Cosmos

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by Cartoonist_at_Large

Cosmos: Old School (2002) - part twenty-two

Has everyone heard the expression ‘Mid-winter Christmas’? Well, ladies and gentlemen, I am afraid I will have to interpret that very literally today - for it is the
end of July, significantly into the winter season here in the Southern hemisphere; and the next Old-school Cosmos story on my checklist....
is the Christmas 2002 special. Sure, I could put it off until December when it fits better - but then you wouldn’t have any more Cosmos: Old School blogs to
read for, y’know, six freakin’ months. So accuracy be damned! We’re turning the electronic singing Santa on way ahead of schedule!



As in the previous year’s serving of yuletide strips (2001, part 21 and 22), both the A-team and B-team casts got in on the fun; but this time around Artie, Gene
and co. largely dominated proceedings - with eight comics to the B-teamers four. And aside from a two-strip micro-story (starring Peter Anderson),
all the comics are single-serve gags rather than being part of a larger narrative. But we won’t hold that against them, right?

Top: It’s back! Which means it’s now officially a running gag - the Annual Obligatory Christmas Junk Mail Joke!
Sorry, Artie, it had to pounce on someone, and you were closest, so....

Bottom: speaking of things making a return appearance, remember the unfortunate shopping mall Santa who had to suffer the horrors of the B-team cast
(namely Mindy, Peter and the Tolstoy Twins)? He’s certainly a resilient soul, as his experiences the previous year clearly haven’t dissuaded him from spreading the festive joy.... Riiiiiight up until he runs into his nemesis. That third panel still cracks me up even now - Peter says a grand total of one word, and happy time is Just Over.



Top: what is a Peter strip without one of his implausibly-long Christmas wish lists? He seems to have outdone himself this time, though: one wonders how
anyone is expected to find enough time to read said list AND secure even a fraction of the items before December the 25th! Santa’s good, kid, but he ain’t that good....

Bottom: when it comes to the culinary arts, Artie is a hard act to beat - if it has ingredients, and is in any way edible, Mr. Deacon will have
wrangled and tamed it like a belligerent Brahma bull! Despite Gene’s (clearly manufactured) indifference, even he will admit that his
friend has impressive skills; controversial icing or not!



Top: there are some things some people simply Should not Do, and for Gene that definitely includes anything combining high places, high voltage and
Christmas decorations. You may inadvertently provide your neighbours with an annual ‘What not to do’ safety demonstration,
Mr. ellis, but don’t you think you should just hire someone to do it for you?

Bottom: it is entirely possible to overindulge on the buffet-style cornucopia at Christmas dinner (especially when Artie is one of the chefs!) -
but given that Gene considers ‘self-restraint’ and ‘moderation’ as entirely mythical concepts, there might not even be enough to underindulge in after he’s visited the table....



Top: why is it that Cosmos gets all the cool toys? While we had to wait until 2016 to get a new rendition of the mighty Fortress Maximus (which looks
utterly fantastic.... in robot more, anyway), Peter and co. got one in 2002! And considering it comes with a full-on extension set, the Cosmos version
might even outdo both the Titans Return one AND the original from 1987! Lucky, lucky, lucky Cosmosians....

Bottom: ever bought a brand-new set of Christmas lights in pristine condition one year, but then come back the next to discover they’ve somehow twisted
themselves into a tangled mess that even a trained escapologist would be afraid to become ensnared in? Well, Roger Anderson can feel your pain. Big time.



Top: Gene, seriously, what did say about you and electrically-powered Christmas decorations?! Seek Professional Help!

Bottom: the parallels between Earth culture and Cosmosian culture are convenient for social commentary purposes, but in other ways they can
be rather baffling - why DO both planets have the same holidays? Are they truly examples of parallel (or even convergent) cultural evolution, and it’s all
one huge coincidence? Or did Cosmos simply adopt them after some historic contact with Earth? And do they have the same cultural - and even religious -
context on Cosmos as they do on Earth? It’s those sorts of questions that keep OCD cartoonists like myself awake at night....



