Cosmos

When Nonsense Collides!

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by Cartoonist_at_Large

Cosmos: Old School (2002) - part sixteen

As much as I hate to say it, Explorers Inc. are not easy fellows to write stories about. For one thing, they seem incapable of doing ‘small’: being
adventurers, their lives are all about traveling the globe, braving dangerous wildernesses and bizarre creatures; or at the very least doing crazy,
cool science stuff. That makes for extremely complex, detail-heavy stories (both art and dialogue-wise) which can be equally time-consuming to
produce - so much so that I might not get any other Cosmos stuff done as a result. And ‘complex, detail-heavy’ is tricky to break down into four
panel installments without a whole lot of recapping and / or exposition, meaning that comic book-style stories (rather than newspaper strip-style)
may prove to be the only proper way to complete Explorers Inc. tales in the future.... if I can ever find the time.

At any rate, I did complete a (somewhat) long-form Explorers inc. story in 2002 - the last of its kind until, well, the New-School era - inspired by the big thing
in my life at that point: gettin’ my geology on at University. Given the hill trekkin’, forest-mappin’ shenanigans we got up to during our field courses
(such as to the Jurassic-tastic Port Waikato and the volcanic Mt. Ruapehu), it seemed a natural fit for Artimus Frink and co.;
as being scientific all-rounders, that sort of thing would be right up their alley....



Top: Famous Explorers of Cosmos is a prestigious trading card series in which adventurers past and present are immortalised to inspire their successors
in the future. By the looks of things, though, Artimus is beginning to wish he hadn’t been immortalised.... quite like that. But if that was the best take,
I’d hate to think what the other 46 or so were like!

Bottom: a (very) rare example of a vertical cosmos strip, so oriented because this particular gag required lots of Up but far less.... along.
Of course, being at odds with the other 99.9% of Cosmos strips that are horizontal, it had to be presented lying on its side to fit with the other comics in this
series - so it does look rather out of place and hard to read. Ah, experimentation, we love ya!



Top: rather than have Artimus, Tork and Co-Pilot once again bickering at one another for three pages, I decided to bring in a pair of ‘point of view’
characters (named Zack and Libby, I’ve just decided) whom they could serve as mentors to on their latest scientific endeavour; interacting with them
in ways they wouldn’t do with one another. Zack and Libby - eager Uni graduates both - are hanging out with Co-Pilot because he’s younger,
a bit more approachable, and ‘cool’ compared to the old-fashioned and rather stuffy Artimus Frink; while Tork is still learning the ropes himself
(under Artimus’ tutelage). And I’m sure Co-Pilot is enjoying spending time with people who don’t constantly give him stress headaches....

Bottom: Is Co-pilot channeling a bit too much of me in this strip? Frankly, I think he is - Artimus and Co-Pilot know they’re stuff, certainly, but they’re more
well-read hobbyists with broad knowledge bases than university-trained experts with specific knowledge of geological minutiae. Zack (quite possibly an
up-and-coming example of one of those experts) I can see reeling off all that fancy terminology, but Co-pilot? Not so much. Especially since the dialogue
feels a bit ‘name-drop a whole bunch of stuff simply because I can’ rather than contributing to the story.
But at least Zach’s progressively upscaling hammers was kind of funny, right?



Above: boy, that’s one thick pen I was using for the panel borders and titles here, wasn’t it? There definitely looks to be a clear dynamic
between Zack and Libby in these strips - Zack has the more mature, by-the-book attitude; while Libby is more flighty, less observant, and
primarily concerned with having fun. Perhaps that’s why she’s getting on so well with Artimus in the second strip! In a way, this is
somewhat more their story than Explorers Inc’s, although I suspect it would be far less interesting if Artimus and co. weren’t there....



Top: If you’re a geologist, I’d imagine you’re either laughing your face off or groaning at the horrible pun right now - but if you’re not scientifically-inclined,
Schist is a low-grade metamorphic rock with thin, wavy layering (called foliation), which contains over 50% ‘platy’ minerals (ones that  crystallise
into flakes or sheets) and layers of quartz and / or feldspar. And, of course, Schist sounds like.... well, you know.... as a play on the old saying ‘S**t Happens’.
No? Guess you just had to be there, then.

