Heading into the tail-end of 2000, I really seem to have hit my stride in making Cosmos consistently good – there were the occasional dud jokes (and there still are now, I’m sure), but for the most part, I delivered strips that have more than held their own against anything I produced after that point. Many of these – especially the ones in this collection – have an elegance and comedic simplicity that I’m not sure I could outdo today!
Above: these are, without doubt, two of the best Cosmos comics I have created…. ever. Both in terms of how they are structured, and in terms of the dialogue (or lack thereof), there is not a single thing I would change about them in 2016. The first is an example of the ‘five minutes later’ principle, where the transition between the third and fourth panels represents a jump-cut from a moment of major significance to its (usually hilariously-catastrophic) aftermath; with no real clue as to what happened during the intervening period. But that’s just the point: the cognitive disconnect between point A and point B is so jarring, that your immediate reaction is to laugh; because “How the expletive-deleted did THAT happen?!” To say nothing of the fact that even after being mangled, our loud-mouthed friend appears to have learned nothing from the experience….
The second strip is another thought-bubble-as-object concept – but probably the best out of all of them. It doesn’t need dialogue, it doesn’t need a lengthy build-up, it doesn’t need any in-depth explanation of how it all works…. it’s just pure, stream-of-consciousness demented-ness, all delivered in the space of four panels.
Above: the re-appearance of both Murph, and full-colour Sunday strips! To call Murph pampered would be an understatement – he knows Gene will bend over backwards to make sure he’s happy, and isn’t afraid to remind his ‘owner’ of how much control he can exert to get what he wants. Ever had your cat throw a hissy-fit at you when you try and have some you-time? Yeh, well, with Murph, it’s worse.
Above: Ah, what would a Cosmos comic collection be without further proof that Gene is his own worst enemy; to say nothing of anyone who happens to be in the immediate vicinity? Not thinking things through properly appears to be one of his defining character traits – which I’m sure Artie and Ax are constantly trying (and failing) to dissuade him from doing every time he comes up with another of his ‘It sounded better in my head’ masterpieces! One wonders, though: what exactly would Gene’s apocalyptic concoction actually taste like? Aw, geez, now he’s got me wanting to try it out….
Top: Dr. Nitro returns! One wonders how many of the emergency calls to his office either directly or indirectly involve one Eugene Carmichael Ellis….. at a guess, I would say ‘the majority of them’. I’m not sure what Gene was doing to get himself into that state, but ultimately (as with the other strips in this installment) imagining it is far funnier than being shown it.
Bottom: ever been stuck with a flatmate or partner that, no matter how hard they try, simply cannot cook to save themselves? Just be thankful you’re not stuck with this guy doing the catering….
TO BE CONTINUED….