By April of 1999, although plenty of generic characters were showing up, Cosmos had begun to feature its developing main cast more frequently – although, interestingly (judging by this selection of strips), I had still failed to one key thing: refer to anyone other than Gene (or Dr. Nitro) by name! I clearly thought Artie and Gene were worth hanging onto, because they popped up again in separate strips (making this Artie’s fourth appearance, and Gene’s second):
But then, lo and behold, they showed up on-panel…. together! Artie knowing Ax and Macy was an indisputable fact by now, as well as his movie-nights with another (unnamed) Type One Cosmosian; but Artie and Gene causing trouble as a unit? THAT was new. And, effectively, the final piece in the puzzle that made the whole ‘main cast’ thing fit into one seamless whole. It’s just a shame their first double-act is such a continuity icecream sandwich headache….
Each of these four strips are serviceable enough on their own – Gene’s inexplicable colour-reversed sweater in the first one notwithstanding – but when you put them together? They all contradict one another!
In the first strip, Gene is looking back on his time at a ‘Weekly World News’-style oddball newspaper, happily name-dropping various fringe-science tropes….
But in the second strip, he seems bemused and wholly sceptical when Artie presents him with a prime example of just such a news story…..
While in the third, he is ‘raging against the machine’ and lambasting his favourite subject-matter as mindless drivel….
And in the fourth, both he and Artie are working for ANOTHER whacko-news paper, and has a major throwing-his-toys incident when they dare ask them to prepare a story that DOESN’T feature something utterly bizarre!
The canonicity of these strips is problematic, and not just for the above reasons. After this point, Gene’s former career was never mentioned again – he now works in the electronics section of a department store – and Ax (perhaps because I forgot about these particular strips) ended up turning into the big conspiracy theory / unsolved mysteries / I-like-journalism-and photography guy instead! If I keep Gene’s past life intact, it makes him and Ax far too similar; but if I de-canonise some or all of the Artie / Gene newspaper gags, then I’m basically deleting their first joint appearance from history! Uuugh.
TO BE CONTINUED….