Top: what many people don’t realise about Gene is (especially back in the early days), although he is a goofy, fun-loving kind of guy; on occasion
he really can be an absolute jerk. Especially when you’re supposedly keeping secrets from him - ‘Mr. Greedy’ mode? Methinks that’s the least we can call you, buster.

Bottom: if someone hasn’t actually made a neo-cubist Christmas tree somewhere, sometime in the history of our species, then I shall be very, very disappointed.
It is unsurprising, however, that Macy would find such a creative way to celebrate the festive season, given her talent for artistic interpretation,
recontextualisation and lateral thought! Anyone can have a normal Christmas tree, but in the Maxwell-Styles household, that just ain’t good enough....

COSMOS: OLD SCHOOL WILL RETURN.... EXACTLY SIX INCHES TO YOUR LEFT!

 

by Cartoonist_at_Large

Cosmos: Old School (2002) - part twenty-one



Welcome back! For those of you just joining us, we are currently hip-deep in the highlights of the 2002 GrandéCon pop-culture convention; as attended
by myself (Tony Corvell) and my able-bodied employee, Artie Deacon! His friends Gene, Ax and Macy - emboldened by the free passes I gifted them
in the previous installment - have waded into the fray, encountering everything from power-hungry ticket queue minders to the wonders of
‘Fanboy Trivial Pursuit’! That was GrandéCon part one; now it’s time to meet part two!



Top: boy oh boy oh boy, was The Red Iceberg an atrocious TV show - just be thankful you didn’t get it on Earth TV. Saddled with formulaic plots and
typically 1970’s SFX budgets, I am frankly amazed it even made it through one-and-a-half seasons! Seeing it utterly jump the shark in the pilot
episode should have been all the evidence the TV company needed to can it, but no! Sci-fi / police procedural mash-ups were in that year,
so it was all hands to the pumps. Didn’t stop it from sinking, though....
(It also didn’t help that Zip Finklemore was a pay-rise grubbing glory hog from day one, but that’s a story for another day!)

Bottom: Gah! Speculators! The pop-cultural equivalent of that humourless, OCD buzz-kill at the office Christmas party - on both Cosmos and Earth,
they were the bane of the comics and collectables market. I mean, geez, why actually enjoy your hobby when you can instead obsessively collect every
single variant cover, limited edition set, collector’s club exclusive and ‘hot’ action figure simply for their investment value; and act as if everyone else
is just something to be trampled all over on your quest for greatness? Read your comics! Play with your toys! Have some FUN for a change!



Top: I have to say, I’ve sold more copies of that dictionary to ‘Con newbies than the cast of Jurassic Park had fingers and toes - if you need to
understand all the high-falutin’ language being spouted by the alpha-nerds in your troupe (rather than, say, becoming hopelessly lost), then this book is a must....

Bottom: Macy was on a steep learning curve here, this being her first GrandéCon.... and, in fact, her first convention of any sort. She had some
small grounding in geekery (not willingly, mind you) from Artie, Gene and Ax; but I’m guessing nothing prepared her for the wonderful world of Cosplay:
where you not only dress up like your favourite characters, but have catre-blanche to act like them, too! Two to beam up, Mr. Scott....



Top: want to know who played Captain lee Crane on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea? Need ideas for a Star Wars-themed birthday party?
Looking for the best source of machine parts to finish your home-made robot butler? Then perhaps you should get in touch with this guy -
just be sure to butter him up with some TARDIS-shaped gingerbread cookies first, though.

Bottom: remember what I was saying about speculators earlier? This yahoo is a perfect example of why they are so utterly, utterly insufferable.
I congratulate Artie on his decisive handling of this situation - nobody likes Mr. holier-than-thou-know-it-all, especially not when he’s throwing his weight around like that....



Top: back-issue bins - the goldmines of the comic convention world. Since you don’t know what you’re going to find in there, there’s every chance
you’re going to stumble across some absolute gems. Classic comics, trade paperbacks, weird comics, Indie comics; a series you’ve never heard of,
a new favourite artist / writer, that missing issue you couldn’t find anywhere else - who knows what might turn up? Plus, for $1 a pop,
you can do a bit of smorgasbord binge-reading!