Bottom: Oh, hey there, Jon’s ‘No Dinosaurs in Cosmos Rule’! How you doing? You’re slowly falling apart? From being constantly ignored for the last
three-and-a-half years? And you expect the trend to continue for the foreseeable future? Well, that sounds great! See ya ‘round! This also interesting -
it’s an Explorers inc. strip without a single member of Explorers inc. in it! As I said before, Zack and Libby are the main focus of the story, being the
stand-in for the audience (as well as something new and different); so I suppose it was inevitable that they - and their differing personalities -
would go solo eventually. If memory serves, several of the gags in this collection were generic geology / science jokes that I came up with
during my field courses; and then re-purposed to fit into Cosmos. So perhaps that explains the dinosaur!

TO BE CONTINUED....​

by Cartoonist_at_Large

Cosmos: Old School (2002) - part fifteen

Once the B-Team cast - Peter and Timmy, in particular - moved away from being Transformers reference-dropping one trick ponies, I was actually
able to do other things with them related to the fact that they were kids. They may have Charlie Brown-like levels of social savvy, but being eight
year olds there was still plenty of scope for juvenile pranks, getting in trouble, awkward questions, naivety and comedically-unstable emotions;
often all in the same story. Following my sprawling story Future Tense (2002, part fourteen), I crafted two day-in-the-life mini-stories for the
B-Teamers; one starring (who else?) Peter and Timmy, and the second featuring everyone’s favourite seldom-seen (and utterly adorable) witch in training....



Above: Peter isn’t a bad kid, not really - he generally respects his parents, and at least tries to do well at school - but like any other sentient
being his age, every now and again he decides to test the don’t-go-there boundaries. Unfortunately, while he tries to achieve a flawless break the
rules / get away with it combo, his grand plans fall apart for one very good reason: he doesn’t think things through. It’s possible that once he comes
up with an idea, it excites him so much that he just assumes it will come off without a hitch; because “Hey, it sounds great in my head!” And as far as
on-the-fly improvisation if things start going south? Sadly, no. Timmy is (reluctantly) willing to be his partner in crime, but only to make sure his
friend doesn’t do anything TOO stupid - although most of the time, his helpful advice merely makes Peter more stubborn....
and more convinced that his terrible decisions will win out, even if they clearly won't.... Oh dear.



Top: boy, Peter sure looks like Artimus Frink with that fake moustache on. That’s the problem with having a finite (and pretty generic)
set of Cosmosian body plans: unless you custom-mod every single character with different eyes, noses etc., the characters in each type can
end up looking annoyingly similar. And speaking of Peter, it seems his temper has an equally negative effect on the success of his plans....

Bottom: Yes, don’t worry, it was just popcorn butter. Geez. You have to hand it to Peter, he is persistent in the face of adversity (even if it’s
almost entirely generated by his own tunnel-vision).... but this time it seems to have paid off! Go, Peter! Um, I think.



Top: the one thing I made sure to do with this story - kind of in the tradition of 'Hamster Hewey and the Gooey Kablooey' in Calvin and Hobbes - was
to not give any indication as to what Co-Ed Vampire Vixens vs. the Robo-zombies from Mars was actually like, in terms of plot, characters, or what
even made it ‘Over 18’s only’. Obviously, it’s cheesy, gory and packed with gratuitous violence (exactly the kind of movie a pair of eight year olds
would want to sneak a look at); but beyond that, I left it up to the audience’s imagination how dodgy - or just plain awful - it really was. Certainly,
the sound effects in panels 2 and 3, and peter and Timmy’s hasty exit shortly thereafter, point to it being pretty darn extreme!

Bottom: the B-Team cast’s stories more often than not feature a quasi-moral at the end, wherein the characters reflect on what they’ve learned and the
audience can - hopefully - bask in that wisdom. However, I’ve never found super-preachy dialogue to work as effectively as some people seem to think
it does.... so I always approach this sort of thing with a post-modernist twinkle in my eye and tongue wedged firmly in cheek. Humour + education = fun!

