Cosmos: Old School (2000) – part nine

I can’t always hit out of the park. Every cartoonist will have strips they just don’t like, ones that sounded good in principle but landed with a dull thud upon delivery; much to their ever-lasting dismay. The first strip in this collection holds, for me, the title of  (adopt Comic Book Guy from ‘The Simpsons’ voice, here) “Worst…. Strip…. Ever!” Have a look, and I will explain why:

2000-8_1a
Above: yehhhh – that pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? This joke could have worked, it should have worked; but perhaps due to the clunkiness of both the dialogue (especially in the last panel) and the situation itself (Why is Artie suddenly wearing a singlet?!) , it just doesn’t. Or maybe it’s the fact that in said last panel, Artie and Gene look like they are genuinely, painfully injured and in psychological distress…. it just feels, I don’t know, uncomfortable. Like I placed them in a situation where they really got hurt. If (and that’s a big if) I was doing the joke again today, I would definitely rewrite the dialogue – especially Artie’s non sequitur rejoinder at the end, which has all the hallmarks of ‘I have no idea what else to write, so I’ll just stick something absurd in there’ – and keep the specifics of Gene’s rough handling ‘off-panel’: perhaps by simply having his voice coming out of a bucket (amping up the comedic value while minimising the body horror), and making him irate rather than inches-from-death (“My theory still stands, dangit!”) But anyway, on a lighter note:

2000-8_1b
Above: Thaaaaat’s better. Getting the cognitive disconnect between panel three and panel four right this time, not having the foggiest idea why Gene being proven wrong about an old adage causes THAT to happen, makes this situation 120,000% more funny than ‘explaining it’ and having it ‘make sense’ – one of the big no-no’s in comic strip humour, as I’ve no doubt said in the past.

2000-8_2
Top: Yes, I set up that entire scenario, a fictional company, and three panels of build-up, just so I could plunk down an inexorably-awful pun. You’re welcome. Sometimes the worst jokes are the best jokes…. And I would assume that Artie’s expression in the last panel perfectly replicates yours at this precise moment, right?
Bottom: Oh, and the groan-worthy puns keep coming! I was on fire that day! Also of note: what is clearly an INCREDIBLY well-researched ‘70’s Disco suit on the afflicted Cosmosian….

2000-8_3
Above: Finally, my first proper on-screen (on-panel?) appearance, again interacting with the other cast members in a fourth-wall push-over-ing display of self-effacing humour. Aside from the highly-accurate depiction of my iron grip on the world of industrialised comic strip production (well, minus the hover-lounger…. and the multi-million dollar testing facility…. and the glamorous fiancée…. and pretty much everything else, really), we get a good size comparison between the average Cosmosian – at the most, just under three feet tall – and the average human being, i.e, me. I try to keep this scaling consistent across all of the appearances of humans in the Cosmosian world: if I draw one or the other too large or too small at the pencils stage, it is immediately apparent (and it just offends my sense of aesthetics), and get changed post-haste….

TO BE CONTINUED….

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