Bottom: wow, those are some committed animation fans, right there.... The ‘Video room’ is a good place to go if you want a more laid-back
GrandéCon experience. Just bring along some snacks, sit yourself down, and watch as many cartoons, movies and fan-made music videos as
you want! Don’t O.D on the couch potato thing though - as these two prove, it’s not a pretty sight.

There you have it: an entire long weekend of fun, frivolity and guys dressed up in Stormtrooper costumes! The next time you’re in Pago Grandé,
in the month of Octember, why not swing by the Tony’s Comic Utopia booth at GrandéCon? We’ll be happy to see you....

TO BE CONTINUED.... 

by Cartoonist_at_Large

Cosmos: Old School (2002) - part twenty



What’s my favourite time of the year? GrandéCon season. Although I attend several conventions and events during my average business year, the biggest -
and the best - is the one that takes place in my very own home town, Pago Grandé. I’ve been associated with GrandéCon since the very beginning, when
it was just a bunch of tables in the local community hall: despite the flurry of activity and organisation I have to cram in leading up to the event, I love it.
It’s a fantastic opportunity to interact with my pop-cultural brethren - fans, fellow business owners, industry professionals,
comic artists and graphic designers, celebrity guests....

Yes, yes, and and make zillions of dollars from the impulse purchases of hordes of rabid, common sense-exempt geek-jobs. Thanks, MOM.

By 2002, thankfully, I wasn’t having to handle things alone: one Arthur Deacon (Artie to his friends)was on tap to help me sort, stock, sell and
generally strategise (very good at tasks beginning with ‘S’, is Artie) at the Tony’s Comic Utopia booth.... and such fun we had on that long weekend in mid-Octember!



Top: you’ve got to hand it to the hard-working folks at the Pago Grandé Convention Centre - they do their jobs, and they do them exceedingly well.
We business owners have to do a fair bit of schedule-juggling to get our booths ready, sure, but these guys? They’ve got to organise the entire CONVENTION!
While also keeping track of all the other events showing up in and around ours.... So you can perhaps forgive them for being a bit freaked out....

Bottom: since Artie and his pals enjoy geeking out at gigs such as this, I thought it would be a nice treat (just for once) if they didn’t have to pay $8 a head to
get in. Fair enough, right? Well, I may have reckoned without Gene: he knows a good thing when he sees it, and getting a free pass was such a giddy thrill, he
is now made an annual tradition of (unsuccessfully, for the most part) attempting to wheedle one out of me every single year! Means fair or foul,
subtlety, sneakiness, reverse-psychology, begging and grovelling or out-and-out emotional blackmail....
You can’t blame him for trying - buuuuuut I frequently do.



Above: for some people, working the ticket queues gives them a bizarre feeling of power - hundreds of geeks stand in your queue, all ready to enter GrandéCon;
and YOU have the authority to take their money, issue their tickets and decide whether or not they get a fully-stocked showbag! A few, however - like the
guy above - take their power-trip a bit too far, and start acting like a oafish bouncer at a nightclub, turning away any who do not meet their
arbitrary and impossible-to-satisfy ‘standards’. Needless to say, people like him are also lynch mob magnets....



Top: although there is a lot of crossover between different ‘types’ of geek - Animé fans can still collect X-Men action figures, for example, and that
Lord of the Rings nerd is perfectly entitled to also love Star Trek - Jon thought it would be fun to craft this set of four ‘Spotters guides’ for some of the main ‘Con
archetypes you might spot down at your local geek-fest. And is that me posing for the sword n’ sorcery guy illustration?.... My answer is a definite, unqualified Maybe.

Bottom: Ah, showbags - the essential ‘starter set’ for anyone set on amassing a laudable hoardable of convention swag on their day out. Depending
on the ‘Con you’re attending, your showbag will be either a cornucopia of free comics, vouchers, gift items and snacks (such as at GrandéCon), kind of
average (most places).... or three random brochures and a half-crushed lollypop (wastes of your time, frankly). And even if you don’t buy anything else -
but Gundam model kits are 30% off! Aren’t you looking? - at least you can say “I went to GrandéCon! See, I got awesome free stuff! In a bag!”