Mindy Simmons (Peter’s next door neighbour, remember? The one with the pointy hat?) is rather a bit-player in the B-Team cast: she doesn’t
really have sufficient character depth to carry off a story on her own, and works best as a catalyst in someone else’s narrative; where her cuteness,
innocence and precociousness bumps the story into motion (or even more into motion than before). As such, even though she appears in three out of
the four following strips, and provides the main thrust of the plot, the story proper is actually about her (unnamed) parents - oh, and one little question....



Top: ahh, yes, THAT question. The one guaranteed to cause any self-respecting mother or father to gasp, grimace, sweat uncontrollably, and
suddenly find something incredibly important they have to deal with.... Over there! Bye!!

Bottom: Mindy’s mother makes a very good point - adults seem universally petrified about even thinking of the mechanics of reproduction
around their children; let alone actually discuss it with them. But seriously, guys, what is it that’s so difficult about talking about.... Um.
And, errrr. You know. Thingamee. Nnnnngh. Okay, on second though, never mind! It’s too scary!



Top: I’m not sure where you were going with that ‘block of butter’ analogy, lady, but keep me out of it! And should I be worried that your daughter
is only four years old, but she’s almost the same size as you? What’s up with that?!

Bottom: behold - the Grand Cop-out Conundrum! Anytime this issue comes up on a TV show or cartoon, it is eventually ‘answered’ to the
satisfaction / bafflement / abject horror of the inquisitive young sprite in question.... but being a g-rated program, everything is dealt with in such a vague,
hands-off, touchy-feely way that it doesn’t actually clarify anything for any of the actual inquisitive young sprites at home - namely,
how to actually start an intelligent dialogue about the subject themselves! Catch 22, man, Catch 22!

Hmm, and I seem to have done exactly the same thing here myself.

Uh. Humm.

If I claimed I was doing it in a deliberately ironic fashion as a clever social commentary on the contradictions
of modern parenting, would you believe me?

Yehhh, I thought not.

TO BE CONTINUED.....​

by Cartoonist_at_Large

Filk-songs 101!

Ever since I wax knee-high to a drawing board, I’ve had a thing for clever song parodies, such as those crafted by ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic or Mad Magazine’s lyric maestro Frank Jacobs.
But until the 21st century, I never gave a thought to the fact that I could really, properly create some of my own - or that there was a whole community of people out there
(not just the legends mentioned above) doing it on a regular basis! The practice even has a name: ‘Filking’, taken from the term filk-song. The traditional definition of
filk-song is a ‘sci-fi folk-song’, as the name originated in sci-fi convention circles - apparently as a typo in a convention program (it should have said folk-song, obviously),
which proved so quirky and popular it was adopted as the official name. However, given that you can write a filk-song about pretty much anything - James Bond, reality TV,
particle physics, your favourite old sweater - the proper definition should be ‘pop-cultural folk-song’.... at least, as far as I’m concerned.

Filkers can create an original song from scratch, but many others (myself included) instead create parodies / homages to existing songs ala Weird Al; labeling them ‘Sung to the tune of....’
to give others a handy reference as to how it should be performed. The good thing about the homage-route is the tune and tempo of the song - and its linguistic structure - is already
there ready to go; and your primary task is to create new, original lyrics. I know nothing about writing sheet music, composing a tune or playing musical instruments; so from that
perspective, I wouldn’t even know where to start! But in a process of trial-and-error, I have honed my ability to craft parody lyrics around a snazzy beat to a nicely-sharpened
edge - while my first few efforts (in my Old-School Cosmos strips, unsurprisingly) definitely need to be revamped and expanded now, my latest filk-songs are something
I’m very proud of; especially since I’m A) not a musician, and B) doing this without any training or research....

