Although Artie, Gene and co. were well and truly the stars of Cosmos by now, there were still plenty of other fill-in-the-blank Cosmosians popping up in my selections of Randoms; partly just for a bit of variety – sure, I could have the main cast tell EVERY joke going, but sometimes a fresh perspective on a situation is called for, since not everything I come up with is uniquely suited for Artie and the others – but also because I am well aware that the melting pot of Cosmosian, um, humanity is a gold mine for potential new characters. Sometimes, though, it takes a while for me to realise that….
Top: as I’m sure I’ve stated in the past, I have at least two ‘main casts’, one in Pago Grande – Gene and co. – and the other in the Cosmosian equivalent of England (Peter, Timmy, Jamie etc.). These two enterprising youngsters, in a basic gag cartoon, were (a couple of years later) dusted off and dubbed ‘The Tolstoy Twins’; being incorporated into the B-Team universe as allies of Peter Anderson and his friends. I had no idea (in June of 2000) that the pair were even going to be anything other than a one-off example of typical Cosmosian weirdness, but they appealed to me, and I brought them back. They go to the same school as Peter and Timmy but – being only 6 years old – are quite a few grades / forms / years below them. Since they showed up first, though, this (rather than the first appearance of Peter a couple of months later) is the point where the A-Team / B-Team cast divergence occurred…. well, in hindsight, anyway.
Bottom: This strip is an example of ‘close, but not quite’ – the joke works, but since you never actually see the decoys, only hear them, you have no idea what’s even going on until the last panel. If done properly, the ‘deliberate withholding’ principle can work – and has worked – quite well, but I think I took it one step too far here: at least knowing the guy was actually duck hunting, or at least lurking on the shore of a lake, would have helped clue people in.
Top: That’s better! Leave it up to Ax and Macy to put a good joke in there for me – thanks guys! I have a sneaking suspicion this gag isn’t as unique as I thought it was (there is a memory of coming across pretty much the same thing in another comic strip later on, in my head) but hey, if it works, it works!
Bottom: Who is Joel Schumacher, you may ask? The guy who directed the truly dire ‘Batman Forever’ and ‘Batman and Robin’, that’s who – but would anyone reading the joke actually know that? If they were a geek, maybe…. but everybody else? Most likely not. As with the duck hunter strip above, providing just a liiiiiiitle bit more information may have helped it work a lot better than it does; since this one tanked in audience testing. Either it was just a meaningless random name, or people thought I was talking about racing car driver MICHAEL Schumacher (cue even more confusion than option one). Derp….
Top: Playing around with cartoon physics (or is it simply false perceptions?) is always fun to do – especially when I can come up with succinct little scenarios like this one. Are they on a film set, or not? Ha ha, you just can’t tell, can you?
Bottom: Yet another example of the ‘hint, don’t show’ principle done properly, here – we don’t need to know at all what caused Baking Day to go so spectacularly pear-shaped, or even try to figure it out…. because simply seeing the results is far funnier than any explanation of what happened between ‘Let’s do some baking!’ and ‘‘Five minutes later….’ To say nothing of the fact that Macy’s silent observation of the chaos, followed by her world-weary “Baking day….” suggests that this is by no means an unfamiliar situation to her; even funnier still….
TO BE CONTINUED….