Cosmos: Old School (1999) – part one

The 3rd of January, 1999. Mark that date, people, because—for me, at least—it’s a significant day in the annals of history: the day I drew my very first Cosmos strip.

At the point in time, I was sitting awkwardly between the end of my animation school year and (unbeknownst to me then) a far more lucrative science degree at university; and, quite frankly, I needed something to do. So, I set myself the task of creating a four-panel newspaper-type strip—I had concocted other characters and stories in the past, but they’d never really gone anywhere…. now, however, I knew the rudiments of effective comedy and comic strip construction, so my nascent creation actually had a chance of survival. I’m not sure how I came up with the name ‘Cosmos’, or where the design for the characters came from (probably I just made them up on the spot), but within a short period of time, I had a couple of comic strips:

os-2_1

These little green aliens—the prototypes for what today I call ‘Type One Cosmosians’—are clearly inspired by Jim Davis’ Garfield, my primary reference at the time: they (for the most part) talk in thought bubbles, and have their eye lids at half-mast; giving them a default facial expression of ‘bored’. They had no names, all looked the same; and existed in an ambiguously-defined environment. The entire strip itself, in fact, was a blank slate…. Nevertheless, I guess I felt I was onto a good thing, since I kept right on rolling:

os-2_2os-2_3

I like to call this stage in the development of any project the ‘flailing around in the dark’ phase—without any clear direction to go in, I try anything and everything, in as many different directions as possible; until things start to link up and form into coherent patterns. What results is a whole wealth of ideas (some good, some awful) that give me any number of options to pursue; which in turn may spark off other things later on. And that’s certainly the case with Cosmos: all of these early strips, at least, are unique; and despite no real guiding principle behind them (aside from pop-cultural silliness, of course) I’m clearly having fun coming up with random little jokes. And that’s the important thing, right?

TO BE CONTINUED….

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