But how do you make a filk-song, I hear you ask? Well, I’m not sure if there’s any official how-to guide on filking, but I do have a system that works for me; so I can
certainly pass on that rather jumbled knowledge for your perusal and bemusement! Here goes:

1) Pick a song you like - while pretty much any song with lyrics can potentially be turned into a filk-song, I find that songs which I actually like listening to, ones with an upbeat tempo and a
bit of joie de vivre, are the ones that most often spark ideas for a parody. They’re fun, they get my creative juices a’ flowin’, and I look forward to hearing them when they come on the radio!

2) Don’t pigeonhole yourself - I don’t think anyone has ever said to themselves “Yeh! I’m going to take ACDC’s Back in Black and turn it into a song about aluminium siding,
‘cause that’s definitely going to work!” Well, no, it’s not. You can’t deliberately set out to create a homage-style filk-song about a particular subject, or based on a particular song,
in advance - my ‘greatest hits’, at least, have come about completely out of the blue, when something in a song I’m listening to makes me think of something else....
which then gives me a funny idea.... and then, and only then, along comes the filk-song. And speaking of which....

3) Start with the title - more often than not, what kicks things off is me suddenly thinking of a stupid / absurd / bizarre riff on the song’s title; which the majority of bangin’ tunes
helpfully repeat several times during the chorus or verses. This - if it’s truly viable - forms the nucleus around which your filk-song can crystallise; and will determine not only how
the song works, but also what it’s about. For example (and these are actual ideas I’ve come up with, so please don’t steal them), the Bee Gee’s Staying alive might morph
into ‘Takin’ a Dive’ - a filk-song about throwing a boxing match for a bribe; while the Beatles Lady Madonna may make you think “Wow, that rhymes with ‘Ishiro Honda’!”....
and then you’re off writing a missive about classic Japanese monster movies. Predicting what you’ll come up with and where the song will go from
there is virtually impossible - but that’s where the fun comes in!

4) Print out the lyrics - don’t rely on just hearing your chosen song every now and again on the radio, or on demand on itunes or YouTube; find the full, proper lyrics online and
print them out in black-and-white, so you actually know what the actually song actually says! This is important not just because you got a physical blueprint to work from, but also because it helps to....

5) Sound it out - if you want your filk-song to match the tune and tempo of your chosen, printed-out song (both when you’re writing it, and when you’re singing it to yourself and
giggling hysterically) each line needs to have the same number of syllables - not the same number of words, necessarily; just the syllables - as the matching line in the original. To demonstrate:

ORIGINAL - wal/king/in/a/win/ter/won/der/land (9 syllables total)

FILKSONG - wor/king/o/ver/christ/mas/for/the/man (also 9 syllables total)

Having too many syllables (or worse yet, unnecessary extra words) mucks up the rhythm and flow of a line, and if anyone ever sings your filk-song, they may find themselves havingtorunawholebunchofwordstogether to fit them all in before the music leaves them behind. It also helps if the last syllable in each line doesn’t sound wildly different from
what was in the original song - when they don’t match up (say, when the original line finished with ‘wash’, but you put ‘Bob’ instead), the line sounds jarring and clunky; and in
the worst case scenario, it can bring the entire thing to a grinding halt.

6) Work with your theme - once you’ve got an idea (i.e, subject) for a filk-song, develop it by putting together all sorts of references, facts and terminology related to
that theme; and tell a story with them. It doesn’t matter if the ‘story’ is merely a series of connected anecdotes - as long as you’re staying on topic throughout, it will still
be a filk-song ABOUT that subject. When I’m on a roll (in the filk-zone, as it were), I usually find that the first line of a verse will automatically lead on to the next, and the next,
until I have a complete set; or a collection of individual lines from different parts of the song will occur to me piecemeal, and I can connect them together by assembling the
verses / chorus they belong to around them. Exactly how I come up with these lines, I don’t know, I’m afraid: it’s more of an intuitive process of clever wordplay than one
I can explain in any sort of detail. They just sound funny, and make me laugh, and off I go....

