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....
Welcome back to the year 2000! Ax got us started in the last installment, so now it’s up to me to pick up the baton and continue chronicling the evolution of Cosmos into
its present (utterly demented) state. The strip was now clearly partitioned into a rotating roster of Randoms (gag-a-day strips), Themed Randoms (gag-a-day around a
particular subject), stories (multi-part strips) and Sundays (strips with up to eight - or rarely more - panels), with Artie, Gene and co. most definitely in charge. Perhaps due
to its time-consuming nature - I was colouring things in by hand back then - I slowly started phasing out full-colour randoms and stories; usually reserving the
CMYK spectrum for Sunday strips, as was the practise with most newspaper comics at that time. But there was still plenty of colour to go around for the first few months:
Above: what I know about golf wouldn’t even fill the corners of a particularly small thimble.... But since the basic concept of hit ball with club >>
ball goes somewhere >> follow it seemed fairly self-evident, I could still easily create comics about it....
Above: It’s Murph! After his blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance on some Christmas card art, Gene’s favourite feline returned for his very own set of Themed Randoms.
Like the earliest Type One Cosmosians (and Garfield before them), Murph talked through the medium of thought bubbles - but, since it actually made sense this time
(He’s a Cosmosian animal, rather than a Cosmosian Cosmosian), I stuck with the idea; meaning his pal Newton and other critters can understand him, but Gene and co.
can’t..... Well, usually. His key occupation in this series is the venerable cat art of securing extra bonus food by means fair or foul,
whether Gene has anything to say about it or not!
Top: Cosmos gets subversive. As I said before, my comics have served as a convenient platform for social commentary, satire and make-you-think parodies of modern
life; with strips such as this being one of the earliest examples of the practice. It’s a bit rough around the edges, but it gets the job done.
Bottom: Who is Jamie Styles? This is her one and only appearance in the whole of Cosmos history, and I still have no idea what I intended to do with her. I vaguely
remember considering a whole series of strips - which would pop up every now and again like a running gag - for the frenetic bespectacled one, but nothing ever came of it;
and I more or less forgot about her. However, the surname ‘Styles’ was soon thereafter attached to Ax’s lady-love Macy, which suggests there is some sort of familial
connection between the two Cos-ladies. But are they sisters? Cousins? Adopted second aunts twice-removed on their mother’s side? Cosmos continuity provides
absolutely no answers, so for the moment I’m rather baffled. Stay tuned, though, I’ll figure something out....
TO BE CONTINUED....
The thing about Macy is, underneath her tough-barbs-and-sarcasm attitude, she’s actually rather insecure. okay, very insecure. before she joined our little group, her artistic aspirations were deader than disco; and her life as a whole was running on empty. Sure, we’ve managed to make her outlook a lot brighter (especially me, her oh-so-significant other) - but she’s still chock-full of tasty, tasty neuroses. And back in 1999, she was more fragile than most:
Yehhhh.... Let’s just say Macy was sorta prone to flipping out at the drop of the hat in those days, usually over the trendiest anxiety-of-the-week
(you should’ve seen her during the Colossal Corn Crisis of ‘01!). And, of course, Gene wasn’t exactly helping matters....
What do I love most about Macy? Her art, of course! Hand her a pile of junk and some tools, and she can create a thing of true beauty in no time
flat.... and then sell it for a tidy profit soon after, too! But when artisitc talent and paranoia combine in her brain, the results can be.... interesting....
Yup, I knew all about good conspiracy theories, and Y2K was anything but - it was hokum, through and through! Well, apart from those rolling blackouts in Melvinville.... and the weird lights in the sky.... and those microwaves that lead that protest march for equality-- anyway! Macy had backed herself into her own little corner, so it fell to us to coax (okay, forcibly drag) her out of there! And wouldn’t you know it, Gene had a cunning plan:
TO BE CONTINUED....
It's a bit of a 'behind the scenes' artwork gracing this installment of my sketchbook chronicles: a rough version of one of my 'Big Comic Con Caper' strips from 2008! Normally,
I scribble them down (fairly small) in an exercise book; but being bereft of said book on that occasion, but blessed with a bit of time and a handy piece of A4 paper,
I roughed out my nascent idea in XL size!
Well, this is interesting - I did this character roster in early 2001 (I can tell that based on what Tony Corvell looks like), and there seem to be a whole bunch of characters you've probably never seen before! Artimus Frink, Co-pilot and Tork (along with Professor Pod) work together as 'Explorers Inc.', of course, but.... Rufus Max? The Big Boss? Fuzzy Dice? They are concepts that, unfortunately, slipped through the cracks without really gaining a foothold - none of those characters, in fact, have ever even appeared IN the strip. Rufus Max was supposed to be an intergalactic trucker - which means he is not actually a Cosmosian, simply visiting from elsewhere - with The Big Boss being the volatile-tempered fish-in-a-robot-suit who employed him; while Fuzzy Dice are a rock band (some Cosmosians, some not) who I considered co-opting from an even earlier incarnation where the two Cosmosians were humans and the band was called 'Fuzzy Fish and the Dice Men'. Very glad I changed that name....
Back into the archives we go! This time around, we present the art that graced an birthday card envelope early in 2000; for my good friend
Jeremy! It was one of the first times I'd used Cosmosian-ised Transformers in the strip, but it certainly wouldn't be the last!