Top: this seemed like such a good idea when we started out - although I was reminded that I might have to call it something other than ‘Trivial Pursuit’
(getting sued is not a sound business strategy, kids!), our game prototype went off like Thunderbird Three launching from Tracy Island! Unfortunately,
everyone who tried it out had a ‘helpful suggestion’ of something to add, or some obscure piece of nerd trivia that we just had to use in our list of
questions, or yet another way to organise the rules.... By the end of the ‘Con, it was all a giant unwieldy mess! Broth + far too many cooks = sigh.

Bottom: in the pop-culture biz, these guys are our bread and butter - the regular subscribers, the complete set collectors, the “Hey, this Indie comic is
neat! I’m adding it to my reading list!” sayers. Whether it’s comic books, action figures or associated merch, they are proudly omnivorous....



Above: does this look familiar to you? It should - this is a full-bore remake of the Sunday strip which graced Jon’s first GrandéCon story (1999, part 7)
back in our inaugural year! Taking advantage of his more-evolved art style and new, larger Sunday panels (the original art is A3-size), he decided to pack
in a whole bunch of new character cameos that weren’t in the 1999 version - namely (deep breath): She-Hulk, H.E.R.B.I.E, The Mole Man and his Moloids,
Annihilus and Doctor Doom (title bar); R2-D2, C3PO, Yoda, the Silver Surfer, the Scarlet Spider and the Green Goblin (panel 3); Green Lantern,
a Gundam mech and the Legion of Superheroes (panel 4); Cyclops, Wolverine and Beast from the X-Men (panel 5); some Doom-bots
(panel 6); and a bonus obligatory Dalek (panel 7)! Phew.

GrandéCon part 1 is done! Stay tuned for part 2!

TO BE CONTINUED....

 

by Cartoonist_at_Large

Cosmos: Old School (2002) - part nineteen

Unpredictability. In the construction of a set of Cosmos strips - especially Randoms - that is one of the watchwords I adhere to (along with ‘quirky’, ‘unexpected’,
‘clever’ and ‘Mu hu ha ha ha haaaa! Pathetic fools!’): if there’s a unique angle that I can approach a gag from one that will stop it from being
Yet Another Joke About <fill in subject here>, then I am a very silly cartoonist if I don’t pursue it. The trick with comic strips is to make each one
fresh and different, so the audience is pleasantly surprised (rather than, say, terminally bored) by what they see - even if they are variations
around the same theme, for example. The following comics, however, are as idiosyncratic as they come....



Top: want to turn a hoary old cliche into a viable story? Then interpret it as literally as its possible for the human mind to do so - and add an
extra 15% on top just to be on the safe side. Not only does it create a truly groan-worthy pun (and the louder the expression of disgust, the better),
but there;s fun to be had in expressing it visually, as well. One baffling thing, though: both of the characters are Type-four Cosmosians (still with the
mis-proportioned ‘tall face’ look, I notice), but they don’t have the regulation ear-disc things on the sides of their heads! Makes ‘em look even weirder, frankly....

Bottom: you’d think I’d run out of things to do with the ‘treat speech bubbles as physical objects’ genre, but nope, there’s life in the old dog yet! By this
point in time, I’d 99% switched from enclosed speech bubbles to open, ‘invisible’ ones; but the mechanics of this gag required a
momentary return to the previous pattern, as it simply wouldn’t work otherwise.



Above: this is a sketch page I drew up and coloured during some downtime at one of my Uni field courses; after one of my classmates
wanted to know about Cosmos, and - not having any strips handy - I drew the A-team cast by way of explanation. The rest of the page may seem
completely unrelated to my Old School musings, but there is a tangential connection: the lovely ladies (awaiting the luckiest pizza delivery boy ever)
are from the superhero universe that showed up in ‘Train of Thought’ from Cosmos Comics #1 (2002, part 6 and 7); and Ray - on the left - is the civilian identity
of the glamorous Guardian Angel! Did the dinosaur escape from the prehistoric jungle Artie and Gene ended up in at the start of said story? Could be.



Top: what goes perfectly well with a family day at the beach? Um, Japanese monster movies, apparently. I’m guessing the fun of stomping
on sandcastles like a giant rampaging monster inspired this strip - although I don’t think I ever considered dressing in full kaiju cosplay when doing
so, as these ambitious lads look to have done!