7) Use some elbow-grease, dammit - when a filk-song artist says their little ditty is ‘sung to the tune of’, they mean they have used said tune as a foundation....
but EVERYTHING ELSE has come from their pop culture-soaked imaginations. The best filk-songs are the ones where all (or virtually all) of the lyrics are unique to that
song, and don’t occur in the original: it’s not enough to change a couple of words or phrases here and there to make it ‘about’ something else (“Hurr hurr, I changed ‘smart’
into ‘fart’, ‘cause it’s funny”); you’ve got to create an entirely new song that can be performed to the original tune. Not only that, if your I-didn’t-follow-Jon’s-advice filksong IS
too close to its progenitor, you may find yourself in a rather dicey situation vis-a-vis ripping off someone else’s music.... and nobody wants that.

8) Mix it up - if your song’s original lyrics have a chorus that repeats several times, and has the same basic structure in each, don’t just plug in the same filk lyrics every time in
your version - write a unique variant for each time the chorus shows up, that successively bring new references, facts and terminology into the song! As long as the final line of
each repeat of the chorus (usually the title of the song, I’ve noticed; which is rather important) is the same, the other lines can follow the basic syllable structure
but say something entirely different! As an example:

CHORUS ONE
That’s the way, the cookie crumbles,
‘Cause my intern, only mumbles,
Can’t take me a break,
Got deadlines to make,
Working over Christmas for The Man!

CHORUS TWO
Here is the thing, The budget’s missing,
Your boss’ shoes,You will be kissing,
You’ll weasel away,
Not fired today,
Working over Christmas for The Man!

See? Easy! It adds a nice bit of diversity and variety to the song, and shows that you’ve put a bit of extra effort into your filking.... because you Just. Care. That. Much.
There are bound to be a few other minor filking principles that even I’m not aware I’m using (since they’re so very, very subtle and sneaky), or that other people out there are using;
but those are the ones I see as most critical when I’m attempting to wrest brilliance from one of my vague ideas - good luck to you!

by Cartoonist_at_Large

Cosmos: Old School (2002) - part fourteen

One thing that has always fascinated me is what the world will look like in the distant future - thousands, millions or even billions of years hence;
when all those pesky humans are gone and the planet has altered itself beyond all recognition.  And if any new sentient beings arose in our stead,
what would they make of all the bits and pieces - sorry, ‘archaeological evidence’ - we’ve left behind? I decided to indulge my ‘What If?’ fixation
with a little trip into the deep post-history of Cosmos, long after the time of Artie, Gene and co. (rather a scary thought, I have to admit);
to see what I could see. And since I could not rely on my regular cast to tell the story - at least, not initially - a couple of new faces had to step up to the plate....



Above: What says ‘the future’ better than a couple of wacky robots? I’m not sure whether Umbar and Irwing are indigenous to Cosmos
(being descended from robots built by the last organic Cosmosians), or have arrived from some other part of the galaxy; but they were so much fun to
write, it doesn’t really matter. If memory serves, I came up with their designs on the fly, but still followed the standard Jon Kay Robot
template - rounded body / antenna / ball joint shoulders and hips / bendy pipe limbs. And they argue like an old married couple! Ain’t they neat?



Top: part of the reason I started this story was the fact that it offered the perfect opportunity for some pithy social commentary, via the artifacts Umbar
and Irwing were unearthing. This, I have to say, is one of the best SC strips I’ve ever done.... because no matter how distorted some of the ‘facts’
the pair are reeling off, they’ve pretty much hit it right on the nose!

Bottom: It’s fairly obvious that Irwing is the more experienced archaeologist of the two; although Umbar more than makes up for it in sheer enthusiasm.
He’ll go a long way - provided he doesn’t keep almost killing himself in the process....



Above: Uh oh, you could see where this story was going, couldn’t you? It was only a matter of time before the robots of the future came
across the characters of the past - and as far as links go, the lost citadel of, uh, ‘To-Mic-Pia’ is a pretty big one. At that point in time
(2002, not 1 Bazillion AD), I hadn’t really defined the layout or exterior design of Tony’s Comic Utopia, so the store logo and internal set-up of
the shop varied from story to story.... and sometimes strip to strip!



