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, I got
stumped as to where to go after my initial ideas; and never got past these first two. I added the smiley face badge (again, what is it pinned onto? Maybe it’s a sticker) onto
the character so you could tell it was the same guy in every strip, and the strips formed part of a sequence.... given that he was otherwise just a generic Type One.
Top: This strip, above all others, is one that NEEDS to be presented in colour for the situation to be understood, and, more importantly, the joke to work.
I know this because I beta-tested the black-and white version of this comic on my friend Jeremy, and his only response (after looking at it for a while) was
‘Have you not finished inking it in yet?’ I took the hint and made with the coloured pencils....
Bottom: Did I just predict the future proliferation of energy drinks in this strip? I think I did.
Top: more thought-bubble talking Cosmosian wildlife, with a liberal dose of ‘sudden reveal of the truth in the final panel’ thrown in for good measure. Poseurs be posin’....
Bottom: The one thing that Artie and Gene will never agree on is the equal status of Star Wars and Star Trek in the pop-cultural hall of fame - Artie, for example,
thinks Gene is somewhat desperate in his lavish defense of the Prequel Trilogy; while Gene thinks that Star Trek in general is just.... dumb-dumb-stupid-pants.
They are willing to compromise on some things, but not this....
TO BE CONTINUED....