Bottom: Peter’s purpose in life, it sometimes appears, is to serve as a litmus test for what NOT to do when goofing around - when an idea sounds utterly
brilliant in his head, it’s a sure sign that things are about to go very, very wrong. At least he has Timmy to steer
him onto the right track.... even if it’s more often than not after the fact!

TO BE CONTINUED....

 

by Cartoonist_at_Large

Cosmos: Old School (2002) - part eighteen



Jobs? Yeh, I’ve had a few - a paper route in high school, A/V guru-for-hire at Uni, my freelance inventor phase, that (very short-lived) internship at
the Cosmosian World News (1999, part six - see, Jon? I’ve acknowledged it! You don’t need to retcon it out of existence! Geez!).... and, finally,
my current 9 to 5, livin’ the dream career at the Pago Grande Mega-mall! What exactly does that involve, I’m hearin’ you ask? You wanna know? Huh? Huh? Do ya?

Okay, Sit up.... Roll over.... Beg... Good Dog! Who’s a Good Doggie, then? Yes, you are!

.....

Wow, you guys really are desperate for entertainment, aren’t you? Humans, I dunno. Anyway, now that you’ve stopped makin’ fools of yourselves....



Above: welcome to the wonderful world of retail! What I don’t know about all things electronic and / or mechanical, ladies and gents, it ain’t worth knowin’!
(Well, apart from what my gal Jenny’s friend Myra knows about computers - but that’s a whole ‘nother story!) Oh, and the customers, those
wonderful, frustrating customers: always willing to utterly astound me with their frightening grasp (or lack thereof) of what they think they’re under
the mistaken impression that they know! Worth the price of admission every time....



Top: man oh man, do I hate those stupid Zeebles. You Earthians have your Furbies and your Teletubbies; we have these neon-soaked abominations -
they sing, they dance, they come in a wide range of designer colours.... and everyone in every department (ESPECIALLY the toy department) wants to
Kill Them With Fire. But the higher-ups love the money they bring in from Joe Public, so we hafta keep stockin’ them; what’s a self-respecting wage-slave to do?
Oh, yehhhh. Void a few warranties....

Bottom: this is Margaret Miller, who, along with her partner in crime Darcy Fenton, rule the roost in the perfume and cosmetics department.
She’s pretty cool, in my book - while she doesn’t get the same caliber of nut jobs we do in the electronics department, the stories
she does share with us in the lunch room are pretty.... interesting.... 



Top: these guys - Rob n’ Jed from Menswear - aren’t short of horror stories from their own deaprtment, either. They instantly know
what looks good on a customer from a distance of fifty paces, and what fashion items should never, ever be worn in tandem.... or, in fact,
at all. Mr. Colour Co-or-dee-nated here was what they refer to as a ‘worst-case scenario’: Nurse! Get that man 10 CC’s of common-sense - stat!

Bottom: working in the electronics department is the coolest - not only do we get to play with all the latest techno Doo-dads and Whim-whams
(both on sale this week for 30% off: don’t miss out!), but we can also use them for our own nefarious ends! Freakin’ out the squares, baby, freakin’ out the squares.... 



Top: ah, yes, the stunning majesty of yours truly in full sales mode - neither rain, nor sleet, nor the fact that they weren’t
actually going to buy anything will stay me from my daily rounds!

Bottom: Jacob Pendelton-Smythe Jr., trust-fund baby and inheritor of the Stuff-U-Like empire from his equally-loaded father Mr. Pendelton-Smythe Sr.,
is our seldom seen but always ominously-looming boss. He likes to make periodic ‘pep talk’ announcements to his loyal head counts / minions / playthings,
to remind us that he ‘cares’ and is all chummy-chummy with us; but frankly, I’m not sure he’s actually listening to anything that’s coming
out of his own mouth! Thankfully, he was kidding about us being fired that time - ‘If we arent; carrying you out on a stretcher, you’re not
working enough unpaid overtime’, is his motto. So I am still gainfully employed to this very day!

Uh oh, did I just see them unloading a truckload of Work-o-Droids© out the back?

TO BE CONTINUED....