Top: You could almost consider the adventures of Umbar and Irwing and this ensuing ‘flashback sequence’ as two completely
separate stories - well, almost, for reasons you’ll see later - as they have pretty much nothing to with one another plot-wise. At any rate,
it’s business as usual at Tony’s, with the wonderful world of filk-songs making its welcome return.... although I never did expand ‘I’m a Little Red-shirt’
out into a full-length song at any point. Sigh. Can you name all four alien races featured in panels 2 and 3? I bet you can, you crazy nerds, you.

Bottom: When rival Warsies go head-to-head, you’d better have a good place to hide - especially when one of them is Eugene Ellis, staunch adherent
to Latter-day Lucasfilmism! Tony’s realtively laid-back attitude to the escalating smackdown may seem strange, but given his long-term status as
Pago Grande’s pop-culture guru, he’s probably seen a lot worse than this....



Top: The Star Wars wars continue! Believe it or not, something as arbitrary as the presence of a signature on a poster, or whether an action figure
has a particular packaging detail or not can be a serious status symbol in geek circles; simply because such a feature marks said item as
‘rare’ or ‘unique’. Wow, you got one of the first-series Yoda figures with the mis-coloured arms, that they only made 500
of before they sent it back to quality control for a better version? Dude, that is awesome!

Bottom: Cosplayers - missing the wood for the trees since ages ago.



Top: I hate to say it, but back in 2002, this guy was me - because there was an all-new Transformers comic series coming out
(from Dreamwave Comics), that was the first proper TF comic since Marvel’s Transformers: Generation 2 folded in 1995. I suspect I did this strip
to celebrate the fact that it was about to come out, or had just been released; I forget which. Of course, if I knew how much better the later
comics by IDW Publishing were going to be, I probably wouldn’t have bothered....

Bottom: Superhero movies have a bit of a chequered history (especially during the 1990’s) - for every utterly fantastic super-flick
(The Avengers, Hellboy, Iron Man), there have been many more truly dire examples of the craft.... yes, I’m looking at you, Halle Berry-version
Catwoman; and you, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. And yes, I’m not kidding, Roger corman did create a Fantastic Four Movie
(during the early 1990's), but it was so, well, not-fantastic, it was shelved - although I’m sure you can find it on Youtube if you look in the right place.



Top: Another filk-song! Which I have also failed to turn into a full-length version! Somebody slap me! I did briefly consider giving the girl in panel
four the job Tony was offering, and making her part of the supporting cast; but I had so much other stuff going on in the strip that the idea got
put on the back-burner.... and then forgotten about until, well, right now. I suppose she could have signed on between stories, and we simply never saw
her, ‘cause she was always off-panel.... and then she got married, and moved to the other side of the world.... which we also never saw.... for some reason....
Okay, never mind.

Bottom: Aaaaand the story comes full circle. Looking back on it now, I really wish I’d had a couple more Umbar and Irwing strips, and a couple less
TCU strips; or intertwined the narratives a bit better - once To-Mic-Pia shows pu, the 1 Bazillion AD stuff just.... stops. If Cosmos had been
published day-by-day in a newspaper, I’m guessing, by the time you reached this last strip you may well have forgotten who Umbar and
Irwing even were! Still, at least I did bring them back (in a pretty clever way), so that’s something. Another thing of note: when I first drew the pencil art
for this strip, the ‘Meanwhile, in 1 Bazillion AD’ text box fit into the existing height of panel four. Unfortunately, with that taking up X amount of space,
and the dialogue pushed down even lower beneath that, there was literally no room to fit Umbar and Irwing into the frame properly!
So, with no other option, I popped it up out of the top and made things fit that way....

Is it any surprise I prefer doing Cosmos with Photoshop and InDesign these days?

TO BE CONTINUED......

by Cartoonist_at_Large

Cosmos: Old School (2002) - part thirteen

I’ve always wondered - as have, no doubt all his friends - what a behavioural psychologist would make of Mr. Eugene Carmichael Ellis.
While fundamentally a decent guy, his penchant for practical jokes and mind-games, boisterous (and dare I say alarming?) enthusiasm, and
devil-may-care attitude to his own personal safety makes one wonder what goes on in his head sometimes. He isn’t unique, as far as this sort of personality
is concerned - the Autobot Swerve from IDW’s fantastic series Transformers: More than Meets the Eye is unnervingly similar to Mr. Ellis; and a
snippet of dialogue from a story by comic artist Adam Warren (about one of his own characters) could - taken out of its original context -
just as well come from a doctor diagnosing Gene’s, well, Genes:

“.... You know, with too much Adrenoconticotropic hormone, too little Monoamine oxidase? Makes them obnoxious, aggressive, overexcitable....”

Our favourite sweater-wearing misanthrope, however, manages to go one better: while the A-team cast are all aware of their status as comic strip
characters, only Gene truly exploits the freedom this gives them; taking a perverse glee in pushing the laws of cartoon physics as far as they will go.
It’s almost as if he’s daring them to push back just as hard some day, putting him firmly back in his place.... or worse. Risk taker? Easily bored?
Defying his own mortality? Totally insane? Who knows - we’re just glad he’s on our side....



Above: No, Artie, I honestly don’t think there’s any rehearsal involved in Gene’s shenanigans - seriously, can anyone see him working to a script?
Or following the stage directions? That would just get in the way of his fun! If I tried to place limits on what Gene could or couldn’t do, I’m not sure
we’d get to see the majestic Chocolate-cream Jungle Donut going on its beastly rampage; and that would be a shame. On a different subject:
does everybody else suddenly have a hankering to watch Wheel of Salmon, just to find out how it actually works?



Top: Any time you hear the words “Wanna see a neat trick?” coming out of Gene’s mouth, you should be A) extremely wary, and
B) ready to flee at the earliest possible opportunity. Unfortunately, until you know precisely which boundaries of common sense he intends
to grossly mis-mangle, there may be no choice but to wait and see what happens!

Bottom: Ah, space restrictions, my old nemesis, we meet again. Panel four is yet another prime example of how very wordy, hand-written
dialogue can fill up so much of the panel that the artwork ends up crammed into the absurdly-small area that remains. And it’s particularly
unfortunate in this case: can you tell that the character is skydiving, plummeting through a vast expanse of open sky as
he attempts to decipher his parachute instructions? Well, no. Every bit of that dialogue was necessary (exaggeration = humour),
but so was making the character large enough in the frame so you could see his mounting horror - and with no way to change the font size
or shrink the text box (short of drawing the entire thing again), all I ended up with was a bad compromise....



Top: Gene really has a knack for messing up panel borders, doesn’t he? I’d classify this as a ‘slow burn’ gag - when you first look at the
overall composition, you have no idea what you’re supposed to be getting from it, let alone what it all means. But then you get to panel four,
read the dialogue, see what Gene is grasping in his angry little hand.... and you’re laughing your head off because, finally, two and two have
added up to make five. At least, that was how it worked with the people I showed it to, much to my satisfaction.

Bottom: On a hot day, many people seek short-term relief by standing in front of the fridge with the doors open.... But when you’ve reached the
level of ‘ingenuity’ Ax has attained, perhaps you’ve gone just a bit too far! Unless he was trying to pay another visit to the Fridge that Time Forgot
(2002, part 8 and 9) - in which case, I understand perfectly.



Top: once every so often, it seems, cartoon physics likes to get its own back on Mr. Ellis.... and this, dear reader, is most assuredly one of
those times. I’m not sure why he didn’t stick with his look in panel two, though - Batman, Gene! You passed up being Batman!

Bottom: Artie and Gene are Bad Movie aficionados par excellence - if it’s got shonky set design, laughable monsters or truly horrendous acting,
they will have watched it with all possible gusto! But the Cosmosian equivalent of videos and DVDs (at least during the Old School era)
somewhat confuse me: they look to be a wafer-thin tablet with the movie info on the front, and complex circuitry patterns on the back. Is this simply a
streamlined, high-tech case that the DVD fits into for storage; or does the entire thing slot into the DVD player like some oversized credit card?
I really must figure that out sometime....

TO BE CONTINUED..... ​